The Oxford Shoes Guide

In the recent past, we covered various types of men’s boots and shoes, both formal and casual. In our Brogues Shoe Guide for Men, we touched lightly upon the difference between Oxford and Derby shoes, and today we’d like to focus our full attention on the Oxford, which is often referred to as the most elegant type of men’s shoe – for a good reason!

What Makes an Oxford an Oxford?

Unlike most other shoes and items of menswear, the Oxford shoe has one principal defining characteristic:  the lacing system. Sometimes people use the term Oxford to denote any smart lace up shoe, even those with open lacing, but that’s not how we will use the term in this guide.

First of all, it may seem obvious but an Oxford is a shoe with laces, and not a slip-on, monk strap shoe or Chelsea boot. Second, an Oxford shoe has a closed lace system vs. the open lace system of a Derby shoe. But what exactly does that mean? Let’s start with the basics. The uppers of an Oxford usually consist of the quarters and the vamp.

Vamp

The vamp is that part of the shoe uppers the covers the toes and instep, i.e. the front of the shoe.

Quarters

The quarters are that part of the shoe uppers that wrap around the heel and meet the vamp in the middle of the foot i.e. the back of the shoe.

How To Lace Oxford Shoes?

Oxford vs. Derby - Shoe Anatomy Explained
Oxford vs. Derby – Shoe Anatomy Explained

The eyelets for the shoe laces are generally located on the quarters (with the exception of a wholecut and seamless shoe). For a closed lace system, the vamp is sewn on top of the quarters and the shoelace eyelets facings are stitched underneath the vamp. The shoelaces are used to tie the two quarters together thus fastening the shoe onto your foot. When a shoe is new, the quarters should form a narrow V-shape and once they are worn in, the V should disappear so the quarters touch each other, and you can only see the tongue at the top end. Most British Oxford shoes today, mostly have 5 eyelet holes on each side, whereas American Oxfords often have 6. In the past 4 or even 3 eyelets per side were not uncommon, and so it boils down to personal taste.

History of the Oxford shoe

During the 17th-century men’s footwear was dominated by boots. Often high and tightly fitting with buttons instead of laces, they were worn both outdoors and indoors. More often than not these boots featured rather high heels, a style popularized by King Louis XIV of France, who was of modest height. At that time, France was the cultural epicenter in Europe and hence most gentlemen aligned their sartorial choices with the French Court, and footwear was no exception.

However this style of footwear was very comfortable and although it is not entirely clear who exactly invented the Oxford shoe,  it seems plausible that the students Oxford University popularized a “half boot” called the Oxonian Shoe around 1825.  At first, the Oxonian shoe featured narrow slits on its sides which made it much more comfortable to wear around campus than the high boots then in fashion. Slowly over time, the side slits were replaced with laces (on the sides). These side laces eventually made their way to the instep of the boot. Further changes included lowering of the heel and the height of the boot being lowered to expose the ankle. It is still a matter of debate as to whether all these changes took place on campus, which seems highly improbable.

Some claim the Oxford shoe emerged from Scotland and Ireland. Captoe Oxfords are often called Balmorals after Balmoral Castle to this day. However, what is clear is that they were a result of a quest for a more comfortable shoe and that they were first associated with university students rather than with the older generation of the time.  The timeline for these changes is not very clear, with different sources giving different timelines.

However, we do know for certain that in 1846 Joseph Sparkes Hall, the inventor of the Chelsea boot, stated in The New Monthly Magazine that “Dress pumps are the only shoes now worn. The Oxonian shoe … is the best for walking. It laces up the front with three or four holes. It is none other than high lows now called Oxford shoes.” So, at least by then, the name Oxford had caught on in public.

From there, it was a short step to being acceptable as the proper choice of men’s footwear as boots were now being relegated to being worn for specialized activities such as horse riding. Ironically, the Oxford is a shoe with origins on campus but today, it would probably be considered too formal as an everyday shoe for on-campus wear even by English students, but that’s the evolution of style.

Tan Cap Toe Oxford without Heel Cap and 6 eyelets with burnished cap toe - No 549 by Shoepassion
Tan Cap Toe Oxford without Heel Cap and 6 eyelets with burnished cap toe

Characteristics of the Oxford Shoe

In a nutshell, these are the features of a present day Oxford Shoe

  1. Closed lacing system.
  2. Low-heeled
  3. Exposed ankle.

All Oxford shoes share these essential features, and although most have the eyelets on the quarter, a wholecut or seamless Oxford are the exceptions.

Types of Oxfords

Oxfords are not always Brogues though they sometimes are and Brogues are not always Oxfords though some of them can be. It is the lacing system and the absence or presence of broguing that is the differentiating feature.   To Americans the shoes described in the article are more familiar as Balmorals or ‘Bal- type’ while to the English they are known as Oxfords. To the English, the Balmoral is an entirely different shoe (a particular type of oxford with no seams, apart from the toe cap seam, descending to the welt). In this guide, we use Oxford the traditional, English way.

Although technically the construction of the shoe has no impact on the classification as an Oxford shoe, Goodyear welted, or Blake-stitched shoes are recommended because they feature the most classic Oxford styles.

Plain Oxford

The plain Oxford basically consists of the quarter and the vamp. It features neither a leather cap over the toe box nor does it have  broguing. This style is simple yet elegant; black is  the number one choice for evening shoes, and patent leather for black tie and white tie.

If you want to refine the look of your black patent oxfords for tuxedo or tailcoat events, you should take a look into evening shoelaces. Basically, they are much wider than regular shoelaces — they resemble a bow tie and thus mirror the look of your black bow tie. Back during the heyday of classic elegance, they were really popular but today they are all but extinct, which is why I decided to create my own range of evening shoelaces, which you can find here.

Of course, some men also wear pumps, but most men wear laced shoes. Some men prefer a water polish calf leather version that is polished to a mirror shine. Patent leather is definitely more traditional but a mirror shine is fine too. Although in theory this shoe can be made in brown, you are likely to only ever see them in black.

Cap Toe Oxford

The cap toe Oxford, sometimes also referred to as captoe or cap-toe,  is probably the most widespread Oxford shoe style in existence. The most popular color is undoubtedly black, and the black cap toe Oxford is the most popular shoe for the majority of classic men’s shoe manufacturers. Of course, it is also available in tan, brown, cognac, oxblood, etc., but the black variety is the epitome of Oxford shoes.

