Shoe Types and Styles

Men’s shoe styles fall into over 50 different categories, with aspects of some styles overlapping. Below is a comprehensive gallery of those different styles:

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Adelaide
Adelaide

The Adelaide style is defined as:

A closed-laced Oxford with a 'U' shaped yoke around the lacing closure.

The Adelaide style can be mixed with other styles, but is only used on dress shoes. The only exception to this rule would be when a suede Oxford has an Adelaide style, since suede would cause the shoe to be considered dress/casual.

Can be found in the following Shoe Types:

  • Oxford

Allen Edmonds - Vernon
Algonquin
Algonquin

The Algonquine style is defined as:

A Split Toe shoe with a vertical toe seam running up the nose of the shoe to the front of an apron.

There are two styles of Split Toe; the Algonquin and the Norwegian.

The Algonquin typically has a flat seam, whereas the Norwegian has a raised seam.

Can be found in the following Shoe Types:

  • Derby/Blucher
  • Oxford
  • Slip On

Allen Edmonds - Delray
Ankle Boot
Ankle Boot

The Ankle Boot style is defined as:

A boot that covers the ankle but goes no higher.

Other styles of boots, like the Chelsea and the Chukka, are subsets of ankle boots.

Ankle Boots can be made in other dress shoe styles (Wingtip, Cap Toe, etc...), or can be made very casual (light brown suede Chukka).

Can be found in the following Shoe Types:

  • Derby/Blucher
  • Oxford
  • Slip On
  • Strap

Johnston & Murphy - Newell Boot
Apron Toe
Apron Toe

The Apron Toe style is defined as:

A shoe with a piece of material (leather or other) covering the top of the vamp like an apron, around the upper perimeter of the vamp, but typically not extending to the end of the toe.

An Apron Toe can simulated with a seam, and does not require a separate piece.

All Split Toe shoes have an Apron Toe, but an Apron Toe does not have to be a Split Toe. An Apron Toe shoe without a vertical toe seam is simply an Apron Toe shoe.

The difference between an Apron Toe and a Moc Toe is that an Apron Toe is (or simulates) an apron covering an existing vamp, whereas a Moc toe is (or simulates) a sewn in plug that is the vamp.

Can be found in the following Shoe Types:

  • Derby/Blucher
  • Oxford
  • Slip On
  • Strap

Allen Edmonds - Hillsborough
Austerity Brogue
Austerity Brogue

The Austerity Brogue style is defined as:

A wingtip created by overlaying the vamp with a piece of leather in a 'W' pattern, just like a regular Brogue, but it has no brogue holes punched in the leather, it just has a seam attaching the leather.

Can be found in the following Shoe Types:

  • Derby/Blucher
  • Oxford
  • Slip On
  • Strap

Allen Edmonds - Ithaca ae by Allen Edmonds
Balmoral
Balmoral

The Balmoral style is defined as:

An Oxford with a horizontal seam running across the quarters of the shoe. A traditional Balmoral can also be referred to as a Galosh Oxford.

In the United States the term Balmoral is sometimes used to refer to any Oxford, but a Balmoral is simply one style of an Oxford.

Can be found in the following Shoe Types:

  • Oxford

Septieme Largeur - Achille
Bicycle Toe
Bicycle Toe

The Bicycle Toe style is defined as:

A shoe designed so that the vamp extends over the front of the shoe down to the sole, with a seam on each side, and the quarters extending forward.

The Bicycle Toe style is considered less formal than most other toe styles, like Cap Toe, Wingtip, Split Toe or Plain.

Can be found in the following Shoe Types:

  • Derby/Blucher
  • Oxford
  • Slip On
  • Strap

Allen Edmonds - Bruce - Rough
Bit Loafer
Bit Loafer

The Bit Loafer style is defined as:

A dress loafer with a metal decoration across the vamp plug, that resembles a miniature horse bit. Usually only found on Men's shoes.

The style was made popular in the late 1960's by Gucci when they created the style.

Can be found in the following Shoe Types:

  • Slip On

Johnston & Murphy - Gillum Bit
Blind Brogue
Blind Brogue

The Blind Brogue style is defined as:

A shoe were the brogue holes are punched (to a certain depth) directly into the vamp and quarters of the shoe in a 'W' pattern to imply a wingtip style without the additional leather piece normally place on top of the vamp to create the wingtip.

Can be found in the following Shoe Types:

  • Derby/Blucher
  • Oxford
  • Slip On
  • Strap

Johnston & Murphy - Deerfield Tassel Wingtip
Blucher
Blucher

The Blucher style is defined as:

A shoe designed so that the quarters are open (not joined together as one piece) at the vamp. A Blucher and a Derby have a lot in common, but a Blucher does not have a gooseneck seam on the quarter.

A common style of Blucher is the 'PTB' Plain Toe Blucher.

Can be found in the following Shoe Types:

  • Blucher

Allen Edmonds - Leeds - Cordovan
Boat Shoe
Boat Shoe

The Boat Shoe style is defined as:

A shoe designed to be worn on a boat deck, featuring an anti-slip rubber sole. Generally constructed in the moccasin or loafer style. Also referred to as a Deck Shoe.

The typical Boat Shoe has a leather lace woven through the collar of the shoe and tying over the tongue of the shoe, to secure the shoe more tightly.

In most current models the collar lace is only decorative, and in some models there is no lace at all.

Can be found in the following Shoe Types:

  • Derby/Blucher
  • Slip On

Sperry - Billfish 3-Eye Boat Shoe
Brogue
Brogue

The Brogue style is defined as:

A shoe with holes punched along the edge of the leather overlapping the vamp, and in the case of a Full Brogue / Wingtip, the leather overlapping the quarters as well.

