Best Oxford Shoes Reviewed & Tested
Criteria Used for Evaluation
The Oxford originated in the UK, but also was reputed for having been founded in Ireland and Scotland and referred to as Balmorals. They reflected a plain, simple style of a shoe, made of leather with closed lacing. As footwear evolved, so did the Oxford, with newer styles emerging that reflected its classical design, but with small differences that would then start a new generation of Oxfords. Examples of those would be styles such as the derby or brogues.
Shoes are designed in various methods, but well-crafted shoes have several parts.
What’s in a regular shoe?
in a classic formal shoe, the vamp is the top or upper part of the shoe that covers the instep and toes.
part of the medial area of the shoe, these panels are usually decorative for fancier shoes and wrap around to meet the vamp from the heel to the middle.
part of the upper and can reflect decorative design or shape.
Strip of plastic, leather, or rubber running the perimeter of the outsole, which allows for weather-resistant durability.
Under the back of the foot by the heel, in formal shoes, this usually has a slight stacked platform for height. These can be a closed heel (even with the heel cap), or extended heels which go slightly longer than the heel cap.
Heel cap or Backstay
usually made from the same material as the uppers and wraps around the back of the foot.
Topline, Cuff or Collar
top of the heel, which is sometimes called the collar of the shoe, this is where the foot enters the shoe and can be padded for comfort against the ankle during wear.
inner protective section of the shoe under the laces or closure that protects the foot. Usually made from the same materials as the uppers.
Laces and Eyelets
an example of a mechanism used to close the shoe to the foot, pulling the uppers together. Other options can be straps, buckles, or simply no mechanism such as slip-on shoes have.
But what exactly went into the Oxford shoe? It’s taken parts of a regular shoe design and styled them in a way to give sleek, clean lines, and many times required a skilled level of craftsmanship.
Staples of Classic Oxford Design:
Modern Oxford Styling:
Different quarter panel cut and styles
Brogueing – perforations in the leather giving a decorative accent. Semi Brogues or Full Brogues are defined by how many perforations there are. The Quarter Brogue has even less decorative holes, and Longwing Brogues have perforations over the whole shoe.
Variety of Toe cap designs.
Contrasting Colors – black on tan, or hues of the same color elevate the sophistication of the shoe.
Texturing – mixing sleek leather with a textured pattern can create a statement piece to your attire.
Types of Oxfords:
Plain Oxford– simple, sleek, classically designed oxfords
Wholecut– made from one cut of leather, usually more expensive, but indicative of quality craftsmanship.
Saddle Oxfords– more decorative usually with scalloped panels and contrasting colors.
Wingtip Oxford/Brogue-decorative toe, with brogueing along with the panels
Cap Toe Oxfords– simple decorative addition to the toe from additional leather to cap the toe, or stitching across the toe, giving a ‘cap’ appearance.
Kiltie Oxfords-fringed leather replaces or hides the tongue of the shoe.
Oxford Heels-a shoe design with a high-heel
The type of leather in your formal shoe depends on how active you’re going to be. If you’re buying a shoe to wear to several events or every day to work, you’re going to want one that doesn’t crease easily. You want durable leather that looks smooth and can stand up to a long day of meetings or spinning bridesmaids around the dance floor. Most times, top grain leather is the most durable, and a good craftsman can make it thin enough to have a supple feel. Lowest grade leather is either piece combined or those cut from the belly.
Different types of leather include:
Pebble grain leather– embossed with a raised pattern. This adds a texture purely from the leather itself, and what area from which it was cut.
Top grain leather– smooth in appearance, highest in quality.
Full grain leather– durable, doesn’t allow moisture in. This usually consists of 100% genuine leather grade material
Patent leather– shiny, creases easily and has been treated for an extra luxurious and quality feel.
The sole of the shoe is another factor that depends on what you’re wearing the shoe for. Often, you’ll want a durable sole with a good grip. It’s hard to find a balance between a thick sole that protects your foot and one that’s breathable and allows your feet to get air.
Types of soles include:
Double leather– durable, protects well, indicative of handcrafted and high-quality shoes.
Rubber sole– has a good grip, not as breathable, more durable than leather made soles.
Crepe sole– a lighter sole with a rubber texture, less durable than rubber, but can be more so than leather.
Single leather– makes for a sleek shoe, but not as durable or protective.
PU or PVC– composite material synthetically made that allows cushioning and protection.
