Traditionally, Oxford shoes described a style of men’s footwear with closed lacing, a design dating back to 18th-century Europe. Sometimes referred to as Balmorals in the United States, the standard Oxford shoe, with its flat-capped toe and smooth leather finish, was once considered the dressiest variety of men’s shoe, but Oxfords evolved to encompass a range of popular looks.

One key characteristic of Oxford shoes is that the pieces of leather punched with eyelets are stitched beneath the shoe’s midsection or “vamp” and meet in the middle to form a tight line over the tongue when laced. In contrast, on shoes with open lacing—known as as Derbies or Bluchers—the two eyelet-punched sections for laces are sewn over the leather vamp, which emerges as the tongue at the top of the shoe.

Though the origins of the name Derby are still uncertain, the term Blucher was adopted in homage to Prussian military officer Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher, who helped defeat Napoleon Bonaparte at the Battle of Waterloo. Blücher had supposedly redesigned his soldier’s boots with open lacing to create a wider opening for the foot, making them more comfortable and quicker to get on and off.

Oxford shoes got their nickname after the look became trendy among Oxford students in the early 19th century, but today, the term is often misused as a stand-in for a variety of leather dress shoes, including Derbies, Bluchers, and Brogues. Among the elite who wore such designs, the rule was generally as follows: Minimalist shoes with fewer seams were the most formal, whereas increasing the ornamentation and amount of leather used made shoes more casual.

During the 19th century, men increasingly wore Brogue-style shoes, a flashier look that evolved from Scottish walking shoes. Known in English after the Gaelic name, “bróg,” this footwear featured perforated patterns or “broguing,” which was originally punched completely through to the interior to help moisture escape after walking through wet fields. Since becoming a staple of upscale wardrobes, variations on the Brogue have included the quarter-Brogue, with perforation only along the toecap seam; the semi- or half-Brogue, with punched designs on the seam and a medallion on the toecap itself; and the full-Brogue or Wingtip style, featuring broguing along most seams and a decorative pointed toe with “wings” that stretch around the sides of the shoe.

Brogues were adopted by fashionable men and women during the 1920s, especially the flashy “spectator” variety made using two-tone leather. Meanwhile, so-called “saddle shoes,” were a sportier Brogue style that debuted in the early 20th century, featuring white buckskin and a black or brown leather instep.


Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

All About Shoes

All About Shoes

From Canada's Bata Shoe Museum comes a visually impressive exhibit focusing on the history of the shoe from traditi… [read review or visit site]

The Black Tie Guide

The Black Tie Guide

Peter Marshall became an authority on formalwear out of necessity — he needed a tux to wear on the maiden transat… [read review or visit site]

Virtual Shoe Museum

Virtual Shoe Museum

This virtual museum from Shoe Icons Publishing showcases over 800 pairs of shoes and related reference information.… [read review or visit site]

Fashion Columbia Study Collection

Fashion Columbia Study Collection

The Fashion Columbia Study Collection (FCSC) is the digital home of the Columbia College Chicago’s fashion archiv… [read review or visit site]



