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What Are Blucher Shoes?

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  • Written By: Douglas Bonderud
  • Edited By: Michelle Arevalo
  • Last Modified Date: 27 March 2014
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Blucher shoes are a style of men's shoes originally conceived by the Prussian army officer Gebhard von Blucher during the Napoleonic Wars. In response to concern from his men about difficulties they were having getting their boots on and off, Blucher developed a type of leather half-boot that was more easily put on and removed. This boot had two leather flaps just below the ankle and across the vamp, which is the portion of the shoe directly on top of the foot. This made the foot opening wider and easier to access. Once the foot was inside the boot, the flaps were held together by laces that were run through eyelets on either side of the flaps.

These became the blueprint for the modern men's dress shoe. Many of today's Blucher shoes still have the classic leather flaps on each side of the ankle, although they often feature the addition of a leather shoe tongue. These are also known as derby shoes in Great Britain.

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The traditional Blucher style has the lace eyelets arranged in parallel lines along the flaps. These flaps do not meet at the bottom. This is different from a Balmoral style of shoe, in which the lace eyelets are parallel but the flaps touch at the bottom, forming a 'V' shape. The Balmoral style is less accommodating for those with wide or narrow feet, since the laces cannot be loosened at the bottom. Blucher shoes, in contrast, can be adjusted to be loose toward the toe, to allow for a very large or very small foot.

Gebhard von Blucher himself was a Prussian-born prince who eventually rose to the rank of field marshall during the Napoleonic Wars. Blucher was said to be an extremely energetic and creative man, and some histories claim that, toward the end of his life, he suffered a severe mental breakdown. He was a patriotic and passionate man, and was removed from various posts over his tenure with the army for speaking out of turn or ignoring the orders of his superiors. Blucher was instrumental in the defeat of Napoleon, and his own troops stormed Leipzig on the final day of the conflict there.

It is no surprise, therefore, that this man was responsible for an ingenious new design for his troops' combat boots. While other commanders, such as Wellington and Napoleon, also designed footwear, neither of those styles has had the lasting impact that Blucher shoes have had. Today many men own a pair of Blucher shoes, likely without being aware of their battlefield origin.

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Discuss this Article

pleats
Post 3

I have always loved the Blucher moc. I think that it has such a great mix of practicality and style, and many Blucher moccasins are so much better designed than other kinds of tassel shoes.

Whenever I need anything with a little bit of casual flare, the Blucher moc is definitely my first bet.

And to think that the whole concept was actually developed for an army boot -- I guess that necessity really is the mother of invention.

FirstViolin
Post 2

How would you say that the Blucher shoe differs from other eyelet shoes like the Cordovan shoe or the Allen shoe?

Was the Blucher just the predecessor to these types of shoes, and they are merely modifications on the original Blucher boot, or did the Cordovan and Allen types of shoes develop alongside the Blucher shoe?

They all look pretty much the same to me, so I'm kind of stuck trying to figure out why there's three different names for essentially the same shoe.

Can you help me figure it out?

yournamehere
Post 1

How interesting -- I had actually heard that term before, actually, but I always thought that it applies to wingtips shoes, for some reason.

The way I heard the term was when a shoe maker asked me if I wanted a shoe with a Blucher toe -- I had no idea what he was talking about, so I just said yes just to see what it was.

He told me a little about the style of the Blucher shoe and boot, but not the history behind it. I'm glad I know now, especially since the design has such an interesting origin!

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