The elephant in the room is that high heels are not only uncomfortable, but also they simply do not work with every outfit. Fashion has evolved, and we want choice. Actually, more than anything, we want comfort. It’s time to leave the heels in the closet. As we continue to search for balance in our daily lives, the oxford shoe has been there all along to solve our problems. They are the perfect combination of style and comfort. The oxford can be worn at the office, at brunch, on the plane, or at the company retreat. They fit like a glove, providing support for when you know (and especially when you don’t know) you’re going to be on your feet all day. Bring on that long, post brunch city stroll, because you’ll never be worrying about your feet hurting again.
The men’s oxford has been a staple in the wardrobe of every professional American male since the 19th century. But where did the oxford come from? And when did the women’s oxford gain popularity? More importantly, how do you wear them? Whether this is your first pair of oxfords, or you’ve already incorporated them into your wardrobe – here are three things you maybe didn’t know about women’s oxfords.
- Oxford vs. Balmoral.
There are two theories about where oxford’s came from. The first is that they originated at Oxford University in the 1800’s. Student’s were tired of wearing tall boots with high heels, and so a half-boot, the Oxonian was born. The Oxonian featured slits on the sides that made the boot more comfortable to wear. Eventually the slits were replaced with oxford’s signature closed lacing. The cut became lower, and as they continue to gain popularity, become known as oxford’s. The trend would eventually be adopted by American businessmen before the beginning of the 20th century.
The second theory is that the shoe in fact originated in Scotland and Ireland (as early as the 1650’s). They were called Balmorals, named after the Queen’s castle in Scotland. In America, they actually can be called both oxford and balmorals. However, in the U.K. the shoe must have a specific pattern in order to be an oxford.
- Amelia Earhart loved them.
The aviation pioneer was frequently photographed in oxford shoes. Maybe she loved them for their durability? The first female pilot to fly solo across the Atlantic wasn’t the only woman sporting the the oxford shoe. The early 20th century saw women gain new freedoms, including the right to vote. Women became more active and athletic, and their clothing styles reflected this. Oxford shoes were commonly worn for sports and outdoor activities, though not yet for formal occasions. But that began to change as the shoe appeared on fashion runways, and in department stores, detailed with a feminine touch by many leading designers.
- They can be worn 365 days a year. With any outfit.
Shoe technology has evolved to create a new breed of women’s oxfords. They are now incredibly versatile, with breathable insoles, and carefully crafted perforation detailing. Women’s oxford’s are sustainable and rebuildable. A well made pair can last you up to 10 years. There are now so many styles and colors, it’s easy to find a pair that can fit for any occasion. They can be paired with a tailored classic menswear look. Their sleek, clean shape works with casual pants, and women’s jeans. And a pair of elegant, impeccably crafted women’s oxfords can even be worn at more formal events, with knitted dresses and skirts. We’ve come a long way since the 1800’s.