Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Derbys & Oxfords:return of the dandy shoes.

Let me be honest, I had no idea of  the exact difference between a Derby and an Oxford shoe , till I started snooping around on the net to get some information for this post.
I knew one was more formal than the other, but not much else.
It turns out, a lot of people want to clarify such things all the time and there is surprising amount of discussion and “advice giving” taking place on the net about topics like this.
Great, because in the process of digging for information , I learnt more about cap-toed and wing-tipped and saddled oxfords , and about brogueing and welting and what not, than I thought possible! I also realized how little I really know...

But, before I try and explain the difference between these two types of shoes, let me express why I think Oxford/Derby shoes are a classic style.
Firstly, just look at them, they are distinctive and good looking shoes, especially the two tone variety (called “spectators” by the way). I have always been such a huge fan of Black & White dressing!
Secondly,they have been around for ages , lending themselves to modern re-interpretations, which in my opinion is an inherent trait of the classic.
Now ask yourself - do those oxford/derby style flats look dated and frumpy, or would they work with the season's short dresses & cropped trousers in the coolest, most nonchalant sort of way ? See what I mean? They don't always have to be worn in the 'dandy' manner.
The fact that they are back in a big way, means that people simply like this shoe!
Okay, now for difference- apparently a Derby has open lacing, which means that the tongue is made of the same bit of leather ( called the vamp ) that runs over the top of your foot and down to the tip of your toes.
The eyelets for the lacing are overlapping bits of leather at the sides of the shoe ( called the quarters) and on Derbys, they are not stitched to the tongue at the bottom which provides more flexibility and comfort making the Derby suitable for outdoor/casual wear.
An Oxford, is supposed to have closed lacing- on a shoe with closed lacing, the vamp is sewn on top of the quarters, and the tongue is usually a separate piece.
Oxfords are sometimes called Balmorals, and Derbys are called Bluchers.
Not many people know or care about these distinctions anymore, and both the shoes are now considered formal/office wear for men.
But here is the bottomline, I quite love the feminine Oxford/Derby inspired shoes , both flat and high-heeled, they seem to go really well with tailored shorts, cropped trousers and in a crazy way even with short dresses.
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