Allen Edmonds Derby and OxfordWhen it comes to shoes, there are lots of different styles that a man can choose from, however there are a few core styles that every man should know. In particular, two of these styles are the Oxford and the Derby. In this short article we shall cover the main difference between these two shoes and discuss some of the style options that one has when donning each of these classics. Additionally, we’ll make some suggestions that may help you determine which shoe might be best for you!

What’s The Difference Between An Oxford & Derby Shoe

Oxford v Derby Shoes
The big difference between the Oxford and the Derby has to do with whether or not the laces are opened or closed from the vamp (front) of the shoe.


  • Broguing (perforated leather patterns) has no impact on whether a shoe is considered an Oxford or a Derby
  • A toe cap (additional piece of leather across the toe area) also has no impact on the parent style

In today’s marketplace, many designers like to mix old and new shoe styles along with different materials to create something fresh.

Oxford – Closed

Oxford Closed Laces

If you can’t run your finger from the top of the tongue to the front of the shoe without interruption, you’re not dealing with an Oxford. This is a sleeker, more formal shoe and is sometimes referred to as a “Balmoral.” Traditionally, this is best paired with a suit.

Derby – Open

Derby Open Laces

If there is a seamless piece of leather from the top of the tongue to the front of the shoe you have a Derby. This shoe is also know as a “Blucher.” Originally, the Derby was used as a more casual hunting / sporting shoe for its ease of cleansing after muddy days out in the field, however it has become increasingly acceptable as a casual dress shoe over time. This shoe looks great with a sports coat, or even less formal ensembles.

Style Options For The Oxford & Derby

Now that you are familiar with how to identify the style of shoe, the next question is how could / should you wear them?

Mens Shoes, Oxford v Derby

The Formal Look (Suit)

Formal look Oxford V Derby

Winner = Oxford

The Casual Chino Look

Casual chino look oxford v derby

Winner = Tied

The Casual Jeans Look

Jeans with oxford v derby

Winner = Derby

Closing Thoughts

Although we have arbitrarily applied winners and losers for each category with respect to style, if we had to pick one over the other, the Oxford would come out on top. It is always better to have the option of being more formal, rather than trying to dress a less formal shoe up (it doesn’t work quite as well that way around).

With that being said, every man should have several shoe options available to him, especially in the brown palette as there are so many shades. So when you’re shopping, take into consideration where you’re most likely going to be wearing the shoes and make the best decision for your particular needs.

[It is also important to note that the light brown color of the Derby shoe above makes it more informal and favorable for summer wear.]

Both shoes featured above are from Allen Edmonds, having a full leather welt and are made in the USA.

You can shop Allen Edmonds on here.

About the Author:

Paul Anthony is the founder and creative director at Bespoke Unit. He has had a life long affair with design, watches, fragrance and clothing. Originally from England, he now lives in the USA splitting time between NYC & Philly. Favoring "British Style", but has an overall eclectic taste.


  1. Carl February 22, 2016 at 12:29 am - Reply

    Great post, which AE model and color-name are your oxfords?

    • Emily Anne March 1, 2016 at 9:48 pm - Reply

      Hi Carl, my apologies on the late reply. They are Carlyle Plain Toe Oxfords in Burnished Brown.

  2. Kat February 3, 2018 at 7:36 am - Reply

    Lovely, but you’re forgetting the most important part. A derby shoe was created for people with high arches, while an oxford was created for low arches.

    • Paul Anthony February 15, 2018 at 11:12 am - Reply

      Thanks for your comment.

  3. Jeremy Thomas July 6, 2019 at 10:16 pm - Reply

    Thanks, on review, most of my shoes are Derbies. Not sure if anyone at work notices or cares.

    Is that true regarding arches as Kat says?

    I have magnificent arches, reminiscent of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, so perhaps that is why.

    • Charles-Philippe July 8, 2019 at 5:21 am - Reply

      True, some workplaces won’t distinguish the two but how we feel about how we dress ourselves can make a difference.

      As for them being designed for people with high arches, I’m not sure whether that’s the case. However, it is true that the open laces do provide more space on the in-step.



    • Conchita Congo July 9, 2019 at 7:06 am - Reply

      Ah so! 💡 This Philly/Vegas girl thanks you for the schooling.💜

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