Learn about the origins of the classic men’s Oxford shoe and discover why it’s an absolute must for every aspiring gentleman.
It's often a hot debate on whether to go with a classic leather Oxford shoe or its iconic counterpart the brogue. But did you know they are one and the same? An Oxford is a form of shoe construction whereas a Brogue is a design technique of punch holes into the leather upper, so you can, in fact, get an "Oxford Brogue" So now that debate of Oxfords not Brogues is addressed, let's move on to what makes the Oxford shoe construction so special.
Since around 1640, the men around Europe have been wearing this classic type of footwear. As the name suggests, the shoe was originally worn by Oxford University students by men and women. They were renowned for their level of comfort and smart appearance.
However, it wasn’t until the late 1800s when they first started to become really popular across the UK and America. By 1910, men’s Oxford shoes were everywhere.
As time went on, the style of these classics started to evolve with two-toned Oxfords designed for a sporty look.
The characteristics of the classic Oxford shoe
Unlike the Derby shoe where the eyelet tabs are stitched on top of the shoe, the Oxford is hidden underneath. This helps to give Oxfords a neater and more professional look. (Above: Percy Stride Black and White Oxfords £250)
Other characteristics of the classic Oxford shoe include the unique aspect of the closed lacing system and the low heel.
The wearer’s ankle should always be exposed to a modern pair of Oxfords. Although back when they were known as the Oxonian shoe, they were actually classed as a ‘half boot’ and a rebellion against the traditional knee-high boots many men wore.
What makes them so essential?
One of the main reasons why a classic Oxford shoe is so important today is its versatility.
To be a gentleman is not only about the way you dress, but the way you act and how you carry yourself. As David Gandy wrote: A gentleman is never "styled"; he exudes style, effortlessly. A gentleman dresses the appropriate way for the occasion and would be as elegant and stylish in jeans and a T-shirt as he would be in a suit.
His interesting point is closely linked with the fact a pair of Oxfords is very versatile. They can go with chinos, trousers or jeans. They can be used to elevate an outfit and give it a unique edge every gentleman should be looking to create.
While an Oxford shoe is a classic and has a rich history, it’s almost like the equivalent of a record player in the music industry. It’s different, it’s timeless, it’s a sign of originality.
To turn up to a party in a pair of loafers, trainers or Chelsea boots are more of normality these days. Whereas a smart/casual jeans and blazer combination with a pair of Oxford shoes is a statement. It says “I’m prepared to stand out, I look after myself and I’m willing to embrace the same traditional fashions of a gentleman of yesteryear.”
Here at Percy Stride, our range of men’s Oxford shoes was designed to capture the traditional elements of the design but add a modern twist. The unique prints and daring colours are there to do exactly what a gentleman should do – pave the way.