All About Oxford Shoes: Origins, Variations, Occasions, Celebrities, and Much More


As we mentioned in one of our prior blog , without proper understanding, the quest for men’s handmade dress shoes can be a pain in the neck for good. Well, at best, one of your concerns would be getting through your besties’ wedding, your meeting with that official delegation, your first job interview with that international law office, or your upcoming graduation ceremony without making an embarrassing shoe choice.

It is totally understandable to be unfamiliar with Dress Shoes and their variations since it is a matter of needs, profession, and, most importantly, occasion. So, as we promised before, we will be introducing dress shoes around the most prominent quintets of men’s dress shoes: Oxford Shoes, Derby Shoes, Monk Shoes, Loafers, and Dress Sneakers. Now let's begin with the most classic and widely-known one: Oxford Shoes


The Oxford Shoes: An Epitome of Peerless Sophistication

Generic Features of Oxford Shoes

  • Low Heels: Yes, Oxfords usually have low heels and stacks. These heels are typically less than an inch high and provide a slight lift, but not too much noticeable. Low heels reinforce elegance and a formal appearance in Oxford shoes, but depending on the design, a bit higher heels are also utilized in some versions.
  • Closed Lacing: This is the most prominent feature of Oxford dress shoes. The closed lacing system utilized in Oxford shoes is when the eyelets, where the shoelaces pass through, are stitched below the vamp, the part of the shoe covering the top of the foot. As a result, the quarters, which are the two pieces of leather composing the sides and back of the shoe, are attached on top of the vamp, creating a smooth and polished look. This feature contrasts with open-lacing shoes like Derbys, where the eyelets are attached on top of the vamp, resulting in a more casual and laid-back appearance. The closed lacing system is a significant characteristic of Oxford shoes and is typically connected with formal clothing

closed-lacing system in oxford shoes

Closed Lacing System in Oxford Shoes
  • Rounded toe cap: This is another notable characteristic of Oxford shoes, contributing to their distinctive look. This design feature not only imparts a sense of sophistication and refinement to the shoe's appearance but also increases the roominess of the toe box, making it more comfortable to wear for extended durations. The round toe shape also makes Oxforde shoes combinable with less formal attire if just the right pieces are combined.
  • Relatively more visible ankle: The quarter part (back side) of the shoe is relatively shortcut and reveals the ankle
  • Minimal Embellishments: Oxford shoes are less adorned by definition compared to other dress shoes and are of minimalistic designs. So the main focus remains on the top-notch quality materials and artisanship used in their production process. On the other hand, stripping away the extra bits makes the shoes look classic and timeless, so you can wear them for practically any outfit or event.
  • Leather construction: This is also an important defining feature of Oxford Shoes. The uppers and linings of the shoes are made of high-quality leather, giving them durability and an elegant appearance, and a more personalized, comfortable fit.. The leather used for the construction of Oxford shoes may vary in its texture and appearance, from smooth and shiny leather to matte and abrasive leather.



A Glance at the History Behind Iconic Oxford Shoes

Well, the exact source of the Oxford dress shoe is a bit of a mystery, and there are two competing versions regarding the origins of Oxford Shoes. The first theory suggests that These can be traced back to the 17th century in Scotland and Ireland. Prince Albert, the spouse of Queen Victoria, is considered to be the inventor of the earliest forms of Oxford shoes, with his lace-closed boots designed for hunting and other less noisy activities. So Balmoral or Baltype Shoes is believed to take its name from the Balmoral Castle of the Queen, where he wore these shoes. Although the Balmoral type refers to a specific design of Oxford Shoes in the UK, Balmoral, and Oxford terms are used interchangeably in the US.


