What are Oxford Shoes?

Oxford shoes have seamlessly made their way into formal and casual wardrobes, becoming a must-have for fashion-conscious individuals. Whether you are gracing a black-tie event or seeking a refined touch for your everyday attire, Oxford shoes offer unmatched sophistication.

In this article, we will dive into the captivating characteristics and diverse types of Oxford shoes. From the classic plain-toe Oxfords to the cap-toe and wingtip variations, we will explore the distinct features that make each style unique.

We will also unravel the fascinating history behind Oxford shoes, understanding their enduring appeal throughout the centuries. 

Let’s step into the world of Oxfords.

What are Oxford Shoes?

Oxford shoes are characterized by distinct features that set them apart from other shoe styles. 

One defining characteristic of Oxford shoes is their closed lacing system, where the eyelet facing is stitched under the quarters. The interior and exterior quarters of Oxford shoes are stitched underneath the vamp, which is the front part of the shoe.

Another notable feature is the separate stitching of the tongue underneath the vamp. Oxford shoes typically have a low heel and a stitched leather sole.

Oxford shoes are crafted from a diverse range of materials. The traditional choice of calf leather continues to dominate. For those seeking cheaper alternatives, faux and genuine patent leather Oxford shoes are also available. Suede and canvas are also becoming increasingly popular for making Oxford shoes. 

History of Oxford Shoes

The history of Oxford shoes is rich and fascinating, with various theories and influences shaping their evolution. Three of these theories are discussed below.

One theory suggests that Oxford shoes have Scottish roots. They are said to have originated in Balmoral Castle, located in Scotland. Prince Albert is believed to have worn lace-up boots for hunting and Oxford shoes for indoor tasks.

The second theory links the shoes to the University of Oxford. According to this theory, students at Oxford University created shoes for greater comfort and to make a fashion statement.

The third theory dates back to the early 18th century when buckle makers produced strap boots for court occasions. Still, laced shoes gained popularity for informal wear. Oxford shoes are believed to have evolved from these laced shoes. 

In the 1900s, working women began to use Oxford shoes. They were considered comfortable and easy to clean.

As time passed, Oxford shoes became more low-cut and featured shorter vamps. They ultimately adopted a five to six-shoelace eyelet system that remains popular today. Modern Oxford shoes retain the classic elements such as a low heel and exposed ankle but have also evolved into new styles. Different colors and intricate detailing have made them a great choice for both formal and informal settings.

Types of Oxford Shoes

Oxford shoes come in various styles. Here are five types of Oxford shoes that you can explore:

Plain-Toe Oxfords

Plain-Toe Oxfords are also called classic Oxfords. With a clean and minimalist design, classic Oxfords have no additional detailing or cap on the toe. 

A Black-colored plain-toe Oxford shoe is perfect for black-tie events. They can be paired with tuxedos or tailored suits.

Cap-Toe Oxfords

Cap-toe Oxford shoes get their name from the additional piece of leather stitched over the toe box, creating a distinctive “cap” design. 

This style balances formal and casual, making it suitable for various occasions. They can be paired with a blazer for a smart casual look or worn with dress pants for a polished office ensemble.

Wingtip Oxfords

Wingtip Oxfords are also known as brogue Oxfords. They feature decorative perforations or broguing on the toe cap and along the sides of the shoe. The wingtip oxford shoes have a pointed-toe cap that forms an “M” or “W” shape.

Saddle Oxfords 

Saddle Oxfords were extremely popular during the 1950s. They were a part of the school dress codes at the time. These Oxford shoes are characterized by a saddle-shaped leather piece across the middle of the shoe. This strip was often in a contrasting color.

Whole-Cut Oxfords

Whole-cut Oxfords are crafted from a single piece of leather and joined by a single seam. They have a sleek, minimalistic design. They can be worn in formal settings like business meetings or office functions. They can also be paired with dark denim and a blazer for a smart casual look.

Caring Tips for Oxford Shoes

  1. Regular Maintenance: Keep your Oxford shoes looking their best by regularly cleaning and conditioning the leather. Use a soft microfiber cloth or brush to remove dirt and dust, and apply a leather conditioner to moisturize the material.
  2. Proper Storage: When not in use, store your Oxford shoes in a cool and dry place, preferably in shoe bags or boxes, to protect them from dust and potential damage. Avoid stacking them on top of each other to prevent creasing.
  3. Rotation is Key: Rotate your Oxford shoes and avoid wearing them on consecutive days. This allows the leather to breathe and prevents excessive wear, prolonging the lifespan of your shoes.

Styling Tips for Oxford Shoes

  1. Pair classic black Oxford shoes with tuxedos for formal events. Brown Oxford shoes can be paired with casual attire like chinos, jeans, or shorts for a more relaxed yet sophisticated look.
  2. Cap-toe or wingtip Oxford shoes pair well with trousers in neutral tones like black, gray, or navy.
  3. Suede or canvas Oxford shoes in lighter shades, like beige, look stylish with patterned garments like plaid or floral dresses.


Should You Wear Socks with Oxford Shoes?

Wearing socks with Oxford shoes is a personal choice. Some prefer to go wear them without socks for a more casual look. On the other hand, some opt for black socks for formal settings or no-show socks for comfort. Ultimately, it depends on individual style preferences. 

What is the Difference Between Oxford And Derby Shoes?

Oxford shoes differ from Derby shoes in their lacing system. Oxford shoes feature a closed lacing system with the eyelets facing stitched under the quarters. Derby shoes have an open lacing system with eyelets stitched on the quarters. 

Oxfords are considered more formal with a sleeker design. At the same time, Derbys are perceived as less formal with a more relaxed style and roomier fit.

What is the Difference Between Oxfords And Brogues?

Oxfords feature a “closed lacing” system where the shoelace eyelets are under the vamp, resulting in a slim, tightly fitting shoe. This gives Oxfords a sleek, formal look, making them suitable for professional or formal settings.

Brogues, conversely, are distinguished by decorative perforations on the outer leather, which can be paired with either a closed or open lacing system. These perforations give Brogues a more casual, distinctive style, originally designed for outdoor use in Scotland and Ireland. The level of broguing can vary, adding complexity to the shoe’s appearance.

Overalls, while an Oxford shoe offers a polished, refined look, Brogues provide a visually intricate, versatile style.


In conclusion, Oxford shoes are a classic footwear option that exudes elegance and sophistication. With their distinctive features, they have remained a popular choice for both formal and casual wear.

From traditional casual occasions to more upscale events, the right pair of oxfords can make all the difference between looking put together and sloppy. So if you’re looking for a timeless shoe that will never go out of style, try a pair of oxfords –You won’t be disappointed.

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