Part III – Types of Shoe
We’ve made it! The last part in this three part series. In Part 1 I taught you all about the anatomy of a shoe, and in Part 2 I showed you how it was all put together. In this final part, I’m going to talk a little bit about the many different types of shoe that are out there.
For the sake of simplicity, and to save me going on for an actual year, I’m going to limit myself to ‘dress shoes’. In some cases, I’m stretching the definition a little bit, but it will serve to keep us (me) on-topic.
I’ve included some links to examples of the shoes on Goodwin-Smith’s website. Full disclosure, if you decide to buy anything, I receive a small commission. I’m not being paid to write this article, and am doing so independently – I already own three pairs of their shoes and plan to buy many more, and I wouldn’t recommend any brand I wouldn’t buy myself. The proceeds go towards helping me keep Anna furnished with Prosecco.
Types of Shoe | The Oxford
Known also as a Balmoral (though technically a Balmoral is a sub-type of an Oxford), an Oxford shoe is identifiable by the fact that the eyelet tabs are overlapped at the bottom by the vamp. This is known as closed lacing.
Check out this Newline Tan Brogue – £95 from Goodwin-Smith
Types of Shoe | The Derby
Also known as a Gibson (like my Jeffery-Wests), I would wager that this is the more common type of dress shoe seen (at least in the UK). In a Derby, the eyelet tabs are left unattached to the vamp at the bottom (though they will be stitched to it in part, to hold them in place). This is called open lacing.
Both Oxfords/Balmorals and Derbys/Gibsons are frequently found with broguing and embellishments. Depending on their design, they can be fantastically versatile shoes, which you can dress up with a suit or down with a pair of jeans as you so choose.
These suede Ewood Navy Brogues from Goodwin-Smith would look great with a pair of jeans or light chinos.
Types of Shoe | Monk Straps
Monk straps don’t have laces. Instead, they have a piece of leather that wraps over the top and buckles to the side of the foot. You’ll find two different variations – a single and a double monk strap. A single has – you guessed it – a single buckle, and a double has two. A double monk strap will tend to have a much wider piece of leather crossing over the foot.
From personal experience, as a result of the wider strap on the double monk strap, you may find these shoes take a bit longer to break in. The leather will be that much stiffer against the front of your ankle. Take it easy, wear them little and often, and you’ll soon find they soften into a pair of beautiful slippers.
I own a pair of these Tunstead double monk straps, and they look fantastic with a pair of jeans, or equally good with a grey suit.
Types of Shoe | Blucher
We’re getting into the nitty-gritty now. Pronounced (in English) ‘Blue-cher’ and in German ‘Blue-ker’, this shoe will upon first inspection look very similar to a Derby/Gibson; and in fact, in the USA the term Blucher is used interchangeably with Derby (incorrectly – sorry). The difference is that the eyelet tabs are part of the vamp: the whole upper is made from a single piece of leather. Traditional bluchers saw their making in the military, and will generally be quite utilitarian without much ornamentation.
Types of Shoe | Loafers
Loafers are slip on shoes, and dress loafers come in three main types: the penny loafer, which has a strap of leather across the top of the foot with a decorative slit in it; the bit loafer, which has an ornamental metal chain or link over the top of the foot; and finally the tassel loafer, which comes with tassels. There are also driving shoes to consider (which I haven’t drawn – they’re really not a dress shoe) that are soft-soled loafers, usually with a rounded heel to make driving your expensive sports car easier.
I’ve always found tassel and bit loafers to be a bit Gordon Gekko, but I’m starting to think I should definitely add a pair of penny loafers and maybe even a pair of driving shoes to my collection. Again, they’re very versatile, especially in a suede, and can be worn with jeans or shorts alike. I’ve got my eye on these Brittania calf skin suede ones.
So, that’s the end of this three part series on shoe architecture. I’ve taken you through Shoe Anatomy, Shoe Construction and now types of shoe. In truth, I could write many more thousands of words on the topic – and intend to. I haven’t even touched on boots, how to care for your shoes or how to get a last made… to name a few topics. Keep your eyes peeled and I’ll get all this written (and more) as quickly as I can!