Oxford vs Derby - the great shoe showdown

Do you know when to wear which?

November 1, 2014

When it comes to wearing a smart shoe for a formal event, you really only have one of two choices to make: Oxford, or Derby.

As the two most traditional types of lace-up shoes, every man should know the difference between them. So here you are:

The Derby


Derby shoes JM Weston. With a character-defining ‘open lace’ structure, the Derby is considered a less formal shoe than the Oxford. The open lace allows the shoe to open much wider and, as a result, generally makes them more comfortable and able to fit a wider range of foot shapes.

Traditionally created as a hunting shoe, the Derby (or Blucher as they are known in the US) tends to be worn in more of a smart-casual setting, perfect with jeans or chinos, with a crisp shirt and a nice blazer.

The Oxford


John Lobb Oxford shoes. The most basic and formal of men’s shoe, the Oxford is the James Bond of shoes. A truly versatile piece, it will suit any formal occasion from weddings and ceremonies to office wear.

Known as a Balmoral in the US, the main indicators for the shoe is its closed lace, ‘V’ structure where the quarters are sewn under the vamp and fastened together by laces over the tongue. This lends the shoe to a sleeker, more elegant shape, making it an impeccable finishing touch to a sharp tailored suit.

The details matter

A toe-cap has a straight stitch running horizontally across the toe line. Commonly found on an oxford, but not exclusive to it.

Refers to a pattern of decorative punched holes along a shoe’s seams. Shoes with a ‘full-brogue’ have a ‘W’ shaped wingtip cap.

Brogue holeing found on the cap of the shoe is called a medallion. Common in both half and full brogue patterns.