Understanding the Oxford shoe is essential for the modern-day gentleman. Yet, the term “oxford” is often used to describe any style of dress shoe, when it should only be used to refer to a particular design within the realm of formal footwear.

Therefore, knowing what Oxford shoes are and how to wear them is fundamental for dressing for the right occasion. In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about Oxford shoes including:

Use the links above to jump ahead or scroll down to read it all!

Becket Simonon Dean Oxford Stone Steps

What Are The Best Oxford Shoes For Men?

In this section, we’ll begin by exploring the best Oxford shoes that you can buy online. The first menu will allow you to quickly navigate between each listing. Otherwise, scroll down to read about them all.

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1. Beckett Simonon Dean [Best Value]

Becket Simonon Dean Oxford Dress Shoes
  • Color: Black, Bordeaux, Tan, Oak, Brown
  • Material: Argentinian Calfskin Leather
  • Pricing: $175.20* [Shop From Beckett Simonon]
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What better Oxford shoe to start off our list than a classic cap-toe? An excellent specimen by Beckett Simonon, the Deans were handcrafted in their Bogotá workshop from Italian calfskin leather using a Blake stitch.

Becket Simonon Dean Oxford SoleThey offer great value for money, which gets even better when you use our exclusive code 20% discount code, BU20*, during checkout. However, there is one caveat: the shoes follow a group made-to-order process.

Consequently, you’ll have to wait for your shoes to be made in the next batch, which can take several months. If you’re in a hurry, we suggest Amberjack or Ace Marks below as another top-value alternative. Both of these companies maintain stock that ships out promptly after ordering.

"Offering excellent value for money in exchange for a waiting time, Beckett Simonon provides premium craftsmanship at an affordable price."
Bespoke Unit Rating: ★★★★★

Read More: Beckett Simonon Durant & Dean Review

2. Amberjack Cap-Toe [Modern Oxford]

Chestnut Leather Cap-Toe Oxford Shoes Amberjack
  • Colors: Chestnut (Pictured), Honey, Obsidian, Onyx
  • Material: A-Grade, Full-Grain Calfskin
  • Pricing: $195 [Shop On Amberjack]
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Amberjack’s The Cap-Toe Oxford balances classic design and modern comfort.

Crafted from full-grain American steer leather in Portugal, it features elegant broguing and a sporty toe medallion, making it suitable for office and semi-formal wear.

Amberjack CapToe Leather Business Casual Shoes

This hybrid Oxford design merges traditional cap-toe aesthetics with advanced features like a dual-density outsole and memory foam insoles, ensuring both style and exceptional coziness for less than $200.

For more information, check out our full review of Amberjack’s Cap-Toe.

3. Ace Marks Griffin [Classic Cap Toe Oxford]

Ace Marks Griffin Cap Toe Oxford
  • Colors: Tan, Red, Brown, Grey/Blue
  • Material: Calfskin Leather
  • Pricing: From $226 [Shop From Ace Marks]
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Beautifully made in a family-owned Italian shoe factory from supple full-grain calfskin leather, Ace Marks offers genuine Italian craftsmanship at an affordable price. We’re very fond of the sleek Griffin cap-toe Oxford with its elegant profile and amenable fit imparted by it Blake Flex construction.

4. Allen Edmonds Park Avenue [Premium Oxford Shoe]

Allen Edmonds Park Avenue Oxford Dress Shoes
  • Color: Black, Brown
  • Material: Full-Grain Calfskin
  • Pricing: $425 [Shop On Zappos]
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A US-made classic from Allen Edmonds, the Park Avenue is their flagship model as well as a testament to American craftsmanship. Constructed using a Goodyear welt from full-grain calfskin leather, they offer the best possible quality that you can find at this price point.

Read More: Allen Edmonds Park Avenue Review

5. Beckett Simonon Valencia [Wholecut Oxfords]

Valencia Wholecut Oxford Shoes
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Although technically a family member, wholecut shoes don’t immediately spring to mind when referring to Oxfords. However, the Valencia is a fantastic example of the style and a very elegant piece of footwear.

If you go for it, don’t forget your 20% discount using our exclusive code “BU20″* during checkout.

Read More: Beckett Simonon Valencia Review

What Are Oxford Shoes?

Graphic of Top And Side View Of Black Oxford ShoeAn Oxford shoe is any lace-up shoe that utilizes a closed-throat lacing system. This is the case regardless of broguing, cap-toe stitching, number of eyelets, or any other aesthetic detail.

Here in the U.S., you’ll often hear the term “oxford” used to refer to any lace-up shoe. This is technically incorrect, as bluchers are also lace-ups but are structurally distinct from oxfords.

The Oxford shoe is the mother of all dress shoes. In black patent leather, they are the number one choice to wear with a tuxedo in the evening. Additionally, Oxfords are considered the dressiest daytime shoes, as their slim profiles pair excellently with business suits. Moreover, a pair of non-patent leather black oxfords can even be worn with a tuxedo if they’re exceptionally well-polished.

If you’re going to own just one pair of dress shoes, you can’t beat an Oxford for versatility and classic appeal.

