Chances are you’ve never heard of a “brogan” but you’ve probably owned at least one pair in your lifetime. The brogan shoe is believed to have originated in Scotland and Ireland in the 16th century and comes from the Old Irish word “bróc” which means shoe. A brogan is an ankle-length, lace-up shoe/boot hybrid; it is too tall to be a shoe and too short to be considered a boot. Originally, the brogan was constructed of heavy untanned leather and was used as a work boot in the wet bogs of the Irish and Scottish countryside. The brogan continued to evolve, and became very popular during the English Civil War, when soldiers were issued brogan shoes as part of their uniform.
These shoes continued to serve as military footwear throughout the American Revolutionary War. A few years later, when Thomas Jefferson wore brogans at his 1801 inauguration, the style catapulted to become a fashion trend and the shoes became known as “Jeffersons” in the United States. Brogan style military boots were issued through World War II but eventually were abandoned for a higher topped combat boot which is used today.
Today’s brogans can be anything from a traditional Timberland boot to a more fancy, thinner leather ankle length oxford. This shoe style can be worn year round. The thinner leathers and more detailed styles are more appropriate for business wear, while the more rugged styles are wonderful for manual labor, casual wear, and even yard work.