In addition to the vamp and quarters, an extra piece of leather – the so-called toe cap – is added across the toe box,  and they also feature a heel cap. In black, the cap toe Oxford is the classic business shoe worn by elegant men with their (business) suits across the globe. If you can’t afford a separate pair of patent leather or polished calf leather plain Oxfords,  the black calf leather cap toes may serve double duty as a tuxedo shoe because it is considered by some to be the poor man’s evening shoe, although technically it is not formal  enough for traditional black tie. That being said, it is never correct to wear it with white tie.

Half Brogue Oxford in dark Brown Suede - Model Roberto by Scarosso
Half Brogue Oxford in dark Brown Suede – Model Roberto by Scarosso

Wingtip Oxford / Brogue

The Wingtip Oxford has a pointed toe cap with extensions called wingtips which extend along both sides of the shoe.  Although technically an Oxford, it is generally referred to as a Brogue. When seen from above the cap is shaped like a ‘W’ or a ‘M’ depending on the viewpoint. This style is considered a bit more casual than the Cap Toe. Learn all about Brogues here.

Brown & Tan Saddle shoe No 589 by Shoepassion
Brown & Tan Saddle shoe

Saddle Oxford

These oxfords lack any kind of toe caps and have an additional strip of leather that runs across the top of the middle of the shoes down to the sole (the width of the shoelace eyelets) in a contrasting color. They may or may not have heel caps in a contrasting color. Historically, it is an American style, but you can find them offered by companies all over the world.

Kiltie Oxford
Kiltie Oxford – phot by www.classicshoesformen.com

Kiltie Oxford

The Kiltie Oxford is distinguished with an additional fringed tongue hanging over the top. These shoes are no longer very common.

Wholecut in Antiqued Cognac Brown Leather on an elegant rounded last by Ace Marks
Wholecut in Antiqued Cognac Brown Leather on an elegant rounded last with burnished tips by Ace Marks

Wholecut

This type has an upper that is cut from one single piece of leather. Usually, shoes are made from multiple pieces of leather sewn together. The wholecut oxford has the distinctive closed lacing system and this along with the single piece construction gives it an extremely clean and sleek look. It also requires more leather to make a wholecut because it generally has only one seam at the heel. In recent year, this style has become rather popular and often features a medallion on the toe box or other broguing. It is available in all kinds of colors and is usually a bit more expensive than a cap toe or plain oxford because it requires more skill and more leather. An all black wholecut in patent leather or mirror polished calf works as an evening shoe as long as it has no broguing.

Seamless

The seamless is very similar to the wholecut in the sense that it is made from one piece of leather as well. While the wholecut has a seam on the heel, the seamless does not have a seam, making it even more difficult to produce. Also, it requires even more leather than a whole cut and it takes on average about twice as much leather as is needed for a regular cap toe Oxford. As such, it is usually only offered by bespoke shoemakers. Sometimes, the term wholecut is used synonymously with seamless simply because the term is more well known, although technically this is incorrect.

Style Guide

Strictly speaking, the Oxford is considered to be a formal shoe, however, this does not hold true anymore as they come in many colors, variations and more casual leathers such as suede and brogues.

The Plain & Cap Toe Oxfords

These days the Cap Toe Oxford is often acceptable at less traditional Black Tie events and with dark evening suits. However, traditionally these are the quintessential dress shoes for your day – to – day suits and business wear. They can also be worn when you want to add a dash of sophistication to your casual dress options like chinos and a blazer. It is not recommended to wear black with denim. Cognac, mid-brown, cherry or oxblood serve this purpose much better. For tweed, it is generally recommend to wear boots or derby shoes instead, while fresco, solaro, linen or seersucker can be worn with cap toe Oxfords, although it is recommended not to wear black with these outfits. Instead, a spectator or a solid shade of brown are a much better choice.

The first Oxford every man should own is a black cap toe Oxford. It may seem unexciting but at the end of the day, it is the shoe that can be worn to the office, funerals, weddings, evening events and maybe even black tie and as such, it is very versatile. Unlike brown, black does not come in different shades, and so you don’t need two pairs of black shoes of the exact same style. Many well-dressed men may have only a couple pairs of black shoes in their shoe closet, one of them always being the black captoe Oxford, while they have 10, 50 or 100 pairs of brown shoes. For general advice on how to combine brown shoe colors, including cap toe Oxfords with your wardrobe, please refer to the How to Wear Brown Shoes Guide.

The Wingtip Oxford / Brogue

Wingtips or Brogues are considered to be more casual than the Cap Toe. In black, it can be worn to the office but in dark brown it becomes more versatile because you may now combine them with tweed, and other more casual outfits and looks, including jeans. Especially in shades of brown, these are great for the office in non-white collar environments, sportcoat / blazer ensembles. A dark brown brogue in suede is probably one of the 2nd or third shoes you should buy after you have invested in a black cap toe Oxford.

Wingtip Oxford Shoe with houndstooth bespoke suit
Wingtip Oxford Shoe with houndstooth bespoke suit

The Saddle Oxford/ Kiltie Oxford

These are probably the most casual of the lot but certainly the most difficult to carry off. Either style is only recommended for men who already have at least 15 pairs of shoes and who want to add something unique to their shoe closet. Traditional saddle shoes often come in cream or off white, with a navy blue saddle and red rubber soles, but of course, there are many variations available today. They can work really well with jeans, colored chinos or corduroy trousers and other casual to semi-casual outfits.

Allen Edmonds Canvas Spectator
Allen Edmonds Canvas Spectator

Wholecut / Seamless Oxfords

Wholecut Oxfords are rather popular right now, and they can look particularly handsome when a patina is acquired or applied to the shoe. In plain black, they are a modern alternative for a Tuxedo, and in brown they can be worn with all kinds of suits, combinations or casual outfits. Basically, they can be worn just like a cap toe Oxford.

Wholecut with side gussets by George Cleverly with punched broguing
Wholecut with side gussets by George Cleverly with punched broguing

Where to Buy Oxford Shoes?

There are literally thousands of brands and manufacturers that offer Oxford shoes, and probably over 100 who offer quality Oxfords that the Gentleman’s Gazette would approve of. Obviously, we have not tested them all, and hence, we cannot provide a definitive list. However, we can give you a few tips.

