The Oxford is an English shoe who's predecessor the Oxonian half boot was popularly worn at Oxford University in the 1800's. It is considered one of the most elegant men's shoes. A plain cap-toed oxford lace up is a staple of many businessmen's wardrobes. Variations of the classic include replacing the toe cap's punched holes with narrower rows of stitching, adding a medallion decoration on the toe, or embellishing the shoe all the way up to a full brogue oxford.
Oxford's closer fit is especially comfortable for men with narrower feet and lower insteps.
The Blucher, also commonly referred to as a Derby, is named after Gehard Leberecht, a Prussian General who helped in Napolean's defeat at Waterloo. The Blucher was first used by soldiers throughout Europe and later developed into a hunting and sporting shoe. It is recognizable by the forward extension of the quarters over the vamp. Bluchers are considered a bit less formal than Oxfords because of the slightly heavier appearance produced by the side straps.
The open lacing allows for easier adjustment allowing extra comfort for men with an extra high instep or wide foot.
Both Oxford and Derby/Blutcher Brogues are commonly made. Brogues are easily identified by their distinctive perforations and stitching. The style first became popular with Irish and Scottish gamekeepers and foresters but was soon adopted by aristocrats and nobility who used them on hunting excursions.
The broguings used to be actual holes meant to allow water to drain out of the shoes. Wing Tips are named as such thanks to their toe caps that are shaped like the spread wings of a bird. They are considered a bit less formal than cap toe models and historically not worn after 6 pm.
Named after the footwear worn by friars in the Italian Alps in the 15th century, the monk strap is made with an upper composed of 3 pieces together with a distinctive single or double buckle. The broad tongue allows for a closer fit and enables a more comfortable fit around the ankle. Monk straps are very versatile in that they can be very elegant when done with a clean vamp or can also be worn more casually. Monk straps are considered to be between loafers and lace ups in terms of formality.
Boot & Chukka Boot
The Chukka boot is named after the playing period in polo and was first brought to the West from India by the British Raj. These are often produced in suede and calfskin, unlined with leather or rubber soles.
Boots and ankle boots have become popular due to their versatility and practicality. Considering that pants almost completely cover the quarters, boots can be matched with clothing outfits the same as shoes, but are generally not worn for formal occasions.
Also called "slip ons" and moccasins (sole and upper made of a single piece of leather), loafers have become popular with men due to the trend towards comfort and convenience. Loafers can be dressed up with decorative vamp designs and with fuller bottoms which give them more scale and stature. Tassel loafers were originally considered a more casual shoe but are often seen now paired with sport coats, but less so with navy or gray suits.
The first Spectators were worn by cricket players in the 1800's. During the Jazz age the shoes were sometimes called "Correspondents" since they were worn by shady personalities who often acted as correspondents in divorce cases. Spectators later were worn by yachtsman and at leisure sporting events and now are common on the golf course. Classic Spectators mix brown or black calfskin with white suede or buck.
Fine grain "box calf" leather that takes a high polish. This is the primary leather employed by Di Bianco as its smooth finish can be used for solid, marbled, and burnished effects. Deco is a sturdy leather that ages gracefully and when properly maintained can keep an attractive luster for many years.
Often referred to as Pebble Grain, this textured leather is more casual than smooth leather but it is a desirable addition to spice up a wardrobe full of classic colors and leathers.
Also called "Reverse Calf," suede was first made famous in the USA in 1924 by the Prince of Wales who wore a pair of suede shoes at the International Polo Matches. Suede does not include the tougher outer epidermal layer like full grain leather, making it much softer. Many men are daunted by the prospect of damaging a fine pair of suede shoes but they are an excellent addition to a man´s wardrobe. They are suitable for all seasons but must be guarded against moisture.
Sometimes referred to as "sport suede," this reverse calf has a shorter knapp than suede. It has been finished with a treatment that helps the leather stand up better to moisture and normal wear and tear. It can be used on any shoe or boot but is considered just a little bit more casual than suede.
This glossy leather, generally used for formal shoes, is a high grade fine grain leather coated with multiple layer of linseed oil.
Di Bianco uses top quality South American crocodile hides. Crocodile scales are smaller and more oval shaped than those of the alligator. Only the prime parts of the belly and throat are used.
Di Bianco uses only the finest quality American alligator skins free of scars and blemishes. A six foot alligator will yield a hide of approximately 36 cms wide and 1 hide is needed to make each pair of shoes. Only the prime part of the hide, the belly, which has a more symmetrical scale pattern, is used. Scales from the belly of the alligator are larger and squarer than those found on the neck or tail.
Blake construction is a very popular construction used for better made shoes, especially in Italy. This construction is simpler than a welted construction. A single row of stitching attaches the insole to the upper and the outsole. The stitching is located inside the shoe and done by a machine invented by Reed Blake. The technique is sometimes called McKay construction since Blake sold the patent to Gordon McKay. Shoes with Blake construction tend to be more flexible than Goodyear welted shoes since they have fewer layers but since there is a row of stitching through the insole the possibility of moisture wicking from the ground is greater. Contrary to popular belief Blake shoes can be resoled with the use of a Blake soling machine.
