The world of men’s shoes can be a little confusing at times. With many different styles and names for those styles its difficult to know what men’s shoes your wearing or buying. In this guide, we will look at the different styles and cuts. Making things slightly more straightforward when you are buying your next pair of shoes.
The classic Oxford men’s shoes, distinguished by the shoelace eyelet tabs attached under the vamp, called “closed lacing”. (The Vamp is the part of the upper that covers the front of the foot as far back as the join to the quarter). Originally, Oxfords were a plain, formal shoe made of leather. Over time the “Oxford” evolved into a range of styles suitable for formal and uniform as well as casual wear. Normally made in traditional Black or Brown colours, they are also plain or patterned. Made in a variety of materials including calf leather, faux and genuine patent leather, suede, and canvas, to keep up with the fashion demands of now.
In the UK, the term “Oxford”, used for more formal lace-up shoes, including the Derby and Blucher, as opposed to the more commonly known “Balmoral” in the United States. The Oxford shoe is “Balmoral” is often synonymous with “Oxford”. The “Balmoral” in Britain is an Oxford shoe with no seams except the one across the toe-cap that descends to the welt, often found on boots.
The Derby style men’s shoes or boots, recognised by quarters with shoelace eyelets sewn on top of the vamp. The Quarter is the rear and sides of the upper that covers the heel that is behind the vamp. The heel section of the quarter, often strengthened with a stiffener, helps support the rear of the foot. Sometimes known as Gibson, the Derby, a slightly less formal shoe than the Oxford and seen as a more appropriate shoe to wear casually. In the 1820s the Derby became a popular design in Sporting and Hunting boots. The Derby often called “Blucher” in the United States, although a different design, where only the eyelet tabs have been sewn onto a single piece of Vamp.
The “Blucher” style of shoe with open lacing and a vamp made of a single piece of leather with shoelace eyelet tabs sewn on top. The Blucher is similar to the Derby style as they both feature open lacing, in contrast to the Oxford shoe, which uses close lacing. In the Derby, the upper has large quarters with eyelets sewn on top, whereas the Blucher has the upper made of one cut of leather, with only the small eyelet tabs sewn on top. Named after the 18th-century Prussian field marshal Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher, who commissioned a boot with side pieces lapped over the front in an effort to provide his troops with improved footwear. A design later adopted by armies across Europe.
The Brogue is a style of low-heeled shoe or boot traditionally made with a multiple-piece, sturdy leather uppers with decorative perforations (or “broguing”) and serration along the pieces’ visible edges. Brogues were traditionally considered to be outdoor or country footwear not otherwise appropriate for casual or business occasions, but brogues are now considered appropriate in most contexts. Most commonly found in 1 of 4 toe-cap styles including full or “wingtip”, semi-, quarter and longwing. With 4 closure styles of Oxford, Derby, ghillie, and monk. Brogue detailing can be found in all sorts of styles and designs, from traditional leather shoes or boots to more formal business dress shoes as well as trainers, high-heeled women’s shoes. There are many other shoe designs that utilise or evokes the multi-piece construction and perforated, serrated piece edges of leather associated with Brogues.
The style of Brogue depends on the shape of the toe-cap with the more common full brogue, or wing-tip as it’s better known in the United States, which runs along the sides of the toe down to the welt. When viewed from the top of the shoe, they look like birds wings, hence wing-tips. Semi-brogue and quarter brogue, as well as the longwing brogue style, aren’t used as often as the other brogue styles. The toe cap of a full brogue has both perforated and serrated detail along its edges and includes additional decorative perforations in the centre of the toe cap. Shoes that have a wingtip-style toe-cap but with no perforations have the name “austerity brogues”. The plain-toe shoe with wingtip-style perforations has the name “blind brogue”.
The full brogue Oxford shoes made from 2 contrasting colours, called Co-respondent, normally with the toe and heel caps, but sometimes with the lace panels as well, in different colours to the body of the shoe. The ghillie style of full brogue has no tongue. This is for drying purposes, with long laces that wrap around the leg above the ankle and tie below the calf to keep the laces away from mud.
