Wednesday, January 12, 2011

An Oxford education

There's something so perfectly put together and elegant about an Oxford shoe. Like the trench coat and the fedora, the Oxford is a classic that defies trends (though, like the classics, it's often readopted and reinterpreted under the auspices of trend).

According to Wikipedia (which one should always take with a grain of salt), "Oxfords first appeared in Scotland and Ireland, where they are occasionally called Balmorals. In France, Oxfords are better known under the name of Richelieu." Brogues refer to a low-heeled style of shoe traditional to menswear and are "characterized by multiple-piece, sturdy leather uppers with decorative perforations (or 'brogueing') and serration along the pieces' visible edges."

The shoes evolved out of a rough, outdoor footwear fashioned from untanned leather; their modern counterparts are almost universally appropriate (we're still talking menswear here) and often associated with refined locales and activities.

Says fashion blogger Yangjing21, "During the 1960s men’s brogues got a further makeover by becoming available to buy in two-tone rather than just in browns and blacks. By this time they were even being adapted to be worn by women." A decade early, Saddle Shoes — a relative of the Brogue or Oxford — rose to popularity for both males and female (typically teens and children). Menswear details have made their way into women's wear since early in the last century — a 1908 advertisement that sold on ebay illustrates a unisex pair of oxfords.

My personal favorite Oxfords (search for them on ebay or etsy as "Granny Shoes") have a little heel, some toe detail (a wing tip or a cap) and rich leather in cordovan, chestnut or caramel.

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