The second and more reiterated alternative story associates born of Oxford Shoes with the University of Oxford in the early 19th century. According to this version, up-to-knee-high boots worn by the students were gradually trimmed and evolved into Oxoniana, a medium size boot without laces, and unhurriedly and ultimately buttons changed into laces, and ankles became visible while the closure shifted to the center from sideways, and our beloved Oxford Shoes gained super popularity among students. The first written record mentioning the name Oxford Shoes with its proper form dates back to The New Monthly Magazine 1846.



Over time, we have seen how practical solutions to needs can sometimes pave the way for new frontiers in style. Broguing is a perfect example of such a phenomenon. Generic perforations of brogue style were originally developed for quick disposal of moisture in rainy air conditions but then became one of the staple grade decorated Oxford shoe variations. In the first half of the 20th century, we witnessed the emergence of two-tone avant-garde shoe designs that found their place on the shelves alongside the Oxford shoes. Also, over the years, the Oxford collections expanded to include more adorned and nuanced models. 


Oxford Dress Shoes Family 

The below list is not exhaustive, but here are some of the most common and prominent types of Oxford Shoes :


Cap Toe Oxford

The most classic and generic type of Oxford Shoe family. The most distinguishable feature of these shoes is the toe cap sewn to the vamp part. Usually, Cap Toe Oxford shoes feature a toe cap made of a distinct material, such as glossy leather or patent leather, which gives the shoe a sophisticated and glossy look. In contrast, the remaining part of the shoe is typically made from a more muted leather material, such as calf leather or suede

While various colors are available, black and brown shades are typical colors applied to Cap Toe Oxford Shoes, and it is recommended that men who frequently engage in business occasions and formal events should own at least a nice pair of them.


Plain Toe Oxford

A Plain Toe Oxford shoe is a straightforward and understated style of Oxford shoe that lacks any embellishments on the front part of the shoe. The toe area of the shoe is unornamented, which provides it with a neat and refined look. Occasionally some sort of broguing can be found on the neck part. Since there are very limited ornamental details on the shoe, it can be worn in various settings, either formally or informally.


plain to patent leather oxford shoes

 An excellent example of  plain to Oxford Shoes from Debbano Collection


Wingtip Oxford Shoes

This shoe design draws inspiration from the traditional Scottish brogue shoe, which was initially intended for outdoor activities such as golfing and hunting. Wingtip Oxford shoes have a unique pattern on the toe cap in the shape of an "M" or "W." They are a classic and fashionable kind of men's dress shoes. The generic pattern is created by the perforations and stitching in varying densities that extend from the toe cap to the sides of the shoe.


Full brogued Oxford Shoes

 A full brogued, wing tip Oxford Shoes By Debbano


Wholecut Oxford shoes

This is also another minimalist and sleek variation of Oxford Shoes. Wholecut Oxford shoes are a unique and elegant style of men's dress shoes that are crafted from a single piece of leather. The absence of any seams or stitches on the upper part of the shoe imparts a clean and smooth yet attractive appearance, creating a streamlined silhouette that exudes sophistication and refinement. The seamless design of Wholecut Oxford shoes requires a high level of skill and precision from the cobbler, making them a mark of fine craftsmanship and attention to detail. This style is known as the most formal variation of Oxford Shoes.


Saddle Oxford Shoes

The Saddle Oxford shoe has a profound and storied past that dates back to the beginning of the 1900s. Its original design included a distinctive saddle-shaped panel on the shoe's upper portion, which typically featured a contrasting color or material compared to the rest of the shoe. We also see that the Saddle style was a very popular dress shoe among ivy league school students in the 50s. Still, it has an important place in retro and vintage attire and is popular among vintage dancing performers.



It is hardly possible to name Oxford Shoes occasion-proof. But they are relatively versatile dress shoes, though. 


