When thinking about oxfords and derby shoes, the iconic pairs worn by the likes of Taylor Swift, Victoria Beckham, and Blake Lively come to the forefront of our minds. Similar in structure and function, the lace-up oxfords and derbies are practical alternatives to standard loafers.
To help you find the best pair for you, we spoke with Stefanie Brunnthaler, Vice President of Women's Product at Rockport, as well as personal shopper Mary Higham for their expertise in finding the right pair of oxford and derby shoes for you.
Tory Burch Lug-Sole Oxford
Combine your classic oxford shoe with a utilitarian-inspired boot, and you have these Tory Burch Lug-Sole Oxfords. Finished with brogue details and a chunky, height-boosting sole, we love that this pair will add a little bit of edge to your look. You can dress them up with cigarette pants and a structured blazer, or dress them down with black straight-leg jeans and a graphic T-shirt.
Price at time of publish: $259 on sale
Material: Leather upper; chromium-free napa leather lining | Sizes: 5–11 | Colors: Deep Malbec | Heel Height: Not listed
ASOS Design More Flat Lace-Up Shoes
These cute shiny derbies are practically a steal. They’re a great entry point to the style, given their classic features, e.g., a round toe, a wing tip, and a slim sole. They’re also a complement to a pair of black cigarette pants or dark, straight-leg jeans.
Price at time of publish: $37
Material: Patent leather | Sizes: 4–15 | Colors: Black | Heel Height: Not listed
Dr. Martens Holly Platform Oxford
This list wouldn’t be complete without a pair of Dr. Martens. After all, the brand is known for its lace-up styles, from combat boots to oxfords and derbies. Though, it’s worth noting that the open lacing system on these makes them derbies, not oxfords. Still, we love that instead of the standard laces, they feature thick, satin bows to add a feminine contrast to the bold and chunky silhouette. They’re low-maintenance, too, thanks to the water-resistant leather. The material also allows you to easily wipe away dirt and grime.
Price at time of publish: $160
Material: Leather | Sizes: 5–11 | Colors: Black | Heel Height: 1.5 inch platform; 2 inch molded block heel
Ann Demeulemeester Olivier Leather Brogues
Perhaps sometimes you’d prefer something classic rather than chunky, and these Ann Demeulemeester shoes are perfect for that. This pair is traditional to your standard derby because it sticks with minimalistic and masculine features, like matte black leather and a round toe. Other details include a slightly chunky sole and exposed stitching.
Price at time of publish: $386 on sale
Material: Calf leather; rubber sole | Sizes: IT35–IT41 | Colors: Black | Heel Height: 1.5 inches
Camper Pia Oxford
Waterproof shoes can seem a bit dull, but this lace-up style from Camper will surely make heads turn. Instead of a low heel, it has a textured sole that offers a unique contrast to its smooth uppers. The contrasting colorways, too, are an artistic choice for which Camper is known and offers a playful and fresh pop to spring and fall wardrobes.
Price at time of publish: $165
Material: Leather (Leather Working Group Certified) upper; synthetic lining and sole | Sizes: EU35–EU42 | Colors: Black, Pink/Black, Green/Beige, Black/Gray, Black/Yellow +more | Heel Height: Not listed
Eileen Fisher Eddy 2 Wedge Oxford Lace-Up Shoes
Eileen Fisher specializes in timeless fashion items that are still modern. Here, the designer kept classic oxford elements like an almond toe and a closed lacing system, but she elevated the outsole by nearly two inches. We also love the brand’s commitment to social and environmental design and manufacturing strategies—it certainly adds value to every purchase.
Price at time of publish: $198
Material: Recycled polyester knit upper; leather lining; and rubber outsole | Size: 5–11 | Colors: Black | Heel Height: 1.75 inches
Loewe Soft Derby Oxfords
Loewe is known for its incredible bags; their shoes, on the other hand, are simply underrated. Their take on the oxford is infused with a balletcore sensibility—truly unique. The style’s hallmark features are gently squared toes, thin laces, and black logo-printed heel tabs.
Price at the time of publish: $690
Material: Leather | Sizes: 5–11 | Colors: Brown and black | Heel Height: None
Best for Work
The Office Of Angela Scott Mr. Evans Wing-Tip Oxfords
The Office Of Angela Scott is so good at crafting wing-tip oxfords. These matte and patent leather ones are sleek and polished—they’re sure to complement so many looks, be it your office or your weekend attire.