A double leather sole on a shoe is going to be more durable and protect the foot better. If your shoe has a rubber sole, you will have more grip, but the shoe isn’t able to breathe as well. A crepe sole is a lighter sole and made from rubber with a texture. A single leather sole makes for a sleek shoe, but don’t protect as well. PU and PVC soles provide protection and comfort.
A toe style on an Oxford can change the look of your entire ensemble. From a rounded toe to tapered, or a squarer style toe, choose something that will complement the outfit as opposed to making a statement on its own. It’s important to get a style that fits your personality and your foot.
Types of toe accents include:
Wingtip– a rounded toe cap, with a point in the center of the toe pointing towards the laces, arching toward the toes and to the sides, which resembles the shape of a wing.
Cap toe– an extra piece of leather on the toe, or simple stitching across the base of the toe box across the top which gives a ‘cap’ to the shoe.
Plain toe– clean and simple, no stitching or brogueing, a classic of traditional oxford styling.
The way the shoe is constructed and pieced together shows craftsmanship and is a great way to tell if it’s a quality shoe.
The Blake Stitch:
This connects the upper directly to the sole. This means you get a lighter shoe. It will be more flexible, but it will also wear out quicker.
The Goodyear Welt:
Here we have a strip of leather, rubber, or plastic stitching on the outsole, the uppers, and insoles together. This helps the shoe mold to your foot and provides a weather resistant proofing. Shoes with this type of construction will last longer.
The Oxford style shoe has evolved to include several design elements to add flair and sophistication to your individual style. It may take time to sort out which are more suited to your tastes, but it can elevate your sense of fashion to reflect a runway feel. As a formal shoe, this is a staple in any collection, and by mixing and matching components of craftsmanship and styling, they can be suitable for any formal occasion as well as more casual settings. With versatility, history, and an almost unprecedented selection available, the Oxford shoe is a timeless piece!
10 Best Oxford Shoes
1. Clarks Tilden Cap
Clarks brand has been designing footwear with function, comfort, and styling in mind since 1825. Boasting Ortholite insoles, a TPR sole, and classic oxford styling, the Clarks Tilden Cap is a brilliant option in traditional styling. Black, dark tan or brown leather options reflect old-world design, but innovative comfort construction gives this shoe a new world solution for the hustle and bustle of today.
Classic oxford styling is reflected in the Clarks Tilden Cap. Stitching accents the cap toe and quarters, and a closed heel gives a sharp clean look to the shoe. Closed lacing completes the old authentic look, keeping a simplistic design which stays true to old-world roots. Supple leather hugs the foot, with an aristocratic sheen suitable for any occasion.
Designed for a busy new age world, Clarks has given the Tilden Cap a few upgrades for comfort, while keeping the style in the forefront. The quarters sewn to the vamp have a slight cut near the tongue of the shoe, giving it flexibility for movement and walking. A lined and padded heel and inner will minimize blistering, and the Ortholite sole keeps your feet dry as well as cushioned during wear. If you’re searching for an oxford that keeps clean classic styling while combining freedom of movement and comfort to a shoe, search no more. For a moderate price tag, the Clarks Tilden Cap oxford is perfect for the go-getter on the run and is suitable for any business or formal occasion with its classic styling.
2. Clarks Tilden Walk
Clarks brand has been designing footwear with function, comfort, and styling for over 100 years. With Ortholite insoles, a synthetic sole, and classic oxford styling, the Clarks Tilden Walk is a great option, in and out the boardroom. Black, dark tan or brown leather options reflect old-world design, but innovative comfort and construction makes it a shoe of the future.
Classic oxford styling is reflected in the Clarks Tilden Walk. Like its sister-shoe, the Tilden Cap, the stitching accents the cap toe and quarters, combined with a closed heel, give a sharp, clean look to the shoe. Closed lacing completes the old authentic look, keeping a simplistic design which stays true to old-world origins.
Designed for a busy new age world, Clarks has given the Tilden Walk a few upgrades for comfort, while keeping the style in the forefront. A lined and padded heel and inner minimizes blistering and discomfort. The Ortholite sole keeps your feet dry and cushioned. The quarters sewn to the vamp have a slight cut near the tongue of the shoe, giving it flexibility for movement and walking. At a middle price point, the Clarks Tilden Walk is perfect for starting out or expanding an existing footwear collection.
