Oxford history

There are two main types of formal shoes – Derbys and Oxfords. Oxfords, the more formal of the two styles, originated from Scotland and Ireland and are sometimes referred to as a Balmoral shoe (after the Queen’s castle in Scotland).

Derbys vs Oxfords

The basic body of the classic Oxford shoe is constructed to look like one seamless piece of leather. It differs from the Derby in that the eyelet tabs are stitched underneath the vamp, or the top of the shoe. This construction method is more commonly referred to as ‘closed lacing’. This design lends itself to a sleeker, more elegant shape making it the more formal of the two classic shoes.

Traditionally plain, the Oxford features various details including toe caps, which are stitched over the toe, embellishments with Brogueing detail – the embellished holes punched into the leather – and wingtips, which feature a ‘W’ shaped toe cap that run back from the toe, giving the appearance of a bird spreading its wings. These are the defining feature of a full brogue.

Oxford features

The Oxford shoe for the modern man has become a truly versatile lace-up shoe that can be worn at any formal occasion from business wear, weddings and ceremonies to dress, and casual occasions like dates and weekend festivities.

Every man should own a pair of Oxfords in Black and/or Brown to wear with suits at the office and if you’re a fan of this classic style, a more casual look can be achieved with an Oxford shoe in suede. For a guide on the staples for a man’s shoe collection, check out this blog article here.

Do you own Oxfords but would like some tips on what clothing to style them with? Check out our guide to wearing Oxford shoes.

What are your preferred Oxford style variations? Share by commenting below.