A Brogue will typically have a medallion (holes punched in a pattern) on the toe of the shoe (3).

There are 5 Brogue styles:

  • A Full Brogue (also referred to as just a Brogue): This is a Wingtip shoe where a piece of leather is placed on top of the front of the vamp and the front of the quarters in a 'W' shape, and brogue (holes) are stamped into that additional piece of leather near the exposed edge. There can also be brogue holes stamped in the exterior heel counter, facing, and shoe collar on any brogue style shoe.
  • A Semi-Brogue (also referred to as a Half Brogue): This is a Cap Toe shoe with brogue holes on the exposed edge of the cap, and a medallion (holes punched in a decorative pattern) on the toe.
  • A Quarter Brogue: This is the same as a Half Brogue, but with a plain cap toe, rather than a medallion.
  • An Austerity Brogue: This is a wingtip created by overlaying a piece of leather in a 'W' pattern, just like a regular Brogue, but it has no brogue holes punched in the leather, it just has a seam attaching the leather.
  • A Blind Brogue: The brogue holes are punched (to a certain depth) directly into the vamp and quarters of the shoe in a 'W' pattern to imply a wingtip style without the additional leather piece normally place on top of the vamp to create the wingtip.

Can be found in the following Shoe Types:

  • Derby/Blucher
  • Oxford
  • Slip On
  • Strap

Johnston & Murphy - Ellard Wingtip - 1850
Buck
Buck

The Buck style is defined as:

A Derby/Blucher type shoe with an upper made of Nubuc or suede in white, off white or brown. Traditionally with a red rubber sole. Brown Bucks are referred to as Dirty Bucks.

Bucks are usually worn as a casual Summer shoe.

Can be found in the following Shoe Types:

  • Derby/Blucher

Johnston & Murphy - Brennan Plain Toe
Cap Toe
Cap Toe

The Cap Toe style is defined as:

A shoe with a piece of material (usually leather), or a seam to indicate a cap over the toe of the shoe.

Cap Toe shoes are considered to be 'business' wear, more than any other shoe style.

Can be found in the following Shoe Types:

  • Derby/Blucher
  • Oxford
  • Slip On
  • Strap

Allen Edmonds - Park Avenue
Chelsea
Chelsea

The Chelsea style is defined as:

A type of ankle boot with an elastic gore on each side running from the top of the boot to below the ankle.

The Beatle Boot, made popular by the music group the Beatles in the 1960's, was a Chelsea boot with a Cuban (slightly taller and tapered) heel.

Can be found in the following Shoe Types:

  • Slip On

Bexley - Bergame Chelsea Boot
Chukka
Chukka

The Chukka style is defined as:

A type of short Ankle Boot, usually made with calfskin or suede, with two to three sets of eyelets for lacing, using a Derby type facing to tighten the quarters over the tongue of the boot.

A Chukka with 3 sets of eyelets is also referred to as a George Boot (after King George VI)

Light brown suede Chukka boots are sometimes referred to as Desert boots because they are very similar in style to the boots worn by the British during the desert campaign in World War Two. However, Desert boots had a crepe rubber sole as compared to the leather or standard rubber soles on a Chukka.

Can be found in the following Shoe Types:

  • Derby

Allen Edmonds - Malvern
Clog
Clog

The Clog style is defined as:

A casual shoe with a thick sole (Traditionally made of wood) made in the Mule style (a closed toe, but no back on the shoe), with a slightly upturned bulbous toe.

Clogs with heel backs can also be considered Clogs.

Can be found in the following Shoe Types:

  • Slip On

Dansko - Karl
Cowboy Boot
Cowboy Boot

The Cowboy Boot style is defined as:

A western style boot, mid calf in height, with a pointed or rounded toe and raised tapered heel.

Can be found in the following Shoe Types:

  • Slip On

D.W. Frommer II - Stockman's Fancy - Bespoke
Deck Shoe
Deck Shoe

The Deck Shoe style is defined as:

A shoe designed to be worn on a boat deck (also referred to as a Boat Shoe), featuring an anti-slip rubber sole. Generally constructed in the moccasin or loafer style. Also referred to as a Deck Shoe.

The typical Boat Shoe has a leather lace woven through the collar of the shoe and tying over the tongue of the shoe, to secure the shoe more tightly.

In most current models the collar lace is only decorative, and in some models there is no lace at all.

Can be found in the following Shoe Types:

  • Derby/Blucher
  • Slip On

Sperry - Authentic Original Boat Shoe
Derby
Derby

The Derby style is defined as:

A shoe designed so that the quarters are open (not joined together as one piece) at the vamp. A Derby in men's shoes is referred to as a Gibson in women's shoes.

Can be found in the following Shoe Types:

  • Derby (of course)

Allen Edmonds - Provo - ae by Allen Edmonds
Driving Shoe
Driving Shoe

The Driving Shoe style is defined as:

A shoe Moccasin style shoe with a thin sole that wraps around the back of the shoe. This gives the driver better feel of the pedals and protects the floorboard of the car.

Can be found in the following Shoe Types:

  • Typically a Slip On, but can be found in all types.

Johnston & Murphy - Hembree Venetian
Engineer Boot
Engineer Boot

The Engineer Boot style is defined as:

A calf high, or higher, version of a Jodhpur boot (strap and buckle at ankle), with an additional strap and buckle toward the top of the boot.

Can be found in the following Shoe Types:

  • Strap

Frye-Engineer 12r-Shearling
Espadrille
Espadrille

The Espadrille style is defined as:

A shoe with a cloth upper and a rope sole, or rope trimmed sole.

Can be found in the following Shoe Types:

  • Slip On

Sperry - Largo Espadrille
Evening Shoe
Evening Shoe

The Evening Shoe style is defined as:

A black patent leather dress shoe. Should be worn with black tie. Also referred to as a Formal Shoe.

