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Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Closet Dejavu: Oxfords And Brogues: The Timeless Leather Shoe

Ah, the vampy 1920's. Probably the most stylish era for an old soul like me. If I were to live again, I would like to go back to the 20's, where fashion is a way of life.

A typical social party in the 20's

Living fashionably in the 20’s is a symbol of status. Social parties are part of life. That’s why women and men dress to impress. They crowd in smoking bars and cabarets to drink wine, ale, smoke, socialize, and socialize some more.

Fashion is also a mean of expression. It is an era of liberation and artistic freedom through film, music, and art. Men and women were almost one and the same. The masculine female was a popular physique, and females would strut on the street wearing t- bar shoes and Mary Jane booties with their coat dresses. In a sense, it is a way to show that women are no longer inferior to men.

But this culture and way of life are only part of the history of the Western civilization, particularly Europe and the Americas. And this is what we are going to focus on: The Timeless 1920’s of the West

In whatever you wear, there’s still a part of your outfit that belonged to the 20’s: The coat, tuxedo, knee- length skirts, Mary Jane shoes, stockings, fedora hats, ties, ribbons, and leather shoes. Ah--- the classic leather shoe: A symbol of elegance and formality.

But little did we know that the classic leather shoe has had a marvelous history of its own.

Left: A casual oxford; Right: an oxford (note that these are modern designs)

Derbies, Oxfords, Brogues, Loafers: The popular shoes of the men in the 20’s. Now let me give you a brief history on the leather shoe.

The Oxford is a leather shoe in a single tone. It might have slight decorations or marks, but most of the time, it’s just black, and the leather is patent. It was used in formal events. While the two- tone oxfords are made for casual use. Tones are usually in the patterns black and white, or white and tan.

An Oxford shoe with Brogueing

Brogues are cultural shoes. The punctured patterns that we see are not there for design’s sake. Brogue shoes have originated in Scotland. The holes are really holes because they serve as the shoe’s drainage mechanism when people cross the river. It has been adapted to the Oxfords as part of the design. That’s why when you see an Oxford with hole patterns, those are called Oxfords with Brogueing (a process of putting hole patterns on shoes).

Women’s shoes have designs similar to the oxfords and brogues. But to add a touch of femininity (maybe to somehow please the purists in their era), Salvatore Ferragamo, a prominent shoe maker in the 20’s, have put heels on the classic leather oxfords. In the 40’s, the heel has evolved to a thicker sole, which is now popularly known as the “Wedge Heel”.

And today, the classic styles are making a huge comeback. And now, with a contemporary touch.

My Oxford with Brogueing :)

What you’ll love about women’s dressing in the now is how androgynous it can get, but still manage to look beautiful (but of course, it still requires confidence to pull a look together).

This pair of oxfords with brogues that I bought from Pill, The Ramp at Crossings, is an example of how beautiful women’s dressing can be. Sans the heels, the soft leather makes these shoes look feminine. But since the style is patterned after a man’s shoes, it adds a lovely touch of masculinity to the pair.

Unfortunately, this pair is killing my feet. I sorta’ regret the fact that for a long time, I would always dress for comfort. And in my terms, that would be wearing flipflops for 24 hours a day, 7 days in a week, and 12 months in a year. And now that I’m interested to wear shoes, my feet are kinda’ adjusting to the closed and congested nature of shoes. And I know that one day, my feet will like shoes (They should because I bought two for this month!).

The adaptation of the classic oxfords to the contemporary times was a great idea. It’s a good way of breaking boundaries by bridging yesterday’s fashion and today’s. It enables you to learn a thing or two about the history of the world through the eyes of fashion. And it also enabled the classic leather shoes to break free from its own purpose: From the forever formal shoe, to the casual and FEMININE one.


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