Gaziano & Girling
Brogue and spectators shoes alike peacock their wingtip designs, begging to be noticed for their clever perforations of twists and turns that channel thoughts of a certain fountain in Paris, or a delicate flower extracted from a crest displayed on a castle wall. While the people who hold their noses a bit high may say that wingtips originate from the countryside, and are too banal for their taste, the esoterics and the bohemians in spirit find this fact to be part of the charm of the semi-formal wingtip shoe.
And, for the those who haven’t noticed…all wingtips do not look alike. To look close, it’s easy to see that the designs on wingtip shoes vary wildly. But even with their differences, all wingtips have two consistent similarities :
* All wingtip shoes have a W shape on the top of the shoe, and
* All wingtip shoes have decorative perforations.
SPREAD YOUR WINGTIPS ? A POSSIBLE EUREKA MOMENT
We have been binge-viewing countless websites and magazines lately, featuring brogue and spectator shoes. A couple of hours into our binge-viewing session, we begin to notice something that we haven’t noticed before…
Changing the type of W on the Wingtip changes the perceived proportions of the foot.
It was kind of an aha moment… and it seemed to deserve a closer look to see if it is possible that the design pattern on top of the shoe could cause the foot to look bigger, smaller, more narrow or wider. There were photos to share, but it felt rude to show photography of men with big trouser legs with tiny feet underneath, or men with skinny legs and feet so huge that their feet looked more like flippers, not to mention the wide-footed man whose feet looked almost square instead of oblong…you get the picture.
In putting together a few theories about how wingtip design relates to body proportion, we wondered if perhaps we were going a bit too far with it all (i.e., focusing so much on the feet in regard to overall body proportion). After all, we are just talking about…feet. But then, we remembered the possible universal truth that the first thing someone looks at when he or she meets you is your face and your shoes. We remembered the countless photos on Style Forum of men photographing their socks. And, we remembered how a certain group of men fondly refer to looking at shoes as…porn. And then, we decided to investigate.
In the initial findings, we stayed with two key points to analyze wingtip shoe design and its affect on perceived foot proportions:
1. Where is the W positioned on the wingtip? … high, medium, or low ?
2. Is the center of the W pointed or more flat?
BIG W OR SMALL W ? (affects how LONG the foot looks)
The positioning of the W on a wingtip shoe can range from high to medium to low W positioning. Here are examples of each of the three positions:
1. HIGH – W : the W covers more than the half of the front of the shoe (vamp + cap, starting from the throat line). See also above opening photo by Gaziano & Girling.
Scarpe di Bianco
2. MID – W : The W covers slightly less than the half of the front of the shoe.
Ivan Crivellaro with a mid-position W. source: The Shoe Snob
3. LOW – W : The W covers only around 1/3 of the front.
One of the Corthay signature designs, The Vendome with a low-position W
SMALL FEET :
* Select a low-W positioning with bold perforations on the toes.
As seen in the Corthay wingtip shoes just above, the low-W lengthens the appearance of the foot and the bold perforations draw the eye all the way to the tips of the toes, lengthening not only the overall appearance of the shoe, but also lengthening the appearance of the legs.
side note: With small feet, keep trouser legs more narrow and perhaps fractionally shorter than usual so that trousers don’t hide the length of the foot.
AVERAGE FEET (anything goes) :
* Since there are no disproportions with average feet, anything goes when selecting a wingtip design (unless the design itself creates a disproportional look).
Any shoe size between 8 – 10 (British) and 9 – 11 (American), is considered average. Here, Hugo (average foot size) is wearing a Corthay Low-W wingtip brogue. The design adds a nice lengthening affect to both the feet and the legs.
Photographed by Justin Fitzpatrick : The Shoe Snob
* Select a mid or high W position, without a lot of “attention-grabbing” perforations
For those born with disproportionately large feet, a mid or high-positioned W with minimal perforations softens the appearance of oversized feet. The Gaziano & Girling brogues below are a nice example…and although it can be delicate to craft shoes for extra large feet, the design elements of the G & G brogues feel simple and elegant.
Gaziano & Girling … keeping it elegantly simple.
THE CENTER OF THE W : POINTY OR FLATTENED ?
Affects how WIDE the foot looks.
Some men have extremely wide feet, which can make the foot look more square than oblong, Other men have super narrow feet, which may look disproportionate with wide trouser legs. The wingtip design can make a shoe appear more narrow or wider than it really is.
FOR NARROW FEET :
When the design of the W is more flat, this makes the foot appear wider than it actually is. In this photo, the W is completely flattened to form a U-Cap, which widens the look of the foot.
FOR WIDE FEET:
If you have noticeably wide feet, try a wingtip with strong design that gives the visual impression of elongating the foot. By selecting a very pointed W, the foot will look more narrow, as shown in this definitive pair of shoes.
by the admired Stefano Bemer (2011)
Thanks to Justin Fitzpatrick and his incredible blog “The Shoe Snob” for vast visual inspiration in writing about wingtip design.
Sonya Glyn Nicholson, Senior Editor.
Ivan Crivellaro (facebook page)