Can be found in the following Shoe Types:

  • Derby/Blucher
  • Oxford
  • Slip On

Johnston & Murphy - Bickel Patent Plain Toe
Fisherman Sandal
Fisherman Sandal

The Fisherman Sandal style is defined as:

A Sandal style with a wide vertical strap covering the front of the shoe.

The strap covering the toe of the shoe is to protect the toes of the fisherman from rocks as he wade into the water.

Can be found in the following Shoe Types:

  • Slip On
  • Strap

Sperry - Largo Fisherman Sandal
Flip Flop
Flip Flop

The Flip Flop style is defined as:

A sole held on to the foot by two straps extending from the inner and outer side of the foot to the gap between the big toe and the second toe. Also reffered to as a Thong.

Slides and Mules are also sometimes referred to as Flip-Flops in the general sense of a shoe with an unsecured heel.

Can be found in the following Shoe Types:

  • Strap

Formal Shoe
Formal Shoe

The Formal Shoe style is defined as:

A black patent leather dress shoe. Should be worn with black tie. Also referred to as an Evening Shoe.

Can be found in the following Shoe Types:

  • Derby/Blucher
  • Oxford
  • Slip On

Allen Edmonds - Kendall
Harness Boot
Harness Boot

The Harness Boot style is defined as:

A lower mid calf boot with straps coming up from the sole of the boot, at the point below the ankle, and a strap going around the circumference of the ankle, with the straps joined together at a metal ring just below the ankle (1).

Although there are straps on this boot they are typically only decorative and serve no actual function.

Can be found in the following Shoe Types:

  • Slip On
  • Strap

Frye-Harness-8R
Huarache
Huarache

The Huarache style is defined as:

A shoe with a thick flat rubber sole and a loosely woven upper, made in both closed and open toe sandal style.

Can be found in the following Shoe Types:

  • Slip On

Brand X - Ranchero
Jodhpur Boot
Jodhpur Boot

The Jodhpur Boot style is defined as:

A short riding boot with a functional leather strap around the boot leg, with a metal buckle, just above the ankle.

It is possible to have a non-functioning, decorative, strap and still consider the boot to be a Jodhpur.

The Jodhpur style is similar to the Chelsea style in size and shape, but the Chelsea uses a rubber gore on the sides, where a Jodhpur uses a strap and buckle. Both are considered a short riding boot.

Can be found in the following Shoe Types:

  • Slip On (if the strap and buckle are decorative only )
  • Strap

Shipton & Heneage - Wingham Sprapped Chelsea Boot
Kiltie
Kiltie

The Kiltie style is defined as:

A loafer with a fringed piece of material overlaying the top of the vamp.

Can be found in the following Shoe Types:

  • Slip On

Allen Edmonds - Nashua
Loafer
Loafer

The Loafer style is defined as:

A low, leather step-in shoe that has a broad flat heel and a vamp that is sewn in.

A sewn-in vamp on a loafer is referred to as a Plug.

Can be found in the following Shoe Types:

  • Slip On
  • Strap (if used for decoration only)

Johnston & Murphy - Hamby Venetian
Long Wing
Long Wing

The Long Wing style is defined as:

A Wingtip shoe with the ends of the wingtip decoration wrapping around the quarters to the back of the shoe. Typically done in full-brogue.

Can be found in the following Shoe Types:

  • Blucher
  • Slip On

Allen Edmonds - Williams - Independence
Moc Toe
Moc Toe

The Moc Toe style is defined as:

A shoe with a visable seam around the top of the vamp for a plug or panel, or to imply a plug or panel.

Can be found in the following Shoe Types:

  • Derby/Blucher
  • Slip On
  • Strap

Allen Edmonds - Rush - Independence
Moccasin
Moccasin

The Moccasin style is defined as:

A shoe where the sole and the quarters are the same piece of material (can have a rubber sole attached) sewn to a panel, plug or vamp on the top of the shoe.

Can be found in the following Shoe Types:

  • Slip On

Allen Edmonds - Banff - ae by Allen Edmonds
Monk Strap
Monk Strap

The Monk Strap style is defined as:

A shoe that uses a strap and a buckle, rather than laces, for closure.

A Double Monk uses a broader strap and two buckles spaced apart.

Can be found in the following Shoe Types:

  • Strap

Allen Edmonds - Lubbock - Rough
Mule
Mule

The Mule style is defined as:

A backless shoe with a closed toe. An open toed Mule is referred to as a Slide.

Can be found in the following Shoe Types:

  • Slip On

Clarks - Tippett Slip On
Norwegian
Norwegian

The Norwegian style is defined as:

A Split Toe shoe with a raised seam running vertically up the nose of the shoe, from the sole to an apron covering the majority of the vamp.

The Norwegian shoe style is also sometimes referred to as a 'Norweger'.

A Norwegian is similar to an Algonquin in that they are both subsets of the Split Toe style.

The term Norwegian is used to describe a few completely different things related to shoes:

A Norwegian, or 'Wegian' loafer was made popular by Bass in the early 1950's. There is also a method of attaching the shoe upper to the outsole that is referred to as a Norwegian Welt or 'Norvegese'. Norwegian Welt is actually a misnomer since Norwegian construction does not normally have a 'welt' like the Goodyear welt does.

Can be found in the following Shoe Types:

  • Derby/Blucher
  • Oxford
  • Slip On

Johnston & Murphy - Dustin Y-Moc
Opera Pump
Opera Pump

The Opera Pump style is defined as:

A patent leather slip-on with a short vamp, exposing most of the instep of the foot. Typically adorned with a grosgrain bow.

This shoe is also referred to as a Court shoe and should only be worn with formal wear.