Price at time of publish: $525
Material: Leather | Sizes: 6–13 | Colors: Black | Heel Height: 1 inch
Best for Comfort
Aerosoles Women’s Lace-Up Oxford
“Oxfords were originally considered a sensible ‘walking’ shoe before the rise of athletic-inspired footwear,” Brunnthaler says. But a pair of simple, classic, and sturdy derbies for your commute isn’t always easy to come by. Aerosoles’ iteration is specially designed with a padded insole for comfort and a thick lug sole for good traction—exactly what you need to help you get from point A to point B on foot.
Material: Leather | Sizes: 5–12 | Colors: Black Leather, Black Patent, Grey Wool | Heel Height: Not listed
Dr. Martens Smiths 4 Eye Shoe
Spice things up with a textured, leopard-printed pair of derbies, because there’s more to this shoe category than leather and solid colors. Hallmark Dr. Martens design details like the brand’s rounded eyelets and contrast stitching in yellow are present. And from a practical standpoint, its standard slip-resistant PVC soles should offer decent traction. So, essentially, these shoes offer the best of everything.
Price at time of publish: $150
Material: Dyed haircalf upper; PVC sole | Sizes: 5–11 | Colors: Micro Leopard | Heel Height: Not listed
AEYDE Black Mara Oxfords
If you’re looking for a menswear-inspired lace-up shoe to offset your femme miniskirt, or if your style is simply no-frills, Aeyde’s Mara style will be perfect for you. The wide silhouette features clean lines; it sits atop a thick sole and leather heel. All in all, it’s a classic borrowed-from-the-boys look that’s capable of rounding out a variety of outfit moods.
Price at time of publish: $330
Material: Leather upper; calfskin and rubber sole | Size: IT35–IT42 | Colors: Black | Heel Height: 1 inch
We can’t help but love the utilitarian-inspired look of the Tory Burch Lug-Sole Oxford. Based on its design and function, the shoe has enough height (thanks to a chunky platform sole), character (e.g., decorative perforations), and versatility (based on a maroon and black color palette) to make it easy to wear daily. But if you’re looking to spend less on a pair of lace-ups, then you can’t go wrong with ASOS Design’s More Flat Lace-Up Shoes for under $40.
What to Look for in a Pair of Oxfords or Derbies
Let your style guide you to the right pair of oxfords or derbies. However, neutral shades like black, brown, and beige are easy to style and will thus offer the most versatility, Brunnthaler says. You might want to consider shape—namely, toe types, too. And, a high heel will make your oxford or derby easier to dress up.
Most oxfords and derbies are made from leather or a leather alternative, such as patent leather or vegan leather (polyurethane). However, they can come in suede and canvas as well. The material you select is based on your preference and lifestyle. Some materials, like leather, are better for dressing up while others, such as canvas, are inherently casual and more breathable.
What is the difference between oxford and derby shoes?
Oxfords and derbies are often confused, even among designers, and the differences are minimal. But for the sake of this article and to help you be the most informed shopper, it’s worth explaining the distinctions. As mentioned above, oxfords have a closed lacing system, which means the eyelets are stitched tightly under the vamp, or top of the shoe, and from a “V.” Derbies, on the other hand, have an open lacing system, so the eyelets are stitched on top of the vamp and sit more loosely within two flaps. (This guide by Berluti explains all of this in further detail—and with photos—within the context of men’s dress shoes.)
The former style is considered more formal but still versatile enough to dress down a bit, whereas derby shoes are inherently more casual, Brunnthaler points out. Fit-wise, oxfords should feel snugger than derbies.
How do I care for my oxfords or derbies?
Keep them clean by wiping off any grime from the uppers from time to time. And specifically for leather shoes, Higham recommends using a shoe cream to condition the material and keep it supple.
Why Trust Byrdie
Freelance writer Becca Glasser-Baker has been covering fashion content for almost a decade. Her work has been featured in Buzzfeed, Metro, and more. Through the years, she has had a ton of oxford/derby shoes in her collection and deemed them a footwear staple.
According to our Diversity Pledge, 15% of products in our newly-published market roundups will feature Black-owned and/or Black-founded brands. At the time of publishing, we were not able to find any oxfords from a Black-owned and/or Black-founded business. If you know of one we should consider, please email us at email@example.com, and we will evaluate the product ASAP