Thursday, April 11, 2019

A Reader Question for the Community: What is the Shoe Equivalent of an Oxford Shirt?


A reader question:
Is there an equivalent to an OCBD in shoes? I mean a pair of shoes that could be said to be essential, multi-functional, capable of being dressed up or dressed down. I ask because it is not clear to me that any such shoes exist.
I suppose an easy answer would be to say loafers or moccasins, but these seem too lightweight. Can a person really walk all day, comfortably, on camp soles? Boots, on the other hand, seem too heavy. Then there are sneakers; and I confess to having worn sneakers for most of my life. But white-soled sneakers show dirt all too easily; not to mention that the bizarre designs of modern sneakers are, shall we say, difficult to integrate into traditional style.

41 comments:

  1. I’d go with an Alden penny loafer, or I also like the classic Gucci bit loafers.

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  2. I agree with Anon, a penny or bit loafer with either hard rubber (Gucci lug sole) or full leather sole is my equivalent to the OCBD.

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  3. Bass Weejuns..penny or tassel
    Variety of sole material depending on activity

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  4. I've never been a sneaker person but for walking comfort I do wear sneaker type styles made by Ecco and I have a pair of Sorel Out and About Plus that I love in a sage color because it doesn't have a white sole. I wear loafers and boat shoes 90 percent of the time. I have loafers made by Ralph Lauren and Bass- some are dressier than others.

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  5. suede oxfords with crepe soles. especially white ones in the summer. at least here in New Orleans.

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  6. Yeah, it's called the Oxford shoe!

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    1. I agree with Anonymous above- a well-fitting cordovan captoe oxford can be worn with most colors of dress or business suit, and as it ages, re-soling it with a rubber half sole makes it fine to wear as a sport shoe with more casual trousers. Eventually it can be used for hiking, gardening, lawn mowing, painting etc, just like a worn-out OCBD shirt. My grandfather used to do this - don't recall that he owned any boots or sneakers- just a few pairs of oxfords in various states of respectability.

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  7. I would consider real Weejuns or a camp moc to be the equivalent. I actually spend more time in my camp mocs than my weejuns. I wear my Rancourt camp mocs with basically everything but a suit. GLH

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  8. I would venture that while an OCBD is a nearly universal garment (e.g. not for black/white tie events), shoes have to afford one mobility depending upon the situation or weather. I can shovel snow or mow the lawn in an OCBD, my feet require activity appropriate cladding. My .02 cents.

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  9. been teaching at a public high school for 21 years, on my feet a good part of the day, and have always worn boat shoes or LL Bean blucher mocs

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  10. I agree with RCJH and will normally wear Top-Siders in nice weather but will switch to Merrells for walking, hiking, snow, etc. To me, the classic shoes to be worn for that WASPY look would be penny loafers, boat shoes, desert boots (out west anyway), and camp shoes. I used to wear wingtips with OCBD shirts and a suit but that was the 70's. Come to think of it, the OCBDs were actually pinpoint OCBDs.

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  11. If you put starch in your shirt or wear non iron shirts, penny loafers. If you don't, bluchers. The equivalent of a polo shirt is boat shoes or tennis shoes.

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    1. Sounds right on-target to me.

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  12. Longwing brogues aka wingtips, e.g. Florsheim Imperial Kenmoor, double soled if necessary for comfort. They can be worn with a suit, blazer or sports coat.

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  13. Paraboot Rousseau or Andersen (in brown calf or suede). Versatile, sturdy, Goodyear-welted, outstanding leather, with very comfortable rubber soles. Due to the "floating lining", they're breathable and can be worn nearly year-round.

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  14. Replies
    1. Plain toe cordovans...haven't seen a pair in years, but the last ones I saw are probably in great shape and look, as always, great. In my life time, I've seen many cordovan colored shoes but few made of cordovan leather. If I hadn't shrunk to five feet six with feet that have grown to size nine and a half, I might consider treating myself to a pair. Not only do I agree with your choice, I thank for a reminder of times past, for me at least.

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    1. +1 for bucks. They can be worn with jeans, chinos, shorts or moleskins, so tick the dress-up/dress-down box. They are also comfortable, practical and utilitarian.

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  16. There are some great suggestions listed above so I won't repeat them, but if there's one shoe that actually works on both extremes, it has got to be the Gucci loafer. Their new Jordaan bit loafer isn't necessarily my personal cup of tea, but I have seen someone wear the very dark navy version sockless with shorts during the summer, as well as with an outright tuxedo at a gala. Amazingly, they looked fitting in each circumstance. There are certainly shoes you can wear casually as well as with a suit, but a tux? No others come to mind.

