Learn How to Wear Oxford Shoes for Men

Without even realising so, many of us wear oxford shoes daily. Fine-looking leather shoes have become an everyday choice for any occasion. Oxford shoes fit all, whether going to school, visiting a friend, or attending a meeting or a wedding. Within a blink of an eye, you choose it. But how much exactly do you know about these forever fashion items? Can you differentiate between a derby and oxford shoes? Do you know how many types or colours oxford shoes offer? And most importantly, do you even realize whether the one you are wearing right now is an oxford shoe or not?

Well, worry not! We are here to give you all the details. So, let's dive in to learn about this all-rounder footwear. 

A brief history of the Oxford shoes

Oxford shoes got their name from The University of Oxford. In the 1800s, these were popular footgear worn around in the university. Though heeled boots were symbolic to men then, oxford shoes got all the hype due to their comfort. Oxfords are linked to Celtic lineage too. Few are termed as Balmorals due to their origin from shoes worn in Ireland and Scotland. 

What Are Oxford Shoes?

Oxford shoes are lacing shoes. Well, that may confuse you with any other laced-up shoe. Here is a very specific detail of this footgear, they have a closed lace system. Usually, laced shoes like derby have an open-laced system. Additionally, oxford has an exposed ankle with a low heel. 

If you are a shoe analyst or someone with keen knowledge about shoes. You must know basic terms associated with shoes. Every shoe has an upper, middle, and lower. Here we will discuss the upper of oxford. It is comprised of two parts;  vamp and quarters. 

Vamp encloses the toe and instep of the shoe. It forms the front of the shoe. Quarters enclosed heel and sewed with vamp at the middle. It forms the back of the shoe. 

Interestingly, a very clear difference between a derby and oxford other than the lacing system is the sewing methodology of quarters and vamp. In oxford, the vamp is sewn onto the quarters, whereas, in derby, quarters are sewn onto the vamp. So, on the surface level, you can identify oxford shoes by its closed lacing system. 

Different Types of Oxford Shoes

To begin with, let us see various types of this footwear. These types are mainly classified based on their production style. 

a whole-cut oxford is made up of a single piece of leather

Wholecut Oxford

As the name signifies, a whole-cut oxford is made up of a single piece of leather. Generally, various shoe parts like upper, middle, and lower are cut on different leather. Later they are sewed together. But the whole-cut comes in single leather with the signature closed lacing system and a single seam at heels. Giving the shoe, a refined and neat look. Single cutting of the leather into a shoe requires extra skills. Therefore these shoes are expensive compared to other types. 

Seamless Oxford

Seamless oxfords are much like wholecut, with no seam. Just like wholecut, they are produced with a single piece of leather. The making of these shoes required more leather as well as expertise. They are rarely available and are offered by bespoke shoemakers. Many people confused wholecut and seamless. Seamless is sleeker with no seam, whereas wholecut has a seam at the heel.   

Cap Toe Oxford

One of the most popular oxford shoes is the cap toe. The name came from the manufacturing style of the shoe. In addition to Vamp and quarters, this shoe has leather is sewn at the toe, which appears as a toe cap. Cap-toe is used as formal wear and gives your attire the missing spark. 

brogue oxford shoes are considered semi-formal shoes you can wear to the office, weddings, or even friend gatherings

Brogue / Wingtip 

Brogues are more of a decorative shoe. They have an additional M or W-shaped toe cap, whose edges are extended along the side of the shoe. It is considered semi-formal shoes you can wear to the office, weddings, or even friend gatherings.  


Saddles are more American than English. These shoes come with an extra leather strip that is attached in the middle and runs down to the sole of the shoes. It can be one tone, but popular ones are in contrasting colours.    


Kiltie has become rare these days. They are decorative shoes that come with an added fringed tongue that is hung over the top. 

Best Oxford Shoe Colours

Initially, the well-liked colours of these shoes were black and brown. But over time, these are manufactured in various colours and tones. You can contrast them with your attire of any colour, be it green, burgundy, or red. Here are a few of the popular colours that are liked globally. 