Can be found in the following Shoe Types:

  • Slip On

Shipton & Heneage - Patent Pumps
Oxford
Oxford

The Oxford style is defined as:

A shoe designed so that the quarters meet, or are one solid piece, and the facing is closed at the front of the throat . The Oxford is a more formal type of shoe because it has a cleaner look and a snugger fit. In the U.S. the Oxford is sometimes referred to as a Balmoral, but this is a misnomer, as the Balmoral is a subset of the Oxford style.

It is also common in the U.S. for all men's dress shoes that lace up to be referred to as Oxfords.

Can be found in the following Shoe Types:

  • Oxford (of course)

Allen Edmonds - Strand - Timeless Classics
Penny Loafer
Penny Loafer

The Penny Loafer style is defined as:

A loafer with a broad strap across the vamp at the instep. The strap should be notched so that a coin can be slipped in between the strap and the vamp.

Can be found in the following Shoe Types:

  • Slip On
  • Strap (for decoration only)

Johnston & Murphy - Hollensby Penny
Plain Toe
Plain Toe

The Plain Toe style is defined as:

A shoe with no ornamentation, medallion, or additional covering on the vamp or toe of the shoe.

Can be found in the following Shoe Types:

  • Derby/Blucher
  • Oxford
  • Slip On
  • Strap

Allen Edmonds - Kenilworth
Punch Cap
Punch Cap

The Punch Cap style is defined as:

A Cap Toe shoe with broguing, but with no toe medallion (perforated design in the toe cap), and no broguing elsewhere on the shoe.

Can be found in the following Shoe Types:

  • Derby/Blucher
  • Oxford
  • Slip On
  • Strap

Allen Edmonds - Fifth Avenue - Timeless Classics
Quarter-Brogue
Quarter-Brogue

The Quarter Brogue style is defined as:

A Cap Toe shoe with broguing, but with no toe medallion (perforated design in the toe cap). Unlike a basic Punch Cap, the Quarter Brogue has broguing on other areas of the shoe as well.

Can be found in the following Shoe Types:

  • Derby/Blucher
  • Oxford
  • Slip On
  • Strap

Johnston & Murphy - Tolbert Cap Toe
Saddle Shoe
Saddle Shoe

The Saddle Shoe style is defined as:

A Plain Toe Oxford with a leather band going across the facing, down the quarters to the sole. The band is typically a different color or texture than the rest of the shoe.

Because the band is wider across the facing and narrows across the quarters, it is referred to as Saddle because of the look it produces.

Can be found in the following Shoe Types:

  • Oxford

Johnston & Murphy - Brennan Saddle
Sandal
Sandal

The Sandal style is defined as:

A sole held on the foot by two or more straps across the instep of the foot, and a strap around the back of the foot as well. A Sandal without a back strap would be a Slide.

A Sandal may also have a broad strap running the length of the instep, as long as it does not wrap around the end of the toe.

A Sandal with a strap covering the toe front is referred to as a Fisherman's Sandal.

Can be found in the following Shoe Types:

  • Slip On
  • Strap

Sperry - Latitude Dbl Strap Sandal
Semi-Brogue
Semi-Brogue

The Semi Brogue style is defined as:

A Cap Toe shoe with broguing, and a toe medallion (perforated design in the toe cap).

Can be found in the following Shoe Types:

  • Derby/Blucher
  • Oxford
  • Slip On
  • Strap

Allen Edmonds - Sanford - Timeless Classics
Slide
Slide

The Slide style is defined as:

A sole held on the foot by a large strap, or straps, across the instep of the foot. A slide has no back, and has an open toe.

The strap across the top of the foot can be fixed or adjustable. A Slide is a subset of the Sandal.

Can be found in the following Shoe Types:

  • Slip On
  • Strap

Sperry - Santa Cruz Slide Sandal
Slip On
Slip On

The Slip On style is defined as:

A general shoe type that covers all shoes with no laces . Usually a flat soled shoe, but can have a stacked heel as well (like a loafer). Typically, but not always, in the moccasin style.

Can be found in the following Shoe Types:

  • Slip On (of course)

Allen Edmonds - El Paso
Slipper
Slipper

The Slipper style is defined as:

A shoe with no laces. Typically a flat soled shoe, with or without a slight heel. Made in the moccasin or more formal style. Also referred to as a house slipper. Should only be worn in one's own home.

Can be found in the following Shoe Types:

  • Slip On

Shipton & Heneage - Albert Slipper
Spectator
Spectator

The Spectator style is defined as:

A shoe defined by its two distinctive and contrasting colors. Usually built in the Wingtip style.

In the UK this style is also referred to as a Co-respondent.

Can be found in the following Shoe Types:

  • Derby/Blucher
  • Oxford
  • Slip On
  • Strap

Shipton & Heneage - Charleston Brown & White Two Tone Brogue
Split Toe
Split Toe

The Split Toe style is defined as:

Any shoe with a vertical toe seam running up the nose of the shoe to the front of an apron.

Examples of Split Toe shoe styles are the Algonquin and the Norwegian.

Can be found in the following Shoe Types:

  • Derby/Blucher
  • Slip On
  • Strap

Allen Edmonds - Lasalle
Stitch Cap
Stitch Cap

The Stitch Cap style is defined as:

A Cap Toe shoe with no broguing, but with a visible sewn seam at the toe cap.

Can be found in the following Shoe Types:

  • Derby/Blucher
  • Oxford
  • Slip On
  • Strap

Allen Edmonds - Harrison Walnut
Tassel Loafer
Tassel Loafer

The Tassel Loafer style is defined as:

A shoe with a decorative leather cord, wrapped in leather fringe at each end and attached to the shoe toward the top of the vamp.

