The Oxford shoe is considered the most elegant type of men’s shoes out there. Its history is rich and the craftsmanship always has to be excellent.
They use the best materials, but what really differentiates them from any other shoes is their lacing system. It is a closed system, but we will get to that a little later.
What is an Oxford Shoe?
Let’s get the basics out of the way first, before we go into more details. The Oxford shoe is made up of uppers, which consist of the quarters and the vamp. The quarters are the upper part that wraps around the heel and meet up with the vamp in the middle of the foot. The vamp is the part that covers the toes and the instep, or the front of the shoe.
Another characteristic of the Oxford is the low heel. But the closed-throat lacing system is what really makes them Oxfords. Most British Oxfords have five eyelets on each side, but the American version has six. There still are some that have 4 or 3 eyelets, but those are not as common today.
The eyelets are located on the quarters of the shoe, and on the closed lace system, the vamp is sewn on top of the quarters. The shoelace eyelets are stitched underneath the vamp, therefore the shoelaces tie the two quarters together, holding the foot in place.
Oxford Shoes History
Now for a little bit of history, let’s just say that the Oxfords come from England. To be more specific, the students at Oxford University popularized the shoe around the early 1800s. The first Oxfords had a higher heel than they do today because they were designed after the boots that were more common at the end of 18th century Europe.
But the students preferred the lower cut, and they started making them closer to the ankles. Also, the shoes had narrow slits on their sides, which were eventually replaced by laces. There are claims that the Oxford originated in Ireland and Scotland, but we don’t know for sure.
The Captoe Oxfords are referred to as Balmorals, after Balmoral Castle in Scotland. One thing is for sure, the Oxfords are believed to became what they are today because the University students needed comfortable shoes for walking every day.
Characteristics of the Oxford Shoe
To sum it up, the main characteristics of the Oxford shoes are:
- Closed lacing system
- Exposed ankle
- Most of them have the eyelets on the quarters, with the exceptions of the wholecuts or the seamless Oxfords.
Types of Oxfords
Plain Oxford – The plain version is simple and elegant, and it consists of the quarter and the vamp. Black is the color of choice for evening shoes, and patent black for formal events. The patent shoes can be refined even more by adding evening shoelaces, which are a little wider than regular shoelaces.
Cap Toe Oxford – The most popular type of Oxford shoe is the cap toe, which is characterized by the added piece of leather across the toe box. They also feature the heel cap, in addition to the vamp and the quarters which are standard in all Oxfords.
Wingtip Oxford / Brogue – The Wingtip has a pointed toe cap with extensions along both sides of the shoe, also called wingtips. It is also referred to as a Brogue. As seen from above, it is shaped like an M or W, depending on which side you look at it.
Saddle Oxford – The Saddle Oxford does not have a toe cap, but they have an additional strip of leather across the top of the middle down to the sole in a contrasting color. Some of them also have heel caps in a contrasting color.
Kiltie Oxford – The Kiltie Oxford has an additional fringed tongue over the top, but they are not as common these days anymore.
Wholecut – This shoe has an upper that is cut from one piece of leather. It gives it a clean, simple look that has only a single seam at the heel. Also more expensive, because the craftsmanship is more complex, and it also uses more leather.
Seamless – Very similar to the wholecut, this shoe does not have a seam on the heel, which makes it even more difficult to produce. Not easy to find, unless you have our own personal shoemaker.
Oxford Shoes Buying Guide
Oxfords are a very popular style of shoes, but if you invest in a great quality pair that costs you a small fortune, you can change their look by changing up the shoelaces depending on the occasion. Make sure they are always round and of good quality, in a color similar to the leather of the shoe.
You don’t have to spend in the upper hundreds of dollars to own a decent pair of Oxfords. Depending on your budget, you can find a good pair around the 200$ mark, but there are some companies that offer premium quality at more than 700$. The choice is yours. Now we’ll show you some of the best Oxfords that you can get in 2021.
A Canadian company founded in 1972 by Aldo Bensadoun, son of a cobbler and shoe retailer, Aldo offers good quality shoes at affordable prices.
Their Oxfords are mostly the plain variety, but their accessibility and comfort make them a popular choice, whether in black or brown leather. They even make them in Bordeaux or Navy suedes, to change up if you like to play with color.
14. Kenneth Cole
Another affordable option, American brand Kenneth Cole has been around since 1982. Known for clean and dark minimalism, Kenneth Cole offers you the leather punched toe-cap Oxfords in tan and grey with a rubber sole.
They are comfortable with their triple cushioning system that includes arch support, therefore suitable for long workdays.
An online brand that allows you to customize your shoes. For an affordable price, you can choose your leather in the color of your choice as well as the type of laces, and opt between the brogue or cap toe.
You can get your own personalized pair handcrafted by third-generation Portuguese shoemakers and shipped directly to you.
An American company that has been founded in 1850, they have been producing great quality yet affordable dress shoes for both men and women. Their amazing cushioning makes for some exceptional comfort, and some of their models are even waterproof.
Under $200, you can get a classy and dressy shoe that will be appropriate for any occasion, all while looking clean-cut and professional.
11. Allen Edmonds
This classic Oxford crafted by American shoemaker brand Allen Edmonds is made from full-grain calfskin, and for this price point, you get the best quality shoe.
