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How to Wear Men Oxford Shoes

May 21, 2023

Oxford shoes are a type of mens dress shoes that have been around for centuries and remain a popular choice for formal and semi-formal events. With their sleek and refined appearance, they are an essential addition to any well-rounded wardrobe.



Mens Oxford shoes are characterized by their closed lacing system, where the shoelaces are sewn under the vamp of the shoe, creating a clean and elegant look. This closed lacing system sets them apart from other dress shoes, such as Derbies, which have an open lacing system.

Oxford shoes are also known as balmoral. They come in a variety of materials, from leather to suede, and a range of colors, from black and brown to more adventurous shades like oxblood or burgundy. They can be found with various embellishments, such as broguing or wingtip detailing, further adding to their versatility.



The Oxford shoe has a long and rich history dating back to the 19th century. Originally designed for the collegiate set in Oxford, England, the shoes were made to be both practical and stylish for the young men of the time. The first iteration of the Oxford shoe was a plain, simple design with a low heel and closed lacing system. This design quickly became popular among the fashionable set, and soon after, manufacturers began adding embellishments, such as broguing, to the shoe's design. This new design became known as the "Balmoral," after the Balmoral Castle in Scotland, where it was rumored to be a favorite of the royal family.

Over time, the Oxford shoe has evolved, but its classic design and versatile style have remained unchanged. Today, it is a staple in men's formal shoes and is widely recognized as a symbol of sophistication and timeless style. Whether worn with a suit or dressed down with denim, the Oxford shoe remains a timeless classic that continues to be a popular choice for men of all ages.



Can you wear oxford shoes without socks?

This seems to be a very FAQ when it comes to Oxford shoes. Presumably if you’re here for that reason you’re probably living in a hot climate and want to know if it’s acceptable. My advice is invest in a pair of mens leather loafers or more weather appropriate shoes.

Burgundy leather loafers for men

Sparrods & Co Burgundy Penny Loafers

Brown mens suede loafers.

Sparrods & Co Brown Tassel Loafers

Oxfords can be worn without socks and sometimes can be seen as ‘trendy’, but my advice would be to avoid doing so and if leather loafers are out of your price bracket invest in a pair of linen socks. They’re durable, breathable, and comfortable and will look much more appropriate than without socks.

Are oxford shoes causal?

Oxford shoes can be both casual and formal, depending on the style and how they are worn. Oxford plain toe, cap toe, and wholecut shoes come in neutral colors, such as black or brown, are considered more formal and can be worn with a suit or dress pants for a sophisticated and polished look.

Men Tan Brogues Shoes

Sparrods & Co Oxford Tan Brogue Shoes

However, Oxford semi-brogue and full brogues shoes can be worn in a more casual setting when paired with casual trousers or denim. Additionally, mens tan brogues or burgundy brogues shoes can also lend a more casual feel.

Will oxford shoes stretch?

Oxford shoes will generally stretch over time, as the leather conforms to the shape of the foot. The amount of stretching can vary depending on the type of leather (e.g., box calfskin, full grain calfskin, suede, any exotic leather, etc.) and the tightness of the fit.

If you are concerned about the fit of your Oxford shoes, it is best to try them on and wear them for a short period of time to ensure they are comfortable and the right size. If you need more room, consider buying shoes that are a half-size larger or choosing a wider width, depending on what issue you’re having with the fit.

Are oxford shoes comfortable?

The comfort level of Oxford shoes can vary depending on the style, construction, material, and fit. The design of the shoe, such as the height of the heel and the amount of cushioning in the insole, can also affect the comfort level. Choosing shoes with a low heel, a cushioned insole, and a roomy toe box can help ensure a comfortable fit.

It is important to try on Oxford shoes and walk around in them for a short period of time to ensure they are comfortable and the right size. If you have any existing foot conditions or issues, consider seeking advice from a podiatrist to find formal shoes that will be comfortable for you.



The main difference between Oxford and Derby shoes is the lacing system. Oxford shoes have a closed lacing system, where the shoelaces are sewn under the vamp of the shoe, creating a sleek and refined appearance. In contrast, Derby shoes have an open lacing system, where the shoelaces are sewn on top of the vamp, giving them a more relaxed and casual look. Additionally, Oxfords tend to have a more formal look and are typically worn with formal attire such as a suit or dress pants.

Mens brown dress shoes

Sparrods & Co Dark Brown Oxford Cap Toe Shoes

On the other hand, Derby shoes have a more casual and relaxed look and are often worn with casual attire like denim or chinos.

Derby Shoes for Men

Sparrods & Co Derby Shoes



There are several different types of Oxford shoes, each with their own unique characteristics and styles. Some of the most popular types of Oxfords include:



The Plain Toe Oxford shoe is a classic and timeless type of Oxford shoe, characterized by its simple and understated design. It features a closed lacing system and a plain toe cap, without any additional detailing or embellishments.

The plain toe cap gives the shoe a clean and refined look, making it a great choice for formal events and dressier occasions.



The Cap Toe Oxford is a more detailed characterized by its separate toe cap, it adds extra layer of detail, creating a unique and eye-catching look. The cap toe can be made with broguing or perforations, further enhancing its visual appeal. It is a versatile style that can be worn for both formal and semi-formal events, depending on the overall look of the shoe and the attire being worn with it.