Shoelaces – How to Change the Look of the Shoe Without Buying New Shoes?

If you already own Oxford shoes, and you want a new look without buying a new shoe, the easiest way to do that is to exchange your shoe laces. First of all, make sure to get quality shoe laces that don’t snap. Oxford laces should always be round, not flat and thin because those look more elegant.

A different color than black or brown will really create an entirely new look for your oxford, and dark grey or light grey shoe laces on a black oxford can look very sophisticated. Also, a dark purple on brown can look splendid just as can a blue with white Oxfords.

Budget Oxfords

We consider Budget Oxfords to be in the $ 250 or under range. Brands that we have experience with are Scarosso (Blake Stitched), Pediwear (Goodyear Welted), Loake 1880 (Goodyear Welted), Meermin (Goodyear Welted) and Shoepassion (Goodyear Welted).

Ace Marks Italian shoes, blake rapid stitched on elegant lasts with nice patina in classic and unusual colors. $ 320 for a Wholecut, $ 295 for regular Oxfords = great value.  They also have the occasional Kickstarter where you can get a pair of Oxfords for $ 200, which is an even better value.

Loake produces private label shoes for many companies and offers decent quality for the price.

Meermin is run by a Albaladejo family member who runs the famous Carmina shoes from Mallorca, Spain. In order to save costs, their shoes are made in China, and so the workmanship is not quite on a par with Spain, but the price is considerably lower.

Shoepassion is based in Berlin, Germany and offers a great selection of classic and contemporary Oxfords made in Spain. With good quality and good prices, I recommend them to anybody who is looking for more unusual styles like saddle shoes, spectators or lambs wool lined boots and shoes.

Burgundy Wholecut from Ace Marks in Burgundy Diablo Antique with burnished tip
Burgundy Wholecut Oxford from Ace Marks in Burgundy Diablo Antique with burnished tip

Midrange

Mid range is $ 250 – $ 700.

Crockett & Jones From England, we recommend Crockett & Jones for the classic Gentleman who wants proper English shoes with history in a great selection and variety of styles.

Carmina from Spain produces excellent Oxfords and specializes in Cordovan although these are usually more expensive than $ 700.

Allen Edmonds produces classic American style shoes and apart from an MTO program, they have many specials and deals going on, often bringing the price below $ 250.

High End

Every shoe above $ 700.

Gaziano Girling From England, Gaziano & Girling offer great shoes either MTO or bespoke. The last are often stylized and the epitome of elegance.

Aubercy from France produces very elegant Oxfords (Richelieu in French) just like Crockett & Jones Paris.

In Italy, you can get great Oxfords from the likes of Stefano Bemer, Ugolini, in Austria from Maftei, Scheer or Materna.

Of course, any bespoke maker could be listed here but there are too many to list them all.

What is your favorite Oxford Shoe? Please share your experiences and preferences in the comment section below!

This guide was written by Sven Raphael Schneider & Vikram Nanjappa.


Gentleman’s Gazette

MEN FASHION DEAL UPDATE:

Look like a Gentleman, Travel in Style and Enjoy the Best in Men’s Accessories at Hook & Albert. Get 20% Off Your First Order with Coupon Code TAKE20. Shop Now!

Alphabet’s Verily has been working on health-tracking shoes to measure movement, weight and falls

Alphabet's Verily has pitched potential retail partners on the health-tracking shoes, which are still early in development.
Health and Science

U.S.HEALTHCARE UPDATE:

Click today to request your free ACRX discount prescription card and save up to 80% off of your medicine!

SPECIAL DONATION REQUEST UPDATE:

Please help American Consultants Rx achieve it’s biggest goal yet of donating over 30 million discount prescription cards to over 50k organizations in an effort to assist millions of Americans in need. Please click here to donate today!

Tuesday Sales Tripod – Extra 25% off Brooks Brothers Sale, English Made shoes, & More

The Thursday Handfuls are great, but what if Monday (or Tuesday) rolls around and there are a few sales that can’t wait til the weekend? You’ll find three of the best, with a few picks from each, to start the week below.

 

#1. Brooks Brothers: Extra 25% off Clearance Items

Brooks Brothers

Hot dog, it’s sportcoat-huntin’ season. Couple of knit options up there, but some standard wool hopsacks as well. Of course, there’s plenty more to the Brooks Brothers sale section, but sportcoats that are on sale, and then get another cut are always a solid bet from BB.

 

#2. Massdrop: Made in the UK Loake Cap Toes – $ 224.99 FINAL ($ 360)

Made in the UK Loake Cap Toes

Goodyear welted, Made in the UK, and your choice of either a smooth leather sole, or a studded dainite sole for grip. At checkout, it’s your choice between black shoes with leather or Dainite soles, the dark brown shoes with leather or Dainite soles, or the mahogany shoes with leather soles. It IS UK sizing though. So, most are gonna wanna size down a full size. Just be careful with that.

 

#3. Banana Republic: Extra 50% off Sale Items + 40% off no BR Merch Exclusions

Banana Republic

Still going strong. Holy cow there’s a lot in there. Welcome to end of season winter clearance. Items are coming and going. Big fan of that Motion-Stretch cotton blend blazer, and the leather laptop sleeves are pretty nice too. Sizes are scattered, but picks above had at least a decent size selection at post time.

 

BONUS  Allen Edmonds: Extra 30% off Factory 2nds

Allen Edmonds

These aren’t without risk. Hardly. In fact, it’s a gamble. $ 25 restocking fee on any returns through the mail. And it’s a little concerning that AE is now saying that after this extra 30% off deal, Factory 2nds will only be available for limited times moving forward? The hell does that mean? That just plays into the #narrative that the #menswear internet community (by the way I hate hashtags but I’m using them as descriptors here) is pushing that overall quality by AE is dropping. So no more 2nds / Shoebank open at all times? Does that mean they’re loosening standards on what makes a first quality shoe? Whether that’s true or not seems to be less relevant than ever. If they don’t think customers who pay any attention aren’t asking that question, they’re seriously underestimating the chatter that goes on around them.

