The rake

the modern voice of classic elegance

StyleApril 2017

Is The Oxford Menswear’s Most Enduring Shoe?

It is still considered the archetypal dress shoe, it’s remained almost completely unchanged for centuries and has an origin that dates back centuries further. But is the Oxford still as relevant today?

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The debate about which style of shoe is the most fundamental, the most essential, the most unimpeachable, is one seemingly doomed to play out eternally, Ouroboros-like. It’s also a debate that misses the entire point – and indeed the joy – of footwear. There are many different and wonderful styles of shoe – each worthy and timeless in their own right, and each with their own time and place. However, if you forced my hand and told me to I had to pick just one for every occasion for all time, it would probably be the Oxford.

The Oxford – elegant, unassuming, stalwart. Characterised by its closed vamping – that is, eyelet tabs attached underneath the vamp – it offers a sleek and elegant silhouette, most commonly completed with a capped toe. It is a clean, classic shoe, offering a great canvas for leather to shine, with the construction adding soft touches of delineation. Tradition holds that its formality sits above that of a monk strap or a derby shoe, and this is mostly true, though obviously the leather plays a key factor. A cinnamon suede pair, for instance, would still be comfortably worn with weekend separates where a high-shine monk strap would not.

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Ben St George

Ben St George is The Rake's Head of Partnerships - an Antipodean import and lifelong disciple of both men's luxury tailoring and well-made burgers.

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