How to Tell The Difference Between Oxfords and Derbies

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If you’re new to the world of formal gentlemen’s footwear, you may not be familiar with some of the terminology. Let us help you out!

Oxfords and Derbies are both types of dress shoe. Though in many ways they are very similar, there are some key but subtle differences.

Let’s start with the similarities

So what do Derbies and Oxfords have in common?

  • Both are perfectly designed to wear with both business suits and dinner suits.
  • Both can look great with more casual trousers such as chinos and even jeans.
  • Both are made of leather.
  • Both are constructed from three panels.
  • Both can be plain or feature decorative brogue designs.
  • Both have a stitched leather sole.
  • Both have a laced closure.

What’s the difference?

Now we come to the key difference between the two types of shoe: the type of lacing. 

Oxfords have closed lacing, which means that the bottom of the leather section that the eyelets are cut into are sewn down. This creates a very clean, streamlined look.

Derbies, on the other hand, have open lacing. This means that the leather section that the eyelets are cut into is not sewn down at the bottom. This means that the lacing section looks as if it sits on top of the surface of the shoe. It is less streamlined but can add more interest.

There are some other less obvious differences to look out for too. Oxfords have an elongated toe rather than a rounded one. Traditionally they also feature a toe cap, though this isn’t always the case anymore. Derbies would traditionally have had a rounded toe with no cap, although this is no longer a strict rule.

Want to test your newfound knowledge? Here’s a quiz: take a look at the Edgware and the Swansea.  Which are Derbies and which are Oxfords?

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