“Oxford” sounds like English origin, but it might rather remind of the most prestigious university in England. And indeed, we can identify a connection between those two. After all, it was former Oxford students, who have redefined men’s fashion in the middle of the 19th century. It has always been their goal to develop their own, more elegant and contrasting style – just perfect for graduates from the “University of Oxford”. Ever since the 1920s, the Oxford men’s shoe has been an integral part of men’s shoe fashion and we can recognize it due to its unique characteristics. Every stylish and elegant gentleman will wear Oxfords these days!
The most elegant men’s shoe since 1920
Typical of the Oxford is its closed lacing, usually there are five eyelets. Due to those features, this shoe model looks very elegant; just like a perfectly designed unity.
Typical of the Oxford is its closed lacing.
In the 1860s, noble men initially used it as a classic summer shoe. Back then, the sole was very thin and could not protect against moisture at all. It was not until the early 1920s that shoemakers developed a thicker sole to withstand bad weather conditions. Finally, the Oxford has been established in men’s shoe fashion and was considered as one of the most elegant men’s dress shoes ever. One hundred years later, this perception is still valid.
Oxfords represent pure elegance and are indispensable to a tuxedo. All Oxford shoes retain this basic and simple style, especially the high-quality ones. Hence, it is no surprise that for most style-conscious men, the Oxford is their favorite dress shoe.
We can characterize quality Oxford men’s shoes by the following features:
- They represent the supreme discipline of shoemaking and are manufactured in a very elaborate way. As a result, the shoes are durable and stable in their form.
- High-quality Oxford shoes are mostly handcrafted. This is the only way to create a long-lasting full leather shoe with lots of quality features.
- Stability and quality are both features which are attributed to the high-quality leather used. Even the shoe heel of an Oxford is made thereof.
- They are subject to the highest quality standards and are made of the best materials, following strict traditional procedures. The latter often consist of over 150 individual shoemaking steps.
Oxford Broguings – fancy perforations
Broguings are intricate perforations on the shoe. Plain men’s shoes without any punching initially suggest a formal and festive occasion. Consequently, most people will consider fancy perforations as more casual. Certainly, this does not necessarily mean that shoes with patterns are completely unsuitable for the business world. Of course, your black or brown Brogues will go perfectly well with a suit, if you are less strict. In addition to Full-Brogues, ýou will also find Semi-Brogue and Quarter-Brogues Oxfords.
Originally, Brogues were being produced for peasants who were mainly working in swampy areas. Thus, the wetness entering the shoe could escape through those small holes. Of course, the foot was not dry, but at least one did not feel like standing barefoot in the mud. Today, these are only small circular perforations on the upper part of the leather and no real holes.
Furthermore, we can characterize the Oxford by its distinct lines and the typical narrow shape. The surface is also smooth and elegantly inconspicuous. If you are looking for a shoe without frills, go for “Plain Oxfords“. This model is perfect for an elegant opera visit or festive occasions and you can wonderfully combine it with a tuxedo. Plain Oxfords are timeless and appear to be of particularly high quality due to the soft calfskin and their smooth surface. Skilled shoemakers often use French Calf with medium softness and a special delicate fineness. It is a truly elegant shoe which men preferably wear for business or other formal rather than casual occasions.
The main characteristic of a Captoe Oxford is the additional piece of leather in the toe area, the so-called toe cap. You can therefore see a horizontal seam across the toe box. Again, we can recognize the high-quality of the leather, on the upper but also in the lining and the sole. Even the heel is made of so-called “French Calf”, which makes the shoe a real full leather shoe. This leather is from young cattle and has a very fine and smooth texture. In 1850, exactly this model became famous by students from Oxford. Its rather soft curves and the traditional English last, along with the striking cut and the closed lacing made the shoe one of the students’ favorites. The Captoe Oxford is the classical business dress shoes and gents wear it for more formal than casual events. However, it looks also great with flannel trousers.
In addition to the typical seam at the edge of the shaft, the Wholecut Oxford often has one more visible seam. The shoemaker usually closes this shoe model by seaming the leather at the back. You will use one single piece of leather only to make the upper (anything above the sole). Like all Oxfords, the Wholecut also has the closed lacing system. Wholecut Oxford shoes are therefore the symbol of minimalism and elegance. As you do not have to sew any additional pieces together, the body of the shoe is completely smooth. And as there are no unnecessary seams, nothing distracts from the high quality of the leather. Most often there are also no perforations (sometimes there is a medallion on the toe cap).
The Wholecut Oxford ranks among the most elegant men’s shoes worldwide.
Hence, the Wholecut Oxford ranks among the top 10 of the most elegant men’s shoe models in the world. However, connoisseurs consider it to be one of the most difficult to make shoe types. The reason: Since the artisan creates the shoe from only one piece of leather, this single piece must be of impeccable quality. If a small scratch happens accidentally during production, it is not possible to replace just a small piece in this case. Unfortunately, you need to start the entire shoemaking process over. It is a shoe, which you can wear perfectly for your own wedding for example.
Seamless Wholecut Oxfords
Compared to the Wholecut Oxford which we have discussed before, skilled artisans construct the Seamless Wholecut Oxford shoe without the seam at the heel. As a result, its production is even more complex. For this reason, you cannot create Seamless Oxfords by machines. Therefore, not many shoemakers offer them as part of their product portfolio. This model requires the highest level of craftsmanship, precision and a profound understanding of crafting an oxford. Hence, you can call it the unicorn of shoes.
Oxford shoes for wedding tuxedos and business suits
Of course, anyone is free to pair his Oxford shoes (especially brogues) to casual outfits (e.g. jeans). However, an Oxford always shows a certain sense of style exuding taste and elegance. Therefore, men preferably wear it for formal occasions rather than as a casual shoe, especially in dark brown or black. While you can perfectly pair black Oxfords, such as Wholecut Oxfords, to a tuxedo or a wedding suit, dark brown oxfords will look fancy with navy suits.