 

Also worth a mention…

  • J. Crew: Extra 60% off sale (almost all final sale?) w/ GOFORIT
  • EXPRESS: Extra 50% off clearance.
  • Club Monaco: Extra 40% off sale items.
  • Lands’ End: 50% off one full price item w/ SCARF and 8794
  • Ledbury: Extra 40% off Sale items w/ FINAL40


Dappered Style Mail

FASHION DEAL UPDATE:

How to Wear Brown Shoes & Boots

When assembling outfits, even some otherwise style-savvy men can be unclear on the guidelines for wearing black or brown dress shoes. Hence, this article will elaborate on when and how to wear brown shoes, and highlight how you can combine them with socks and pants. Regularly, sayings such as “no brown in town” or “no brown after six” are mentioned, when in fact things are quite different from when these rules were invented. To understand the basics of Brown Shoes, make sure to:

  1. Watch the Video
  2. Read the article
  3. Check out the infographic at the bottom
  4. Download the free pdf pocket guide & cheat sheet here

History & Evolution of the Rules

If we go back in menswear history, we find that Beau Brummell (1778 – 1840) liked his black, champagne polished leather boots for town wear. Subsequently, leading arbiters such as Comte d’Orsay (1801 – 1852), Hermann Fürst von Pückler-Muskau (1785-1871), Honoré de Balzac (1799 – 1850), Barbey d’Aurevilly (1808 – 1889), and Edward VII (1841 – 1910) followed his example and wore black footwear for formal occasions and in town. During this period, rules along the lines of “no brown in town” or “no brown after six” were very much respected, and ensured people were socially accepted.

Beau Brummel in black boots

Beau Brummel in black boots

By the 1930’s, Edward the Prince of Wales had relaxed some menswear rules, leading to softer materials and bolder colors. He also was a supporter of brown slip-on spectator shoes (the most common type of two-toned shoes)and brown shoes in general. By the 1950’s, even English clothing guides such as Clothes and the Man by Sydney D. Barney advised: “Business and Daywear in town: a lounge jacket with matching waistcoat and trousers with footwear in black or brown, according to the suit.” In this context Barney declares, “Brown shoes with a dark blue suit are undesirable.”

On the other hand, evening dress was still rather formalized; Full Evening Dress with white tie and Dinner Dress both demanded black shoes.

So, you can see, by the 1950’s, the “no brown in town” rule was no longer valid, although black was still the color for evenings.

Three Neapolitans - Three Single Breasted Navy Jackets

Three Neapolitans – Three different pairs of brown shoes

Today, dress codes are much more relaxed than they were in the fifties, and if you’re wearing a well-cut suit, you are likely to be more well-dressed than 90% of the people around you. Even if you wear brown country boots to a restaurant for dinner, chances are that your shoes are still more elegant than many other men — unless it is a respected establishment with a dress code. Many debonair Italians, for example, only wear black dress shoes for funerals, weddings, and formal evening events. Otherwise, they prefer wearing brown leather shoes in varying shades — such as dark brown or tan shoes — especially when paired with blue suits. In Britain, black still holds a certain association with business, at least in more conservative circles. Still, many Englishmen wear more than just black dress shoes for business, with conservative styles like brown oxford shoes becoming increasingly popular.

To be explicitly clear: Today, wearing brown shoes with your outfits is generally acceptable both in the evening and in town. With that said, certain outfits and situations still call for certain footwear; light tan shoes may not be the best option for the evening, and black shoes are imperative for black tie. Remember: just because you can wear brown shoes day and night, doesn’t necessarily mean you should.

Wingtip Oxford Shoe with houndstooth bespoke suit

Brown Brogues (specifically, Wingtip Oxford Shoes) with houndstooth bespoke suit

When to Wear Brown Shoes

Brown shoes can be worn with almost anything, ranging from blue jeans to cavalry twill and corduroy to flannel, worsteds and tweed. Unlike black, brown leather comes in an endless variety of shades, allowing you to create a distinguished shoe collection that is unique. Here are a few guidelines that you can adopt and adapt as you please – just take a look in the mirror and use your sense of style.

1. Business Suits

For 3-piece or 2-piece business suits, in the following colors, in solid worsteds or flannels, pinstripes or faint windowpanes or Prince of Wales Checks:

  • Black: Simply put, don’t wear a black suit with brown shoes. Black shoes, in a conservative style, work best.
  • Charcoal Grey: We suggest black over any form of brown leather. Dark brown can work, but avoid tan shoes.
  • Mid Grey: Black works, of course, but dark brown or cherry are also suitable colors. Once again, avoid tan.
  • Dark Navy: Black works well with a navy suit, but cordovan, tan, and dark brown can also look magnificent and dashing. Of course, you will stand out visually with light tan shoes and a navy suit — something to bear in mind.
  • Lighter Navy:  Black will often look better than brown, but it ultimately depends on the cloth. With pinstripes, we suggest wearing black shoes and never brown.
  • Dark Brown: Pair a dark brown suit with brown shoes, and skip black altogether.
  • Miscellaneous:
    • Since a 3-piece suit is more formal than a 2-piece suit, the heightened formailty of black shoes means they will generally pair better with such outfits. Still, pay attention to the color, as above.
    • If you wear a contrasting double-breasted waistcoat in dove grey or buff, go with black shoes as you will have created a similar ensemble to the formal stroller suit.
    • If you want to play it safe, always choose a shade of brown dress shoes darker than your suit color.
    • Of course, if you are confident enough, you can pair lighter shoe colors with dark suits, but be aware that you will gather more attention that way.
    • Black remains the #1 color for business, so if you’re unsure, stick with black, and if you invest in your first pair of business shoes, go with a black captoe Oxford shoe.
    • If you’re wearing a belt, try to match the color of the shoe to that of the belt. Since there are so many shades of brown leather shoes, your belt doesn’t have to be made of the exact same leather or the same color–just try to match it as closely as possible. If you wear suspenders, you won’t have to worry about this at all!

