Categories of Men's Shoes

Men's shoes fall into three basic categories:

I Shoes that are fastened with laces.
2 Shoes that are fastened with a buckle or buckles.
3 Shoes that slip under and over his foot, commonly referred to as 'slip ons."

Within these categories we find any number of variations. The following descriptions will be handy in identifying versatile, always in fashion footwear for men.

An Oxford Education

Since it was first worn at the famed university in Great Britain in the early 1800s, the oxford lace up shoe with its rounded toe has been ranked highest for sheer elegance. The two variations on the oxford style give the wearer an option for formal or less formal occasions.

1 The Balmoral, the more formal oxford, named after the castle in Scotland frequented by the royal family, has a dosed throat lacing displaying generally five pairs of holes. It can be identified by the "quarters" which extend up from the sole on either side of the shoe, overlapping at the tongue. These quarters are sewn into the shoe underneath the "vamp" (the part over the instep where the tongue of the shoe is attached). This style of oxford with its smooth, uninterrupted lines looks especially graceful on any man with a narrow foot, and sets off a pair of cuffed trousers beautifully.

                                        The Oxford Shoe

Oxford Balmoral

2 The Derby, or "bluchers," the less formal oxford, has an open throat lacing. The quarter sidepieces are attached on the outside of the vamp, allowing extra room for inserting the foot and doing up the laces. It is therefore more comfortable for a man with a high instep or a wide foot. The tongue, unlike the Balmoral, is not sewn to the vamp, but is actually an extension of the vamp. The sole is also heavier.

The Derby is versatile and therefore practical. A plain black Derby with a black, dark gray, or navy suit can nearly match the elegance of the Balmoral; yet when purchased in a medium brown, nappy leather or with a rubber sole, will go equally well with a pair of jeans or a sports jacket with corduroy trousers.

"Capping it off" becomes of prime importance when choosing either the Balmoral or the Derby. They are both sold with either a "plain toe cap," a piece of smooth leather lying across the toe, or with a "decorated toe cap," one with brogueing, or "punchings" of various sizes, arranged in decorative designs.

Oxford Derby


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