Oxford shoes are a timeless classic. They’ve long held a coveted status as a style staple in the wide world of footwear. No matter how many fleeting trends may come and go, the Oxford shoe continues to prevail.
But whether you’ve owned countless Oxfords or you’re on the hunt for your very first pair, you’ve likely found yourself wondering how to style Oxford shoes at some point.
If so, you’re in the right place. In this article, we’re diving into all the different ways you can style Oxford shoes to create cohesive and compelling looks. Learn tried-and-true techniques for dressing your Oxfords up or down—all in this one comprehensive guide.
Exploring the Origin and Versatility of Oxford Shoes
Seeing the term “Oxford shoes” likely conjures up a clear image in your mind. Most people picture a sturdy, sensible, well-made piece of footwear, often crafted in rich brown or chic black colors.
But even though people generally know what an Oxford shoe looks like, few understand which qualities constitute the specific makeup of a shoe that falls under this classification.
So, what is an Oxford shoe? Put simply, Oxford shoes typically feature1:
- A trademark closed shoe lacing system
- A vamp that covers the toes and instep
- Quarters that wrap around the heel
- A slim sole and a strong heel
Some say that the birthplace of Oxford shoes was Scotland or Ireland. Others claim that the shoes were born at the place of their namesake: Oxford University in England.
No matter how these shoes got their start, one thing is for sure: they were extremely popular amongst men in the 1800s.2 However, by the time the 1920s rolled around, American men and women alike were sporting these stylish formal shoes.2
During this time period, women who wore Oxford shoes were engaging in a sort of fashion rebellion: rejecting the more traditionally feminine but less practical footwear that girls were historically expected to wear.2 Today, the comfort and reliability that those women admired in Oxford shoes still enchants modern women of all different backgrounds and lifestyles.
Indeed, one of the most iconic things about modern Oxford shoes is their unisex nature. Your style doesn’t have to be particularly masculine or feminine to look incredible with an Oxford shoe.
Due to the versatility of these shoes, a simple Google search of how to wear oxford shoes for ladies will turn up an endless supply of styling videos and blog posts. To that end, let’s explore some of the most popular ways people incorporate their Oxford shoes into a stylish ensemble.
Dressing Up or Down: Casual and Formal Occasion Oxford Outfits
Fancier than a sneaker but more practical than a wedge or heel, the Oxford is the quintessential shoe for playing around with different styles.
Since Oxford shoes are quite often seen in youthful yet mature street-style ensembles, let’s first explore a few different ways one might style this footwear for a more smart casual look.
You could sport a good pair of Oxfords with:
- A slouchy, oversized sweater, a short skirt, and ankle socks
- Straight-leg jeans and a sleek button-up shirt or comfy cardigan
- Sleek leggings and a cozy, soft sweater
These are just a few of the most popular ways that smart casual dressers like to use their Oxfords for routine, everyday wear.
On the other side of the token, Oxfords can provide the perfect finishing touch to a more formal and professional outfit, such as:
- A chic, dark wash skinny jean accompanied by a blazer
- A fashionable pair of slacks, a blouse, and a cohesive bag
- A semi-formal dress that flows down to meet the Oxford shoes at your ankle
Here at Vionic, we’ve created a gorgeous Oxford shoe that transitions perfectly between casual and formal occasions.
Our meticulously crafted take on the classic Oxford shoe is called the Alfina Oxford. This work of wearable art features a raised-stitch bottom and a lightweight lug sole. Among our collection of women’s flats and loafers, It’s quickly become a fan favorite, touted for its ability to:
- Provide arch support
- Afford the wearer optimal comfort
- Elicit compliments from friends and strangers
Available in a sleek black patent, a sandy suede, and a pewter metallic leather, these shoes are sure to quickly become your new favorites for a day (or night) out on the town.
Mix and Match: Coordinating Oxford Shoes with Different Bottoms
One popular fashion trend that meshes well with Oxford shoes is the idea of a capsule wardrobe.
The purpose of the capsule wardrobe is to cut your closet size down. Instead of purchasing clothing in excess and ending up with a slew of low-quality, flimsy items that you never actually wear, you collect a few premium staples that you can mix and match as you please.
Essentially, you choose quality over quantity.
Not only does this force you to be more intentional about the clothes you buy and the way you dress, but it also helps you remain more sustainable with your fashion choices.