Goodyear construction is a welted construction. A rib is created perpendicular to the face of the insole through which twine is stitched. After both the upper and insole are secured to the last, the welt (a third strip of leather) is sewn to the upper and the rib of the insole. A lockstitch is used so that if one stitch comes undone all the stitching does not become unbraided. A second row of stitching is used to connect the other side of the welt to the outsole. The benefits of the Goodyear welted construction are that they are more water-resistant than Blake construction since there are no stitches through the face of the insole. Additionally, a layer of cork fills the space between the ribs on the two sides of the insole. This layer of cork molds to the wearer's foot and adds comfort to the shoe. Goodyear welted construction is a favorite of many of the better English shoemakers. Many consumers like the Goodyear construction because of its sturdy design and clean appearance.
Norwegian construction is a welted construction also commonly referred to as Norvegese. Instead of the upper running parallel to the rib in the insole as in Goodyear construction, the upper is turned outward and sits parallel to the outsole. One row of stitching connects the welt to the rib of the insole and another row connects the welt to the outsole. Since the upper is turned outward, Norwegian construction does not allow a way for moisture to enter the shoe by way of the upper / welt stitching. Norwegian construction is easily identifiable by the stitching along the base of the upper. This construction, like Goodyear, is stiffer than Blake construction. The aesthetic of Norwegian stitching lends itself very well for dress shoes and boots, and adds volume to the shoe resulting in flexibility of wearing with dress as well as more casual attire.
"Suola Due Strati" or Black Rapid in english is a very old construction that arguably offers the best balance between quality and price. Similar in function to Goodyear construction, Black Rapid has two soles which render the shoes very solid yet they are still very elegant and light in weight. Once the shoe is mounted on the last the upper and the first sole are attached by an inner Blake seam, followed by the second sole which is attached by a Rapid seam. This sturdy construction is more waterproof than the Blake construction thanks to the two sole system. Like welted shoes Black Rapid shoes can also be resoled several times without affecting the shape of the shoe.
The life expectancy and appearance of one's shoes depends not only upon the quality of the make and materials used but also upon proper care and maintenance. Quality welted shoes can last 10-15 years if properly cared for. Here are a few tips that will help extend the life of your shoes:
- New Shoes: A new pair of shoes should only be worn for 2-3 hours at a time until they become comfortably broken in.
- 2 Day Rule: The same pair of shoes should never be worn two days in a row. They should be rested at least 24 hours before being worn again.
- Shoe Horn: A shoe horn should be used when putting the shoe on regardless if they are loafers, lace ups or monk-straps.
- Shoe Trees: Shoe trees should be put into the shoes immediately after they are removed.
- Moisture: In the event shoes are subjected to excessive rain or snow, shoe trees should be inserted immediately upon removal and the shoes should be left to dry on their sides away from radiators or direct heat for at least 24 hours.
- Polishing: Shoes should be polished on a regular basis. Even if shoes are not worn for an extended period, a coating of shoe cream will help keep the leather from becoming dried out. When polishing burnished and rich colored shoes a neutral colored polish or a color lighter than the current color should be used to minimize any alteration in the coloration of the shoe.
- Resoling: Blake, Goodyear, Norwegian and Black Rapid constructed shoes can all be resoled. Be sure to use only qualified cobblers that have the proper tools needed to resole your type of shoe.
Measuring to Determine Shoe Width
- Measurements should be taken by a second person, meaning you should not measure your own feet.
- The same thickness of sock should be worn during the measurement process that you would normally wear with these shoes.
- Measurements should be taken standing with your weight balanced on both feet in a normal standing position.
- Measurements ideally should be taken in centimeters. If a metric tape measure is not available inches can be used.
Measurement - The Ball of the Foot
A. Using a tailor´s measuring tape in inches or millimeters, measure completely around the widest part of the foot.
B. Reference points are the bones behind the pinky toe and behind the big toe.
Foot Measurement Chart in Inches
|American Size||Ball - Inches||Ball - Inches||Ball - Inches||Ball - Inches|
|6||8 7/8||9 3/16||9 9/16||9 3/4|
|6.5||9||9 1/4||9 5/8||9 7/8|
|7||9 1/8||9 3/8||9 3/4||10|
|7.5||9 1/4||9 7/16||9 13/16||10 1/8|
|8||9 5/16||9 1/2||9 7/8||10 3/16|
|8.5||9 3/8||9 5/8||10||10 1/4|
|9||9 1/2||9 3/4||10 1/8||10 5/16|
|9.5||9 5/8||9 13/16||10 3/16||10 7/16|
|10||9 3/4||9 7/8||10 1/4||10 1/2|
|10.5||9 13/16||10||10 3/8||10 9/16|
|11||9 7/8||10 1/16||10 7/16||10 11/16|
|11.5||10||10 3/16||10 9/16||10 3/4|
|12||10 1/8||10 1/4||10 5/8||10 7/8|
|12.5||10 3/16||10 5/16||10 11/16||10 15/16|
|13||10 5/16||10 7/16||10 13/16||11|
|13.5||10 3/8||10 1/2||10 15/16|
|14||10 1/2||10 5/8||11|
Foot Measurement Chart in Millimeters
|American Size||French Size||Ball - Inches||Ball - Inches||Ball - Inches||Ball - Inches|