When 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
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
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
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?
The Formal Look (Suit)
Winner = Oxford
The Casual Chino Look
Winner = Tied
The Casual Jeans Look
Winner = Derby
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.