A Modern Man’s Guide to Derby Shoes

A Modern Man’s Guide to Derby Shoes

20.06.2022 Off By manager_1

Fashion’s tides have been swift to change, but not all is lost. The Derby shoe has been popular for approximately 150 years and is still as fashionable today as it was in Victorian times.

The Oxford’s older cousin has been replaced by this simple leather shoe. It boasts a versatility that makes it a versatile choice for everyday wear, from casual walks to evenings out and weekend walks to corporate offices and weddings. This shoe is the ultimate smart-casual shoe and should not be missed by any man.

This guide will help you learn more about the iconic style. This guide will explore the history of the Derby, its key variations, and what makes it different from other shoes. To help you find the perfect pair, we’ll be looking at our favorite brands of Derby shoes.

What is a Derby Shoe?

The Derby shoe is made from traditional leather or suede and has an ‘open’ lacing system. The eyelets are sewed on top of a shoe’s vamp, which is the part that runs across the top of the feet. This increases the flexibility of the shoe’s adjustment. People with narrow or broad feet or high insteps can achieve a good fit.

This style can best be described as “smart casual”. Although the smartness of Derby shoes varies depending upon the materials and details, they are generally equally at home with casual pieces such as chinos or Oxford shirts.

Derby shoes are semi-formal in appearance, making them very versatile. They’re the perfect footwear for any setting that is less formal than a black tie dinner.

Derby Shoes vs. Oxford Shoes

Although they are often mistaken for each other, Oxford shoes and Derby shoes have key differences. An Oxford shoe is traditionally considered the more formal option. This shoe would be worn with a tuxedo for a formal event such as a black tie or white tie. On the other hand, a Derby shoe might not be appropriate for this setting.

However, the main difference lies in the lacing system. Oxford shoes have a closed lacing system. Derby shoes have an open one. The eyelets are stitched under the vamp, so they’re ‘closed at the bottom’. This gives it a cleaner look, but does not allow for the same level of adjustment as open lacing.

Key Derby Shoe Styles


Brogues are the casual shoe in the Derby shoe range. The shoes’ uppers are decorated with perforated patterns known as broguing.

You can choose from suede or leather. There are a variety of details available, including quarter brogue where only one strip of the toe is brogued and full brogue where the entire shoe is intricately brogued.

Smart Leather

The Derby shoe is available in either smooth black or brown leather and can be worn as a formal shoe. Although it isn’t as formal as a patent leather Oxford shoe, the Derby shoe can be worn with tailored separates on a wedding or in a two-piece suit for job interviews.

This Derby is the right shoe for you if you are looking for a smart, all-around shoe that can do almost everything.


The suede Derby is an excellent choice for those who want a timeless, smart-casual shoe that can be worn with almost anything. The suede Derby is more casual than a leather Derby and can be worn with jeans, casual shirts, and unstructured jackets.

This shoe is a great choice for people who don’t like sneakers and adds texture to outfits thanks to its soft, brushed uppers.

Chunky Sole

Derby shoes used to have a flat sole made of leather with a slight heel. For a timeless look that is classic and understated, this is still an option. However, if you want something more edgy, a chunky sole is the way to go. Dr. Marten’s is an excellent example of a brand that has made a name for itself around bulky commando sole Derbies. But there are many others.

Even the Northamptonshire shoemakers Grenson, John Lobb and others now make contemporary Derbies with oversized soles. There are also plenty of fashion heavyweights who have influenced the design – Celine Homme’s checkerboard Ranger Derbies.