Are They Called “Oxfords” Or “Balmorals”?

Both names refer to the same thing in a general sense. The terms have English origins, with “Oxford” coming into use because the shoe was born at Oxford University and ” Balmoral” being named after Balmoral Castle in Scotland.

Yet, one key difference is that balmoral sometimes refers to a cap-toe Oxford shoe. This varies from country to country, and there’s no standardized parlance. Also note that “Balmoral” is often shortened to “bal.”

In the States, oxford is undoubtedly the favored term among the majority of men, so we use the term interchangeably.

History Of Men’s Oxford Shoes

Maglieriapelle Pamukkale Brogue Shoes Near FountainWe can trace the Oxford dress shoe’s origins to the year 1800, which is a big surprise in England. At the time, students at Oxford University commonly wore a half boot with side slits that was called the Oxonian.

As students developed a distaste for high boots and adopted shoes, the low-cut “Oxford” became a go-to option.

The laces of an oxford were originally placed on the outside of the shoe, taking the place of the side slits of the boot from which it’s derived. This is a rather uncommon look today and is regarded as quite fashionable.

It’s fun to think that this unorthodox shoe is closer to the original article than what is typically offered in stores.

How Do You Wear Oxford Shoes?

The Balmoral is the quintessential suit shoe, for starters. If you own a pair of black and medium brown bals, you will be able to wear them with nearly any suit you can imagine. It’s a popular shoe amongst those who work in government, law, finance, and other sartorially conservative industries.

Oxfords aren’t just limited to suits, however. Available ready-to-wear or custom-made in leather, suede, canvas, and many other materials, you can find a pair for any occasion.

Do Oxfords Need Laces?

Around 2010-2011, there was a popular trend of wearing oxfords without laces. This became so popular that shoemakers made oxfords with stretchy gore under the tongue to hug the foot like a loafer; the laces were made to be removed. See below for a laceless, off-white suede full brogue version.

White Suede Shoes With No Socks

This author once owned a gorgeous pair of caramel-ish tan cap-toe oxfords made in this way. It was great that you could go laceless or not. Sadly, those shoes got worn into the ground, and they’re no longer with us.

Some loved this look, especially without socks. Others found it in poor taste and even the opposite of the sprezzatura it was trying to convey.

We suggest that if you’re going to go laceless, do it with a lighter-colored, more casual oxford. This is more sartorially logical; dressy black oxfords will look incomplete without laces.

On the other end of the spectrum, using black ribbon as laces for formal occasions (such as a black tie) is a nice touch.

Formality of Oxfords

Oxfords are the most formal shoe available for civilian men in the Western world. Generally, they go best with suits and evening wear.

Brown Oxfords With Blue Trousers

Keep in mind that their formality level will decrease as the amount of ornamentation on the shoe increases. A full brogue, for example, may be an oxford, but it cannot be worn with a tuxedo. The only exception to this rule is a cap-toe, which retains formality when it’s not the perforated variety.

Given the wide range of options in terms of material and color, they’re incredibly versatile and can be worn with:

  • Tuxedos (black patent leather)
  • Suits (any medium-to-dark colored leather or suede)
  • Odd Jackets & Trousers (various shades of brown leather and suede
  • Chinos & Other Casual Trousers
  • Jeans


Oxfords can be worn any time of day, any time of year. However, you have to be mindful of color and material. Here are some suggestions, but know that there’s much more that can be done with this shoe:

  • Spring: Light-to-medium brown leather or suede
  • Summer: White nubuck, beige leather, canvas sneaker
  • Autumn: Burgundy cordovan leather, dark brown suede
  • Winter: Black and dark brown leather

How Oxfords Are Constructed

Black Cap Toe Oxfords On Brick

Closed throat lacing on a black balmoral

We’ve referenced different lacing systems and have an entire article about the difference between an Oxford and a Derby.

In case you’ve missed both of those, here’s a very quick explanation:

  • Closed throat lacing (oxford/balmoral): Quarters (leather sides through which laces pass) are sewn down to the instep. Creates a “V” shape under the center of the laces.
  • Open throat lacing (blucher/derby): Quarters are not sewn down to the instep. No “V” is created.
Amberjack Boot Review Brown Nubuck Leather

Open-throat lacing on a pair of Amberjack boots

Because of this construction, Oxfords offer a less forgiving fit than bluchers. This is great if you have a smaller foot. However, if you have a larger foot or even a foot with a high instep, be sure to try on many pairs before buying and buy the most comfortable pair you can afford.

Parting Words On Oxfords & Balmorals

Becket Simonon Dean Oxford on paisley carpet

From a wardrobe-building perspective, the Oxford is the first dress shoe a man should buy. It will go with just about anything, so if he invests wisely (i.e., doesn’t get a cheap pair and doesn’t wear them daily), the cost per wear will be peanuts.

College grads, men re-entering the workforce, and guys just looking to expand their wardrobes: buy a high-quality Oxford shoe. It’ll provide years of stylish pleasure.

What Next?

Now that you have learned about Oxford shoes, check out some of our related footwear guides for men:

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