The Saphir Guide to Classic Dress Shoes

The Oxford

Oxfords are a style of shoe with closed lacing. This means that the quarters, the parts of the shoe tightened by the laces are sewn beneath the vamp, the forepart of the shoe. This creates a more elegant look, therefore the Oxford is often regarded as more formal compared to a Derby.

The Cap Toe Oxford features a Cap on the toe and is probably the most classic style among the Oxfords.

Cap Toe Oxford

The Cap Toe Oxford

The Balmoral Oxford has a vamp that runs in a horizontal line all the way to the back of the shoe. Balmoral Oxford

The Balmoral Oxford

The Adelaide Oxford has a lacing that is framed by the vamp which steeply runs up to the toppling.

Adelaide Oxford

The Adelaide Oxford

One might argue that the Wholecut is a style of its own and not an Oxford, others might put it in this category due to its closed lacing. Nevertheless it is a popular style that is made from a single piece of leather.Wholecut Oxford

The Wholecut Oxford

The Derby

The Derby is besides the Oxford the other most classic Style. Its quarters are stitched on top of the vamp which allows the lacing to open more compared to an Oxford, this creates more comfort but leads to an appearance perceived as a little less formal.

Eventhough the number of Eyelets doesn’t determine the shape of the quarters and lines of the upper it can be used to categorize the different Derby Styles. Seen here is probably the most classic Derby style that can be found with or without a toe cap.

5 Eyelets Derby

The 5 Eyelet Derby

Here the Quarters have been shortened which creates an interesting look and more casual appearance.2-3 Eyelets Derby

The 2-3 Eyelet Derby

This Derby style has many different names and variations all over the world. From Norwegian Derby, to Apron Derby, to Navvy Cut to Derby Chasse. It can be recognized by the apron stitching that runs across the vamp of the shoe. It is often made from heavier grain leather and is associated with the countryside.Hunting Derby

The Hunting/Apron Derby

This is if you want the Wholecut version of the Derby. It was created by Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher a Prussian Fieldmarshall for the Prussian Military in the 19th century and is crafted from a single piece of leather where the facings are then inserted to create the Derby lacing.Blucher Derby

The Blucher Derby

The Longwing Derby has a Wing Toe Cap that runs all the way to the back of the shoe. A style that has been made very popular in the USA.Longwing Derby

The Longwing Derby

The Monk

Monks, or Monkstraps are shoes that are closed with a buckle. Its monasterial origin gave it its name and the different styles can be determined by the amount of buckles. This Style of shoe can reach from the very elegant and dressy end all the way to the more casual end of the spectrum. Depending on shape and Material.

One buckle is used here to close the shoe.Single Monk

The Single Monk

Here you will find two buckles that close the shoe but usually the lower one never gets opened.Double Monk

The Double Monk


The Ghillie is a more exotic style that origins from the traditional Scottish attire. It can be found with or without a tongue and has been discovered by shoe aficionados who brought it into the world of classic menswear.Ghillie

The Ghillie

This style is very popular in the USA and serves as a more casual choice. Its characteristic saddle shaped piece of leather that holds the lacing gives it its name.Saddle Shoe

The Saddle Shoe

The Loafer

Loafers are a style of shoes that are easy to slip in and out of without the need of laces. There is many different variations, here we focus on the two most common.

The Penny Loafer is probably the most classic Loafer and can be found in a great variety from casual to elegant. It features a saddle with a cutout. Ivy League students used to keep a penny in the cutout of the saddle which gave the name Penny Loafer to this style.The Penny Loafer

The Penny Loafer

The Tassel Loafer is decorated with two tassels on its vamp that often are accompanied by a leather strap that runs to the back of the shoes.Tassel Loafer

The Tassel Loafer

The Saddle of the Butterfly Loafer is shaped in a way that resembles the wings of a butterfly, hence the name for this style.The Butterfly Loafer

The Butterfly Loafer

Driving Shoes are a type of Loafer with a very light construction. Instead of a sole they often only have rubber inlays on the bottom. These shoes are designed to be worn for driving more than walking. Often The heel is rounded to allow for easier movement on the pedals.The Driving Shoe

The Driving Shoe

The Slipper

As the Loafer, Slippers are shoes without lacing which are easy to step in and out off. What differentiates them from Loafers is their lighter construction which makes them the choice of footwear when at home or for evening attire.

Slippers can be made of various materials. A classic choice for a house slipper is velvet. These kind of slippers often come with a thin sole and can be decorated with monograms or other embroidery.Slipper

The Slipper

The belgian Slipper has a rounded piece of leather on the vamp that gives it its characteristic look. This style is often seen as a summer shoe.The Belgian Slipper

The Belgian Slipper

The Pump is a traditional choice for black tie events, though not seen so often these days anymore. It is cut fairly low, usually made from patent leather and often decorated with a satin bow.Pump

The Pump


The Chelsea Boot was created as a more comfortable alternative to riding boots. Its elastic part makes it easier to step in and out of the shoe and gives it its characteristic look.Chelsea Boot

The Chelsea Boot

Just like the Chelsea Boot, the Jodhpur Boot has a equestrian heritage. It was created by the British cavalry in India that was seeking a more comfortable alternative to their riding boots in the heat of India. The boot is fastened using a strap that wraps around the ankle.Jodhpur Boot

The Jodhpur Boot

Chukka boots are usually cut slightly lower than other boots with only 2-3 Eyelets for the lacing. They represent the more casual end of the boot spectrum.Chukka Boot

The Chukka Boot

As the name suggests, Derby Boots are the Boot version of Derby shoes with the quarters stitched on top of the vamp.Derby Boot

The Derby Boot

The same goes for the Oxford Boot. This Boot has a closed lacing like an Oxford shoe with the quarters going beneath the vamp creating a more elegant look.Oxford Boot

The Oxford Boot

Zip Boots are for those that dont want to tie their laces on boots and prefer a quicker way to close their boots. This style is often perceived as a more casual boot.Zip Boot

Zip Boot

A very special boot that is hardly seen anymore is the Button Boot. It origins back in the Victorian era and is worn today by those seeking a dandyish appearance.Button Boot

The Button Boot

Written by Louis Lampertsdörfer