Gentlemens Shoes 101 – The Oxford

In keeping with the coming of spring I think any gentleman should turn his mind to is the state of his shoes. If his footwear is lacking, so too, will be the company he so desires upon his arm. To this end let’s get the basics down.

The most formal style of mens shoe is the Oxford, also known as the Balmoral and the Richelieu. An example of the style may be seen in this pair of black leather Oxfords from Florshiem shoes:

Black Leather Oxfords by Florsheim Shoes

Black Leather Oxfords by Florsheim Shoes

The aspect that distinguishes these shoes as Oxfords is that the lacing holes are punched through the upper part of the shoe, known as the vamp, in a closed fashion with the eyelet piece attached from underneath. This is opposed to the Derby style, which has the eyelet piece sewn on top of the vamp. But that is for another post.

The Oxford can come in many colours and options that further define it. The black Oxfords above have a quarter toe cap while this Italian made pair of tan leather Oxfords by designer Lou Miles have a mock full cap, also called a wingtip.

Tan Leather Wingtip Oxfords by Lou Miles

Tan Leather Wingtip Oxfords by Lou Miles

The varieties these options provide the shoemaker insures that a gentleman can stock a suitable number of Oxfords so that he has options for his formal dress needs. In case you are asking yourself why a gentleman’s shoes are so expensive, here’s a quote from Forbes online to explain:

“Whatever the origin, a good pair of high-end men’s dress shoes usually starts around $350. As with comparing a pricey bespoke suit to an inexpensive off-the-rack number, high-end and low-end shoes are worlds apart, despite the basic similarities. Fit is the most basic difference. A well-made suit fits the wearer perfectly. The quality of the material is equally important, and if you don’t think so, hold a Savile Row suit next to something from Men’s Wearhouse sometime and you’ll see it immediately. Last is durability. With proper care, a good suit, and a good pair of shoes, can last for years, if not generations, making it the more cost-effective buy over time.”

Basically, you get what you pay for. And if you like the Lou Miles Oxfords above, they are priced to sell on my Etsy page here.

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