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  17. I think a suede lace-up oxford would be the best shoe.

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  18. Brown penny loafers, any brand, beefroll, leather soles.

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  19. Blucher Mocs or Camp Mocs by Rancourt or Quoddy. The quality is there as in a good OCBD as well as being versatile between work and play.

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  20. Alden Leisure Handsewn Moccasin.

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    1. I completely agree. I particularly like the Alden Black Chromexcel unlined LHS loafer with the tan stitching and the matching tan sole. You can wear them with shorts and no socks, or with a suit.

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  21. Topsiders. I wore them 30 years to teach school always wearing an OCBD shirt

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  22. Sperry Gold Cups are my usual with khakis and OCBD. Add a blue blazer and tie for church, going out to dinner, or casual days at the office. Also, Alden tan bucks.

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  23. Much depends on which side you fall in the Great Moccasin Divide. The moc-toe is a characteristic quirk of preppy footwear. Its contrast stitching and puckered vamp makes any leather shoe a bit more casual, like a shirt with buttons on the collar points. If you like the moc-toe, then go on wearing your weejuns, penny loafers, boat shoes, camp mocs and ranger mocs. These are all basically outdoor slippers, with rawhide laces if any. For myself, speaking as a foreigner, and with apologies to my fellow readers, the moc-toe seems to have little charm or relevance outside of its native New England. I hold to plain-toe shoes, of the oxford/balmoral/blucher/derby families (ignoring for now the matter of wing tips and perforations). If suede then call them bucks. I've read that G. Bruce Boyer wears nothing but brown bucks, and there's wisdom there. The trick is to find a pair that hits the right measure of both earthiness and fussiness, to borrow an expression from our dear editor. A few principles may be suggested: that they be made from a reasonably durable and low-maintenance leather, not too shiny or too dark in colour, with a light rubber sole for a touch of weather resistance. Perhaps someday we'll invent an acronym for the idea.

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  24. I've worn many brands from Sperry to Rancourt, Eastland to Bean, lace-ups to loafers and liked them all. For all-day comfort I have to give it to Rockport and also nod to their Dressport line. Shoes that hold up with dress chinos and a jacket and very underrated penny loafers. It's sad to hear that Rockport is now in hard times.

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  25. I have to concede defeat on this. My personal must-haves include black captoe oxfords, brown gunboat wingtips, penny loafers, boat shoes, and blucher mocs. Tassel loafers and cordovan await me when I get older, camp mocs are too close to the boat shoe (hence my preference for the bluchers) and bit loafers and chukkas just aren't for me.

    The problem comes with the fact that I might be wearing an OCBD with any of these shoes. With a suit and the black oxfords, with a sport coat and the pennies or wingtips, or, casual as can be with the boat shoes or blucher mocs. Thus, the shirt transcends them all. However, each of these shoes would be inappropriate in at least one situation. Black shoes aren't for khakis, gunboats might still be too formal for some on the weekend, (I at least) don't get the support from pennies that I feel like I could walk around the world in them, and the bluchers and boat shoes obviously are inappropriately casual for some settings.

    Either I've been stumped, or the OCBD proves its unparalleled versatility, yet again.

    If you're willing to entertain a little GTH style however, the white buck, albeit a summer shoe, almost allows the OCBD's cross-cut (depending on industry and place of employment).

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  26. Sneakers – clean, “dressy” sneakers. Remember that the OCBD comes from sportswear, and Brooks Brothers still likes to call it a polo shirt. Traditionally I’d say boat shoes, which are sneakers. But we ought to look to the future on this one.

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    1. Nonsense. You can't start at the bottom and work up, as with yoga pants. You have to start at the top and work down. You have to take a traditional calfskin shoe and bring it down a step. Try a distressed leather brogue with a dainite sole. (Or, as others have suggested, suede.)

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  27. Bucs (or penny loafers - maybe more so) are the exact moral and sartorial equivalent of an OCBD in every way, shape, and form. You can wear them everywhere but a gala, funeral, or board meeting.

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  28. Alden's Leisure Hand Sewn penny loafers, preferably in shell cordovan leather, and preferably the unlined version Brooks Brothers carries. Dressy enough for any professional environment these days, and casual enough to go with shorts, sans socks. Extremely comfortable, and good for walking. I know, I know, there'll be nay-sayers who say you can't wear them with suits, so therefore they don't meet the "professional" requirement, but I see so few suits these days anyway, and I work in a profession where coat and tie is a daily requirement.

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  29. Assume this is directed at the men, but clogs are my universal go-to, once Blundstone season has ended.

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