It’s one of the most common questions we get asked here at Base London, what is the difference between an Oxford and a Brogue? Can an Oxford be a Brogue? What’s the difference between a Derby and an Oxford? What year is it? Who’s the president?

Sorry, wrong list. That’s the obligatory questions that was featured in every botched time traveling adventure film from the 90’s

The debate was further fueled by the misinterpretation of the correct definition of ‘Oxfords not Brogues’ featured in the film Kingsman. Let’s go through the rules shall we?


Oxfords not brogues


Galahad: “An oxford is any formal shoe with an open lacing system”… words to live by.

Except the words were wrong.

OXFORD: Laces in

DERBY: Laces out

Oxford’s are the ones where, the vamp/mid vamp are placed above the quarter, like in the image above. The Derby is the reverse where quarters are placed above the vamp /mid vamp.

Brogues are any shoes with perforation detailing on the top. Back in the good ol’ days shoes were perforated to wear in muddy water and other outdoor work actives and thus less formal.

When you hear terms like Oxford Brogues, Derby Brogues and even Moccasin Brogues, these are simply those kind of shoes, but with brogue detailing on theme.

In short, Oxford, Derby, moccasin are types of construction in a shoe, whereas brogues are styles. Starting to click yet?


Oxfords not brogues


You’ll see a lot of Oxford shoes in the James Bond franchise. This is not a surprise as Bond is a very formal character, known for his stylish bespoke suits.

Brogues or Derby’s would be too informal for Bond. Although Base London are yet to join the franchise, we certainly appreciate the styling and can offer some more accessible price points, if you’re keen on modelling your look on the most distinguishable spy in the world.


Oxfords not brogues


Can men take shoe inspiration from women?

If you punch in ‘how to style your brogues’ into Google, you might be surprised to see an onslaught of women wearing them.

First they get the vote, then they access to our Cricket pavilions and now this.

It’s always a good idea to look at how the women are styling their clothes, as we start to homogenise the fashion genders you’ll find a lot of inspiration for your outfits.

In some of the pictures above you can see the common thread seems to be to wear the shoe without sock, without laces, some have brogue detailing and others have an enhanced heel or sole.

In all situations the Oxford is worn in a very casual manner. Which is not uncommon with men neither.


Oxfords not brogues


These days, shoe colour is by far the most important factor. Any classic shoe in black is going to be business appropriate in most working environments.

The least formal would be a brown suede, wingtip, brogue, derby. It becomes a sliding scale on the formal register, the lighter the shade the lower the formality.

Depending on your lifestyle, you’ll often get more mileage from a tan or brown brogue as they are readily interchangeable with most outfits.

Let’s not also forget that a black Oxford Brogue is also leaning on business/casual as opposed to strictly business. The more brogue detailing on the shoe the less formal it becomes.


oxfords not brogues


When should I wear Oxfords and when should I wear Brogues?

If you’re undecided on whether to wear your Oxford shoes to an event, check the dress code first. If it says black tie then definitely wear them. Weddings are funny ones because it’s not strictly black tie and modern weddings are quite relaxed. I’d still recommend wearing black, non perforated Oxfords as this will be the most respectful.

Red carpet events are often a good barometer. The Oscars, the Olivier Awards, The Baftas, these are the most formal of events and you’ll see many black oxford shoes. Other award ceremonies can be more liberal with the dress code and you’ll often see a mixture of Brogues, Loafers and Sneakers.


So get your footlocker spruced up and check out out Formal Collections.

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