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Though it may seem overwhelming, men's footwear offers a variety of styles and options. Knowing what is appropriate for different occasions is essential, as minor details can make all the difference.
One of the biggest style challenges for men is selecting the right footwear for specific events. While stylish men's white sneakers are acceptable at formal events and business settings, the best choice for a formal footwear arsenal is a pair of classic oxford shoes.
What Exactly Are Oxford Shoes?
You've probably seen them before. Oxford shoes have a closed lacing system that hides the upper part of the shoe and a low heel. Derby shoes, on the other hand, have an open lacing system, brogues come with decorative patterns, and loafers are generally more casual. Oxford shoes are the most formal dress shoes for men and are suitable for events such as business meetings, weddings, and black-tie affairs.
Types of Oxford Shoes
Plain Toe Oxfords have no embellishments on the toe, making them the most formal type of oxford. Without a toe cap, these shoes pair well with black tie events.
Wholecut Oxfords are cut from a single piece of leather, creating a seamless appearance. These understated but polished shoes are great for dates or job interviews.
Cap Toe Oxfords have an additional piece of leather around the toe, along with a heel cap.
Top Oxford Shoes for Men in 2023
Features to Look for in the Best Oxford Shoes for Men
When shopping for men's footwear, particularly oxfords, attention to detail is critical. To identify superior options, focus on the little things.
Leather: The quality, source, and flexibility of the leather should be among the first things you evaluate.
Comfort: According to Daniel Bucheli, the president of the footwear brand, Le Majordome, “The lacing of the Oxford is normally an advantage in terms of comfort. 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).”
How to Wear Oxford Shoes
When should you break out your fabulous oxford shoes? Bucheli recommends considering a few factors. “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)."
For those seeking to appear their best, patent leather is a must-have for formal gatherings. Match it with a cap-toe Oxford to truly embody dapper and refined characteristics. Florsheim showcases this combination with outstanding results, offering an adaptable option to pair with tuxedos or evening coats. On top of being sleek, these Oxford shoes provide ultimate comfort with their memory foam footbed and ensure a high-quality finish that is worth the price.
For those occasions when refinement is necessary, like cocktail hour or a business meeting, the Magnanni Palos Oxford shoes are a perfect choice to elevate one's look. These Oxfords check all the right boxes: being well-made, modern, and comfortable. Their sleek appearance ties together modern and traditional design, truly a fitting choice for any occasion. Plus, with arch support and a cushioned insole, these shoes make all-day wear a breeze.
Beginners can never go wrong with a classic option, and the Johnston & Murphy Melton Oxford shoes are no exception. These Oxfords sport a timeless look, perfect for any occasion, from weddings to business meetings. Like any premium Oxford, their leather is of the highest quality, and they are crafted by Johnston & Murphy, a shoe company with a rich history dating back to 1850. Dress them up or down with jeans or a jacket to achieve a smart casual look.
Berluti Alessandro Démesure Leather Shoes
For those seeking a lavish Oxford shoe, look no further than Berluti. These almond-shaped shoes are crafted in Italy using premium Venezia leather, which is both supple and sophisticated. This specific pair is one of the brand's oldest Oxford designs, making it not only a display of refined style but also a piece of Berluti's rich history.
Ermenegildo Zegna Formal Oxford Shoes
As a prominent luxury brand, it comes as no surprise that Ermenegildo Zegna boasts some of the best and most dependable Oxfords available. These formal lace-up shoes are crafted from supple leather in Italy and are finished with sleek rubber soles. Their almond-toe silhouette and refined simplicity make them the perfect match for both casual and formal trousers.
Ted Baker London Walster Cap-Toe Oxford Shoes
For an everyday Oxford shoe, the tan Walster Cap-Toe from Ted Baker is a stylish option. These shoes are ideal for pairing with blue or grey suits, and can even elevate a more casual look with jeans. Crafted with a leather upper and rubber sole, the Walster Cap-Toe showcases both style and comfort.
Dr. Martens 1461 Bex Pleasures Leather Oxford Shoes
Who says Oxford shoes are only for the prim and proper? These shoes can be rocked for more edgy vibes too! Dr. Martens and Pleasures have collaborated to bring the tie-dye trend to the classic 1461 Bex oxford shoes. With a rugged lug sole, you can rock these shoes as part of your chill street style.
Johnston & Murphy Collection Wilshire Oxford Shoes
Nothing screams sophistication more than patent leather Oxford shoes, and Johnston & Murphy delivers just that with their Wilshire Oxford shoes, crafted in Italy. The traditional lace-up construction exudes elegance and style, coupled with lining and insoles that guarantee comfort. Say hello to a sleek almond toe shape that screams gentleman class. Just like a watch and crisp white shirt, these patent leather shoes are a staple in any gentleman’s wardrobe and a worthwhile investment.
Winthrop Pelton Shoes
Are you a sneakerhead who wants to try Oxford shoes? Or an Oxford purist who wants the comfort of sneakers without sacrificing polish? No worries, because Winthrop’s Pelton shoes are the perfect hybrid. These shoes are made with breathable leather lining, perfect for high-activity days when you need your shoes to ventilate well. They might not be the most formal option for your events, but they definitely elevate your casual outfits.
Upgrade Your Shoe Game with Chic Brogues from Grenson Archie
Brogues are a fancy version of Oxfords, although the latter inspired the former, as demonstrated by the Grenson Archie leather lace-up brogue shoes. While the basic Oxford features traditional lace-up closures, brogues boast of perforated accents. Grenson is renowned for its superior quality footwear, ensuring the price is worth the investment.
Go for a Chic Yet Casual Look with BP Shane Casual Lace-Up Derby Shoes
For a casual yet chic appeal, pick a derby shoe instead of the classic Oxford. BP offers a comfortable pair with all the refinement of the Oxford but an open lace upper for more freedom of movement. The soft suede material ensures optimal flexibility for a snug fit, be it a casual workday or a weekend getaway.
Experience Contemporary Style with Boss Eastside Plain Derby Shoes
If you prefer a current aesthetic over traditional designs, Boss showcases the perfect contemporary shoe with the Eastside plain derby. The ultra-smooth leather and streamlined outline exude elegance, while the glossy finish adds a touch of sophistication. Pair them with a dark suit, but unbutton your collar and wear a skinny tie to spice it up.
Meet the Maestro
Daniel Bucheli is a mastermind behind Le Majordome, a custom footwear and leather goods brand that redefines style with bespoke craftsmanship. Trust his expert opinion to elevate your shoe game.