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Are Oxford Shoes Formal? How to Dress Down for an Everyday Look

Updated: Jul 14, 2021

Want to show off your Oxford shoes on every possible occasion? Learn how you can make smart and casual a match made in heaven, from sunrise to sunset.

Are Oxford shoes formal? While many jump to marrying the Oxford shoe with a formal trouser or suit, you may be surprised to know that Oxfords make for a stylish casual clothing companion.

There’s often minimal crossover when it comes to styling men’s shoes, but Oxfords allow for a little more flexibility. Bridging the gap between the smart and the casual, these typically deemed ‘formal’ shoes make for a great staple piece in any wardrobe.

With this in mind, what’s the secret to dressing down these classic dress shoes?

How to dress down Oxford shoes

Couple Oxfords with chinos

If you’re not donning a suit, but are on the lookout for a dazzling, sophisticated outfit, chinos and Oxfords offer a winning combination. Whether you’re going on a first date or attending a summer event, this pairing makes for the perfect first impression.

Pick out some well-fitting chinos in sand or navy and style with a button-up shirt or merino wool jumper. Finish off with a complimentary Oxford colour, for the ultimate refined look.

If long trousers don’t make the cut in the summer months, you can even pair your oxfords with chino shorts. Find out how to strike the right balance when it comes to colour, style, and accessories here.

Pair your Oxfords with jeans

Believe it or not, styling oxfords with jeans makes for a great casual look. Choose a tapered leg that’s cut at the ankle and well fitted at the waist to coordinate with the elegance of the shoe. Pair with a loose shirt for garden parties or daytime drinks in the summer, or throw on a smart jacket or blazer for relaxed evening plans.

But, make sure to avoid a fashion faux-pas! As a rule of thumb, avoid distressed or ripped jeans, no matter what. For more on the denim and leather dos and don’ts, take a look at our guide to wearing oxfords with jeans.

Be bold with colour

When you imagine a pair of Oxfords, you’re likely conjuring up a picture of patent black dress shoes fit for a wedding. Yet, there’s a whole host of other options in the way of style and colour.

Choosing a bold and exciting Oxford hue is a fun way to break down those formal barriers. If you’re worried that you might look like you’ve forgotten to take off your work shoes, brightly coloured Oxfords are a great, purposeful style option.

Choosing a less conventional shoe colour helps to blend the style more seamlessly with less formal outfit elements. It also makes the look far more unique!

Shine bright with a classic midnight blue, or make a real statement in a two-tone bright red. For a bold, monotone look, opt for a black and white Oxford with a striking design feature.

When it comes to styling a brighter shoe, let it do all of the talking. Find out what you should be wearing with red Oxford shoes in our handy guide.

What to avoid when wearing Oxfords casually

While Oxford shoes make a great partner for casual clothes, some pairings just don’t work.

  • We recommend that Oxfords should only be worn with darker hued jeans, to remain in keeping with the elegance of the shoe. Lighter shades can, however, work well with tan shoes. Find out how we style our acorn brown Oxfords here.

  • While casual is the look we’re going for, scruffy is off the cards! Ensure that you pair these shoes with a crisp tee or shirt, or a smart jumper. Anything too messy will be jarring to the eye.

  • The adage is old but it remains true; black and brown don’t mix. While a black pair of jeans looks incredibly smart with Oxfords, they are to be avoided at all costs when it comes to a darker brown Oxford shoe!

You should now be ready to style your Oxfords for every occasion. Found this useful? Subscribe to our newsletter below for the latest fashion and footwear tips, plus exclusive special offers on Percy Stride shoes.

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