Can be found in the following Shoe Types:

  • Slip On

Johnston & Murphy - Deerfield II Tassel Moc Toe
Thong
Thong

The Thong style is defined as:

A sole held on to the foot by two straps extending from the inner and outer side of the foot to the gap between the big toe and the second toe. Also referred to as a Flip-Flop.

A Thong is a subset of the Sandal because it uses a strap over the instep to hold the show on the foot.

Can be found in the following Shoe Types:

  • Slip On

Sperry - Santa Cruz Thong Sandal
Venetian Loafer
Venetian Loafer

The Venetian Loafer style is defined as:

A loafer with no ornamentation across the vamp, plug or panel of the shoe. Typically a moc toe loafer with a solid, uncovered, plug or panel.

Can be found in the following Shoe Types:

  • Slip On

Johnston & Murphy - Ainsworth Venetian
Wallabee
Wallabee

The Wallabee style is defined as:

A two eyelet suede Chukka with a thick seamed Moccasin style toe that wraps up to the collar of the shoe, and a thick crepe rubber wedge sole.

The Wallabee was created and made popular by Clarks in the late 1960's.

Can be found in the following Shoe Types:

  • Derby

Clarks - Sand Suede Wallabee
Whole Cut
Whole Cut

The Whole Cut (or Wholecut) style is defined as:

An Oxford shoe with the entire upper made out of a single cut of leather.

A Whole Cut should not have any additional ornamentation laid on top of the upper, such as a Wing Tip, Cap Toe, or external heel counter. A Whole Cut will typically have a back seam at the back center of the shoe running vertically from the shoe collar to the heel.

Can be found in the following Shoe Types:

  • Oxford

Johnston & Murphy - Chafin Medallion Lace-up
Wingtip
Wingtip

The Wingtip style is defined as:

A shoe with a piece of material (usually leather), or a seam to indicate a 'W' shape over the vamp of the shoe, with the ends of the 'W' extending back to the quarters.

Can be found in the following Shoe Types:

  • Derby/Blucher
  • Oxford
  • Slip On
  • Strap

Allen Edmonds - Jefferson - Independence
Zipper Boot
Zipper Boot

The Zipper Boot style is defined as:

Any boot style (typically Ankle Boot) with a zipper closure, usually on the inside facing side of the boot.

Can be found in the following Shoe Types:

  • Zipper

Johnston & Murphy - Matheston Plain Toe Boot

Shoe images in the Shoe Style gallery are copyright of the manufacturer of each shoe.

All Shoe Styles fall into one of four (4) general Shoe Types.

Shoe Types are determined by how shoes are secured to feet.

compare

Both the Oxford and Derby/Blucher use laces to hold the shoe onto a foot, however the Oxford is designed with a closed facing (known as Closed Lacing), and the Derby/Blucher is designed with an open facing (known as Open Lacing).

The Oxford is a more formal type of shoe because it has a cleaner look and a snugger fit. In the U.S. the Oxford is sometimes referred to as a Balmoral, but this is a misnomer, as the Balmoral is a subset of the Oxford style.

It is also common in the U.S. for all men’s dress shoes that lace up to be referred to as Oxfords.

An Oxford is easily identified by the inability to open the bottom of the facing where the shoe laces go (1). This causes the diameter of the throat of the shoe to be a fixed size defined by the construction of the shoe.

The Derby/Blucher is a more casual type of shoe because it has more pieces to it, and there is more control over how snug (or loosely) the shoe fits. A Derby is also referred to as a Gibson in women’s shoes.

A Derby/Blucher is easily identified by the ability to open the bottom of the facing where the shoe laces go (2). This allows the diameter of the throat of the shoe to be somewhat adjustable by the user, and accommodate a wider range of individual instep shapes and sizes.

Derby/Bluchers accommodate orthotics much easier that Oxfords do because of their ability to allow more room within the shoe.

Although the Oxford and Derby/Blucher types are similar there are a number of styles that can only be an Oxford, and others that can only be a Derby/Blucher; For example an Adelaide can only be an Oxford due to its structural design, and a Chukka can only be a Derby as it is inherent in the definition of a Chukka.

It is important to note, that although I have combined the Derby and Blucher as one type, they are actually two types under the general classification of open lace shoes.

The main difference between a Derby and a Blucher is how the quarters are attached (or not) to the vamp. In the construction of a Derby the quarters are a separate piece of leather from the vamp and are laid over the vamp to create a Gooseneck seam. Bluchers are similar to wholecut shoes, where the vamp and the quarters are the same piece of leather (or the quarters continue on to the front of the shoe), but a Blucher is cut to allow an open facing like a Derby.

shoepassion_Derby-BlucherDerby and Blucher shoes shown here are produced by SHOEPASSION.com

A Strap shoe, as the name would imply, uses a strap (and usually a buckle) (3) to hold the shoe onto the foot. The most common strap shoe for men is the Monk Strap which also come in a Double Monk strap style. Of course a Sandal is also considered a Strap type shoe.

The Slip on style covers Loafers (4) and most boots that do not have laces.

All shoe style fall into one of these 4 types (with the possible exception of a Zipper Boot).

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Belts and Shoes

Belts are an important part of any man’s wardrobe (unless you’re a suspenders only guy). A belt is also probably the only other part of your wardrobe, other than your shoes, to be made of leather (wallets don’t count as wardrobe, but a leather watchbands do).
leather-belts

When selecting a belt to wear some specific things need to be taken into consideration:
Color:

  • The color of the belt should be similar to the color of your shoes. Don’t wear a brown belt with black shoes or vice versa. There are some shoe designs that include both black and brown leather that allow you to use either color of belt.
  • The shade of color between belt and shoes should be similar. Don’t wear a light brown belt with dark brown shoes.