The Ghillie brogue, now worn as part of traditional, formal Scottish dress and primarily worn for social occasions as opposed to their design function. Semi-brogues or Half-brogues, made with toe-caps that have decorative perforations and serration along the cap’s edge. They also include additional decorative perforations in the centre of the toe cap. The half brogue was first designed and produced by John Lobb Ltd as an Oxford in 1937 in an effort to offer his customers a shoe more stylish than a plain oxford but not as bold as a full brogue.
Quarter brogues have a cap toe with decorative perforations and serrations along the cap’s edge, however, unlike semi-brogues, quarter brogues have no decorative perforations in the centre of the toe cap. Quarter brogues are more formal than semi brogues and full brogues. They are the most formal of dress shoes with brogueing, making them the ideal fit to pair with business wear. Longwing brogues, known in the US as “English” brogues, and known in the UK as “American” brogues. Very Confusing! Longwing Derby style shoes made with pointed toe-caps with wings that extend the full length of the shoe meet at a centre seam at the heel.
The word “brogue” was first used to describe a form of outdoor, country walking shoe in the early twentieth century that was traditionally worn by men. At that time the brogue was not considered to be appropriate for other occasions such as social or business. Modern brogues feature decorative perforations and serrations. Often said to stem from the original Irish brogues, specifically from the holes intended to allow water to drain from the shoes when the wearer crossed wet terrain such as a bog.
The Loafer or Slip-On men’s shoes are a low, no lace shoe. Usually made in a moccasin style design. Over the years there have been many variations and uses for these versatile shoes. Styles include Driving shoes and Penny loafers. Modern loafers have many different styles and additions. The Driving shoe has a knobbly rubber sole with excellent grip whilst other styles include tassels and brogue detailing.
The traditional Boat shoe is also known as a Deck shoe are popular men’s shoes, usually made from leather or canvas with Non-marking rubber soles. Specifically designed for use on boats, these shoes have crossed over into more casual wear. A siping pattern cut into the soles to provides grip on a wet deck. The leather construction with the application of oil repels water. Made with extremely durable stitching.
Monk Strap Shoes
The Monk strap men’s shoes have no laces and closes and fasten with a strap and buckle. Designed in a variety of styles and materials. Made from leather or suede and with brogue detailing and plain toe-cap looks. The Monk shoe style comes in various guises. Often with 1, 2 or 3 straps, known as single, double or triple monk strap shoes.
The Espadrille, slip-on men’s shoes usually made from canvas with a Jute rope or Braid sole. Jute soles typically include fully or partially vulcanized rubber beneath the jute soles, this makes for long-lasting espadrille shoes. Sometimes crepe soles used as out-soles are not as durable compared to vulcanized ones. Jute braid soles might include heels made of wood or EVA foam. One of the first designs of Espadrille introduced in London by Wildsmith Shoes called the Wildsmith Loafer.
The manufacture of espadrilles is generally more complex than that of making sandals. The jute soles are the most critical part. The jute twines, first machine-braided, then manually formed into the shape of the sole and hydraulically pressed with heat to form the final shape. The sole is then finished by vertically stitching with Espadrille Needles. These basic soles are then vulcanized underneath. EVA foam or wooden heels are glued in place and more jute braids wrapped around it to complete the soles. The uppers of different styles and materials can then be built on the jute soles to complete the espadrille.
Sandals are an open type of men’s shoes that is either slip-on or fastened with a strap. The sole held to the wearer’s foot by straps going over the instep and, sometimes, around the ankle and usually made from rubber or rope. Sandals may or may not have a heel, either low or high or even a heel strap. While the distinction between sandals and other types of footwear can sometimes be blurry the common understanding is that a sandal leaves all or most of the foot exposed. A sandal may have a sole made from Rubber, Leather, Wood or Rope. Other types of Sandal from this family are the Clog and Flip-Flop.
Whole Cut Shoes
A wholecut shoe is made from one piece of leather either with or without a seam at the back. A shoe without a seam is called a seamless wholecut or no-cut. The wholecut term is usually used for a classic dress shoe, however, various shoes can be made in this way. A wholecut shoe can be a completely plain and smooth or with detailed perforations.