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Your shoes can make or break your outfit, so it’s essential to pick the right pair. Thankfully though, selecting the perfect footwear is easy when you have derbies in your wardrobe. These sleek and timeless shoes can suit practically any occasion and outfit. As such, they’re a style every gent should own. Ideal for work, the weekend, and nearly every event in between, derby shoes have you covered in both style and practicality. In this guide, we take a closer look at the fantastic footwear option, its many variations, and the ways they can be worn. Here’s how to wear derby shoes for a dapper look.
What are Derby Shoes?
Derby shoes are a classic and comfortable style of men’s footwear. Like oxfords, they are a standard type of dress shoe. They are suitable for formal occasions and can be partnered with a suit. However, their sleek yet simplistic appearance also lends itself well to casual and smart casual outfits. As such, derby shoes can work just as well with a pair of jeans as they can with wool trousers. All you need to do is select the right pair for your needs. While black and brown leather varieties appear traditional and sophisticated, suede designs, brogue styles, and derby boots often seem more relaxed.
Oxford vs Derby Shoes
Many men find telling the difference between Oxfords and derbies challenging as they’re unsure what to look for. When trying to discern whether a pair of shoes is an Oxford design or a derby style, look at the laces. Derby shoes feature an open lacing system while Oxfords have a closed lacing system that is stitched shut across the bottom. Therefore, the eyelet tabs, where the laces weave through, are sewn down on Oxford shoes and left loose on derbies. So, Oxfords are more rigid and formal while derby shoes are slightly more relaxed and comfortable.
When to Wear Derby Shoes
Derby Dress Shoes
If you’re after a pair of derby shoes you can wear to formal occasions, you should select derby dress shoes. To do so, look for a sleek design that will partner perfectly with a suit. In particular, smooth leather styles in black work best. However, dark brown tones can also look good. Also, be sure to choose a slim shape with a single leather sole to ensure a smart and polished appearance.
SHOP THE LOOK
Casual Derby Shoes
While you can easily dress up derby shoes, you can also quickly dress them down. To do so, start by selecting a pair that appears relaxed, such as a chunky style with thick soles, like classic Dr Martens, a light-colored design or even a suede option. Then, partner your shoes with either jeans or chinos and something comfortable on top. Although the overall look will appear casual, your footwear will add a stylish and slightly polished touch.
SHOP THE LOOK
Black Derby Shoes
Black derbies are a versatile pair of shoes that can take you from the office to the restaurant and even the bar with ease. The classic and sleek footwear option can suit a variety of occasions. But, be mindful of the different designs available when trying to choose the right pair (or pairs) for you. Thankfully, whether a sophisticated patent leather design, simple matte leather style, or even a suede version, you’ll be sure to get plenty of wear out of your black derbies.
Brown Derby Shoes
When it comes to choosing a pair of brown derby shoes, you’ll need to consider when and where you plan to wear them. For work and formal events, dark brown leather derbies are ideal. However, if you’re more likely to wear your shoes casually, you may want to opt for a more laidback light brown leather or suede style. Also, don’t forget to factor the sole and any decorative stitching into your decision.
Leather Derby Shoes
Leather derby shoes have long been a favorite footwear style for men, and with good reason. These shoes appear traditional and polished and are ideal for a range of occasions and outfits. So, whether you’re heading to lunch, dinner, the office, or even the races, these shoes can work for you. Just select a classic black or brown pair to keep the emphasis on your outfit or opt for a bolder design, such as a brogue or two-tone style, to draw eyes down to your feet.
Suede Derby Shoes
While leather derbies are classic and timeless, suede derbies offer a more contemporary and relaxed feel. As such, they make an excellent option for casual and semi formal outfits. Additionally, suede derbies come in a variety of colors, including black, brown, navy, and even white. So, there’s an option for every gent and every event.
Brogues are shoes that feature decorative perforations. As such, they are available in different footwear styles, including derby shoes. Due to their open lacing systems and perforations, derby brogues have a bold appearance. Therefore, they are ideal for fashionable gents looking to create a footwear statement for a casual or smart casual outfit.
Derbies are also available in the form of boots. So, if you’re after footwear that’s practical and stylish, you can’t pass this extended version. Appearing just like standard derbies but a little longer, derby boots feature an open lacing system and finish at or above the ankle. They are a common boot style and are perfect for instilling a sleek military touch into any outfit.
How to Wear Derby Shoes
- Choose a slim pair of black or dark brown leather derbies for formal occasions.
- Wear dress derbies with a suit, shirt, and tie.
- To wear derbies casually, choose a relaxed style, such as a chunky or suede design.
- Try casual derbies with jeans for a laidback look with a little polish.
- Partner brogue derbies with chinos for a fashionable, smart casual style.
- Opt for derby boots to give outfits a military touch.
Are Derby shoes formal?
Derby shoes can be worn on formal occasions with a suit; however, they’re not as formal in style as an Oxford. As such, they can also be worn with smart casual and casual outfits as well.
How should derby shoes fit?
A derby shoe should fit a little firmer than casual shoes but shouldn’t be uncomfortable. It’s best to try dress shoes on and take a few paces on a carpeted floor to see how they move. There should be a secure fit across the arch and no slippage in the heel. Across the ball of your foot should also be firm, as that area will soften and stretch with wear, especially in leather shoes. Finally, your toes should not touch the end of the toe – a thumb-width of room at the end is ideal but can vary between styles.
Can you wear derby shoes with shorts?
Derby shoes and shorts are a tricky combination, but it can be pulled off. Choose a lighter colored shoe, perhaps in a suede finish, for a more casual vibe and to avoid looking like a schoolboy. Then, match it with a tailored or slim-cut short that sits above the knee. Ditch the long socks in favor of an “invisible” pair or very low-cut ankle socks; otherwise, you can end up looking a bit too much like Angus Young from AC/DC.
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