If you've read our post on the first five (plus a bonus!) business shoes to own, you know our top recommendation is a black captoe Oxford with no broguing. We told it what it should be, but we didn't really tell you why or how to wear it. Read on to find out.
What's an Oxford?
Business shoes with laces fall into two broad categories: Oxfords and Derbys. An Oxford is any shoe with a closed lacing system. This means the eyelets for the laces are punched into the vamp of the upper itself.
Conversely, a Derby style shoe has a lacing system punched into the rear quarter attached to the vamp. We call this an open lacing system.
Because Oxfords have less material on the upper, they're less bulky than Derby-style shoes. This results in an elegant, streamlined look that works best with your more formal attire- suits, blazers, and the occasional sports jacket.
Because it's easier (and more versatile) to dress down a formal shoe than it is to dress up a more casual one, we'd recommend an Oxford being your first business shoe.
Why a Cap Toe? Why No Broguing?
A toe cap is a thin piece of leather stitched to -well- the toe of your shoe. It may or may not have decorative broguing on it, and can be rather short or come pretty far up the vamp.
We'd recommend one that sits right in the middle of the toe of the vamp. Too long and it just throws off the proportions-making your feet look unnaturally long; too short and it looks kind of stumpy and unrefined.
Further, we'd recommend a cap with no broguing, no medallion, no affectations- no nothing. Why? We believe it's cleaner, more refined, and much more versatile. Besides, as a general rule, the more broguing a shoe has, the more casual it becomes.
There is something to be said here for a wholecut- or a shoe without a cap on it. While we certainly approve of them here at IDRESE (and they did make our list of the first five business shoes), they're just not as versatile as the cap toe because they're more difficult to dress down.
Now that we've covered style, let's talk colorway. In an increasingly casual world, brown is quickly becoming the norm for dress shoes of all styles- to include a pair of brown cap-toe oxfords. So, why do we suggest black to start?
We believe a black pair of cap toe Oxfords are the quintessential dress shoe because they work best with a range of formal attire- to include a tuxedo. You can't wear brown shoes with a tux! So, stick with black, and you'll have all your bases covered.
How to Style (and NOT Style) Your Black Cap Toe Oxfords
So, we've told you what an Oxford is, why you should have a cap toe, and why it should be black. Now, what should you wear them with?
The answer, as we've alluded to, is pretty much any suited look. On the grey scale, dark to medium charcoal looks sober and professional-but still very elegant. A pair of black Oxfords with a lighter grey suit will trigger references to the James Bonds of, well, pretty much anyone who's ever played the role.
The same goes for many shades of navy. Medium and darker navy tones look very refined, and we'd certainly recommend a black pair from time to time. However, bright navy blue can be a little too much contrast- so we'd stick with brown here.
And, a black captoe Oxford, grey flannel trousers, a navy blazer, and a white shirt is a menswear 'uniform' for a reason. It works!
Black oxfords have their place in more creative attire too. Burgundy velvet jacket, black trousers, black Oxfords? Absolutely. Bottle green blazer with grey trousers and black Oxfords? Yup.
But, how should you not style your Black Captoe Oxfords? We'd resist pairing them with brown or tan suits- the contrast is just too stark. We'd also avoid them with chinos or-especially-jeans. These garments are fairly casual in nature, and the Oxford is an elegant, formal shoe.
Wrapping Up- Quality Matters!
The black cap toe Oxford is not only a footwear staple, it's a men's wardrobe staple. This is a quintessential shoe. So, when you're looking for a shoe as versatile as this, you're going to want something that lasts.
Here at IDRESE, we make shoes from the best Italian calfskin and use Goodyear welting on all of dress shoes. If you're interested in this or any other pair, do have a look at our shop over here.
They, like the style itself, will stand the test of time.
Thanks for reading.