About the Author: Adam Terry is a 30-year-old Technical Trainer in the heating and manufacturing industry. He’s #menswear by day and #workwear by night. He enjoys raw selvedge denim, Scotch whisky, and working on maintaining his dad bod.
So, you read that (overly) thorough review of those beautiful Grant Stone’s the other day and now you’re in the market for a pair of longwing “American brogues”? We’ve got you covered. But if you’re new to this style of shoe, here’s what makes a longwing brogue:
- Unlike many other (most?) wingtips, the “wing” sweeps all the way around to the back of the heel, as opposed to dipping down towards the sole about halfway back.
- Open, blucher or derby style lacing.
The result is a shoe that somehow walks the line between casual and dress unlike any other. Casual enough to wear with jeans, but you can pull them off with certain suits too (you might notice that J. Crew loves to shoot their suits with longwing bluchers). Now that that’s covered, here are a handful of stylish options to consider at various price points:
You think you love the look of a brogued wingtip and you want to give them a try, but you’re not ready to commit half your rent check on an investment grade pair quite yet? The almond-shaped, lightly burnished toe and slightly darker tan color makes this pair from Aston Grey the versatile Budget Pick. (Pro-tip: If you sign up for DSW’s newsletter email, you’ll get $10 off and free shipping!)
For those who love dressing up a pair of raw denim jeans or pressed chinos, this pair from Meermin comes loaded with texture in the form of chestnut country calf. A noticeable upgrade in quality over most mall brand shoes, Meermin’s bluchers use full grain French leather, thick vegetable tanned leather insoles, a rubber outsole, and are stitched with proper Goodyear welting. Consider these the Smart Casual bargain coming in under two Benjamins. Returns are relatively easy, too, if you’re not sure of your sizing. Meermin’s store in SoHo NYC accepts returned goods. Just know that you’re on the hook for steep international outbound shipping ($35) as well as shipping them back to NYC if they don’t work out. So $175 is NOT the price you pay. More like $210. Best case. But still, many see these as an amazing value.
Of course a pair of Grant Stone’s terrific longwings made the list. Editor’s Note: And no, they didn’t pay to be here. No one does. Ever. After testing the British tan pair around the house for a few days, I secretly wished for something slightly darker for Fall that could easily take me from my conservative business casual office straight to dinner and drinks with friends. Say hello to The New Standard. Using Horween’s legendary Chromexcel leather and a micro studded rubber sole, Grant Stone has delivered one of the best do everything, go everywhere shoes at a price point that’s hard to beat. Rock these ‘wings with your suit and tie or hoodie and jeans.
The original Allen Edmonds MacNeil longwing was introduced way back in the early 1960’s. It is still on offer today because the tapered, sleekish silhouette fills the niche for lots of people searching for a stylish, yet conservative business shoe. Still proudly hand assembled in Allen Edmond’s Port Washington, WI factory, the MacNeil can be ordered in a few different shades of “premium” calfskin with double oak leather soles or an optional studded rubber sole. I am particularly fond of the Walnut shade and think it looks best when worn with lighter blue, brown, or green suiting. (Pro-tip: If $425 is out of your budget, but you still want American made shoes, roll the dice on some “seconds” quality MacNeils. Typically, manufacturing defects are more visual than structural. Just know that you’ll have to shell out for a $25 restocking fee for any returns on seconds through the mail.)
The Albaladejo family that owns Carmina and Meermin have been crafting shoes around Mallorca, Spain since 1866. Carmina is the Audi to Meermin’s Volkswagen: more refined and more robust. This pair in brown vegano leather is particularly beautiful, as the darker brogueing accentuates the perfect shade of mid brown. Paired with a brown Dainite studded rubber sole and a storm welt, this is the pair you reach for if you’re headed for that red-carpet movie premiere in the city or taking your partner to an anniversary dinner atop the Eiffel Tower and you’re not sure where the night will take you. Right? People do that, don’t they?
You dream of someday living in the PNW with your partner and pup, spending your weekends window shopping all of your favorite retailers who specialize in niche Japanese raw denim, British heritage outerwear, and American made shoes that you can barely afford. You enjoy taking photos of your recent purchases and share them regularly with your followers on social media, even though you’re not an “influencer.” If any of that rings true, you can’t go wrong with these special suede makeups from Alden. Those hunting green suede ‘wings would look killer with your cuffed Momotaro jeans and Private White V.C. Harrington jacket!
Introduced in 1958, Alden’s #975 Color 8 Shell Cordovan longwing bluchers originally sold for around $30. Calculating for inflation over the past 60 years, you would think these “Grail” worthy shoes should retail for around $260. Unfortunately, this just isn’t the case as the unique equine leather alone can easily cost upwards of $100 per square foot. For comparison, the Horween Chromexcel leather used to craft those $350 Grant Stone’s generally sells for around $6 per square foot. What makes Shell Cordovan so special?
For starters, it’s pretty rare. Horses have two “shells” or layers of fibrous flat muscle beneath the hide on the rump. Each shell can be used to produce a single shoe. As horses aren’t a large part of the world’s food industry these days, the leather is always in short supply.
Next, the tanning and dyeing process for Shell Cordovan can take up to six months and a lot of manpower to perfect the 100+ year old recipe. Only the most senior and talented employees work on the Cordovan shells.
Finally, Shell Cordovan is incredibly durable. It was originally developed for straight razor strops, but now it’s mainly used in footwear and small leather goods. As the leather gets worn and ages, it tends to roll like a wave instead of crease and wrinkle. The dye colors shift, too – Horween’s infamous Color #8 starts out as a deep, rich shade of burgundy and ages gracefully into gradients of cabernet red, eggplant purple, and milk chocolate. No two shells are alike; each will age differently.
We’re all in agreement that $760 is a lot of money for a pair of shoes. What you get for your investment is a pair that could literally last you a lifetime if taken care of. They’re one of the pinnacles of American style. They are Gunboats – solid, sturdy, if not a bit heavy. The King Wings.
NOTE: Shoes at top of post, moving from left to right: They’re all Alden Long Wings. Tan Suede, Shell Cordovan, and Whiskey shell cordovan. All can be hard to find, depending on the retailer you’re going through. The Color #8 pair with black edge dressing were purchased from J. Crew, which is short on supply right now. Brick + Mortar in Seattle sells the same shoe, only with “antique” light brown edge dressing. Same shoes otherwise.