Most watched eBay auctions    

Original Wwii Russet Brown Leather Army Dress Shoes In Near Mint ConditionNew Brooks Brothers Black Cordovan Shoes Size 10.5 E Made In The UsaSilvano Lattanzi Whiskey Shell Cordovan Split Toe Shoes Norvegese 9 / 10 $4500Alden Cigar Shell Cordovan! Rare! Excellent Condition! Size 11e/c! Box And Bags!Tom Ford Size 10.5tt Brown Leather Wing Tip Lace Up Shoes With Brouque DetailingAlden Plain Toe Blucher Welterweight White Suede Bucs Bucks Derby Indy 9.5 10Lightly Preowned St Crispin Saint Crispin Crispin's Black Derby Uk 8.5f Us 9 New In Box Alden X J.crew Shell Cordovan Dover Shoes 9.5dMeermin Shell Cordovan Long Wing BoucherJm Weston Iconic Split Toe Derby Brown Grain Calf LeatherBrand New Crockett & Jones Canterbury Brown Suede Brogue - Size Uk 7.5 Cole Haan Zerogrand No Stitch Wing Tip Collection Shoes 13mAllen Edmonds Macneil 9 1/2 D Black WingtipAllen Edmonds Exchange Place - New In Box!!! Sell For $395 - No Reserve!!!Allen Edmonds Strand Men's Walnut Cap Toe Oxford Shoes 8.5 D - Beautiful!Cole Haan 2.zerogrand Laser Wingtip Oxford - Marine Blue Suede/ivory - Size: 10mNew Unworn Prada Mens' Oxford Shoes Nero (black) Size 9.5Rare Cole Haan Square Wingtip Reflective 3m C11142 Lunargrand Zerogrand OxfordAlden Bluchers Brown Chromexcel Size 11.5dVt441 - Vass London Derby - Eu38.5 Uk4.5 - Us5.5 - Brown Grain - Budapest (wide)Allen Edmonds | Park Avenue Cap Toe Oxfords In Walnut Size 10.5 EeeWhite/white Mens Size 11/44 Cap Toe Balenciaga. Brand New Never Worn Outside.Magnanni Alpin Cap Toe Oxfords - Cognac Leather - Size: 10.5mMen's Distefano 'genuine Crocodile' Black Oxfords Size 13 M New Mezlan Tyson Ii Oxford High Shine Leather / Deerskin Black Size 9 WideNwob Santoni Made In Italy Fatte A Mano Grey Brown Double Monk Wingtip Shoes 8.5$450.00 Bruno Magli Caymen Oxford Made In Italy Cap Toe Shoes 13 / 46New Men's Cole Haan 2.zerogrand Laser Wing Oxford Size 9 M Black Nubuck#1 Menswear Alden 990 #8 Horween Shell Cordovan Ptb Blucher Shoes 7 A/c IconicLouis Vuitton Mens Pony Hair Dress Shoes Lv Size 9Allen Edmonds - Neumok (10d)$495 Mens Bally Leather Cap-toe Lace-up Shoes Brown Size 13d ExcellentAllen Edmonds Shelton Burgundy Black Saddle Shoe Oxford Size 14dAllen Edmonds Mcallister Wingtip Oxfords Lace Up Size 11.5 D BrownAllen Edmonds Broadstreet 2 Tone Wingtip Shoes Black White 11dFootjoy Classics Originals Men's 8.5 Leather Oxford Cap Toe Shoes Black $300 NewNwob Allen Edmonds Strandmok Brown Cap Toes Oxford Sz 9 DMeermin Mallorca Classic Collection:goodyear Welted Cap Toe Double Monk 7'5ukCole Haan Zerogrand Wingtip Oxford Grey Size 11 NewMeermin Mallorca Classic Collection:goodyear Welted Cap Toe Double Monk 8'5ukAllen Edmonds Park Avenue Cap-toe Oxford Shoes, Black, 10.5dAllen Edmonds Park Ave 9 D Cordovan Cap ToeCole Haan Zerogrand Wingtip Oxfords - Ironstone Leather/ivory - Size: 11.5 MMeermin Mallorca:classic Collection Goodyeawelted Cap Toe Oxford 5 Eyelet 7ukMeermin Mallorca:classic Collection:goodyear Weltd Austerity Broge Oxford 7ukLouis Vuitton Gold Oxford Heels Sz 39 Meermin Mallorca:classic Collection Goodyear Welted Cap Toe Punched Oxford 8'5ukAlden Medallion Tip Bal Burnished Tan Calfskin Oxfords Men's Shoe Size 9 Allen Edmonds Fifth Avenue Mens Dress Shoes 9.5 D Medium - Dark Chili DainiteMeermin Mallorca Classic Collection:goodyear Welted Bluchers Long Wing 6ukMeermin Mallorca Classic Collection:goodyear Welted Cap Toe Double Monk 8ukMeermin Mallorca Linea Maestro:handwelted Oxford 5 Eyelet Stitch Reverse 10ukMeermin Mallorca:classic Collection Gwelted Split Toe Bluchers 5 Eyelet 9ukMeermin Mallorca:classic Collection Goodyear Welted Cap Toe Punched Oxford 8'5ukMeermin Mallorca:classic Collection Goodyeawelted Cap Toe Oxford 5 Eyelet 9ukMeermin Mallorca:linea Maestro Handwelted Cap Toe Punched Oxford 10'5ukMeermin Mallorca Classic Collection:goodyear Welted Cap Toe Double Monk 7ukAllen Edmonds Park Avenue Oxford 11 AMezlan Mens Croc/leather Cream Oxfords, Sz 10m, Nice!!Alden #900 Straight Tip Balmoral Oxford Burgundy Patina Calfskin Sz 9 C/e