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Article: The Oxford vs the Derby Shoe

The Oxford vs the Derby Shoe

If you're new to men's artisanal shoes, it's important to know the difference between two of the most common style of men's shoes, the oxford vs the derby.

Here at Norman Vilalta, we put together a short little guide for you to better understand the differences between an oxford and derby shoe:

The Oxford vs Derby Shoe by Norman Vilalta men's shoes in Barcelona, Spain
Above is an example of an oxford shoe, our Mario Cap Toe Oxford.

An oxford and a derby shoe are both types of formal footwear that are commonly worn with suits and formal attire. However, there are some key differences between the two styles of shoes that you should understand:

1. Lacing

One of the main differences between oxfords and derbys is the way the laces of the shoes are closed.

Oxfords have a closed lacing system, which means that the facings of the shoe, the section of the shoe that has the laces, are sewn under the vamp, the front part of the shoe that covers the top of the foot. This creates a sleek, streamlined appearance in the toebox.

Oxford vs Derby Shoe By Norman Vilalta Men's Dress Shoes

Above is an example of our Andres Adelaide Oxford. Note that the vamp of the shoe is sewn over the facings, the leather pieces where the laces are sewn through. This restricts how wide the wearer can open the shoe when they put them on.

In contrast, derbys have an open lacing system, which means the facings of the shoe are sewn on top of the vamp. This allows you to open up the facings of the shoe wider and provides more flexibility for those with a high-arch or wide feet.

This detail of the derby also gives the shoes a more relaxed, less formal look.

Note how in the oxford shoe above, the facings of the oxford, the area of the shoe where the laces are located, is covered by a leather piece at the vamp, which restricts movement of the lacing area.

On the derby in the photo above, the area with the lacings is in a section of the shoe that can be opened up since the leather pieces are sewn on top of the vamp.

2. Toe shape

Another difference between oxfords and derbys is the shape of the toe. Oxfords often have a more pointed, chiseled toe, which gives them a more formal, sophisticated appearance.

The Oxford vs Derby Shoe by Norman Vilalta Bespoke Shoemakers

Derbys on the other hand often have a more rounded toe, which gives them a more casual, laid-back appearance. Note the rounded toe in our Derby Simple Shoe above.

3. Formality

Overall, oxfords are considered more formal than derbys. They are typically worn with formal attire, such as suits, tuxedos, and formal dresses.

Oxford vs Derby Shoes by Norman Vilalta's Oxford and Derby Shoes

Above is an example of our Wholecut Oxford, a design that is one of our more formal of shoes with an elegantly elongated vamp and unique side lacing.

Derbys, on the other hand, are considered less formal and are typically worn with more casual attire, such as khakis and sports jackets.

4. Occasions

Oxfords are typically worn to formal events, such as weddings, black-tie affairs, and formal business meetings.

For those who wear suits in the office, the Oxford is the more typical choice since it is a more traditional business look.

Derbys are more versatile and can be worn to a wider range of occasions, including casual business meetings and more relaxed social events. They aren't as serious as an oxford but are still buttoned up.

They are the perfect go-to alternative to sneakers and can be worn comfortably on a weekend trip, walk through the city or on a special date.

Above is an example of a derby shoe, our Coltrane Wingtip Derby.

In summary, oxfords and derbys are both formal shoes, but they differ in their lacing systems, toe shapes, and overall formality. If you are new to men's leather shoes, you'll need to understand your requirements and what you will wearing your shoes with.

Oxfords are usually sleeker and more formal, while derbys are more relaxed and casual.

To learn more about men's shoes and our high-quality Goodyear-welted shoes, read more articles from our blog on Understanding Norman Vilalta Shoes.

Shop oxfords and derby shoes today

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