How to Style Oxford Shoes – Ultimate Guide for Men

Oxford shoes are a staple piece of footwear. They can improve any man’s style and a wardrobe isn’t complete without them.

But just because you have them doesn’t mean that you instantly know how to style them correctly.

That’s what you’ll be learning in this article — how to style oxfords, what to wear with them, and more about their history.

Tie up your shoes and let’s get into it!

How to Style Oxford Shoes

What are Oxford Shoes?

Oxford shoes are commonly mixed up with the derby or blucher, but they all have specific characteristics that make them unique. The oxford specifically is a dress shoe with lacing placed under the vamp.

The vamp is the portion of the shoe below the toecap, but above the tongue and eyelets as seen above. Derbys have their lacing attached over the vamp, which is how you can always differentiate the two.

Where Did Oxford Shoes Originate?

The oxford shoe originally was not actually called an oxford, but a balmoral after Balmoral Castle. This incredible castle in located in Royal Deeside, Aberdeenshire, where this style of shoe was first seen.

How did oxfords get their name? Well, they started out as a half boot with slits down the side in the early 1800’s. These were commonly worn by students at Oxford University. See where this is going? When students began to want a more versatile footwear, a rendition of the boot was made to be into a dress shoes, thus the oxford was born. It’s common to see these dress shoes with perforations on the toe or made into patterns.

How to Style Brown Oxford Shoes

If you want to style brown oxford shoes, you need to learn the basics of color palettes. Brown is a very flexible color and matches with just about anything. One of the most basic palettes is brown, blue, and white. With this in mind, you could wear:

  • Brown oxfords
  • Blue denim jeans
  • A white dress shirt

It’s super simple and looks sharp on any guy. You should only wear brown oxford shoes with a navy or grey suit, though. Avoid paring with them a black suit, it’s typically looked at as a fashion faux-paux. But, rules were mean’t to broken — so if you like it, do it anyways!

Always remember to match your shoes to your belt, too. This means that if you have brown shoes on, you should be sporting a brown belt. It’s these little details that add up and make you look like a true fashion guru.

How to Style Black Oxford Shoes

It’s a general rule in menswear that black dress shoes are more formal, and oxfords are no exception. You’d want to wear black oxfords with a matching suit and save them for occasions like:

  • Work
  • Dinners
  • Weddings
  • Dates

Just like with a brown pair, ensure that you have a black belt on to keep it uniform.

How to Wear Oxford Shoes With Jeans

Oxfords look awesome with jeans. I do this all of the time and it has to be one of my favorite outfits. It’s the epitome of business casual.

Your jeans should be tailored and hug your body, but not be tight to the point of discomfort. Blue jeans with a simple wash are the most versatile. More casual colors for oxfords like brown or burgundy are ideal when wearing them with jeans since you’re going for a less formal look. Throw a sweater on top or cardigan with a layered dress shirt during the fall. In the winter, I’d recommend putting on a thick wool sweater. A polo shirt is more than enough, too.

If you want to wear jeans and oxfords in a more formal way, you can’t beat a blazer and dress shirt. Mix that with a tie and you could sport this to the office or meetings easily.

Can You Wear Oxfords With a Suit?

Yes, you can absolutely wear oxfords with a suit. But, you want to wear the correct style of oxfords. Always remember this — the more flare a pair of shoes has, the less formal it is. This means that wingtip oxfords, brogues, and suede styles are best to be avoided with a suit. Normally you’re putting on a suit for work, weddings, and events like that. So, opt for whole cut or cap toe oxfords. These are clean, simple, and don’t grab attention.

Can You Wear Oxfords With Shorts?

It’s unanimous in the fashion community that you don’t wear oxfords with shorts. It doesn’t tend to look too great because even though there are casual forms of oxfords, they still are best reserved for jeans, chinos, and suit pants. Loafers, boat shoes, moccasins, and plain old sneakers pair much better with shorts.

Can You Wear Oxfords Without Socks?

I spoke about this in my loafer styling guide. It’s alright to wear dress shoes without socks, but it has to make sense and be practical. Obviously, it’s not ideal to wear no socks to the office or where ever you work from. But, let’s say that it’s hot out and you’re sporting rolled-up chinos, a tee, and a blazer. You could wear no socks in that case, as it would help you keep cool. Try this trick if you’re going to do it, though — put deodorant on your feet. Trust me, it works wonders!

Are Oxford Shoes Formal?

Yes, oxford shoes are the definition of formal footwear. As I mentioned above, the level of formality is dictated by how plain the shoe is. Wholecut and cap toe oxfords are seen as the most formal, while suede, brogue, and wingtip designs are lower on the chain.

Are Oxford Shoes Comfortable?

When sized correctly and made with the right material, oxford shoes are very comfortable. It begins with choosing a brand like Stacy Adams or Allen Edmonds that is known to have accurate sizes. Some people have wide feet, while others are more narrow. This is why bespoke footwear is such a good investment. You have to spend a bit more upfront, but the sizing and quality are incomparable to other brands.

The second aspect that plays into comfort is leather. Calfskin leather is preferred, as it has more collagen fibers. This results in a shoe that literally molds to your feet and gets better with age. This type of leather is also longer lasting more durable.

Lastly, the soles play a big role in how comfortable a pair of oxfords are. Some brands use memory foam or special soles that make you feel like you’re walking on clouds. You definitely want to opt for them if you are on your feet a lot or have issues like bunions. There are oxfords that also place a cork layer in between the two soles to support the feet even more.

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