When it comes to formal wear, you could have the best suit in town but if you fail to pair it with the right pair of dress shoes… Well, you may as well consider it a fashion failure. Dress shoes are an incredibly important piece of formal outfits, so getting a stylish yet comfortable pair is paramount.
But while dress shoes encompass a range of styles – think Monk Strap, Derby, or Loafer – the best-known and most popular style is undoubtedly the Oxford shoe, which hails from all the way back in the 17th century, during the rule of King Louis XIV of France.
With it being such an important footwear style that every man should own, we thought it was about time to provide a complete guide, teaching you about how to spot a quality Oxford shoe as well as including a list of our favorite Oxford shoes that just happen to be some of the best pairs currently available.
What is an Oxford shoe?
So, what’s the difference between an Oxford shoe and any other typical leather lace-up? The answer lies in the lacing system.
Oxford shoes utilise a closed lace system compared to the open lace system of a traditional Derby shoe. Put the two styles side-by-side and you’ll immediately notice the difference.
Additionally, the uppers of an Oxford shoe consist of quarters (rear leather section) and the vamp (separate mid-leather section) stitched over one another. When the laces are tied, the two leather quarters should form a narrow ‘V’ shape. Finally, modern British Oxfords consist of 5 eyelet holes on each side whilst American Oxfords tend to have 6.
How to identify high quality Oxford shoes
These are the most important things to consider when shopping for a pair of Oxfords. The best Oxford shoes will have the following features:
- Leather and suede flexibility – the softer the leather, the more comfortable it is on the feet
- A neutral or leather smell inside of the shoe – if the inside of your Oxfords smells like glue, you know it’s been made on the cheap with glue bonding as opposed to stitching
- A strong leather smell – a good quality Oxford needs to smell like good quality leather (i.e. a non-synthetic smell)
- “Hidden channels” on the soles – meaning you can’t see the stitching on the bottom of the shoe. It’s a more elegant look that’s designed to last up to three times longer than average Oxford soles. Plus, when the soles do eventually wear down, you can easily get the soles repaired rather than buying a new pair of Oxfords
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If you’re ready to upgrade your shoe closet with a pair of comfortable yet stylish Oxford shoes that’ll elevate your formal looks, take a look at these brands that produce the best Oxfords available.
Church's Oxfords take on classic silhouettes in a range of colours and are made with only the finest qualities of leather. Church's is also a champion of the Goodyear welt, giving you a durable and reliable Oxford.
Johnston & Murphy
Aldo’s Oxford shoe range tends to forego the brogue-style cap in favour of a smoother finish, and are available in both brown and black colours.
With a huge range of Oxfords, available in multiple stylish colours, you’re sure to not only feel comfortable but also make a lavish powerful statement when rocking a pair of Ace Marks Oxford shoes.