Sunday, August 2, 2009

Oxfords vs. Blucher - The distinction is key

Every man needs a pair of Oxford's in his closet. They are the most versatile and dressy shoe a man can own. They are the go to Wedding shoe, Interview shoe, Funeral shoe and if you don't have a true formal shoe the only shoe in the closet appropriate for Black Tie events. They are classy, simple and go with any suit, can be worn with business casual and with jeans. (Pictured above is a Bruno Magli Cap Toe Oxford). But please do not confuse the Oxford with the Blucher.

The Blucher is a casual shoe. It was originally designed to be worn on weekends and is a setup down from the Oxford. It is less elegant and very limited in its use. It can only properly be worn with business casual. It is not be worn with a suit, on an interview, wedding or funeral. And it must never be worn to a black tie event. The worst thing about Bluchers and Oxfords is that most shoe companies mislabel Bluchers as Oxfords. Search for a Cap Toe Oxford online and your search results will be inundated with Bluchers. Do these companies, which make and sell shoes for a living even know the difference? Do they care?

The distinction is simple. Pictured below are two examples of Bluchers mascerading as Oxfords (Giorgio Brutini on top and Johnston & Murphy on the bottom). The difference is how the laces are connected to the vamp. The Vamp is main front portion of the shoe. On a Blucher the laces are placed directly on top of the vamp. On an Oxford the vamp covers the laces creating a throat line. (Here is a great diagraphm of the anatomy of an Oxford). By having the vamp cover the laces and the creation of a throat line, the Oxford has a more finished and polished look. It ends up with a more sophisticated look which allows the shoes to be more a functions that require best dressed attire.

Next time you go shopping beaware of difference and choose appropriately. Go for an Oxford and leave the Bluchers for everyone else.


  1. Thank you for speaking out on an issue that has really been bothering me lately. If you don't mind me throwing in my two cents, I'd like to mention that bluchers originated as more of a "country" shoe. Because of that, they really only look right when they have other "country" features. A black captoe blucher with no broguing is kind of a bastardization; a country shoe doing a terrible job of adapting to city life. If you really want the bluchers, you need to embrace their rural heritage. Get them in brown or oxblood. Get them with tons of broguing. Heck, get wingtips. Wear them with tweed. Or, wear them to work with a navy blue suit and embrace the sartorial contradiction.

  2. Good point. Blucher's have their place, but please know how and when to wear them. I really like the Navy suit with mahogany brown blucher wingtips. That sounds like a fantastically interesting outfit, the contradiction is well played with that outfit.