Among the timeless classics, Oxford and Derby shoes stand prominently, representing two distinct schools of elegance.

Whether you’re a seasoned connoisseur or a curious novice, read on to understand the subtle difference that make these shoes quintessential staples in every gentleman’s wardrobe.

What is an Oxford?

An ‘Oxford’ actually refers to a specific style of lace area not the entire style of the shoe. Where the shoes eyelets are attached under the vamp and when opened cause a ‘V’ shape to occur in the lace area. This is known as ‘closed lacing’

Crockett & Jones Hallam Oxford Lacing System Close-up in Black
Crockett & Jones Highbury Derby Lacing System Close-up in Black

What is a Derby?

A ‘Derby’ refers to the lace area again, but contrary to the Oxford, the eyelets sit on top of the vamp and open as two separate wings of the upper. This is known as ‘open lacing’

Why the difference?

Well the reason shoe makers choose to have Oxfords (Closed) or Derby (Open) laces comes down to the option for fitting.

As the name suggests, a closed fitting is more likely to hold the foot more tightly and if you have a have a lower instep, help stop the shoe slipping on the heel.

However an open lace from a Derby will give wearers with higher insteps or wider feet more room to breath and make the wearing experience far more enjoyable!

Having kitted out many professional rugby teams over the years, we would generally opt for a Derby as the style of choice to help accommodate to their larger feet.

Crockett & Jones Hallam vs. Crockett & Jones Highbury - Oxford vs. Derby Black Top Down side by side analysis
Crockett & Jones Hallam in black on wooden floor worn with grey suit

How do you dress them?

Traditionally, Oxfords have been seen as a more formal style of lace option as the low profile of the lace allows a delicate trouser to fall neatly onto the shoe. The Derby having a higher profile could disrupt a trouser, so heavier cloths were worn with these that wouldn’t be disputed by the lace.

But in our experience and opinion, people are definitely more likely to notice you limping than what the lace area of your shoe is, if your shoes aren’t fitting correctly. So with that said, we always recommend going with what feels right on your foot.

So it's all to do with the fitting?

Yes! Oxfords and Derby’s come in many different styles, colours and designs. Having a full fitting service to find which one suits your foot is always recommended, however if you’re dead set on that one pair of Derby’s that may be a little too big for your instep, we have plenty of fitting aides
that can help.

Crockett & Jones Highbury in Black worn with a black suit on a stone floor

Hopefully this article brings some useful information, however if there is something specific you’d like us to discuss in future please let us know. To be certain of the perfect style of lace, please visit one of our stores to discuss this with one of our shoe fitting experts.