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Contrary to popular belief, the world of footwear for men can be daunting. The choices are endless. The styles widely vary. What’s appropriate and what’s not for different types of occasions usually lie in minor, minuscule details that are often missed by the normal eye. But, knowing the rules is a must.
One of the trickiest style conundrums for men is figuring out the appropriate footwear choice for certain occasions. And while stylish men’s white sneakers have become widely acceptable for formal functions and corporate business settings, your footwear arsenal requires the best oxford shoes.
What Are Oxford Shoes?
You’ve certainly seen them before. Oxford shoes are defined by a closed lacing system that conceals the upper part of the shoe and is equipped with a low heel. Other popular go-tos, like derby shoes, are open-laced, while brogues are decorative and loafers are far more casual. Oxford shoes, on the other hand, are the most formal dress shoes for men, and are appropriate for things, such as business meetings, weddings, and black-tie events.
The Different Types of Oxford Shoes
- Plain Toe: Free of any embellishments on the toe, a plain toe Oxford is the most formal Oxford variation. As its name suggests, plain toe Oxfords have no toe caps and are best worn with your finest tuxedos.
- Wholecut: To identify a wholecut Oxford, steer your eyes towards the details. Unlike the plain toe, the upper part of a wholecut shoe is cut from one whole piece of leather, which means the upper part of the shoe will be free from any lining. These are best for the moments in life when you need to look a bit polished, like a date or a professional interview.
- Cap Toe: Unlike to its wholecut counterpart, cap-toe shoes have a few more layers to them. You’ll notice that there’s an extra piece of leather on the toe box and the shoe is equipped with a heel cap.
Top Oxford Shoes for Men for 2022
- Florsheim Tux Cap-Toe Oxford Shoes
- Magnanni Palos Oxford Shoes
- Johnston & Murphy Melton Oxford Shoes
- Berluti Alessandro Démesure Leather Shoes
- Ermenegildo Zegna Formal Oxford Shoes
- Ted Baker London Walster Cap-Toe Oxford Shoes
- Dr. Martens 1461 3-Tie Shoes
- Johnston & Murphy Collection Wilshire Oxford Shoes
- Winthrop Pelton Shoes
- Grenson Archie Leather Lace-Up Brogue Shoes
- BP Shane Casual Lace-Up Derby Shoes
- Boss Eastside Plain Derby Shoes
What to Look for In The Best Oxford Shoes
Men’s footwear, specifically Oxfords, require a closer look at details. So, when you’re trying to gauge which ones are truly superior over the overs, try picking up on the little things.
- Leather: The quality of the leather, as well as where it’s sourced and how flexible it is, should be one of the first things you look for.
- Comfort: “The lacing of the Oxford is normally an advantage in terms of comfort,” says Daniel Bucheli, president of the footwear brand, Le Majordome. “The lacing allows for the fit to be adjusted by loosening or tightening the laces (which is trickier to do with a loafer or a Chelsea boot).”
The Best Way to Wear Oxfords
So, when will your fantastic pair of Oxford shoes make an appearance? Well, according to Bucheli, there are a few things to consider. “Since one has to sit down and take the time to lace them up, they will always have a more refined appeal than a loafer one can just slip into, especially if it’s an Oxford without much ornamentation like a cap toe,” he says. “And in contrast to a derby, which by definition consists of multiple pieces of leather, the simplicity of the Oxford pattern adds to its elegance (which is also the case for unadorned versions, like a wholecut).
Florsheim Tux Cap-Toe Oxford Shoes
Patent leather is usually always reserved for formal affairs. Pair it with a cap-toe Oxford and you’ll be ready for any dapper evening. These shoes by Florsheim exemplify this with flying colors and it wears well with any tuxedo or evening coat. Equipped with a fully cushioned memory foam footbed, these are as comfortable as they are elegant. Florsheim prides themselves on high-quality craftsmanship with their shoes and you’ll certainly get your bang for your buck.
Magnanni Palos Oxford Shoes
If you’re headed to a business meeting, a cocktail hour, or date and want to add a hint of refinement to your look, consider these Oxfords by Magnanni. These shoes hit the trifecta of a good Oxford: Well built, comfortable, and stylish. With a burnished finish, these Oxfords marry modernity and tradition. They’ve got a cushioned insole with arch support, too, so you can kiss your footwear woes goodbye.