2. Casual Suits

Bolder patterns, material blends or brushed cotton, corduroy, etc.:

  • Green: Brown every time, for all shades. Avoid black.
  • Khaki: Dark browns work well. Avoid black.
  • Tan: Cordovan, cherry and medium brown are great. Avoid black.
  • White/Off White:  Two-toned shoes, such as brown-and-white spectators, are a dapper choice, but dark brown, mid-brown or reddish brown work as well.
  • Brown: As before, pair brown suits with brown shoes and skip black altogether.

brown shoes_900x400_2


3. Sport Coat / Odd Jacket – Trouser Combination

Fresco, Tweed, Thornproof, Cheviot, Donegal, Flannel, Worsted, Corduroy, Velvet, Cotton, Linen, Gabardine:

  • Black: With black corduroy, tan leather boots (such as chukka boots or desert boots) are a good choice. Black dress pants worn with a sport coat will look best with black shoes, though more casual shoes like black loafers could be a good compromise in terms of formality.
  • Charcoal Grey: We suggest black over any form of brown. Dark brown can work, but avoid tan.
  • Mid Grey: Black works, but dark brown and cherry are also good colors. Avoid tan shoes.
  • Blue: All kinds of brown men’s dress shoes can be worn with blue colors – cordovan, tan and dark brown can look especially smart. As before, you will garner more attention with a light tan shoe.
  • Denim: Basically, all kinds of brown leather shoes work well, even with black jeans (similar to the corduroy example above). Tan and cordovan oxblood will serve you well here. Leather boots are a natural pair for jeans, though anything with a higher ankle would naturally interfere with skinny jeans (not that we necessarily advocate for such a style)!
Chocolate brown half brogue oxford by Antonio Pio Mele

Chocolate brown half-brogue oxford by Antonio Pio Mele

  • Red:   All shades of brown work well, though reddish brown can look a bit too deliberate. Dark brown and tan are good choices
  • Green: As before, try wearing brown every time, for all shades. Avoid black.
  • Khaki: Dark browns work well. Avoid black.
  • Tan: Cordovan, cherry and mid brown are great. Avoid black.
  • White / Off White: Go for two-toned footwear, dark brown, mid-brown, or reddish brown.
  • Brown: Brown only.
  • Dark Brown: In a more smart-casual outfit such as this, tan works well when paired with dark brown.
  • Miscellaneous: Brown is the best shoe and boot color for sport coats and contrasting trousers. Sometimes you may also see boots or shoes with fabric inserts, which can be quite stylish.
Tweed boot

Tweed boot

When not to wear brown shoes

If you wear formal morning dress (morning coat or stroller) or formal evening dress (white tie or black tie) you should not wear brown shoes – go with black. The exception for this exception could be a tuxedo in brown, as worn by Noël Coward, Nick Foulkes, or Lapo Elkann. In that case, a pair of matching velvet slippers could be an option, but that’s only for the very advanced clothes horse.

Don’t wear brown shoes with black suits.

Some traditionalists would argue that you should not wear brown shoes to the opera. However, if you look at the general dress code at operas today, you will likely be more well-dressed in a conservative pair of brown shoes than the other attendees.

How to Combine Brown Shoes with Socks: Vintage Fashion Illustrations

Brown half brogue shoe with shadow stripe socks in blue & red with navy chalk stripe suit

Brown half brogue shoe with shadow stripe socks in blue & red with navy chalk stripe suit

In the vintage illustration above, a navy chalk stripe worsted suit is paired with chestnut brown calf leather brogues. This illustration is from the 1930s, proving that men wore dark suits with brown shoes even then. Moreover, they were experimenting with creative weaves, such as these beautiful shadow stripe socks in blue and red (which can be worn with all kinds of navy suits). Alternatively, blue socks with clocks or blue stripes would be a more subtle alternative.

Brown Oxford with patterns socks and pinpoint trousers

Brown Oxford with patterned socks and pinpoint trousers

The above illustration shows the benefit of understanding color temperature–that is, pairing shoes, socks, and trousers with a warm tone. Below, chinos paired with burgundy striped socks and mid-brown suede derby shoes operates on the same principle. Further, suede shoes in general will always give a more casual appearance, and are therefore a dapper alternative to more common “casual” shoe styles today, such as sneakers.

Shadow Stripe Ribbed Socks in Burgundy & light grey paired with brown suede Derby shoes

Shadow Stripe Ribbed Socks in Burgundy & light grey paired with brown suede Derby shoes

Chukka boot with rubber sole, yellow socks, and green trousers

Chukka boot with rubber sole, yellow socks, and green trousers

Here, grey-green pants pair well with mid-brown suede chukkas, underscoring the versatility of both that boot style and of suede shoes in general. The ensemble is brightened up further with some yellow socks. Bright pastel hosiery can be a smart way to add a pop of color that isn’t always visible; Fred Astaire was a proponent of this technique, often wearing things like pink socks in his outfits for films.

Dark brown Norwegian shoe with orange socks and patterned pants

Dark brown Norwegian shoe with orange socks and patterned pants

These checked pants are made of Shetland tweed, and they pair well with the rust-orange, over-the-calf socks and chocolate brown Norwegian shoes with crepe soles. This type of sole is more commonly associated with styles like desert boots, though it can work equally well with footwear with a lower ankle, as shown here.

Brown derby shoes with thornproof tweed and patterned socks

Brown derby shoes with thornproof tweed and patterned socks

The solid brown blucher or derby is a wardrobe staple because it pairs with almost every kind of informal outfit. The shoe in this illustration, while conservatively styled in terms of its leather upper, has a bit more character in its sole, featuring a solid heel and a layered toe.

Mid brown monk strap shoe with green socks and classic prince of wales suit

Mid brown monk strap shoe with green socks and classic Prince of Wales suit

Here, a classic Prince of Wales suit is combined with a mid-brown monk strap shoe and green socks. Blue would work just as well as a sock color, and perhaps even a combination of green & purple. While monk straps have an historical precedent, as shown here, they have exploded in popularity in the 21st century, as their formality level is above that of styles like loafers and boat shoes, but not quite as reserved as oxfords.

Brown oxford shoe with mid brown suit and purple socks

Brown Oxford shoe with mid-brown suit and purple socks

This mid-brown herringbone suit pairs well with a mid-brown shoe, although a pair of more highly contrasting socks would have been better. There are many styles of brogues, of course, and the more broguing a shoe features, the less formal it is.

If you now want to create shoe/sock combinations yourself, take a look at this great selection of superior over-the-calf socks here.

Change The Look Of Your Brown Shoes With Shoelaces

One of the quickest and most simple ways to change the look and feel of your brown shoes is to simply change your shoelaces. The advantages are simple: it’s quick, easy, inexpensive and reversible … For quality cotton shoe and bootlaces for men’s dress shoes, click here.