3. Viotti Oxford
Stepping up style with modern sophistication, the Viotti Oxford has a pleasing aesthetic look combined with suave swagger. Coming in a rainbow of colors and textures, you can select between shiny patent or textile uppers. This shoe is more suited for those looking to make an announcement on their arrival at a gala or black tie event, and is sure to have heads turning!
If you’re looking for an oxford that is different than anything you’ve encountered, the variety of hues and materials found in the Viotti will have you looking no further. From classic black to reds, pinks, and blues, this shoe boasts of individual taste and will bring attention to the wearer. Considering the variety of options available, you may be purchasing more than just one pair!
Bold meets suave in the styling of this shoe and turns up the notch in sophistication in terms of design. With an option for shiny quarters to accent satin paneling on the upper, you can add depth to your style with contrasting texture elements. Stitched with elegance and attention to detail, closed lacing indicative of traditional oxford shoe style keeps your foot firmly in place. This Oxford tends to fit a little snug, so size up if you intend to buy. Standing at an average price of many on our list, the Viotti is a great addition to your collection of footwear solely based on its styling, variety in colors and texture combinations, and jaw-dropping appeal.
4. Stacy Adams Dickinson
Founded in 1875, Stacy Adams reflects American 1920’s style culture, when swing was king, and zoot suits reigned. Since then, the company has kept up with the times, adjusting design, sophistication, and styling of their shoes to suit the decades. The Stacy Adams Dickinson oxford transforms that 1920’s swing time feel into a timeless shoe for the ages to come.
The Dickinson has been designed to reflect the traditional style of Oxford, with some decorative elements added. It comes in black or cognac shined leather, with slightly brogued cap toe and quarters. The simplistic design is suited to any kind of occasion, even a more casual setting, but will reflect a tasteful shoe selection indicative of someone who pays attention to smaller details.
With a memory foam insole that provides full cushioning and shock absorption, this oxford will keep your feet happy for the duration of wear. Hidden eyelet lacing provides a firm fit to hold you into the shoe, and breathable linings help give the shoe a lighter weight and feel. A stacked heel supports a detailed stitched outsole with a contrasting color, letting you stand tall and confident. Coming in a tad higher on the price range, the Stacy Adams Dickinson reflects a shoe for those looking for a timeless investment in footwear. The comfort and classic oxford styling make this a purchase well worth the money, that will last through the years.
5. Cole Haan Original Grand Shortwing
Cole Haan describes their Shortwing style as "classic and dapper yet uniquely rich in color and texture" and we couldn't agree more. Immerse yourself in a luxurious Oxford that will give you comfort, flexibility, and versatility; all without draining your bank account.
This Oxford comes in a wide variety of classic and en mode colors, such as Black, Java and Sulphur Spring. With a focus on cushioning and support, this Oxford is not only stylish but amazing to wear, as well.
With long wingtip, leather uppers, paired with an EVA midsole and natural storm welt, these shoes look good and feel good. Cole Haan is one of America's leading footwear brands and with this shoe, they've created something that will look good and feel good, at the office or when you are out-and-about! For the quality and craftsmanship you receive, with the wide selection of colors, these shoes are a true bargain for anyone starting to build up their shoe collection.
6. Stacy Adams Dunbar
Making a dual appearance, Stacy Adams brings more charm and styling to their Dunbar oxford, as well as more color options to keep your swagger moving. The Dunbar strays from a traditional oxford look, with adorning wingtip design, brogueing, and a stacked heel. If you’re looking to up the detail and sophistication, this one’s for you!
They say the devil is in the details, and if that’s true, then the Dunbar turns up the heat with it’s styling and attention to detail. With a wingtip design and patterned brogueing along the quarters and atop the toe, it demands a second glance. The Dunbar also comes in an indigo leather hue, a different color than traditional oxfords, guaranteeing an elevated appeal to your look.
Stacy Adams stays true to its typical construction, keeping breathable linings lightweight, and an airsoft cushioning with a memory foam insole. The outsole contrasts with the shoe coloring, stepping up style, while synthetic sole construction allows durability to last. Rich glossy leather contributes to the shoe construction, giving it the status quo required for formal or business attire. Again on the pricey end of the spectrum on our list, it’s still a steal when compared to similar styles of oxfords that are available on the market. With the Dunbar’s exceptional attention to detail and styling, unique color options, and overall appeal, it’s still a great buy.
