You Might Be Calling Your Flat Shoes the Wrong Thing

Amelia Diamond | January 5, 2016

Learn the difference between Brogues, Derbys, Oxfords and Loafers

A debate recently broke out in the office regarding the difference between brogues, oxfords and loafers. Some of us believed the first two were the same thing. Others claimed that the tell of an oxford was that it comprised of two colors — a “saddle shoe.” All of us had different definitions of a loafer. It was absolute madness and wigs were flying and shoes were lobbed at heads. It was extremely uncivilized. But pandemonium is only natural when you don’t know what to call the items on your feet!

The only way to restore order to the office was to seek outside help of an expert. I called upon Dan Rookwood, US Editor for, to break it down and bring back our office peace.

An oxford is a formal lace-up shoe. It is not, as some of you may have thought, an esteemed English university worn on one’s feet.

So, yes:

Dieppa Restrepo oxfords


University of Oxford, Old Souls Quad

Rookwood says you can distinguish the oxford from the other main type of lace-up shoe, a derby, by looking at the lacing itself: “An oxford has a ‘closed front’ which gives it a sleeker appearance and thus is usually a more formal shoe than a derby.”

If you look at an oxford, it is basically wearing a lace-up V-neck shirt that stops where your foot bends.

The derby, Rookwood explained, is a lace-up where the eyelet facing are stitched on top of the vamp (the front section of the shoe). This is called an “open front.” If you take out the laces, it opens like a flasher opening his trench. An oxford would never do that, both because it is more dignified and because it wouldn’t physically be able to, thanks to the stitching.

According to Rookwood, a brogue is “strictly speaking, a decorative perforated pattern in the leather of the shoe. You could have an oxford shoe that is also a brogue, for example.”

Fun fact: a brogue is also a heavy Irish and sometimes Scottish accent. “Tom Branson has a sexy Irish brogue.”

Downton Abbey S3 The third series, set in 1920, sees the return of all the much loved characters in the sumptuous setting of Downton Abbey. As they face new challenges, the Crawley family and the servants who work for them remain inseparably interlinked. ALLEN LEECH as Tom Branson

A loafer is a slip-on shoe without laces. “Think of the classic Gucci horsebit loafer,” said Rookwood who kindly does not think I am an idiot despite basically asking, “What is a shoe?”

Fast Quiz: 

The man in the orange kilt is wearing A) an oxford B) a loafer C) a brogue?


The real answer is that this picture isn’t close up enough to tell. We know they are not loafers. He is likely wearing oxfords as opposed to derbys due to the formal nature of his dress and though I see no apparent perforation to determine these oxfords as brogues, he definitely speaks with a Scottish brogue.

The more you know.

Photographed by Krista Anna Lewis; Illustration by Emily Zirimis and Handwriting by Krista Anna Lewis


  • today i am wearing loafers… i think.

    • Leticia Kahn

      I am getting a salary of more than 4500 dollars each week , that is awesome. Over a year ago I was in a horrible condition , jobless and Bank account with only few bucks . Thanks to one of my friends who showed me a way where I was able to gather myself and making average of 68 d/h. So it can change your life as it has changed mine.


    • juned ahmed

      shoes me

  • Ankle boot. That’s what I’m pretty sure I’m wearing. I love the part from The Kingsmen where he explains to the boy the difference between an Oxford and a Brogue. I always forget it, though. This is a great reminder!

    • I kept thinking that the entire time I read this article! Although Colin Firth could explain linear algebra to me, and I would understand it 😛

    • Sacha D

      “Oxfords, not Brogues” haha, great movie!

      • Corrina Dixon

        I am getting a salary of more than 4400 dollars each week , that is awesome. Over a year ago I was in a horrible condition , jobless and Bank account with only few bucks . Thanks to one of my friends who showed me a way where I was able to gather myself and making average of 68 d/h. So it can change your life as it has changed mine.

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  • Danielle Verderame

    And then there are all these hybrids showing up as the trend increases. Who knows what we’ll call them next.

  • Esty Turner

    I for one am v partial to the loafer. Specifically those red Gucci ones. (also think you meant counterclockwise)

    • Amelia Diamond

      Clocks are crazy where I come from

    • Camilla

      Clockwise from Gucci to suede surely? I understand clocks but still don’t really get the difference between an Oxford and a derby…

      • Esty Turner

        It totally is! The order of the shoes was edited to make it go clockwise. Re: oxford vs derby – I just go with the ones that are the prettiest whatever it’s *technically* called.

        • Camilla

          oh so tricky! haha yep ‘shoes’ will do – they’re all lovely

  • BK


    • Amelia Diamond


  • Laurabird

    so are those things with monkstraps… loafers???

    • Amelia Diamond

      A monkstrap is a monkstrap, all on its own. Unless you have one crazy shoe. Upload a pic and I will confirm, like WebMD!

  • Joy

    YES. Finally a guide. #neededthisinmylife


  • chouette

    I was super happy when all the websites just updated the section to say “FLAT SHOES”.

  • Chelsea Murphy

    I was all satisfied with my new knowledge on this topic when I noticed the web address for this article is “difference-between-loafer-and-moccasin” and now I’m like OMG BUT WHAT IS A MOCCASIN.

    • Amelia Diamond


      • Chelsea Murphy

        EXCELLEEEEENT. You guys are my favorite educators.

  • nygirltrappedinfl

    What about drivers? Loafer? Mocassin? Both? Should we be wearing them unless we’re behind the wheel of a Lamborghini?

    • Amelia Diamond

      Ok I really think this sounds like a whole other post! I can tell you know that a moccasin is called that because of the specific construction of the shoe. TBD on the Lambo but do not worry, your question will be answered.

  • Karalyn Rae

    One word for this post- yaaaasssss

  • juned ahmed

    100 % Genui

  • juned ahmed

    100 % Genuine Leather Women Boots online

  • Amber Wolma

    Speaking of what to call shoes, my recent obsession is with boots with this little flappy bit over the ankle area like this: but searching for them is next to impossible because I have no words for this feature. Anyone have any ideas?