Today, most menswear outfits have changed to become casual by default. Versatility is the feature most associated with a great investment. The Derby shoes, in particular, are amongst the few that can be paired with just about anything, from the laidback casual look to the more business formal.
Derby shoes provide the exact kind of refined look men always want to possess, classing up the informal look or relaxing the more formal appearance whenever necessary, without diminishing sophistication. They work, no matter the situation.
What are Derby shoes?
Derby shoes are a shoe style characterized by their quarters, with the eyelets sewn on top of the vamp. This is called open-lacing construction and can also be applied to boots, although shoes have been the most used design.
It is also worth noting that they are often also confused with the Oxford shoe style. Again, lacing is where we find their biggest difference: while the space between the eyelets tap will flap open when the laces are undone in a Derby, the Oxford eyelets tab will be sewn shut.
Features of the Derby Shoes
Although Derby Shoes can be constructed under different methods, such as Goodyear Welted, their main features always come forth because of the open-lacing system applied.
Technically, this is made by combining two parts of the shoe anatomy in a different manner than you may be accustomed to: the quarters and the vamp.
The vamp is part of the upper, which is the material that covers your feet, from toes to instep. The quarters cover the sides of the feet, and meet the mid-foot, at the instep.
This is important to understand the main feature of the Derby shoes: open-lacing. Closed-laced shoes have their vamp sewn on top of the quarters. Open-lacing, on the other hand, have their quarters sewn on top of the vamp.
Although the description of this system can, sometimes, be hard to visualize, the truth is it only takes one look at a pair of Derby shoes to instantly recognize them, no matter the style they present themselves in.
Derby Shoe Styles
Ultimately, Derby shoes distinguish themselves from the other shoe styles due to this open-lacing system, which can be applied to almost any type of shoe. So, in the end, it’s a matter of both the construction method applied by the shoemaker, as well as the individual taste of the person acquiring them.
In short, to the distinctive feature of every shoe style, we add the open-lacing system, therefore creating an entirely different shoe. That being said, there are three common styles everyone should know:
Cap Toe Derby
The Cap Toe is a distinctive horizontal stitching that is done from one side of the welt to the other, effectively dividing the upper in the form of a cap. Although they may seem simple or plain, cap toes are far from it: a single line in an otherwise plain canvas can make a big even if subtle difference.
When constructing them in an open-lacing system, the Cap Toe Derby shoes are born.
The Brogue Derby shoe or their Wingtip version (if the ‘broguing’ was made in the shape of a wingtip) naturally follows the same line of thinking. To the unique perforations made to create the Brogue style, the shoemaker handcrafts them in an open-lacing manner, therefore creating the truly unique Brogue Derby shoes.
The plain Derby shoe is the reason why, sometimes, Derby shoes are confused with the oxfords. Naturally, the elegance and the formality of the Oxfords are indisputable, but when the open-lacing system is applied it offers the Plain Derby shoes a plainly distinctive feature that sets them apart.
How to wear Derby shoes
Derby shoes have a very versatile style that can accommodate many looks, from casual to formal. When in doubt, these can be seen as the go-to pair that can always be trusted.
Having decided on the type of Derby shoes according to the descriptions shared above, one needs also to make a decision between suede and leather.
Suede is a very popular choice, providing a timeless look appropriate for a stroll through the city or a dinner event between friends. Leather, on the other hand, is easier to wear and care for.
Whatever the choice, men’s Derby shoes can be as loose and fun as you want or need them to be. Casual Derby shoes can offer a relaxed and rare kind of diversity that makes them suitable to be combined with almost all clothing.
Always comfortable, black derby shoes can also be used to class up any outfit, including a black-tie suit, particularly if they were handcrafted in leather instead of suede.
All in all, they offer you a uniquely refined look that just works.