Red Flat Waxed Cotton Laces on Derby Shoe in Criss Cross Lacing

Red Flat Waxed Cotton Laces on Derby Shoe in Criss Cross Lacing

Light Brown Cotton Shoelaces on Dark Brown Derby Shoes with Bar Lacing

Light Brown Cotton Shoelaces on Dark Brown Derby Shoes with Bar Lacing

Light Brown & Blue Socks with Suede Shoes in Brown

Light Brown & Blue Socks with Suede Shoes in Brown and green shoelaces

Brown Leather Textures

You will notice that brown box calf leather and suede shoes have been becoming more popular in recent years. Buffalo, reindeer skin, and alligator have been classic, yet expensive, brown shoe leathers as well. Generally, you should keep in mind that shoes with more texture are less formal. Sometimes you may even see ostrich, pigskin, fish skin, or elephant hide for shoes. Most of the time, the last is not a classic shape and the entire shoe just screams for attention–as such, we would instead recommend wearing more traditional leather shoes with formal outfits, and with casual outfits, choices like brogues, brown suede shoes, brown loafers, or ankle boots.

Leather Patina

Unlike black leather shoes, brown shoes will develop a patina over time, which can be further enhanced by leather dyes and special polishing techniques. As an example, take a look at at this beautiful patina.

Cognac Brown Derby Full Brogue with 2 inch cuff

Cognac Brown Derby Full Brogue with 2 inch cuff

Carpincho shoes & antique patina oxford

Carpincho shoes & antique brown patina Oxford

Conclusion

Brown shoes are not a substitute for black shoes, and every man should own at least one pair of black plain Oxfords. If you work in a white-collar environment, you can invest in a few pairs of black leather shoes, but otherwise go with brown because it is more versatile, it develops a fantastic patina over time, and it is the better color for casual outfits. If you don’t work in an office environment and rarely attend formal evening events, a single pair of black shoes may be enough for you, but you can never have enough brown shoes! If you like formal evening wear, invest in a pair of black patent leather Oxfords (in Austria Derby’s) or opera pumps – it is historically the correct choice for evening wear, even though some prefer polished calf skin for evening shoes.

In the broad strokes, brown footwear–everything from loafers to lace-up boots, wing-tips to cowboy boots–sports an amazing versatility, and wearing brown shoes or boots with items as varied as button-down shirts and leather jackets will serve you well. All told, there’s a lot that brown can do for you.


Gentleman’s Gazette

MEN FASHION DEAL UPDATE:

Look like a Gentleman, Travel in Style and Enjoy the Best in Men’s Accessories at Hook & Albert. Get 20% Off Your First Order with Coupon Code TAKE20. Shop Now!

Payless Pranks VIPs, Sells Discount Shoes At Luxury Prices

(AP Photo)

 

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Payless taught fashion influencers a lesson about shoes by opening a fake store that sold Main Street shoes at Madison Avenue prices.

Payless ShoeSource held a launch party in Los Angeles for the bogus label Palessi and invited the fashionistas to sample the merchandise. Payless posted a video of what happened on Facebook.

The VIP shoppers paid as much as $ 645 for shoes that sell from $ 19.99 to $ 39.99 at Payless. The store rang up $ 3,000 before Payless came clean with the reveal.

One shopper exclaimed, “Shut up! Are you serious?”

The pranked shoppers got their money back and were allowed to keep the shoes.

Their reactions will be featured in a series of commercials.

[ione_media_gallery id=”634484″ overlay=”true”]

HEAD BACK TO THE BLACKAMERICAWEB.COM HOMEPAGE

Life & Style – Black America Web

BEST DEAL UPDATE:

A Girl Wanted Shoes Marketed for Boys. See How Steph Curry Answered the Call

(Bloomberg) — NBA superstar Steph Curry and a young fan from California have pushed Under Armour to include girls in the marketing and sales of the basketball star’s signature shoe.

Until recently, Under Armour’s website listed the Curry 5 as an option in the menus for men, women and boys. Though the shoe’s sizes are the same for all kids regardless of gender, it wasn’t listed for girls.

Earlier this week, a 9-year-old California girl named Riley Morrison wrote an open letter to Curry, posted online by her father, in which she says she was disappointed to see the shoes were listed only for boys. “I know you support girl athletes because you have two daughters and you host an all-girls basketball camp,” she wrote. “I hope you can work with Under Armour to change this because girls want to rock the Curry 5’s too.”

Curry, who has been with the Baltimore-based company since 2013, was quick to respond. Thursday he posted a letter to Morrison on Twitter saying he’d spent the past two days working with the company to fix the issue. “We are correcting this now!” he said.

Under Armour said in a statement that it is “correcting a simple yet critical error.” The company will start listing the shoes under co-gender “Grade School” sizing, and will make the same change on boxes starting with the Curry 6s next year.

Curry drew praise earlier this year for hosting a free all-girls camp in California. In his letter he told Riley that he’d send her a pair of the current shoes, and that she would be one of the first kids to receive a pair of the next iteration. He also invited her to celebrate International Women’s Day with him next March.

Sports – TIME

ENTERTAINMENT DEAL UPDATE:

Holiday Party Sportcoats, UK Made Dress Shoes, & More – The Thurs. Men’s Sales Handful

Sales that deserve some attention heading into the weekend or a bit earlier. Might not be some massive once a year event, but still worth a look. Those are what make up these handfuls. Five of the better sales, one for each finger, are below, plus bonus sales if need be. Included are a few picks worth pointing out. 

 

J. Crew: 35% off select w/ READYTOPARTY

J. Crew

That 35% off code makes me think of this:

Or, this.

Anyway, I do believe this is the first time this season that J. Crew’s party-ready, velvet shawl collar sportcoats have gone on sale. And there’s time to get em’ in the door and tailored before the mistletoe gets hung. Nice to see their Oar Stripe collection getting the cut as well. Big thanks to Brandon D. for the tip!

 

Massdrop: Made in the UK Loake Cap Toes – $ 239.99 FINAL ($ 360)

Made in the UK Loake Cap Toes

Goodyear welted, Made in the UK, and your choice of either a smooth leather sole, or a studded dainite sole for grip. It IS UK sizing though. So, most are gonna wanna size down a full size. Just be careful with that. Estimated ship date is December 19th. Final sale of course since it’s Massdrop.

 

GAP: 40% off Everything no exclusions w/ GIFT

GAP

Exclusion free? That means even their excellent, do anything casual – smart casual belts are getting the cut (leather accessories are usually excluded).