Black Oxford shoes for the office, weddings, meetings

Sparrods & Co Black Oxford Cap Toe Shoes



The Oxford Wholecut is a sleek and minimalist design making it a great choice for all formal events and dressier occasions. Crafted from a single piece of leather. The lack of seams and additional detailing gives the wholecut a clean and refined look, making it a stylish and sophisticated option for mens dress shoes.

Black oxford wholecut shoes

Sparrods & Co Black Oxford Wholecut



We have an entire article on the ultimate guide to brogue shoes. As we discussed in that article, many Brogues are infact Oxfords as well including the following:


Adelaide Oxfords shoes are similar to Oxford brogues shoes.

Although they are quite similar, the brogues on Adelaide only cover the toe cap, the vamp and the counters with no medallion on the toe cap. They are usually less formal and are often worn with casual or semi-formal attire.



The Semi-Brogue Oxford is characterized by a toe cap with decorative broguing along the edge, but not on the rest of the shoe.

It is a versatile and stylish type of Oxford shoes, suitable for both formal and semi-formal events.



The Oxford full brogues shoes is characterized by extensive broguing all over the toe cap, as well as the sides and sometimes the vamp of the shoe.

Mens brown brogue shoes. Perfect men dress shoes for work

Sparrods & Co Simba Espresso Oxford Brogues Shoes

This type of Oxford shoe is more casual and less formal and is best suited for semi-formal and casual events. Oxford full brogues are also known as Oxford wingtips.



The Saddle Brogue Oxford is a type of Full Brogue Oxford, characterized by a decorative band, or "saddle," across the instep of the shoe.

The saddle is usually a different color than the rest of the shoe, adding an extra pop of color and style.



Oxford shoes are suitable for a range of occasions, from business meetings to weddings. They are an excellent choice for anyone who wants to add a touch of sophistication to their outfit, whether it's a suit, dress pants, or even casual attire like denim or chinos.

Men who value durability, style, and versatility will appreciate the classic appeal of Oxford wholecut shoes. They are suitable for all ages, making them a versatile mens dress shoes choice that can be worn for years to come. Whether you're just starting your career or are a seasoned professional, Oxford shoes can help elevate your look and make a lasting impression.



In an office setting, a classic and understated Oxford shoe is generally the most appropriate choice. Suitable types of Oxford shoes for the office include Oxford plain toe, Oxford Cap Toe, and Oxford Wholecut shoes in black, brown, or oxblood leather. These neutral colors can be paired with a variety of different attire and are suitable for both formal and semi-formal office environments.

Black mens dress shoes

Sparrods & Co Kingston Black Oxford Wholecut Shoes

In terms of trousers, dark-colored dress pants in black, navy, or gray are the best choice. A classic, straight-leg cut will ensure a clean and polished look, while pleated pants can add some extra sophistication. Avoid wearing casual or ripped jeans, as well as shorts, in a professional office setting.

Brown oxford shoes. Best men business shoes for office, wedding and executive meetings

Sparrods & Co Oak Espresso Oxford Cap Toe Shoes

When it comes to color combinations, it is best to stick to classic and neutral tones. Black Oxford shoes can be paired with black or gray trousers, while brown Oxford shoes can be paired with navy or khaki pants. Oxblood Oxford shoes can be paired with black or navy pants for a sophisticated look, or with gray pants for a more understated style.



For a social event such as a date night or theater outing, Oxford shoes can range from dressed-up and sophisticated to more casual and relaxed, depending on the occasion. A black oxford wholecut or dark brown oxford wholecut add a touch of elegance to your outfit, while an burgundy oxford brogues shoes or tan oxford brogues shoes can bring a relaxed vibe to your look.

Burgundy men brogues. Best wingtip shoes for all your outfits

Sparrods & Co Simba Burgundy Oxford Brogue Shoes

When it comes to trousers, dress pants in a darker color, such as black, navy, or gray, are a sophisticated choice, while chinos or tailored cargo pants can add a more relaxed feel to your look.

Tan brogues shoes. Best wingtip shoes for all your smart casual outfit

Sparrods & Co Simba Cognac Oxford Brogues Shoes

In terms of color combinations, it is best to stick to classic and sophisticated color combinations for a dressed-up look, or opt for bolder and more relaxed color combinations for a more casual vibe. The same colour rules apply here for in terms of colour combinations that are appropriate, though if you’re looking for a more casual look, choose a unique color leather or suede Oxford and pair it with coordinating trousers for a bold and relaxed vibe.



Oxford brogues shoes versatile smart casual shoes option that can be dressed up or down, making them suitable for a wide range of occasions. Featuring decorative perforations on the upper leather, they add a touch of sophistication and style to any outfit.

mens black brogues. Perfect black dress shoes for men.Sparrods & Co Simba Black Oxford Brogues Shoes

For a semi-formal dress code, a semi-brogue or Oxford wingtip shoes in black, dark brown, or oxblood leather can be a stylish choice. Pair these shoes with dress pants in a darker color, such as black, navy, or gray, or with tailored chinos in a coordinating color for a polished look.

Mens brown brogues shoes. Best mens brown dress shoes for casual outfit

Sparrods & Co Simba Espresso Oxford Brogues Shoes


Jessup Says

If you’re a person who tends to be in a lot of meetings or lives a life with a lot of social events, a classic Oxford is an absolute essential for your wardrobe. And if you’re a person who wants a shoe that can be worn more casually to special events and the occasional day in the office then there’s an oxford out there for you as well. That’s sort of the beauty of oxfords, they really can do it all.


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