Business Events and Workplace

Especially when adhering to a formal dress code for any workplace  setting, Oxford shoes are the most preferred and reliable choice. They complement business wear such as suits, dress pants, and formal shirts in the least risky and the most dressy way. Business meetings, presentations, formal  negotiations, and contract ceremonies are among the examples of common business events for public and private sector professionals at all managerial levels to benefit from Oxford Shoes’ sleek and elegant design.


matching your pants with your oxford shoes

Pair your Pants Color with your Oxford Shoes

Weddings & Funerals

Oxford shoes are very convenient and suitable footwear options for ceremonies related to the two major realities of life: Weddings and funerals

They pair well with traditional wedding clothes, such as suits, dresses, and pants, adding a hint of elegance and sophistication to an overall appearance. Depending on the color and style of the shoes, they can also be matched to the theme and color scheme of a wedding ceremony or funeral.


Formal Events 

Events such as galas, award ceremonies, or charity organizations are typically regarded as black-tie affairs. galas, award ceremonies, and charity events.

Black patent leather Wholecut Oxford shoes or Plain Toe Oxford shoes are commonly regarded as the ideal options for these tuxedo-required events due to their smooth, sophisticated, and unobtrusive appearance.


Smart Casual Events

A smart casual event refers to a dress code that blends the features of formal and casual wear. Some business dinners, garden parties, and evening cocktails are among these types of events. The attire is expected to be chic, well-groomed, and fashionable without appearing excessively formal or rigid. In other words, the concept is to look dressy and sophisticated yet still be comfortable and relaxed. For example, You can pair a blazer or sports jacket with dress pants or combine a collared shirt with dress jeans.

Neutral-colored oxford dress shoes such as wingtips, cap-toes, or suede varieties are a good choice for pairing with smart casual outfits. It's recommended to avoid overly shiny or patent finishes and stick with classic shades of black, brown, or tan.


Confirmation by Celebrities 

The classic and versatile design of Oxford shoes attracts many celebrities. And we very often see them walking on the runway with Oxford dress shoes. It is not surprising since Men's Oxford shoes are classic and reliable dress shoes that can be dressed up or down, making them a widely sought-after style for any event. Here are some of the popular celebrities who appreciate Oxford shoes.

Ryan Gosling: Talented star of La La Land is a successful performer. However, In addition to acting, a great sense of fashion and style is also a hallmark of him. He is famous for his elegant and modern interpretation of traditional men's clothing, often in Oxfords.

David Beckham: The Former British soccer player is considered a trendsetter in fashion and is frequently observed wearing traditional Oxford shoes together with well-fitted trousers and a neat, button-up shirt.

Daniel Craig: The performer who portrays James Bond is frequently noticed wearing black Oxford shoes along with his sleek suits, manifesting the character's cultured and lustrous fashion

Kanye West: The hip-hop artist and clothing designer has a reputation for donning Oxford shoes with a diverse range of attire, including casual streetwear and formal suits, thereby elevating his varied fashion sense with a hint of elegance.

Brad Pitt: The actor is frequently spotted combining Oxford shoes with relaxed attire, like jeans and a button-up shirt, or paired with a suit for glamorous red carpet-events.

Eddie Redmayne: the recipient of an Academy Award, pairs Oxford shoes frequently with his fashionable and impeccably tailored getups, infusing a timeless element into his overall appearance.


celebrities and oxford dress shoes


Of course, the list is not exhaustive; many business tycoons such as Warren Buffet, Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg, Richard Branson, and Tim Cook; many politicians such as Barrack Obama, Justin Trudeau, and Emmanuel Macron utilize the timeless, eye-catching design of Oxford shoes to complete their outfit.


Final Words

At this point, we believe it is clear that when it comes to dress shoes, brushing off by saying shoe is shoe would be a bit unfair. A deep-rooted history that begins with a stylistic uprising to the shoe norms, and a beautifully diversified design within time and ultimately a timeless, elegant must-have (Or inspired by the Italian meaning of our brand, should we say Debbano?) in every man’s shoe repertoire. Oxford Shoe family is the first category that comes to mind, and it is well-deserved. Hope our blog helps all prospective Debbano Men choose the best Oxford dress shoes for them.


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