 

Allen Edmonds: $ 100 off Nomad Chelseas

AE Nomad Chelseas

The pearl clutching over the “new” Allen Edmonds has really hit a fever pitch. Its become a tiresome sport now, by some, to rag on what Allen Edmonds has been up to. Yes, some of it isn’t good. But that doesn’t mean the whole company is aflame. Yet. And I’ve had good luck with the Nomad collection. Super comfortable and wearable. And no, the “featherwelt” construction isn’t a cemented construction. It’s 360 Goodyear. Look, I hate to be an Allen Edmonds apologist. I don’t like everything the new owners (Caleres) are doing. But there’s still plenty to really like about AE. To me. For now.

 

Club Monaco: Extra 30% off Sale Items

Club Monaco

There doesn’t seem to be a ton in the Club Monaco sale section right now? But an extra 30% off is always appreciated. Some tempting cold weather stuff too, like that plaid coat and that wide color selection for their simple snap wrist gloves. No code needed here. Extra 30% off happens at checkout.

 

BONUS  Brooks Brothers: 30% off Select Sportcoats, 2 1818 suits for $ 1499

Big fan of Brooks Brothers sportcoats. Regent fit is more of an athletic fit, while the Milano is a true slim. Lots of exclusions, but there are some great looking jackets in there.

 

Also worth a mention:


Dappered Style Mail

FASHION DEAL UPDATE:

Monday Sales Tripod – Nordy Rack’s Clear the Rack, J. Crew Oar Stripe Shoes & Boots Sale, & More

The Thursday Handfuls are great, but what if Monday (or Tuesday) rolls around and there are a few sales that can’t wait til the weekend? You’ll find three of the best, with a few picks from each, to start the week below.

Editor’s Note: Yes we’re posting today. For the last few years we’ve sat the “Veterans Day” sales out because the term just sounds odd (much like Memorial Day sales). But after hearing from more than a few Vets, our silence has probably been misplaced. Word is even stores on Military bases have Veterans Day sales, so, while much of the world sees November 11th (and the observance around it) as a solemn occasion, here in the States it’s a bit different. Our policy on keeping quiet on Memorial Day won’t change, but for Vets day, we’ve been given the green light from you guys in the Military. Thanks for all that you do.

 

#1. Nordstrom Rack: Extra 25% off Clearance Items

Nordstrom Rack

Not only is Nordstrom proper running a big fall sale, their outlet branch Nordstrom Rack is running an extra 25% off clearance items. That means prices that have seriously bottomed out. No code needed here. Prices are as marked online. Sale ends today.

 

#2. Jomashop: Extra 25% off Select Citizen Watches w/ CTZ25

Citizen Watches

Not a bad price for the Nighthawk. And that Promaster certainly could have been included in our recent best desk divers round up.

 

#3. J. Crew: 30% off w/ FRIENDS (or 35% off for rewards members w/FAMILY)

J. Crew

Getting another mention because I don’t recall all of those shoes getting that discount last week when this sale launched? I don’t have any in-person experience with their new oar-stripe shoe collection, but they’re claiming Italian leathers and Goodyear Welts. Don’t forget that you can save 35% (instead of just 30%) by simply signing up for their free rewards program. Prices above reflect that 35% off.

 

BONUS  Lands’ End 50% off Full Price (no limit) w/ GOLD & 9624

I can’t recall the last time Lands’ End did something like this. Usually there’s a caveat of just one item getting the deal when they go half off. So half off all full price items? No limit? Not bad at all.

 

BONUS II  Nordstrom Fall Sale Still Going on

Full picks over here. And as always, everything ships and returns for free thanks to Uncle Nordy.

 

Also worth a mention…


Dappered Style Mail

FASHION DEAL UPDATE:

Business Casual Shoes

Business casual today is one of the most widely spread dress codes yet it’s often vaguely defined. There’s no point in following all the advice we provide in our videos if your company is extremely casual or extremely formal. You simply have to figure that out and the best way to do that is to observe what others are wearing or to ask your supervisor.

Well-made shoes from quality leather that is expertly polished can really upgrade a cheap suit, at the same time, a cheap pair of shoes can bring down a $ 5,000 bespoke suit.

Traditional White-Collar Environments

Because you’re in this traditional environment, chances are even business casual is more formal than in other places. Now that doesn’t mean that you should wear your black cap toe oxford because that would still be too formal and while it’s good with suits for business casual, you can be a bit more daring.

Brown Derby Shoes

For one, that means wearing a derby shoe. Derbys have an open lacing system and because of that, they’re always slightly less formal than an oxford. Also, I would stay clear of black derbys, instead I would opt for brown ones because brown is one of those shades that have just a hundred or thousand different colors with little variations and so you can never have enough brown shoes.

Cognac Brown Derby Full Brogue with 2 inch cuff

Cognac Brown Derby Full Brogue with 2 inch cuff

When I say brown I also mean red shoes, either reddish brown, burgundy, or oxblood. These are all fantastic colors for business casual even in a formal environment. My favorite derby shoe of mine comes in burgundy, it’s made of a Parisian last which is still quite elegant and so I can work with a suit or for business casual very easily.

Dark brown double monks paired with OTC socks from Fort Belvedere

Dark brown double monks paired with OTC socks from Fort Belvedere

Monk Strap Shoes

Alternatively, I could wear a burgundy monk strap, either in dark chocolate brown or maybe in red. Apart from that color scheme, I would not branch out into others because it would maybe be too casual for such a traditional environment. That means no gray shoes, no olive green shoes, stick with shades of brown and you’ll be good. Whether that’s a very dark brown, a medium brown, chestnut brown, or very light tan, is up to you but just keep in mind the lighter shade of brown, the more casual the shoe.

Flannel Pinstripe with red socks and suede chocolate double monks

Flannel Pinstripe with red socks and suede chocolate double monks

Likewise, the more broguing you have on the shoe, the more casual it is. Apart from the color, leather texture can also have a huge impact on how it’s perceived. For example, suede shoes are always softer and more casual. So for example, a dark brown suede shoe will look about as informal or casual as a regular polished leather tan shoe. Overall, it’s very important that your shoes work well not just with the rest of your outfit but with the socks and the pants in particular because they’re right next to your shoe.