Leather Type:

  • As in shoes, smoother is more formal, textured is less formal. Only wear belts with a shine with shoes that have a high shine. Less formal shoes require less formal belts; for example a suede belt can be worn with suede shoes. The textures do not have to match however; shade and shine are the main considerations.
  • Don’t mix and match exotic animal skins. An alligator belt can be worn with similar color shoes, but keep in mind that an exotic animal skin is less smooth that a calf skin and therefore less formal (even though it costs more). You should not wear a lizard skin belt with alligator skin shoes or vice versa. Stick to one exotic animal at a time; you don’t want to be a walking zoo.
  • Exotic Belts

    Buckle:

    • Again, smoother (and smaller) is more formal.
    • Typical colors are metal tone gold or silver. Unfortunately, most men don’t have nearly the experience that women do in coordinating metal tone pieces within a wardrobe. Silver should be used with black and gold should be used for brown. This relates to the concept of city and country colors in clothing. Black and gold can work together if the gold tone is coordinating with other gold tone metallic objects in the wardrobe. Brown and silver can work as well.
    • Always keep the colors of your wardrobe in mind when picking out a belt, including the metal tone of the buckle.

    Another general rule to follow when buying a belt is to buy it in 2 sizes larger than your waist size, so if you have a 34” waist, buy a 36” belt. This allows for the end of the belt to wrap to the proper distance past the buckle.

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Shoe Seams

The seams on a shoe are one of the main factors in defining the style of a shoe. So I decided to create a list of the various seams and how they define a given style.

Another aspect of seams is broguing (holes punched into the leather for decoration) which also plays a role in the definition of a style.

First lets start with the Wholecut style which is defined by the lack of seams other than the single seam running vertically up the back of the shoe. This is referred to as the Back seam (the small leather extension that comes across, from one side to the other, at the top of some back seams is called a Dog Tail).
Wholecut

The most common seam on shoes is the Gooseneck seam which is where the quarters overlay the vamp to create the facing of the shoe. On closed laced shoes (oxfords) this seam also goes across the top of the vamp.
Gooseneck

A more decorative version of the Gooseneck seam is the Swan Neck seam, which runs up the side of the facing.
Swan_Neck

A seam not seen as often in shoes as it is in boots is the Balmoral seam, which starts at the vamp and runs horizontally along the length of the quarters then wraps around the back of the shoe.
Balmoral

A seam that is one of my favorites is the Adelaide seam, which makes a “U” shape around the facing, and is exclusive to Oxford type shoes.
Adelaide

A Heel Counter seam exists when a piece of leather is wrapped around the back of the shoe for decoration and visual balance. This piece of leather is called a heel counter. Not to be confused with the internal support built into the inside of the back of the shoe, also referred to as a heel counter.
Heel_Counter

Any time a piece of leather (or other material) is laid over a part of the upper a seam is created. A good example of this is the Saddle Shoe seam that is created by placing a piece of leather across the facing and down the sides of the quarters.
Saddle_Shoe

The open edges of the Facing (that the shoe laces pull together) is also considered a seam, as is the seam around the top of the shoe opening known as the Top Line seam.
Facing
Top_Line

Then, of course, there are the toe seams:

Aside from the typical Cap Toe and Wingtip, which I will go into with more detail shortly, there are less typical Split Toe, Apron Toe, Moc Toe, and Bicycle Toe seams.

The Split Toe seam is also known as an Algonquin or Norwegian seam. It runs vertically up the center front of the toe until it meets either an Apron Toe seam, or a Moc Toe seam.
Split_Toe

An Apron Toe seam is a seam attaches a piece of material (leather or other) covering the top of the vamp like an apron, around the upper perimeter of the vamp, but typically not extending to the end of the toe. An Apron Toe can be simulated with just a seam, and does not require a separate piece.
Apron_Toe

A Moc Toe is similar to an Apron Toe, except that a Moc Toe is set into the vamp rather than being on top of it.
Moc_Toe

A Bicycle Toe seam is created by extending the quarters forward along the sides of the vamp toward the front of the toe.
Bicycle_Toe

Now back to Wingtips and Cap Toes:

There are different styles of wingtip and cap toe shoes that are distinguished mostly by broguing (or the lack thereof).

A Stitch Cap is defined by no broguing on the top cap seam, only a single or double stitch line along the seam (more than two stitch lines can be used for additional decoration).
Stich_Cap

A Quarter Brogue is defined by broguing along the toe cap seam, as well as broguing on any seams across the quarters and the facing. If a heel counter seam exists it should have broguing as well. Broguing on the top line seam are optional. A quarter brogue also has a plain cap toe (no Medallion).
Quarter_Brogue

A Semi-Brogue (or Half-Brogue) is the same as a quarter brogue, except that a semi-brogue has a medallion punched into the cap toe.
Semi_Brogue

A Full-Brogue (better known as just a Brogue) is a wingtip with the same broguing requirements as a semi-brogue.
Full_Brogue

A Longwing is a full brogue with the tips of the wings extending to the back of the shoe.
Long_Wing

An Austerity Brogue is similar to a stitch cap as there is no broguing, only a stitch line along the wingtip seam.
Austerity_Brogue

A Blind Brogue is defined by the lack of an actual seam, replaced by a line of broguing directly in the upper to imply a wingtip seam.
Blind_Brogue

Understanding shoe seams will make it much easier to distinguish the various shoe styles at a glance.

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Visual Weight

Vision is very spatial, it is how we judge distance, depth, size and shape, but we also use it to get a sense of weight and balance.
balance

Everything you wear has visual weight and balance (or lack of balance). For example a double breasted suit jacket has a lot of visual weight because of the extra fabric, the additional buttons, and the style itself. Because of this the suit trousers should be cuffed to give balance to the suit from top to bottom.
Double Breasted

An example of visual weight imbalance would be wearing a modern close cut jacket with narrow lapels with double pleated trousers.

