Degrees of Oxford- The Shoe, not the UniversityAn oxford shoe is basically just a shoe constructed from heavy leather that features enclosed lacing. Historically oxford shoes were made of untanned leather and were plain in their design with little if any ornamentation. The shoe got its start back in Ireland and Scotland. The modern oxford shoes are today come in a variety of styles and are constructed from different types of leather such as suede leather, tanned leather and in some causes synthetic material (such as faux leather or pleather). Oxford shoes fall into the category of dress shoes or business shoes for both men and women (some people refer to them as dress casual or business casual) although there are modern forms of casual oxford shoes for women. Contemporary oxfords are shoes that don't come above the ankle and most have a piece of leather carefully stitched over the section for the toes. This is sometimes referred to as oxford caps or toe car oxfords. Another definition of an oxford shoe is, an esthetically elegant style with closed lacing that typically comes in plain, full-brogue and semi-brogue versions.
For men there are five main categories of oxford shoes and these include open-laced oxfords (also referred to as Bluchers), close-laced oxfords (or Balmorals), saddle oxfords, kiltie oxfords and wingtip oxfords. Blucher oxfords are open-laced leather dress shoes which have the sides of the shoe sewn on the front part (the top to be precise). Once laced up these shoes have a front, top, side and back and appear as though they are segmented. Balmorals leather oxfords are close-laced shoes in which the laces are sewn in a very creative way, they are sewn under the front part of the shoe and then the laces are closed over the tongue. The final result is a smooth, streamlined, very stylish looking shoe that has the appearance of being made from only one piece of leather.
Saddle oxford shoes, as the name suggests, have a piece of leather designed on them that is in the unique shape of a horse's saddle, the saddle being a different leather type or color than the remainder of the shoe. The fourth type of men's oxford shoe, referred to as kilties are fancy in their design and come complete with a leather tongue that is fringed and comes over the instep of the shoe and then covers both the laces of the oxford and the eyelets. By far the most popular type of oxford shoe is the wingtip. This pair of fashionable men's footwear gets its name because the toe brogueing (or leather embroidery) looks a lot like the spread of a bird's wings.
If you are out shopping for oxford shoes always look for genuine leather shoes, as they are durable and will stand the test of time. As far as color is concerned, black is the color to go with because all black leather oxford style shoes, regardless of the style of leather finish or structural design will complement business attire. The most formal of all men's dress shoes are the black leather close-laced oxfords (or Balmorals). They look especially sharp with both suits of the double-breasted style as well as pinstriped suits. However if brown is more to your liking then pairing your oxfords with a sort jacket or a tweed suit. Not to be denied their due, open-laced oxfords (or Bluchers) in either brown or oxblood look terrific when paired up with light suits (especially in the spring and summertime), sport coats and even more relaxed, casual wear such as khakis and jeans.
For women oxford shoes have never been as fun and fashionable as they are today! Women can choose from a variety of styles of oxfords, everything from casual saddle shoes to comfort oxfords, fashion oxfords, hiking oxfords and professional (i.e. lace-up walkers and trainers) oxfords. Casual saddle shoes for women feature a traditional split-suede buck, a cushion crepe sole and a comfortable heel. Comfort oxfords are sport shoes complete with a cushioned footbed, a leather sock lining, a removable cushion insole and a slip resistant sole. Fashion oxfords come in the form of either platform sneakers or athletic-inspired sports shoes and contain a cushioned footbed, suede uppers and a flexible and lightweight rubber sole. Hiking oxfords are both versatile and rugged with their steel toe, water-resistant and slip-resistant soles. Professional oxfords are so comfy for the feet with their padded footbed, leather uppers, slip resistant outsole and padded collar.