Difference between Oxfords and Derby's
By Andrew Parker - February 5, 2023

It is important to distinguish the shoes essential to any gentleman’s collection. Oxfords and Derbys are similar, but it is easy to tell them apart with these differences,

Chart Summary
  1. Closed lacing system with eyelets facing stitched under the quarters
Open lacing system with eyelets facing  stitched on top of the quarters
  1. The tongue is stitched separately under the vamp
The vamp is stitched with the tongue
Close-up of brown shoes

Getty images/EyeEm/ Matthias Auer/EyeEm


Oxford shoes got their name from the city’s university students, who wore them in the 1800s. Since then, this traditional men’s style shoe has been linked with formal and business clothing, but it’s also a great way to dress up more casual outfits like chinos. Oxford shoes include the following distinguishing features: a closed lacing system with the eyelet face sewn under the quarters, the inside and outside quarters sewn beneath the vamp, and the tongue stitched separately beneath the vamp. Oxfords also have a low heel, an exposed ankle, and a stitched leather sole complete the look.

Derbys are thought to have originated in the nineteenth century as gentlemen’s hunting shoes. Durable and comfortable for long hikes across rainy and occasionally harsh terrain. The following characteristics distinguish Derby shoes: its eyelets facings are stitched to the quarters, and the quarters are sewn on top of the vamp. There are three distinct pieces: a vamp with the tongue and two quarters, Toes that are extended or rounded Leather soles with stitching.

Oxfords vs. Derbys

The biggest distinction between an Oxford and a Derby is the laces. The former has a closed lacing system in which the quarters, or side tabs where the shoelace eyelets are perforated, are sewn under the vamp or front half of the shoe.
Oxford has numerous varieties, but all are regarded to be on the more formal side. A cap-toe Oxford, distinguished by a thin line of stitching across the toe box, is always acceptable for business. The most formal variety is the whole cut, which means the shoe is constructed from a single immaculate piece of leather with no visible seams and no decoration.

Broguing is a less traditional ornamented pattern formed with little punched holes on the upper and occasionally with a medallion on the toe box. The more ornamentation on the shoe, such as a wingtip or full brogue, the more casual it is.
Derby dress shoes, like Oxfords, come in a variety of styles. Derbys are considered casual. Thus they go nicely with jeans, casual pants, and suits.