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Brand and shopping advice

How much should I pay for: Brogues?

How much should I pay for: Brogues?

"Every man should have a pair of brogues in his wardrobe," says Thread stylist Millie Rich. "I'd put them in the same category as indigo jeans or white t-shirts—clothes you need in order to build a wardrobe." Why? The versatility, for one: brogues go with everything from jeans to suits—so you can wear them to a wedding, the pub, the office, a formal or casual party ... the list goes on.

(It's worth noting that we've found light brown to be most practical, as it goes with trousers of all colours.)

And yet brogues can differ in price by hundreds of pounds. Obviously there's an element of quality at play, but how can you decide whether to shell out seriously or just buy a really affordable pair?

Begin by asking yourself these questions

1. Will I wear them at least once a week?

2. Do I want a pair that will still look good in 10 years (rather than one that will look good this year and next)?

3. Am I ready to shell out £300-plus?

If you answered no to two or three of these questions: Spend around £85

Photographed: Hudson brown brogues  (£85)

"What you gain in cost savings you lose in quality, of course—the soles won't last as long, and the punching won't be as precise—but if you look for a pair made from real leather, with clean punching and just the right shape (see below), they'll stand up against pricier pairs. Read more about buying smart shoes on a budget here.

"This still might seem steep to you, but it's really the cheapest you can go without getting into pleather land—at which point you'll spend more than £85 repairing and replacing them."

Look for: A round-ish toe helps the shoes work casually or formally; a real leather upper means they'll last; clean punching and stitching looks neat and won't show wear (zoom in on product photos to check everything's in order); and a sole that's stitched rather than glued on will stand up to more wear.

Nice to have: Leather soles look smarter than rubber, and waxed laces keep their shape better than cotton ones (but you can always replace these yourself). 

If you answered yes to one or two of the questions: Spend around £200

Photographed: Oliver Sweeney brown brogues (£199)

"You're paying for stitching and punching—in a word, details. The wingtip stitching here, for example, is the curved stitching and punching around the arch of the shoe, enhancing the shape and providing nice, subtle interest. These have been made using quality leather, too.

"Sometimes if you go for a richer brown, they'll seem more expensive." 

Look for: A round-ish toe helps the shoes work casually or formally; a real leather upper and sole is a given at this price; clean punching and stitching looks neat and won't show wear; a sole that's stitched rather than glued on will last longer; and wingtip stitching gives the brogues extra structure.

Nice to have: Goodyear welted stitching means the sole will basically never come free; leather lining will make them a tad softer and more comfortable; and waxed laces won't fray like cotton laces (but you can always replace these yourself).

If you answered yes to all three of the questions: Spend upwards of £300

Photographed: Grenson brown brogues (£430)

"When we photographed these shoes, there wasn't a person in the room who didn't look longingly at them and/or insist on trying them on. The cost comes down to the triple-welt sole, which means there are three strips of leather stitched along the shoe perimeter to hold everything in place—making the shoes hard-wearing and completely watertight.

"One reason the stylists like these is because they're slightly exaggerated—with not one but two leather soles, triple-welt stitching (do you see the three mini "steps" on the edge of the shoes?), and punched holes that don't stand out as much against the beautiful pebbled leather. The fact that they're made in Britain doesn't hurt, either."

Look for: A round-ish toe helps the shoes work casually or formally; a real leather upper and sole's a given at this price; clean punching and stitching looks neat and won't show wear; Goodyear welted stitching means the sole will basically never come free; wingtip stitching gives the brogues extra structure; leather lining makes them a tad softer and more comfortable; and waxed laces won't fray like cotton laces.

Nice to have: Triple-welt soles are a style-conscious design detail that's also practical; pebbled leather adds texture and can look even better with age.