Menswear 101

oxford-shoe There’s nothing worse than a man not knowing his shoes.

Okay, wait, there is A LOT worse, but in an attempt to never have you in that situation, I thought it was time to complete my ‘menswear 101‘ education on shoes, with the only major style I haven’t yet covered, the Oxford. I picked up these Oxfords (so shiiiny) from the new Tread and Miller collection, and thought I would use them to help demonstrate the difference between an Oxford and a Derby – For those who think a Derby is a type of horse race read here.

dscf0504textThe reason I thought this post necessary, is I’ve often heard guys referring to Brogues, as Oxfords, when this isn’t always the case. Not every brogue can be an Oxford, nor can every Oxford be a brogue. For some quick clarity, brogueing is the perforation detail given to the shoe – but more on that here.

An Oxford, quite simply is determined by the lacing mechanism. Oxfords have closed lacing. See simple.

Okay, not so simple I get it, this whole shoe thing is actually pretty complex, and more so to explain. Closed lacing, simply means that the eyelet tabs are stitched underneath the vamp of the shoe so that they aren’t visible. In contrast, the Derby, features “open” lacing, which means that their eyelet tabs are stitched on top of the shoe’s vamp

dscf0530dscf0549dscf0518dscf0573mediumSo where did the Oxford come from? Well, there should be no surprise that they originated in Scotland – I say this because it seem that back in the 1600’s Scotland was a serious hub for mens fashion and EVERYTHING originated there! They were called Balmorals back then – after the famous castle.

They became known as Oxfords, when a bunch or rebellious Oxford students fought against the evil oppression of knee high and ankle high boots (called Oxonians) in the early 1800’s. Imagine a world where rebelling meant not wearing a particular shoe? Weird.

The oxford shoe, is perhaps the most formal of all formal shoes. The closed lacing gives the shoe a neat appearance perfect for when you want to bring a further dash of dandy to your look. If you’re not sure what I mean, here’s a little tip.


If you’re looking to up your formal shoe game, I’m gonna suggest a pair of oxfords. I’m even gonna suggest you give these Arthur Jack Atticus Oxfords a try – Full leather, uppers, block heel, almond shaped toe, they tick all the boxes. Oh, and be brave, get the burgundy.

Want R100 off your purchase? Thought you might. Just sign up the newsletter on the Tread and Miller site and boom, you get R100 voucher. Enjoy!

Okay. Stay fancy.

Monk StrapsI dont do these posts often, but they started off as one of my blog fundamentals – Education in mens fashion. Not because I was an expert, because I’m certainly not, but because I realised most guys ddint know enough about what they wore to make an educated choice, so between Menswear 101 and Dressiquete I imparted a few tidbits of history and menswear rules (often dictated by history).

I usually put a new post up when I’m speaking to someone and they say something like “What’s a Monk strap” then I realise I still have work to do. Hence the reason for this post.

The monk strap, as the name implies is a shoe style named after the european monks who wore a buckled shoe due to the additional protection they offered in comparison to the sandals they were accustomed to wearing or the ‘difficult to remove’ boots – a problem when walking in and out of monasteries all day I suppose.

For those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about, they look a little something like this. Take note of the labels as I’ll be speaking about them later.

Monk Straps3A strap is defined as a narrow piece of leather used to fasten something or offer support, in this case it combines with the buckle in order to fasten the shoe. This is of course the monk strap’s most defining feature as the quarters of the shoe are fastened with buckles at the side rather than with laces laces in the middle as with the Derby or Oxford shoe.

The number of buckles can and will vary on monk strap shoe, personally I’m not a massive fan of the single monk (1 strap) and find the triple monk to be overkill (or maybe I just haven’t seen one I like), but the double monk…the double monk is like goldilocks and the three bears ie: It’s just right. I only recently acquired my first pair of monk shoes and a second pair followed very quickly after. I now have to stop myself wearing them with everything in fear that they will just get ruined.

These shoes have become such a big part of my wardrobe, I have decided that I have no choice, but to make them a WMBW Essential.

EssentialsDespite having been around for centuries, like most fashion they have only recently made a massive comeback – by recently I’de say the last couple of years.

Their popularity is said to come from the grandfather of style Mr Lino Leluzzi, one of the Sartorialists favourite subjects and owner of the Al Bazar haberdashery (I did a mini feature of him in my Sartorial Sundays #7 post quite a while back) possibly making them the most worn shoe at Pitti Uomo.