This same visual balance applies to your shoes as well. Some shoe designs have a heavy visual weight to them, while others have a very light visual weight.

The visual weight of your shoes should be consistent with the visual weight of your outfit whenever possible.

There are four things that give shoes visual weight, in the following order:
1. The welt and sole
2. The shape of the Last
3. The leather type
4. The shoe style

The welt and sole are listed together because the sole thickness is defined to some degree by the welt method used. And, the welt itself can add visual weight to the sole. You can also get shoes with double thick soles which not only add visual weight, but physical weight as well.

A Norwegian welt has the most visual weight of all, followed by a Goodyear welt. Soles that are attached by Blake stitch, Rapid/Blake, or Bond welted can have a very light visual weight.

Rubber soles also typically add more visual weight than leather soles.

Each shoe manufacturer has a variety of last shapes (some more than others) that vary from round bulbous toe to narrow chiseled toe. The more slender and tapered the last, the less visual weight the shoe has.

Next to impact visual weight is the leather type as follows (heavy to light):
1. Suede
2. Leather with natural wrinkles (like elephant, buffalo, etc…) or induced wrinkles.
3. Embossed grain (like pebble grain, hash grain, etc…).
4. Exotic leathers (like crocodile, lizard, etc…).
5. Shell Cordovan, waxed leather.
6. Calfskin, cow hide.
7. Patent Leather

Finally, the shoe style impacts the visual weight as well. The visual weight of a given style is directly proportional to the style complexity. Basically the more decoration on the shoe the more visual weight it has.

To illustrate the visual weight difference here is a buffalo hide, saddle shoe style, with a bulbous toe and a rubber sole compared to a calfskin, wholecut style, with a tapered toe and blake stitched leather sole.
SaddleShoe
WholecutSide

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Socks 101

Socks are an important aspect of how a man dresses in relation to his shoes, so I thought it was important to write an introductory type article on the subject.

I hope to write other articles about more specific aspects of socks, but this article is more of a sock 101. Because of this, you may already know most of what I address in this article, but some people may not.

For men there are basically 4 standard lengths for socks:

  • Loafer Socks (also known as loafer liners or footies) These socks are cut so the top line stays below your ankle, and covers only your toes. The idea is that the sock is not seen when worn with loafers, to give the sockless look, while still providing the benefit of wearing a sock.
    loafer-liner
  • Ankle Socks (sometimes also referred to as footies). These socks are typically worn by women as an alternative to crew socks. These socks are cut to sit just below (or just above) the ankle and cover the whole foot. Although not gender specific it is less common to see a man wearing this type of sock.
    ankle socks rule with running shoes
  • Crew Socks. These socks cover the ankle and go about a quarter way up the calf. This is the most common sock length for men in the US. All types of socks come in this length; from white cotton athletic socks, to black silk dress socks, and everything in-between.
    crew-sock-dress
    crew-sock-athletic
    crew-sock-hiking
  • Over the Calf Socks (also known as OTC). These socks cover the entire calf, and stop just before the knee. This length is referred to as knee-high in woman’s socks. This length of sock is typically worn with business suits and formal attire. One of the main purposes for this length of sock is to keep the skin/hair of the leg from showing when a gentleman crosses his legs. You can also get hunting/hiking/winter recreation socks in this length to help keep your legs warm.
    otc-sock-dress
    otc-sock-recreation

Socks come in all types of fabric, but typically include a blend of some type of stretchable synthetic fiber, to allow the sock to fit snugly against your foot and leg.

The type of fabric used in socks will vary by the intended use of the sock, and the intended price of the sock.

Athletic socks (usually in crew length) are typically made from cotton, and intended for playing sports. The cotton absorbs sweat well, and the socks are easy to care for.

Hiking socks are typically made from wool, which keeps the foot dryer by holding the moisture in the interior of the fabric. Depending on the percentage of wool in the sock will determine how the sock should be cared for. A sock that is over 80% wool should be air dried so that it does not shrink. Most wool socks are a blend of polyester and wool.

There are a number of different types of wool. The most common is sheep wool. However, any fabric woven from animal hair is considered a wool. Examples are cashmere (goat), angora (rabbit), mohair (angora goat), alpaca, camel, and vicuna (a small rare camel/alpaca).

Socks made from animal wool other than sheep are more expensive, but typically warmer and softer. You will not typically find socks made of mohair, camel or vicuna, but cashmere socks can be found, and are quite nice in the winter. It is rare to find angora socks for men, but they are available for women.

Dress socks (for business attire, with slacks, or even jeans) can be made of thin cotton, wool, silk, nylon, rayon, and polyester. Fabrics made of mostly natural fibers like cotton, wool, and silk are better for your feet than synthetic fabrics like nylon, rayon, and polyester.

The reason for not wearing synthetic fibers is that synthetic fibers do not absorb sweat like natural fibers, keeping more perspiration on your feet (rather than wicking it off as natural fibers do), and promoting athlete’s foot, and foot odor.

Unfortunately, most men’s dress socks (at least in the US) are typically blends of mostly polyester and/or rayon. The main reason for this is cost. Synthetic dress socks cost less to make than natural fiber socks, and give higher profit margins to the manufacturer.

When storing socks it is best to roll your socks around each other in a pair, rather than rolling the top of one sock over the other and tucking it inside, as it typically done with athletic socks. Rolling socks around each other in an actual roll keeps them from getting stretched when not in use.

socks-rolled
socks-rolled-dont

Sock spend the majority of their time in a drawer, not on your feet, so they should be stored so as not to cause them damage. Cotton socks seem to be less prone to stretch damage, but the elasticized top can be stretched out of shape.