Their Park Avenue model is a testament to American craftsmanship and is available in black, burnished olive, or coffee. It is lightly padded for extra comfort, it features an oak leather sole, and it is designed and produced in the USA.
10. Marks & Spencer
A renowned British brand, Marks and Spencer offers lots of variety at affordable prices. From the classic brogued leather Oxfords that are available in many colors to their casual colored suede, their shoes are available in half sizes and the extra-wide fit.
They are more mainstream, which is what makes them so popular among business people. Although not on the more expensive side, they offer great bang for your buck, and good quality for everyday wear.
9. Stacy Adams
A cult American brand, Stacy Adams was founded in 1875 in Brockton, Massachusetts. They offer an extensive selection of Oxford shoes, in a variety of colors and styles.
Their genuine leather linings and memory foam insoles make them super comfortable, all while being stylish. For example, their Madison model is an attention grabber with its cap toe design and perforated pattern on the upper.
8. Ted Baker
Luxury goods brand Ted Baker is a British brand that brings you a premium yet approachable side to their products. Their Oxfords come in a variety of styles and colors made from high-quality leather.
Their unique play on colors will attract the eye on areas such as the heel or the sole for a different and fun look. And, surprisingly, they are more affordable than one might think, just check out their selection.
Italian shoemakers at Scarosso pay special attention to each pair of their handcrafted shoes. Their sustainability efforts along with their high-quality leathers are a perfect blend of genuine bang for your buck. Their Oxford selection is extensive, and they offer them in a variety of styles and colors.
Take the Blue Calfskin Lorenzo model for example. It stands out from others because of the color, and the quality of the hand-dyeing and polishing gives you a unique consistency and finish for a beautiful pair of classy shoes.
6. Kingsman x George Cleverley
George Cleverley, one of the finest shoemakers in London collaborated with British brand Kingsman to design and produce this great quality of Oxfords. These shoes are the embodiment of the quintessentially British style.
Their distinctive almond-toe shape and their flawless hand-finish will make you stand out from the crowd. Sleek and elegant, wear them with a sharply tailored suit and fresh cotton socks, and you’re the epitome of class.
Church’s is an English footwear brand that was founded in Northamptonshire in 1873, in an area that is well known for many luxury shoemakers. They have become an influential brand only in 1920 though when their London and New York stores opened. Since then they have remained at the top of their game, and they offer premium quality shoes.
Their square toe half brogue model distinguishes them with a Goodyear construction. The leather laces, leather sole, and internal lining are made with longevity in mind, so you will enjoy them for years to come.
4. Manolo Blahnik
Manolo Blahnik is a designer well known for his exquisite taste that is the head of his company. He crafts his shoes with world-renowned experts from the finest leathers. This Italian-made brand offers a variety of colorful suede Oxfords that will surely make you stand out.
Their classic Witney cap toe is crafted from black burnished calf leather that fits like a glove. Their full broguing detail and the waxed laces are a classic touch to a stylish shoe.
3. John Lobb
John Lobb is a traditional British-made brand that is owned by Hermes today. First opened in 1863 in London, it remained in the family for five generations. Their hard leathers surprisingly feel like a slipper on your foot, and their in-house repair service will ensure you can own your beloved shoes for a lifetime if you care for them properly.
Hand-made in London, their superior craftsmanship is what makes them so durable. The burnished leather, the clean design, and luxurious comfort complete this British design.
2. Gaziano & Girling
A newcomer on the British shoemaking market, the brand was founded in 2006 in Kettering, outside Northampton. Tony Gaziano and Dean Girling are the names behind this company, and they are lucky to have access to the expertise of traditional British shoemaking. Their Oxford shoes are handcrafted from great quality burnished leather.
They also feature smart squared-off toes and elegant stitching on the uppers for a classy look. Set on oak bark-tanned soles that are cut from leather that has been through a 14-month process, it ensures the protection of their natural fibers.
1. Crockett & Jones
When you think of a traditional British shoemaker, without a doubt the name Crockett & Jones comes to mind. Founded in 1879, this brand has been a pioneer in well-heeled footwear. It was even awarded the Royal Warrant in 2017, which is a great honor.
Using only the finest quality materials, each individual pair of shoes can take up to eight weeks to make. The leather upper, leather lining, and leather sole, as well as their Goodyear-welted sole make these shoes the most classic Oxfords for a relatively reasonable price.
These are only a few of the brands that we find are worth considering, but there are literally hundreds of others that are just as good as the ones we reviewed and will make you feel and look very elegant.
- What is an Oxford Shoe?
- Oxford Shoes History
- Characteristics of the Oxford Shoe
- Types of Oxfords
- Oxford Shoes Buying Guide
- 15. Aldo
- 14. Kenneth Cole
- 13. Undandy
- 12. Johnston & Murphy
- 11. Allen Edmonds
- 10. Marks & Spencer
- 9. Stacy Adams
- 8. Ted Baker
- 7. Scarosso
- 6. Kingsman x George Cleverley
- 5. Church’s
- 4. Manolo Blahnik
- 3. John Lobb
- 2. Gaziano & Girling
- 1. Crockett & Jones