7. Laoks Brogues Oxford Wingtip
A new brand to our list, Loaks will give you a sturdy, classic-looking Oxford shoe that won't break the bank. Pair it with business or casual, you'll be looking sleek and ready for day or night in these new Oxfords.
This Oxford offers a trye leather upper with rubber heel and non-slip sole. From tans and browns to a classic black color, you can select the traditional styling of the plain Oxford. For those newer to wearing more formal shoes, this is a great option for a great price. This shoe pairs wonderfully business attire. Attention to smaller details like double stitching also contributes to its smart to look.
The Looks Brogue Wingtip is a less costly option of Oxford, and perfect for those newer to wearing a fancier style or formal shoes. With a price point like this, you’ll be able to buy several pairs!
8. Bruno Marc Suede
Traditional oxfords were originally made with either black or brown leather. Modern styling has now included different leather grain into the oxford design, such as suede. Suede is a softer grain of the leather, more flexible and comfortable, but also tends to crease easier. The Bruno Marc oxford actually comes in two different styles of oxford shoe. Perfect for those looking to keep their wallet padded, these are stylish with casual or business attire.
The Bruno Marc Suede Oxford has been designed in two different ways. One reflects a classic oxford, but without the cap, and a decorative side stitch in the quarters. The second option has wingtips and brogueing on the toe and quarters to give an added boost of flair. Coming in a variety of neutral colors, you can pair these easily with any number of shorts or slacks.
Cushioned with a padded plush insole, wearing these for the duration of an evening is nothing to worry about. You’ll also be able to insert an insole of custom design should you need additional support. The rounded toe allows the foot to flatten and expand when walking, giving ample toe room for strutting your stuff pain-free. With a slightly extended heel, you’ll feel supported, and the flexible suede material allows natural movement without restriction. Coming in on the lower end of the budget for an oxford style shoe, the Bruno Marc Suede oxford is a smart buy for those looking for a business casual pair of shoes. The variety of styling and neutral color selection allow ample options for any wardrobe. These can also be considered a great starter pair for someone new to wearing the oxford style of footwear, who aren’t looking to spend a lot.
9. Alpine Swiss Beau Oxfords
An emerging lifestyle brand, the Alpine Swiss Company seeks to bring its customers the latest styles and the newest trends, at a price-point that can be described as an amazing value. If you are just starting to wear Oxfords, and you do not know what kind of styles or colors you want, take a look at Alpine Swiss. With Oxfords as low as $30, you really can't go wrong!
Mixing the old-world origins of the Oxford, with a modern flair and construction, the Beau collection of Oxfords are stylish, comfortable, versatile and affordable. The Beau can be paired easily with a business casual, or even casual, look when you just feel like unwinding or going for a stroll around town.
Alpine Swiss has designed all of their shoes and products with the new-age man in mind. Designed to look good and feel good, the Beau features genuine suede construction, combined with a rubber sole for durability and a strong grip to the ground. The wingtip and brogue detailing are paired with a medallion toe for extra flair. At the lowest price point of the shoes on our list, the Alpine Swiss Beau is perfect for starting out and experimenting with styles and colors.
10. Bruno Marc Moda
The Bruno Marc Moda is actually the leather version of their suede styled oxford and steps up the level of formality with faux leather uppers instead of suede. The shoe is available in two options, a traditionally styled cap toe with clean sleek lining and closed lacing, or, a fancier wingtip design completed with broguing detail. Coming in a variety of classic colors, options for any occasion can be found with this shoe.
Similar to their suede option of Oxford, this version offers a faux leather upper with wooden heel and non-slip sole. From tans and browns to a classic black color, you can select the traditional styling of the plain oxford with cap toe or wingtips with broguing. Closed lacing holds you into the shoe firmly, without heel slippage. For those newer to wearing more formal shoes, this is a great option that won’t leave your bank account begging for more money. With its sharp styling, it pairs wonderfully with classier or business attire. Attention to smaller details like double stitching also contributes to its smart to look.
The Bruno Marc Moda is a less costly option of Oxford, and perfect for those newer to wearing a fancier style or formal shoes. The construction of the shoe, although aesthetically pleasing, does have a limit to its durability over time. At the cost, you’ll be able to buy multiple pairs, or at least get a bang for your buck with this purchase while sorting out your own style when it comes to an oxford.
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