Black Oxford Shoes

Black is a universal colour, liked and worn by many. So, make it black if you can only afford one oxford pair. A black cap toe or whole cut will go well with any suit. Be it black, charcoal, or even brown. 

brown oxford shoes can go along most of your office attires

Brown Oxford Shoes 

Brown may not be as universal as black. But it can go along most of your office attires. They can be worn with charcoal, grey, and blue suits. Obviously, never make the mistake of wearing brown oxfords to a black tie event.  

Burgundy Oxford Shoes 

A very tricky colour that you may not wear with every suit. The suits that will go best with burgundy oxford shoes are navy, brown, or grey suits. Additionally, they are an excellent choice to wear with navy chinos and jeans.  

you can pull a classy look with tan oxfords with your light blue and grey suits

Tan Oxford Shoes

Considered an informal colour in footwear. But you can pull a classy look with tan Oxfords with your light blue and grey suits. They can go well with khaki and jeans. 

How and when to wear formal Oxford shoes for men?

Many of you may have a vast collection of footwear and often wonder what to wear and when to wear it. Here is a brief style guide to wearing these timeless shoes. 

Formal Attire

Cap toe and whole cut are the best options to wear with formal attire. The best colour to add more formality are black and brown. Wholecut has an additional advantage of giving a dapper look due to its single seam. 

Smart Casual

Tan oxfords are footwear with which you can experiment various looks. From the office to family dinner. These dress shoes will prove the best choice. 

Business Casual

Cap Toe will also serve the purpose if you can afford to buy a whole-cut shoe. It will add the elegance, style, and seriousness you are looking for in a business deal or meeting. 

Casual Outfit

Saddle, Kiltie, and wingtip are the best options to wear along casual outfit. 

Oxford Shoe Outfits

A few outfits with which you can pull a stylish look are here. 

Oxford Shoes with Pants

The best option is to wear plain black and brown one with a round toe. This will give a safe spot between formal and informal. 

Oxford Shoes with Chinos 

You can choose any light colour with your chinos, but to begin with, tan is our top priority. They will give you perfect sophistication.  

Oxford Shoes with Jeans 

Often considered formal shoes, many people believe they should not be worn with jeans. That's incorrect. You can pair them with jeans, but the jeans should be slim-fitted, not baggy. Additionally, keep colour coordination in mind. Lighter jeans require lighter colour oxford and vice versa.    

Oxfords Shoes with Sweater & Turtleneck 

To enhance your style game, you can wear oxfords with a jumper and turtleneck. The best option is to go with a double-ton saddle or brogue-type oxford. Cap toe will also work well for a casual look.

Now we will address some frequently asked questions about Oxford Shoes.  

Are Oxford shoes formal?

Oxford is flexible shoes. They can be treated as formal or casual depending upon the style and colour of the shoes.  

What is the difference between Oxfords and Brogues?

Brogues are extra details added to shoes to make them more aesthetic. Brogues can be added to any oxford shoes at the middle or cap toe. 

What is the difference between Oxfords and Derby Shoes?

The main difference between the two is the lacing system. Oxford comes with closed lacing whereas derby shoes has open lacing. 

How should Oxford shoes fit?

Not too tight, not too loose. The tongue should be flat when you laced up. If the has folded, your oxfords are loose. If you find it difficult to hide tongue while lacing up, your shoes are tight. 

What is a proper pant break for Oxford shoes?

A partial pant break is recommended. That ensures the hem of your pants is falling exactly above the top of your oxfords.

How to lace Oxford shoes?

Keep the laces parallel and horizontal while tying them. 

What kind of belt should I wear with Oxford shoes?

The rule is simple, wear a leather belt of matching colour. If you are wearing brown oxford, wear a brown or any shade of brown leather belt. 

Can Oxfords be worn with a suit?

Yes, cap toe, plain black, whole cut, seamless go well with any mens suits.

November 07, 2022

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