Oxford Dons

Oxford Dons


I occasionally write on men’s fashion both in the interest of fairness, and because guys need a little fashion love too, but I am always looking for the chance to write about men’s and women’s fashion together.  Here is a great opportunity.   In several guises – oxfords, brogues, saddle shoes, or simply, lace-ups, this style of lace up shoe has an extensive fashion history with the boys AND the girls.  Coming in many incarnations, these shoes have been a long-standing wardrobe staple for the gentlemen while appearing from time to time as a terrific fashion statement for women, too.  This spring they continue to have a “moment” – with terrific and creative offerings for everyone. 

For the boys choices go from the more casual and basic lace up – in a sturdy leather and neutral color – to some more fashion-forward options ranging from denim to suede, in both bold and subdued colors.  The traditional wing tip accents are in full force; I always love the look of the wing-tip – retro and stylish but not too prissy.  I did a quick perusal and came up with a random selection of fun versions to run by my resident male fashion critic.  I made sure to cover a wide spectrum, expecting some comment and definite objections.

While I thought some of the more fashion forward choices were cool – not too metro, but still stylish, he quickly and not surprisingly vetoed several of the choices.  Suede is apparently too impractical as it gets dirty and worn quickly and some of the colors were a bit too effete – if the red was a bit much you can imagine what he had to say about the yellow.  And let’s not even get him started on pointy toes.  However, the black and white saddle shoe was given a surprising thumbs-up as cool – with the caveat that they would be perfect at the golf club…or on a veranda, with a linen suit and a mint julep.  Generally speaking the overall concept of the oxford was resoundingly approved.  Comfortable, practical, traditional and manly.  Every man should have a pair – just not in red suede.

For the girls there were so many options I had a hard time picking the best.  Oxfords perfectly satisfy my taste for vintage styled shoes and they are innately wearable, so I have become something of a connoisseur – I have at least four pairs in my closet at present ranging from a sporty low heeled cream number from House of Harlow 1960 to my beloved suede high heels in chocolate and grey from now departed and truly missed designer Taryn Rose – queen of comfort and style. 

The selection this season is terrific and is leaving me in a quandary as to how to limit my purchases and yet not miss out on the best of the season.   Where I usually have to scour the shops and sites for oxfords, this season they are every where; offered, as expected, by the creative brands like Poetic License and All Black, but also offered by more mainstream designers like Steve Madden and Cole Haan.  And many have become inspired to take these little darlings beyond the mundane and every day.  Even G. H. Bass, the ubiquitous name in traditional saddle shoes and penny loafers, has gotten creative, partnering with designer Rachel Antonoff again this season to develop some terrific riffs on the classics for women.  I love what they have done with color and embellishment – transforming the classic saddle shoe into a major look.

On the casual side low-heeled oxfords are a fab alternative to the ballet flat, giving an instant kick of sporty, demi-masculine panache that no ballerina shoe will ever achieve.  A flat oxford, plain or with a “girly” detail like ribbons, a fun color, or other feminine adornment is the perfect accompaniment to the cuffed boyfriend jean or a cropped pant.  I really love this cute red suede pair with the satin ribbons from Betsy Johnson and Nordstrom had a whole selection with fun details like the stripey ribbon laces in the cream number above.

When you really want to kick things up a notch, try a high-heeled oxford – very powerful and sexy in a covered up sort of way – a great shoe to wear with a pant – especially the wider legged versions trending right now.  I found so many fun options that it was hard to decide which ones to feature, but couldn’t leave out Chie Mihara’s with the ruffly flowers – simply awesome.  And for some more color, Poetic License came through yet again, with this little detailed number in yellow.  The cut outs on the black and white spectator version from Boutique 9 are great – I have a similar pair which I love to wear with black trousers and a ruffled, puff sleeved white blouse for a sort of thirties ingénue vibe.  But you don’t have to love vintage inspirations to rock the oxford.  You can wear this black cool chic number with a pared down suit and there are plenty of other simple, stream-lined options out there in high and low heels that are really timeless and chic.

So there you have it!  At last, a trend that works for both boys and girls. 

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