I hope to write a future article specifically on the proper way to roll socks.

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Shoe Formality Hierarchy

What makes a shoe more, or less, formal is defined by three major factors:
1. Color
2. Surface Smoothness
3. Style Complexity


Each of these factors has about equal value, and can contradict each other in defining the formality of a shoe.

Let’s start with color first, since it is the most obvious at a glance.  The formality of color holds true in both clothing and shoes.  Black is the most formal and light browns the least formal.  This is partly based on the old axiom that city colors are monochromatic while country colors are earth tone.

Shoe colors that fall outside black, brown and cordovan, such as greens or purples, are considered novelty colors in men’s shoes.   The shade of the color also determines formality, with darker colors being more formal and lighter colors being less formal.

The next factor is surface smoothness.  In this case we are talking about the leather material the shoe upper is made of.  The smoother the leather surface the more formal, and the more texture the surface has the less formal.

Since patent leather is the smoothest leather it is the most formal.  And, since suede has the most texture it is the least formal.  The only exception to this rule would be shell cordovan, which is smoother than calf skin, but considered less formal than calf skin.  Exotic skins like crocodile fall between cordovan and suede in formality.

It is important to note that fancy and formal are not the same thing.  This is why some shoe novices think that a wingtip shoe is more formal than a cap toe shoe, which is simply not true.  To explain why this is not true let’s look at the third factor which is style complexity.

The amount of decoration and/or seams on a shoe determines its formality.  The less decoration and or seams the more formal the shoe.  The more decoration or seams the less formal the shoe.  Typically a cap toe shoe has less decoration and seams than a wingtip shoe (although not always).

Loafers, as a rule, are considered less formal than lace up shoes, with one main exception: The opera pump (also known as a court shoe).  The opera pump is a whole-cut slipper made of black patent leather, with a short vamp (which defines it as a pump) decorated with a grosgrain bow.  This shoe should only be worn with a tuxedo or true formal attire.

Other aspects of style complexity to consider is Oxford style (closed lace) versus Blucher style (open lace).  Since the blucher style requires the quarters to overlap the vamp it adds more seams and complexity to the style, therefore causing the blucher style to be less formal than the oxford style.

Monk strap shoes are actually a style of blucher (although the monk strap existed before the term blucher was used), using a strap, rather than laces to pull the quarters closed over the tongue.

Clearly, all of the factors that define the formality of a shoe exist in every shoe in different and sometimes conflicting ways.  For example a brown calf skin, wingtip, blucher would considered similar in formality to a black suede, cap toe, oxford; each having varying aspect levels of formality.

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Fashion versus Style

There tends to be some confusion between fashion and style, so I would like to make the distinction as clear as I can:

Fashion is an external concept that is introduced to you through advertising or other means of promotion. In most cases the promoter of a fashion has a vested financial interest in the adoption of the fashion, but not always.

The concept of fashion is that wearing (or using) a particular item will make you smarter, younger, more attractive, more successful, part of the “in” crowd, have more fun, and so on. That is why in most advertising the ad shows attractive, successful young people having fun with their “in” crowd.

Fashion also tends to be a bit of an overstatement from the norm; pointer, more square, narrower, wider, more colorful (tie-dye), less colorful (monochrome), and other design aspects that are more extreme than is typical at that time. This is mostly done to distinguish one season’s fashion from another.

Another aspect of fashion is short time periods; Spring fashion, Fall fashion, last year’s fashion, in fashion, and out of fashion. The short time aspect of fashion really has two driving forces: 1)Turn over for renewed revenue (buying the new fashion for this season/year, so you are not wearing last year’s fashions), and 2)Bordom of an overstatement, and in some cases statements that have become a cliche.

The core of fashion is the inherent adoption of a look to fit in with what is popular. This, however, is not always driven by designers looking for additional revenue. As an example take the look that was popular for a while of wearing sneakers with a suit. Movie stars were doing it, pop musicians were doing it, so if you wanted to be really cool when accepting an award for best trinket in your company/industry/ect…
you wore sneakers with your suit.

Another fashion, related to shoes, that seems to come and go is toe length. In this case the extreme seems to go between long and pointy to short and square.

In fashion at one point in time:

This is not to say that something that is in fashion can’t also be stylish, there are simply different motivator and definers between the two.

Style is internally driven. Style is about who you are as an individual, and how you want to present that to the world.

The reason there is some confusion between fashion and style is because if a person does not have a good sense of style, it is easy to adopt fashion in place of style since fashion purports to present what most people would like to have as their own style. Unfortunatly fashion typically does not fufill its promise, at least not for very long, and it is not a real expression of who you truly are as an individual.

Style is so useful in defining who you are that it plays a large role in TV and movies, and much more subtle than you might think. My favorite of all time was the TV series “Friends”. Each character is consistently dressed in attire that promotes who their character is (both refined and not so refined) and what motivates them.

The first rule of Style is that you must feel comfortable in what you are wearing, both physically and psychologically. What you are wearing must also be relativly appropriate to the environment and situation you are in, in other words; no wearing board shorts to the boardroom unless you own the company or sell surf boards on the beach.

While cutting your hair in a mohawk and dying it purple may be a personal expression of style (look at me I’m anti-establishment, but I don’t know why), real style comes from expressing the depth of your character, as well as your understanding and appreciation of the quality things in life. Because of this it takes time to develop your own style, and your style will change over time as you grow as a person.

Because style is not driven by external seasonal whims of fashion, designers, and forced deviations from the norm, and because style is based on quality,
things of style are much longer lasting than things of fashion.

A quality cap toe shoe is always stylish:

Style cannot exist without confidence in one’s self. You have to own what you wear by investing more of yourself than just money. You can buy fashion, but you have to own style.

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