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:

Home » Shoe Types and Styles » Shoe Styles
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).

Please use Shoe Trees

One of the most impactful things you can do in the care of leather shoes is to use wooden shoe trees.

The role of a wooden shoe tree is two fold:

  • Dry the foot perspiration that the leather has absorbed.
  • Keep the leather somewhat taunt to minimize creases when not being worn.

As the perspiration/water begins to dry out of the leather the cellular structure of the leather cells tend to contract.  The perspiration/water also has a slight oxidizing effect on the oils in the leather making it less effective as a cellular lubricant.

Putting a wooden shoe tree in a shoe that has just been worn will allow the wood to absorb the perspiration/water quicker that just allowing it to evaporate, and it keeps some pressure against the leather, minimizing the leather cell compression.

The oxidizing effect on the oils caused by the perspiration of each wear is very minimal, but is cumulative over time, which is why shoes should be conditioned (oil added) after a given number of times being worn (about every 20 wears, or every 6 months, at a minimum).

Adding oil to a shoe, through the conditioning process, will also have a slight reduction (as opposed to oxidation) effect on the existing oils in the leather as well.

Since shoes spend most of their time being slowly depleted of necessary oils, between conditioning sessions, it is important to keep shoe trees in your shoes when you are not wearing them.  This will keep the shoes looking better for longer and add to the general health of the leather.  This is true for all leather shoes, including loafers.

Shoe trees typically come in 4 different sizes for men (US sizes listed below):

  • Small (5.5 to 7)
  • Medium (7.5 to 9)
  • Large (9.5 to 11)
  • X-Large (11.5 to 13)

Shoe trees also come in different structures:

  • Split-toe
  • Single-sprung
  • Double-sprung
  • Center-pivot
  • Finger-pull
  • Wedge-tighten
  • Twist-tighten

A shoe tree can have any combination of these structures:

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.