Classic Men’s shoe types
For a long time, I have wanted to write an article with the purpose of providing an overview of the different footwear types and thereby helping create a common language, both internally at Ortowear, but also with our partners and clients.
So here we go – part 1
The Oxford will always be a men’s classic and suitable for the most formal of occasions.
Oxford shoes came from Oxford, England back in 1800’s where students of the Oxford University wore it (half-boot shoe) as a sign of rebellion. At that time, this shoe was known as the Oxonian.
It is a lace-up shoe with a closed lacing section. The eyelets facings are sewn under the vamp of the shoe and form a V shape on the top. The narrow slits and the sides allowed the wearer to slip their feet on and off easily.
The Oxford together with the derby also make the foundation for most other constructions, with Oxford as preferred style in sports, safety and hiking footwear.
Just like it’s brother above, the Plain-Toe Oxford is rather self-explanatory.
In this case the toe box is “plain” without any stitching and a single piece of leather forming that area.
It can be a dangerous stylistic choice as the lack of a Cap-Toe in combination with a more almond shape can create an elongated look.
Expensive to make as the toe and vamp must be one pcs thus leaving a lot of waste during the cutting of leather. Additionally, the leather must be perfect uniform
Cap toe Oxford
The term “Cap-Toe Oxford” is more of cost choice for a shoemaker rather than a style itself. The cap-toe enables the shoemaker to better utilize his leather when cutting.
The Cap-Toe is not exclusive to Oxfords (it can be a brogue, derby, etc.) however it is the most recognizable style.
A Cap-Toe is a series of horizontal stitching across the toe box of the shoes. It begins at the welt on one side and goes all the way around horizontally.
The stitching can be single, double, triple or whatever you desire.
The Balmoral Oxford is distinguished by a seam that runs across the shoe towards the back.
The inspiration for this design originates from the balmoral boots.
Derby Shoes was sporting or hunting boots back in 1850, but in the 20th century, Derby shoes became popular with the gentleman in the city as well. With its open lace section, it has a fit versatility since it can be adjusted to be as tight or loose you want it to become. It can also fit different foot shapes.
Derbies are in many ways the same as Oxford, but with a fundamental design/construction difference.
Whereas an Oxford has a closed lacing section, the Derbies has an open lace section.
The quarters of the shoe are stitched on top of the vamp as opposed to under. The throat and the tongue are clearly visible and there is more space between the laces.
In a bit more detail, the construction of the shoe involves the vamp and tongue as well as two quarters sewn together.
As Oxford, Derbies are also made as plain toe and cap toe
Apart from classic mens footwear, Derbies are preferred in sneakers, but also in footwear types which required to be tied down like skates. This is the reason why derbies also sometimes is referred to as skate lace.
Many will refer to Derby as a Blucher, but there is a small difference.
Blucher is named after Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher a Prussian field marshal back in the 18th century. General von Blücher authorized a boot with sides over lapped the front to give his troop and improved footwear. Since then this design was used by the armies across Europe.
The most classic Blucher is where the vamp and tongue is in one pcs with the lacing system sewn on top.
Norwegian Split-Toe Derby
The Norwegian Split-Toe Derby – often referred to as NST
A dress shoe with an open lacing system but with the addition of an apron toe. Think of it as a long U shaped design.
At the end of the toe there is a “Split” that you stitch towards the welt and join everything together. In some cases you can see it with “Skin Stitching” which means they sew it under the hide.
The is of couse also the Apron Derbies. Just a Norwegian Split-Toe Derby, but without the “split”
Monk Straps are a hybrid shoe combining the look of a derby and feel of a slipper.
Their distinct feature is the presence of a strap with a buckle that runs across your instep and fastens them.
They will have a Cap-Toe or even Plain-Toe front but in some cases broguing or a wingtip design.
Single Monk Straps
A Single Monk Strap has one strap and is often made with a Plain-Toe. You can find it with a Cap-Toe or broguing details however a plain, clean Single Monk can be stunning.
Double Monk Straps
Double Monk Straps have 2 straps on the buckle and is one of the most versatile styles out there for the modern man.
Brogue is an element that defines a design.
It can be an Oxford, Derby, Loafer, Chelsea boot or regular boot.
Broguing refers to the perforations in the leather with serrated edges along the stitching.
Originally from the murky moors of Scotland and Ireland, worn by workers around the start of 1800s built accordingly with durability in mind. The original Brogue had real holes, to drain the water out of your feet when in a wet weather.
Broguing today is only for decorative purposes and have leather underneath.
The patterns define the naming behind each model.
A Quarter Brogue is the most discreet type of Brogue Shoe.
These types of dress shoes have a punched Cap-Toe with perforations and a serrated seam and nothing else.
Half-Brogue is the next step up from Quarter Brogues.
They future the same perforated Cap-Toe but also add a medallion on the toe area, as well as on the edges and sides around the lacing area.
The numbers of holes and details put them between the Full and Quarter Brogue, hence the name.
The most bold and flamboyant types of Brogue Shoes are the Full Brogues a.k.a Wingtips.
They have broguing around the lacing, sides, quarters and toe of the shoe and sport a medallion toe.
What makes them special though is the M shaped Wingtip toe pattern when you look at them from above.
Loafers are a comfortable slip-on shoe, easy to use and a popular summer choice.
Depending on the details on their apron, loafers get a different name but are essential the same.
Nowadays there are a lot of wider variations, but here are some of the most known.
The Penny is a type of Loafer with a broader strap that runs all the way over your instep. It’s said to originate from Norway.
But it was when teens began hiding coins in the straps for good luck or emergency phone calls that it got the name Penny Loafer.
The most usual and popular design includes a moc/apron pattern on the front.
Instead of a strap, the Tassel Loafer has a strip of leather on the top of the vamp and two leather tassels with fringe edges.
It was Alden and Brook Brothers that collaborated in 1957 to create the first Tassel Loafers as a commission for actor Paul Lukas.
String Loafers are exactly the same as Tassel Loafers with one main difference.
Instead of the tassels hanging at the top of the vamp, you get instead think strips of leather.
These look a bit like shoelaces, or “strings”.
Horsebit Loafers originally created by Gucci.
In 1953 Aldo Gucci replaced the strap on the vamp with a golden bar that resembles a horse’s snaffle bit, therefore named Horsebit.
These days the bar can take various shapes and forms but the original still goes strong today.
Belgian Loafers come from - America. They were created by the company called “Belgian Shoes” around the 60’s.
The style has a long apron with no details or a decorative tiny bow-tie/tassel.
Monk Strap Loafers
A mix of a double monk strap and a loafer.
The strap covers most of the vamp and leaves a tiny space for the toe area.
The only thing this achieves is to make the shoes look shorter and your feet more feminine.
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