Johnston & Murphy Melton Oxford Shoes
If you’re looking for a starter Oxford, these by Johnston & Murphy will surely serve you well. They’ve got a classic appearance, which makes them great for nearly any occasion, including business meetings or weddings. Like all good Oxfords, they’re made with premium leather and Johnston & Murphy, a shoe company founded in 1850, knows this best. You could also wear these Oxfords with jeans and a nice jacket for a smart casual look.
Berluti Alessandro Démesure Leather Shoes
If you’re looking to splurge on an Oxford, Berluti is always the way to go. Made in Italy, these finely almond-shaped shoes are made from high-quality Venezia leather, which is a material that is supple and fine. This pair in particular is one of the oldest models of Oxfords that the brand has ever crafted. Purchasing a pair would not only put you in the ranks of the style gods, but also make you a part of Berluti history.
Ermenegildo Zegna Formal Oxford Shoes
As one of the most recognizable luxury brands today, it’s no surprise that Ermenegildo Zegna also boasts some of the best, most reliable Oxfords on the market. Designed out of supple leather in Italy, these shoes feature a formal lace-up detail and are finished with sleek rubber soles. Their almond-toe shape makes them feel modern and they easily pair with beautiful trousers on both the casual and formal scale.
Ted Baker London Walster Cap-Toe Oxford Shoes
If you’re looking for an everyday Oxford, a tan one such as these from Ted Baker are one of the most stylish. They’re fitting for the days when you choose to don a blue or gray suit and, in some instances, can elevate your off duty look in jeans. Made with a leather upper and rubber sole, these shoes are beautifully made and are equally comfortable.
Dr. Martens 1461 Bex Pleasures Leather Oxford Shoes
Oxfords don’t always need to remain on the dapper dandy side. In fact, they can be used for quite the opposite aesthetic. Dr. Martens is a brand that has always pioneered a grunge look that will always be timeless. These stylish oxford shoes are part of a collaboration with Pleasures that puts a tie-dye spin on the 1461 Bex. With the style’s signature lug sole, these offer a more casual, street style vibe.
Johnston & Murphy Collection Wilshire Oxford Shoes
One way to flaunt your sophistication is through a pair of patent leather Oxfords and lucky for us, Johnston & Murphy has us covered. Crafted in Italy, this pair features the traditional Oxford lace-up construction, as well as comfortable lining and insoles, and is finished with a sleek almond toe shape. Like a nice watch and a beautiful crisp white shirt, a pair of patent leather shoes, such as these, is an essential in every gentleman’s closet. For their high quality, these are worth the extra buck.
Winthrop Pelton Shoes
Are you a sneaker guy, but want to tap into your Oxford side? Or are you an Oxford guy who wishes that he can feel the comfort of sneakers without sacrificing a polished look? Well, voila: Winthrop’s Pelton shoes combine both. This shoe is made out of an extremely breathable leather lining, making them a great shoe for days when you’ll know you’ll get your steps in. I would refrain from wearing these to ultra formal events, but they’re certainly golden for more casual events.
Grenson Archie Leather Lace-Up Brogue Shoes
Think of brogues as a more decorative version of Oxfords, although technically, they follow suit of the Oxford shoe design, as exemplified by these Grenson, Oxfords, which consist of the traditional lace-up fastenings. However, brogues differ in design, which is quite obviously seen with the shoe’s perforated detailing. Grenson is best known for crafting superior footwear, so you know that the dollars spent are certainly worth it.
BP Shane Casual Lace-Up Derby Shoes
If you want an Oxford look that’s a bit more casual and comfortable, opt-in for a derby shoe. While this pair certainly has the recurring sophistication of the Oxford shoe, the derby has an open lace upper, which means more mobility. This pair by BP is terrific for a casual work day at the office or a weekend trip. They’re made out of soft suede to allow for an extra flexible fit.
Boss Eastside Plain Derby Shoes
For those looking for a contemporary sensibility as opposed to traditional styles, these shoes by Boss do the trick. With ultra smooth leather and a clean silhouette, there’s no denying the level of class these shoes emit. Plus, who doesn’t love a little light luster from the sleek leather? Pair these with a dark-colored suit (but refrain from black).
Meet the Expert
Daniel Bucheli is the president of the bespoke footwear and leather goods brand, Le Majordome.