Dress Shoes for Men: The Difference Between Oxfords and Derbys

shoes for men

Can you tell apart the two most common dress shoes for men?


Dating back to the 1800s is the timeless Oxford, the designated royalty of footwear. Originating in Ireland and Scotland, the shoe became popular when rebel students of Oxford University wore them instead of knee-length boots, in an attempt to combat the growing concern of heeled footwear for men.

    • Oxfords are characterised by a closed-laced system, i.e., the eyelets are sewn underneath the vamp (front section of the shoe). This gives the Oxford its trademark slim and streamlined silhouette, that which sits rather snug on the foot.



While some records say the Derby came about at the time of the Napoleonic wars when army officers found fitted boots tough to take on and off, others attribute its design to the 14th Earl of Derby, a man of rather larger proportions who was concerned about the non-availability of open-laced shoes, often associated with room and wider fits. It is not then surprising that the generous fitting Derby found popularity in hunting circuits of 1850 England, establishing its sporting history.

  • The only thing that differentiates Derbys from Oxfords is the lacing system. An open-lacing system, i.e, eyelets stitched on top of the vamp, is what makes a Derby, giving it its width and space.

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For more styles: Formal shoes for men

Garima Ghosh
About Garima Ghosh 90 Articles
When I'm not writing on cocktail dressing etiquette or why you need a popsocket in your life, I'm on the hunt for the latest board games in the market.