Oxfords, Derbys, and Bucks – Oh My

Photo from Imeldas.com

One of my serious weaknesses is shoes. Recently our local shoe store Imelda’s posted a photo of these Jeffrey Campbell shoes on Facebook; I swooned. The classic shape is great, with the nice touch of a REAL wooden heel, and interesting perforations. When I tried them on, I knew these shoes were for me. Just like a child, when I put on a new pair of shoes, I feel like skipping down the street.

I’ve been very happy to see that derbys for women are back in style – for my commuter lifestyle and high-maintenance feet, they work really well. It’s ironic that I really like this lace up shoes because my mother made me wear saddle shoes as a little girl, which I despised. But I love wearing derbys for many reasons. First, I’m a walker, so flat, sturdy, comfortable shoes are a necessary part of my life. I can walk quickly to the bus stop and won’t fall flat on my face or knees. (Seriously, I’ve had three nasty spills involving bad shoes. I no longer wear cute mules or Danskos/Sanitas.) And second, I like the juxtaposition of the masculine dress shoe with a feminine skirt and cardigan. And my third reason is that I have narrow feet and finding shoes that fit properly is a nightmare, so being able to make them narrower by tightening the laces leads to a better fit. I’ll expound whine about comfort shoes only being available in wide widths in another post.

My fascination with lace-up dress shoes goes back to the first pair of shoes I bought for myself – bright red faux patent leather oxfords with a clunky 70s heel. I loved those shoes till I wore them in a Walk-A-Thon and got terrible blisters. I have since owned a number of lace-up shoes and always wear them out, rather than tossing them in the Goodwill bin because they hurt my feet.

While researching this post, I was trying to figure out why some editors call this type of shoe an “oxford” but others call it a “derby.” Much information (or disinformation) is on the web, but Steve Mitchell’s Modern Gentleman blog has a great post about the differences. Shoes with the holes for the laces built into the shoe are oxfords, while less formal derbys have  sewn-on flaps. Mr. Mitchell’s article has photos that illustrate the difference more succinctly than I can. A brogue, from what I can tell, is a shoe that has perforations, or brogueing. So a derby, oxford, monk shoe, or ghillie could also be brogues.

Mia Farrow & Robert Redford in The Great Gatsby

I’m currently reading The Great Gatsby (merci, Fred!), which reminded me of a scene in the movie with Robert Redford wearing a light suit and white bucks. So elegant! I love the fresh, summery look of white bucks IF they’re not too shiny, and if they have a contrasting sole. The pair from Imelda’s vaguely resemble bucks but they’re lighter and more decorative. (If I start dressing like a Rosarian, please put a quick stop to it by any means possible.)

Would you (or have you) worn white or cream colored derbys?


One thought on “Oxfords, Derbys, and Bucks – Oh My

  1. Pingback: Portland Favorite – Halo Shoes | Tweed Librarian

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