Trade, Service, & Sales Industries

 

If you work in the service industry, in sales, or other trade positions, chances are you still have client contact and even though it’s not required of you to be well dressed, and sometimes it may come off as aloof or not appropriate, people will still judge you and if you look frumpy in sweatpants, people will think less highly of you, they will assume that you’re less competent than if you would wear let’s say a nice dress shirt with a pair of chinos.

Sneakers are not suitable for office wear

Sneakers are not suitable for office wear

If you are just at the office and never have client contact, your employer will likely have specific ideas of what’s acceptable and what’s not. If that’s not your office, I suggest to just stay clear of sneakers because they are quite casual and not work-appropriate shoes.

Go For Green

Oxford full brogue wingtip shoes

Oxford full brogue wingtip shoes with Fort Belvedere shoelaces

In this segment, one of my favorite colors is green which is highly underrated in menswear. Just think about adding a dark green oxford full brogue wingtip shoe in suede, it’s quite dark, people wouldn’t notice it right away yet it’s very different than a traditional dark brown wingtip oxford.

Olive green shoes with navy trousers

Olive green shoes with navy trousers and Fort Belvedere socks

Alternatively, a nice olive green with a beautiful patina on an elegant long last is really something that will provide a lot of contrast with the pants and slacks you’re wearing therefore, it’ll stand out in a way but it’s still subtle enough that it could be mistaken for a dark brown shoe at first glance.

Black "dress shoes" with blue soles

Black “dress shoes” with blue soles

Dress Shoe Trends

In recent years, dress shoe uppers with white rubber or sneaker soles have become extremely popular. Now personally, I don’t wear those because I either want to go casual and wear boat shoes or some sneakers or I wear leather dress shoes with a leather sole.

That being said, if you really dig the white rubber soles on a shoe, simply go for it, it’s something that you can wear, you can pull it off, it’s definitely more of a statement and I’ve even seen like red soles, yellow soles, or blue soles, so assume that people will judge you, they will make assumptions about you, and if you’re okay with that and you can wear it confidently, go for it. Of course, if you’re into classic men’s clothing and a traditionalist, this is not an option for you and in that case, stay with nicely polished leather shoes.

Rubber soled double monk strap

Rubber soled double monk strap

What about regular rubber soles? While they are acceptable and no one will ever call you out for it, personally, I much rather prefer leather soles. The sound they make, the way they roll on my foot, the way they feel, all of these are attributes I appreciate about the leather sole and I would not switch to a rubber sole.

So what do you do if it rains heavily you might wonder? Well, I have leather boots with rubber soles because they’re usually a little more casual and if it’s raining a lot, having a lace-up boot that is above my ankle always comes in handy to protect my feet from getting wet and cold.

Stand out in this pair of spectator shoes

Stand out in this pair of spectator shoes and Fort Belvedere socks

Choose Spectators

Apart from the shoes mentioned, you can also experiment with spectators in this segment which again are quite loud and traditionally, you have black and white ones which I think is not such a good combination because it is black, quite formal, white makes it informal.

square toed shoe

square-toed shoe

Instead, a brown and maybe off-white spectator or a navy with a gray spectator are really great. You could think about saddle shoes or just more unusual shoes. In general, though, I always suggest you stay clear of square-toed shoes, rubber soles or any kind of metalwork or reflective letters such as silver or gold because they’re not really part of a gentleman’s wardrobe.

This is too casual for business casual unless you work in a young tech company

This is too casual for business casual unless you work in a young tech company

Start-Up Environments

Frankly, the sky’s the limit and it can be anything from flip-flops over vans to very extraordinary Gucci loafers. Most startups won’t even have a dress code and so it’s all about what you’re comfortable with and about their culture and how you fit in.

Gucci Horsebit Loafer 1953

Gucci Horsebit Loafer 1953

Now, just because you can wear anything doesn’t mean everything has the same level of benefits for you. That being said, a nice pair of leather shoes or boots will always make you look more dapper and more grown-up than wearing some colorful sneakers or tennis shoes. In terms of colors or leather textures, really anything under the sun goes here. Even flip-flops or alpargatas are acceptable but frankly, I would simply not wear that but I guess I’m not telling you anything new here.

General Guidelines To Stay Stylish In Your Workplace

Don’t Invest In Shoes That Fuse Modern & Traditional Style

Why you might wonder? Well, matching together formal and informal elements will mean it’s a very trendy shoe and it may be great at the moment but it’s just a fashion and a fad and it will disappear in just a few years of time. So even if you have the highest quality leather shoe with a blue sole, chances are you will be tired of it in a year from now.

Ace Marks Penny Loafers

Ace Marks Penny Loafers

Instead, buy classically styled shoes and try to find something that works with your style. For example, you can go with medium brown penny loafers or you could go with cordovan tassel loafers. Alternatively, if you want even more casual, you can have suede green tassel loafers which are very casual yet still classically rooted.

Because it’s business casual, broguing or hole perforations or decorations are always welcome and an element you should incorporate if you want to tone things down and make them easier to look at and less formal.

Know When To Step Up Your Shoe Game

For example, think of important meetings with the board, maybe with their most important client, or the CEO who is known to be a clothes horse. In those situations, you definitely want to take it up a notch and put your best foot forward. During work-related events, conferences or symposia where you represent your company or maybe during a media interview, it really pays to have nice leather dress shoes in a darker color because they won’t stand out and people won’t just focus on your shoes but rather on what you say and the point you want to bring across. Likewise, if you’re interviewing for a position, it always pays to put on the proper interview attire.

A perfect outfit for a casual Friday at the office

A perfect outfit for the office

CONCLUSION

In summary, the dress-code business casual is not easy to master when it comes to shoes because it can mean different things at different times at different companies, however, using the three-tier approach of formal environment, less formal environment, and casual environment, it can really help you to nail it and put your best foot forward.

Last but not least, if you’re unsure whether if something is appropriate or not, chances are it is inappropriate. Otherwise, you wouldn’t have thought about it in the first place and if even that doesn’t help, always keep in mind being slightly overdressed is always favorable to being slightly underdressed.


Gentleman’s Gazette

MEN FASHION DEAL UPDATE:

Look like a Gentleman, Travel in Style and Enjoy the Best in Men’s Accessories at Hook & Albert. Get 20% Off Your First Order with Coupon Code TAKE20. Shop Now!