Often labeled as the most elegant shoes, every man should own a pair. Whether you want a formal or casual look, you are never wrong with a couple of Oxfords. What makes them unique is their simplistic design. This smart shoe has a flat heel, closed lace system and thin soles. We call them classics because of their extensive history dating back to the 17th century.
Use of laces is relatively new since boots have always been the staple men’s footwear. Most featured buttons and a high heel. Though, boots were the most preferred style that did not stop the emergence of Oxfords.
Two theories exist on how the shoe came to be. The first which seems the most probable recounts, Oxford University students popularized the shoe by wearing it around campus. However, no one has ever claimed to have invented the shoe.
The Oxfords they wore on campus, first had narrow slits on the sides of the shoe. Over the course of time, as the donned them, further modifications took place including the addition of side laces. Additional changes included the thinning of the shoe’s sole, and exposing of the ankle.
In the second theory, the shoe is claimed to have emerged from Ireland and Scotland. The argument has some ground because the modern cap-toe Oxford also called Balmorals, draws its name from the Balmoral Castle in Scotland.
Although it was once a shoe considered stylish by campus students, nowadays it is predominately part of a formal look, worn with suits or even jeans.
What Makes Oxfords Unique?
The lacing system is a unique thing about the shoe. It is a closed laced system distinct from a Derby shoe. Its closed system features a quarters and vamp.
The vamp is defined as the part of the shoe covering the insteps and toes. Put simply, the front face of the Oxford shoe. Quarters cover the heel and join the vamp, meeting at the back part of the shoe. Laces are fixed on the quarters for closed Oxfords, except in whole cut Oxfords made of continuous leather. It is the laces you use to fasten two quarters together. After you fastened them, both quarters should touch each other leaving no gap in the middle.
Oxford shoe designs for the British Market have 5 eyelet holes on both sides. American Oxfords have an extra pair of eyelets. You can still find some shoes with 3 or 4 eyelets, to match the style you want.
Types of Oxford Shoes
The shoe has many variations, the most iconic being the plain Oxford with a quarter and vamp. It doesn’t have a covered toe nor broguing. Though simple, it is very exquisite when worn to accompany a tuxedo. Its shoelaces can be varied, to suit the occasion. Narrow laces are suitable for day wear and broader ones for matching with the tuxedo during the evenings.
Other notable styles of the Oxford shoe include the Brogue, Cap Toe, Kiltie, Saddle, and whole cut. If it is low-healed, has the ankles exposed, and features the closed lacing system, then it is an oxford.
Ideally, all men should own a pair of these iconic shoes. We have some made of leather from alligators and crocodiles, which can last for ages.
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