Now that you know what a capsule wardrobe is, you can see how Oxford shoes are the perfect addition to this type of fashion lifestyle. With their neutral, muted color and classy appearance, these shoes pair well with almost any type of clothing you could own.
Many people who go this route of building minimal closets consisting of a few high-quality items, such as basics, denims, and formal wear, choose to pair the following types of bottoms with Oxford shoes:
- Denim – From charming denim skirts to good old blue jeans and even the jeans-shorts hybrid that the fashion community affectionately refers to as “jorts,” there’s no denim bottom you could own that wouldn’t work well with an Oxford shoe.
- Slacks – Dress pants made from more formal fabrics such as wool or polyester also make the ideal partner for Oxford shoes. Since these pants often come in earthy or cool tones, they’re likely to be close in color to your Oxfords.
- Chinos – These casual yet cohesive trousers are one of the most common pants you’ll see worn in conjunction with black or brown Oxford shoes. Like Oxfords, Chino pants make you look stylish and polished without requiring you to sacrifice comfort or ease of movement.
Play around by mixing and matching your Oxford shoes with all different types of bottoms in your closet. You may end up creating an unlikely fashion combo that you absolutely adore.
Seasonal Oxford Styling: From Summer to Winter
Few shoes can compete with the superior seasonal adaptability provided by Oxford shoes. After all, these shoes look just as sensible on a hot summer’s day as they do on a blustery evening in the dead of winter.
Here are just a few common ways that Oxford owners tend to style their shoes to complement the season:
- Spring – A plain white tee and denim shorts pair perfectly with brown or black Oxford shoes and a cute sock featuring a pop of color or accent design.
- Summer – The hottest season of the year is the perfect time to break out your airy, floral dresses. Luckily, these summer statement pieces pair wonderfully with a simple Oxford shoe.
- Fall – A thick flannel shirt accompanied by a suave leather jacket looks amazing when paired with classic Oxfords.
- Winter – A knitted winter coat, paired with scarves, gloves, and a cap, fit right in with the sophisticated appearance of trusty Oxford shoes.
These are just a few basic ideas of how to wear Oxford shoes during different seasons. Remember, the beauty of Oxfords is that they provide a solid foundation on top of which you can play around with a wide variety of creative fashion choices. Don’t be afraid to explore!
Oxford Shoes for Work or Play
Truly unmatched in terms of versatility, Oxford shoes can do it all. Wear them to work, wear them to play, and even wear them as you transition between your day job and your nightlife.
Work events that Oxford shoes are well-suited for include:
- Job interviews
- Corporate meetings
- Live conferences
A good pair of Oxfords will keep you looking sharp for these business events, but they’ll also provide some serious comfort if the activities of your job or conference require lots of walking. In such situations, you’ll be glad you opted for your practical Oxfords as your go-to wear-to-work shoes instead of choosing a heel for the occasion.
Next, let’s take a look at how Oxfords can be used when dressing casually.
A recent trend among designers is to ornament this type of footwear with special designs or decor. When you play around with different styles of Oxfords, you can find a pair that best suits your personal fashion taste. And, once you’ve found your ‘sole mate’, the job of creating stylish casual outfits becomes exponentially easier.
Almost any casual, low-key outfit can be instantly elevated by throwing on your pair of Oxford shoes as you walk out the door. Wear them for:
- A day of shopping
- Lunch with friends
- A night at the movies
Take the guesswork out of your casual outfit creation and stick with a shoe you know will make you look and feel like a million bucks.
Step In Style with Alfina Oxfords from Vionic
If you’re looking for a new shoe that’s trendy, comfortable, durable, and adaptable to almost any outfit you pair it with, you can never go wrong with an Oxford.
At Vionic, our Alfinas are the quintessential Oxford shoes, and they’re a fan favorite for good reason. Not only are they available in three stand-out styles, but they also feature our innovative Vio-Motion Technology that provides optimal arch support all day long.
The only question that remains is, how will you dress up (or down) your very own pair of Alfinas? Shop Vionic today to get started.
- Collins, Jack. “The Oxford Shoes Guide” Gentleman’s Gazette. https://www.gentlemansgazette.com/oxford-shoes-guide/
- Carrasco, Isabel. “The Pair Of Shoes Only Rebellious Women Dare To Wear.” Cultura Colectiva. 17 March, 2023. https://culturacolectiva.com/en/lifestyle/fashion/oxford-shoes-outfits-story-history/