What is are Oxford shoes, the different types and how to pull them off.

by Sunny Rattanpal on Oct 13, 2016

What is are Oxford shoes, the different types and how to pull them off.

An oxford shoe is quintessential for a men’s footwear, however in recent times, it has found its way into woman’s fashion world too.

An oxford shoe is known for its characteristic closed lace system. The uppers of an Oxford usually consist of the quarters and the vamp. It has shoelace eyelets attached to the vamp which is the upper part of the shoe that covers the toes and instep and the quarters that wrap around the heel and meet the vamp in the middle of the foot.


There was a time in 17th century when men’s footwear was dominated by boots which was worn both indoors and outdoors. These often had high heels and tight buttons, a style popularized by King Louis XIV of France who was popular for his fashion sense. Hence most men aligned their fashion choices as per the French Court.

It is said that later in 1800s, a half boot with side slits called as an oxonian shoe was made popular by the students of oxford university. In the first instance, the shoe was designed with narrow slits on sides to make them comfortable as a campus wear. Over the due course, the side slits were replaced with laces which were on the side too. To make the shoe even more comfortable the side laces found their way on the instep and the heel was lowered to flat.

Ironically, though they originated in a campus, they are considered too formal in a campus in today’s date.

There is another theory to today’s oxford shoe. It is also said that, they originated in Scotland and Ireland, often referred as Balmorals.

Different Types of Oxfords

Plain Version

The plain Oxford, considered to be most elegant and appropriate for a formal wear basically consists of the quarter and the vamp. It does not have a leather cap over the toe box and broguing.

If you desire a mix and match of plain oxfords with a party look, then change the laces. Go for a lace that is wider than the regular lace and probably resembles a bow tie. You can also have a mirror shine done to them which give an instant party look.

Cap Toe Version

This is the most popular choice all over the world among all. As the name goes, it is toe cap; an extra piece of leather is what makes it stand out. They also feature a heel cap. They are available in various colors like navy blue, red, wine, brown, tan, cognac etc but black is always considered the epitome.

Wing-Tip Version

First and foremost, oxfords and brogues are not the same. Basically an oxford shoe is plain in design whereas brogue though considered similar to an oxford in shoe design, it has detailing done on the cap. The cap of the brogue looks like the letter ‘w’, based on which they are either classified as full brogue (wingtip), semi brogue, quarter brogue, long wing brogue, short wing brogue etc.

Saddle Version

These oxfords do not have any toe caps but have an additional strip of leather in contrasting color that runs across the top of the middle of the shoes down to the sole. They may or may not have heel caps.

Kiltie Version

There is an additional fringed tongue over the top of the shoe which makes it different from other versions. These shoes are no longer visible in the fashion industry.

Whole-Cut Version

This version is known for its single piece construction i.e the leather required for the upper part of the shoe is cut from a single piece of leather. This has closed lacing system. This shoe version has become very popular in recent times as it looks really sleek and classy due to the single cut, single seam at the heel and broguing on the cap.

Seamless Version

Similar to the whole-cut version, seamless is also cut from a single piece of leather but unlike the former it does not have a seam on the heel. This requires twice as much leather as it is needed for a regular oxford. Often whole-cut and seamless are used synonymously but technically they are different.

Men’s Fashion: How to wear them?

A suit is to be worn on an oxford shoe, this style has been there from decades but as men’s fashion is channelizing more into casual and street style, wearing oxfords in different styles must be known.

To highlight your rich and classy pair of oxfords, make sure that your trousers or jeans end just at the top of the shoe so that they don’t hide away the precious broguing and to have a chic look, try bold and patterned colorful socks.

In today’s date various types of jeans are available. Not all of them are compatible with dress shoes like distressed jeans, lighter wash, and jeans with a tear or holes which are considered ultra-casual. Go for denims that are fit well at the waist and are not too draggy. Boot cut jeans also do not go with these shoes. At the end, the color of the jeans and shoe should be in contrast to each other and not matching. Example – A formal white shirt with sleeves rolled up, a polka dotted tie on a sky blue jeans with a black brogue would look perfect for a casual party or an outing with colleagues.

Ladies Fashion

Oxford shoes are very versatile. As they are available in many colors, they can be pulled off on these ensembles: formal pants and formal shirt, high waist crop pants and blouse, skinny pants, a top and a blazer, tea length skirts just above the knee with a blouse. You can wear them with dresses too. Knee length long sleeved dresses with tights or leggings would look great. You can also experiment with colorful printed scarfs to accentuate your look.

Women who are scared to make bold statements with oxfords yet want to don them should go for low contrast colors like nude, metallic, light gray or light brown and tan. These colors create less contrast between the shoes and the skin color.

Oxfords are designed to draw attention to the feet and ankles, so for the best look, women should wear them without socks or with socks that are hidden below the top of the shoes. You can also try knee high socks for chic look.

Now, that you know how to pull off an oxford shoe in style, shop our classy yet snazzy oxfords here. Happy Shopping!

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