What Is The Difference Between Oxford And Derby Shoes?

Share on facebook
Share on pinterest
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

When it comes to shoes, there are a few core styles that every man should know and consider owning. Talking in particular: the Oxford and the Derby it is. In this article, we will walk you through the history of these two styles, distinguish a few main differences between them and cover some of the style prospects of wearing each of these models.

So here is a brief explanation to describe the key features and history surrounding each style.

Oxford And Derby - What's The Difference?

So these two styles surely have more features in common than those which divides them from one another. Both styles are considered to be dress shoes, both could or could not have a toe cap. Let’s go straight to the point – the main difference between an Oxford and a Derby lies in the shoe-laces.

Oxford - Closed Lacing System

In a nutshell, a present-day’s Oxford Shoe has a closed lacing system, is usually low-heeled and has an exposed ankle. These are 3 easy noticeable features how you can distinguish Oxfords from the Derbies.

Oxfords were usually classified as considerably sleeker, more formal shoe-style. Traditionally, Oxfords were best paired with suits. However, in a few past decades, there has been a slight shift in designs, colours, and materials, so Oxfords are now available to suit both smart and less smart looks.

History of the Oxford Shoe

There are several theories on how Oxford shoe appeared to be. One such approach is that this style evolved from a popular style of boot with side slits. The side slit changed into a side lace which eventually moved to the top of the shoe. This style of footwear became popular among students from Oxford University who began rebelling against the traditional boots of the time somewhere in the 1800s.

A second theory, however, is that the shoe originated from Balmoral Castle in Scotland where it became known as a Balmoral shoe. In the USA, Oxford shoes are still sometimes referred to as Balmoral shoes or Bals in short. Since then, this traditional style has become identified with business, evening and uniform wear to round off a suit or tuxedo look.

Derby - Open Lacing System

A Derby shoe is also a lace-up shoe but unlike an Oxford, one which has an open lacing section: laces are not sewn closed at the bottom. A Derby has no seam between the tongue and front of the shoe.

The looser tightened laces of the Derby allow for more freedom of movement. The Derby is commonly thought to be comfier and a bit more casual in comparison with the Oxfords. Everyone agrees that the Derby has a more relaxed look and diversity in terms of how they can be worn – smart or/and casual – and how they are made – suede or leather.

History of the Derby Shoe

The Derby shoe originated somewhere in the 1850s as a sporting and hunting shoe for its ease of cleansing after dirty days out in the field. However, at the beginning of the 20th century, the Derby shoe became appropriate for wear by gentlemen around the city for a more daily look.

Style Choices For The Oxford & Derby

Oxfords For A More Classy And Formal Look

The Oxford every stylish man should own is undoubtedly a black cap toe Oxford style. It is one of the most classy and at the same time versatile shoe style, that can be worn on many different occasions such as weddings, evening or black-tie events, business meetings, dinners, etc.

Traditionally, Oxfords are the essential dress shoes for your day-suits and business wear. With a pas shift of styles, they can also be worn when you want to scale up your sophistication level even wearing more casual outfits like chinos and a blazer. If black is not quite your style, go for dark or mid-brown, cognac, cherry, or blood colours to serve this purpose and get you a sleeker look.

Another style worth your attention – Oxford Brogues, especially in dark brown, so it becomes more versatile because you may now combine them with tweed, wool, and other more autumn-casual outfits and looks, including jeans, sportcoat, blazer, and chinos ensembles. A dark brown brogue in suede is probably one of the 2nd or third shoes you should buy after your investment in a black cap toe Oxford.

Derbies: The Right Shoe For Every Occasion

There’s barely a situation in which a Derby would be a wrong footwear choice. These are simply great everyday shoes: they are easy to get on-off and comfy to wear for almost each foot shape. Go for a suede leather model in chocolate brown, black or dark grey and combine it with your favorite shirt, jeans, and a jacket. In cases you want to look more elegant, choose a shiny brush leather style.

Derbies, as Oxfords can also go with the suit. Moreover, they are an ideal way to make a suit feel less stuffy and reduce that snobbish look if needed. At the business-friendly spectrum, Derbies will comfortably round up a dark coloured or subtly patterned costume, especially if you choose soft black leather.

If you lack inspiration for Derbies, consider utilitarian. Derbies were originally created for moving through mud, so pieces with a similar gene will always be a great choice. Fabrics like denim, styles like a trucker or denim jackets, jeans, trench coats, and chinos, or really any other piece which got its start in the military environment, will look great too.


Back to the top, every man should have several shoe options available to him, that would suit as many different occasions as it could. Especially consider the black and brown palette, invest in good leather quality. As always, think before shopping, get the idea, where you’re most likely going to be wearing the shoes and what’s your style overall.

More to explorer

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *