THE OXFORD – The smartest shoe in the pack

With a name like Oxford it couldn’t be other than smart, but we’re talking about dressy smart here. The name derived from when in the 1800s university students, especially in Oxford, wanted to wear something different to the knee-high and ankle boots everyone else was wearing.


It is sometimes called the Balmoral due to its origins starting in Scotland and Ireland. And the French refer to it as a Richelieu. However the Balmoral shoe now is a particular type of Oxford with no seams apart from the toe cap.

The characteristics of an Oxford shoe is the slim fit, closed lacing where the shoelace eyelet tabs are stitched underneath the vamp of the shoe, round toes and a cap. This slim fit is good for men with narrower feet and lower insteps.

And for a thoroughbred shoe, where better to go than Northampton, the shoe capital of Britain? This is home to some of the Best of British shoe manufacturers. Northampton has been Britain’s classic shoe-making centre since Cromwell’s days due to being on the primary trading routes and the abundant supply of oak bark available which was and still is used in tanning.

Trickers have been making shoes since 1829. They use the best available materials including calf-upper leather and oak bark-tanned soles, and construct their shoes the Goodyear-welted way for durability and comfort. From their 1829 collection is the Regent shoe (pictured top RRP £305) – a classic plain cap Oxford shoe in black calf with leather sole. . But you don’t have to travel all the way to Northampton as Trickers is stocked throughout the UK, the world and online ( plus they have their own shop in London at 67 Jermyn Street. 

You’ll make everyone green with envy in the Lodger’s Hamilton Oxfords. In military green the almond toe and heel are burnished to give a two-tone effect. Price £450.

Or their London shop in 15C Clifford Street London.

If you want to mix touches of continental with your classic then those Italians have the edge. Zanacco the Italian eco-luxury brand have Silvio Sand, a vegetable-tanned leather Oxford-style pair at £365. The lighter sand colour is ideal for the warmer weather.

Angelo Galasso brings texture with a mix of lattice and punch hole designs. Price £560, available at his own boutique shop on 8-10 Hans Road London. 0207 584 3978.


This is the next most formal shoe and it is a heavenly shoe for men with wider feet whose top priority is comfort. The shoe is closed by a buckle or strap instead of lacing. As you may have guessed, this shoe has its origins with the style of shoes monks used to wear – originally made of cloth with a soft fabric run around to bind the shoe.

Another Northampton great is Crockett and Jones. Here we have their classic plain one-buckle monk shoe called the Monkton, in chestnut burnished calf at £305. They don’t have a wide distribution in the UK other than their own London and Birmingham retail stores, and don’t sell online. But you can visit their website for the stores’ addresses:

Bodileys of Northampton have just started making their own range of shoes, one of which is the double-buckle monk shoe called Lyndon. This range is so new that the price hasn’t been confirmed but will start from £275 upwards depending on style and type. Details should be on their website soon.

THE DERBY – or Gibson/Blucher

The origin of the name Derby is a mystery – so if anyone out there knows why we call it a Derby then please share it with us.

However the name the Americans use, the Blucher, comes from the Prussian General Gebhard Leberecht von Blucher. He decided his troops needed better shoes whilst fighting Napoleon, so he commissioned a boot where the side pieces lapped over the front. This style was adopted by armies across Europe and they soon became the fashion for a sporting and hunting shoe in the 1850s. But now they are popular in the city.

The characteristics of the Derby is the open lacing where the shoelace eyelet tabs are sewn on top or the vamp, the tongue of the shoe is made with the same piece of leather as the vamp and of course the side pieces lapping over the front. These side straps make the shoe not as dressy as the Oxford or monk shoes. The open lacing is more comfortable for men with wider feet than the closed lacing, as it is easier to adjust.

Crockett and Jones 3-lace Dartmouth Derby remains a classic in black calf and retails at £315.

Lodger’s Hoxley 2-lace Derby shoe, from their Italian contemporary range, is a work of art with its hand-painted rum colour showing dark and light strokes. Price £475.

Eden Park, a French fashion brand inspired by rugby and founded by a few French international rugby players back in the ’80s have signed a deal with the RFU to provide all their formalwear for the next six years. And as part of this they are creating a collaborative capsule collection and these Derby shoes are a part of this collection. If you look closely you can see an outline of their cute bow tie logo on the point of the side flap. These are so new prices are yet TBC.

Italian eco luxury brand Zanacco’s vegetable tanned Derby called Rino looks elegant in frond which is a dark blue colour at £365. Vegetable tanning is without the use of heavy chemicals ensuring the waste is not harmful to the environment and the artisan is not affected whist working with the leathers. And as the leathers turn out softer on average than the typical tanned leathers, this is good news for you the wearer.


Probably the oldest style dating back to the time when a single piece of leather was just wrapped around the wearer’s foot, this style now epitomises simple chic elegance.

Lodger’s signature shoe is the Audley English whole-cut. The clean line of this style allows the rich oxblood colour to take centre stage. Priced at £475.

However if you prefer your whole cuts to be more sophisticated then there is always Edwards of Manchester’s three-eyelet whole-cut in brown woven calf with leather sole. Normal price £185 but on sale at £135.

Or: 61, Deansgate, Barton Arcade Manchester.

All prices correct at time of print (3 March 2011).

Karen Grace is a Personal Shopper & Image Consultant for and fashion writer for

She studied Personal Styling at the London College of Fashion and is a registered affiliate member of the Federation of Image Professionals International.

For personal shopping and styling services you can reach her via frumpy to funky on and
07787 800 390


Allison is the Publisher of Eclipse Magazine. She loves going to the Races and is learning to bet (despite being officially the worst bettor in the History of the Universe), there's a lot more to learn...

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