Boot Camp: 7 Styles of Boot Toes Explained

Plain toe. Cap toe. Semi Brogue. What does it all mean? We put together this easy to follow visual guide with the 7 most common boot toe styles in men's fashion today. Every toe style is different and can say a lot about your style. But which boot toe style is the best for you? Let’s learn the common terms and what each style has the offer.

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The Styles

 Plain toe boots: Wolverine 1000 Mile Boots ( Amazon )

Plain toe boots: Wolverine 1000 Mile Boots (Amazon)

1. Plain Toe

Plain toe boots are pretty straight forward - the toe on the uppers is made from a single piece of leather and lack any additional adornments or designs. Plain toe boots can also be called “round toe” and the two terms are often interchangeable. You can find plain toe boots in just about every style from work boots to dress boots. 

 Cap toe boots: Red Wing Iron Ranger ( Amazon )

Cap toe boots: Red Wing Iron Ranger (Amazon)

2. Cap Toe

Cap toe boots have an extra piece of leather on the toe of the boot which forms the "cap". This is a timeless style commonly found in everything from rugged work boots to dress boots. Cap toe boots are easily identifiable by the stitch line across the upper by the toe box. In work boots, the extra layer of leather on the toe can provide additional protection. It’s worth noting however that some dressier cap toe boots don’t have this protective layer of leather and usually just use the cap toe stitching as a style element. 

When comparing plain toe vs cap toe boots you’ll often find that a cap toe provides a bit of stylish decoration, especially in casual and dress boots. For those who wear larger boot sizes, a cap toe can also create a visual divide that breaks up the toe box.

 Moc toe boots: Danner Bull Run ( Amazon )

Moc toe boots: Danner Bull Run (Amazon)

3. Moc Toe

Moc toe boots can easily be identified by their U shaped stitching on the toe box. Inspired by traditional Native American moccasin shoes, moc toe styles are usually reserved for work boots and are inherently casual in nature. Moc toe boots are great for those who want a comfortable work boot or for those who just like the heritage workwear look.

Although this style of boot toe is usually only chosen for it’s classic look, there are a few practical reasons for choosing a moc toe when comparing moc toe vs plain toe boots. The nature of the toe box stitching gives you a bit more flex in the foot and the ruggedness of a moc toe helps protect the toe box from scratches and scuffs.

 Wing Tip: Frye James Wing Tip Boots ( Amazon )

Wing Tip: Frye James Wing Tip Boots (Amazon)

4. WINGTIP

Wing tip boots can be easily identified by an extra piece of leather on the toe box that forms a “W” shape. Usually wing tip boots include brouging (more on this later) for a more decorative look. Although wingtip boots and shoes are traditionally casual, today’s styles can be found in a variety of men's boots from casual to dress. Wing tip boots are perfect for those who want to add a bit of flair and visual interest to an otherwise plain toe box.

 Square Toe Boots: Dan Post Earp Boot ( Amazon )

Square Toe Boots: Dan Post Earp Boot (Amazon)

5. Square Toe

Simply put, square toe boots are boots with a square shaped toe box. Wearers with wide toes or fitting issues may benefit from the roomier fit of a square toe boot. This style is most commonly seen in cowboy boots although some modern brands have incorporated the box toe look into other boot styles like chelsea boots.

 Brogue Boots: Allen Edmonds Long Branch Boot ( Amazon )

Brogue Boots: Allen Edmonds Long Branch Boot (Amazon)

6. Brogue Boots

When shopping for a new pair of boots you are bound to come across a variety of brogue boot styles. Brogue or “broguing” refers to the decorative pin holes that appear on the toe of the boot. Originally, these holes were used in the Highland marshes of Scotland and Ireland to drain water from their boots and shoes. Today, broguing is mostly used for decorative purposes. 

The general rule of thumb is that the more broguing and decoration a boot has, the more informal it is. Keep this in mind if you are looking for dress boots to wear with a suit in formal environments. But for casual wear, brogue boots are an easy way to add stylish decoration to an otherwise plain and boring boot. 

Brogue boots usually come in three different flavors: quarter brogue, semi brogue, and full brogue.

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  • Quarter Brogue

Quarter brogue are the most conservative all of the brogue boot styles and the most low key. They can be easily spotted by their simple broguing along the line of the toe cap seem.

  • Semi Brogue

Semi brogue boots step it up a notch and add a bit more flair to the toe box. Along with broguing along the line of the toe cap seem, it also features decorative broguing on the toe cap itself. 

  • Full Brogue

Full Brogue boots usually feature a wing tip with broguing in the front, around the wing tip seems and sometimes even down the sides of the uppers.

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7. Medallion toe

The last boot toe style we will introduce is the medallion toe boot. A medallion is simply a cluster of decorative holes or lines on the toe box. Unlike the brogue boots covered previously, a medallion isn’t usually accompanied by a wing tip or a cap toe and is instead a way to add a decorative design to a plain toe boot. Medallions aren’t as common in men’s boots as they are in dress shoes but you can still find them in western boots and some chelsea boot styles. 

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