Kate, what are the most common (semi) formal shoes for men?
A simple question that resulted in our stylist firing away six shoe types. We wrote them down: the Oxford shoe, the derby shoe, the monk-strap shoe, the loafer, the Chelsea boot and the brogue shoe.
Since there's no such thing as too much knowledge, let's take a closer look at all them -- the first three today.
Also known as the bal-type or balmorals. Having appeared in Scotland and Ireland first, the Oxford shoe didn't find its way to the US until the 1800s. Some 200 years later, it's a worldwide phenomenon.
It's a low-heel formal shoe that you can mostly spot in black or brown, plain or patterned.
What sets the Oxford shoe apart is the lacing system -- one that's called a closed-lace system (the derby shoe, on the other hand, uses an open-lacing system). How do you distinguish the two? Very simple: when the closed-lace system is used, you only see the very top of the tongue.
Take a look at some examples of great-looking Oxfords:
Also know as the Gibson. It's popularity went up in the 1850s, when the derby shoe was considered great for sporting and hunting. It wasn't until the beginning of the 20th century that they became appropriate for more formal occasions.
One might easily misplace the derby shoe with the Oxford shoe. However, it's the lacing system that makes the difference. While Oxfords (as discussed above) use what's called the closed-lace system, the derby shoe uses the open-lacing system.
As you might have guessed, the latter leaves a gap between the lace flaps, making the tongue rather visible.
The derby shoe is considered less formal than the Oxford shoe. Up for getting a pair? Here's a bit of inspiration:
While it might be difficult to distinguish between the Oxford shoe and the derby shoe, you won't have any problem identifying the monk-strap shoe. Its main distinguishing mark? No laces, but a buckle and strap instead.
Some describe it as “the most advanced dress shoe”. It stands somewhere between the Oxford shoe, which is still more formal, and the derby shoe, which is less formal than the monk-strap.
When you look at its rather unusual buckle-and-strap closing system, you can imagine how hard it was for the fashion world to decide how to approach this shoe. It was considered too casual to be worn with a suit and too formal for a casual outfit.
Luckily for us, these days are gone. Nowadays, you should be perfectly fine combining “the monks” with your casual outfit (put on a pair of dark blue jeans, white T-shirt and a blazer) or a suit.
What we love about them most is the minimalistic look with very little visual distractions. Take a look:
Alright, we've got three more. The loafer, the Chelsea boot and the brogue shoe. READ MORE >>>