Truthfully I think there popularity is owed to their versatility, with these shoes dressing up or down with zero effort. they give a suit an extra dapper edge but feel as much at home paired up with some skinny chinos or even an old pair of jeans – though you maybe want to undo the top buckle for that added sartorial detail in that case.

side-viewunder-shoeback-viewThe shoes above are from Paul Evans, and are possibly one of the most beautiful pair I’ve ever owned. The craftsmanship is impeccable all the way down to a leather sole that matches the colour of the shoe. If you’re in the market for some, You can get them here.

Okay. stay fancy.


Penny-Loafer-22 With summer on the horizon I thought it appropriate to educate ourselves on the most summerish of shoes. The loafer.

I’ve chosen the penny loafer simply because most people don’t know why they are called penny loafers while most of us know what a loafer is. For those who don’t know, a loafer is best explained as a shoe that does not make use of a fastening system – like laces – but is merely slipped on the foot, which is why they are also often referred to as “slip-ons”.

The origin of the loafer seems to date back to 1874 where Wildsmith shoes designed a pair of casual house shoes for King George VI called the “wild smith loafer”. In 1908 however in Aurland, Norway shoemaker Nils Gregoriusson Tveranger introduced a loafer called the “Aurland shoe” or “Aurland Moccasin” based on the design of moccasins worn by native Americans, these quickly became the casual shoe of choice all around Norway and soon the rest of Europe. It was only after Esquire magazine published an article on Norwegian dairy farmers, loafing around in their casual Aurland shoes in 1930 did the loafer trend take off in America.

Penny-Loafer-23 With loafers being all the rage shoemaker John Bass began producing loafers he called Weejuns (after the shoe’s original wearers the Nor’wegians’) but with a signature split strap across the top of the shoe meant to look like a pair of lips with a diamond cut out in the middle. It wasn’t long before people started further customising their loafers by slipping small decorative objects below the slit.

In the 1950’s its said that American prep school students started slipping pennies into these slits not only as fashion statement but also because 2 pennies was enough money to make an emergency phone call back then, the name penny loafer was born.

Like all fashion, loafers have seen a continuous evolution both in their use and style over the years with different details being introduced like tassels and metal bars, they have also been worn everywhere from the boardroom to the moon (little Micheal Jackson “moonwalk” joke there for you people)  and their versatility is endless.

loafer-2laofer-3 loafer-1 Strangely enough it’s not till recently that I started wearing loafers and now that I’ve started I don’t really wanna wear anything else, to me they just scream of Europe in the summer. After writing this article, I also realise I don’t own a pair of penny loafers, I really need to get my hands on some, in the meantime the ones above are my current favourites and all from Dune London.

Okay. Stay fancy.

Imagine attending this dinner?

[vimeo 75423208 w=544&h=309]

Just sitting around with the who’s who of the mens fashion industry, maybe even your sartorial heroes, dining on steak and lobster, smoking cigars and playing poker!


It is the ultimate gentleman’s night! In fact a guys night out should consist of only this! And it should be black tie, just like these guys did it!

Well, strictly speaking, it’s not exactly black tie, but more ‘black ties’ younger cooler cousin – creative black tie or “optional” black tie.

So, what is Black tie? or when do you wear it? Time for another Menswear 101



_7318942So, I often get asked about dress codes, and truth be told, I’m not really up to speed with most of it myself, they’ve all changed so much since there inception that the lines have become slightly blurry, well all except white tie. What is white tie? Well, Its safe to say that if you don’t know, you don’t need to, as it is the most formal of dress codes and often kept for events like state dinners. So, really, it’s SUPER fancy!

So, black tie then? At it’s most basic, black tie is exactly that, a black bow tie, worn with a  dark suit, white shirt and black shoes at a fomal evening event, of course its not that simple, but you could probably get away with that, as have the gents in the above post.

Traditionally though ( and this dress code dates back to the 19th century) the dinner jacket – or tuxedo for our American friends – is a single breasted dark jacket made of wool with contrasting lapels, usually silk, the trousers would also have a single silk stripe running down the outer seam of the leg. The dress shirt would have a pleated front, a turndown collar (winged collars are for white tie) and french cuffs to be worn with cufflinks. The shoes, which were traditionally pumps are now generally highly polished or patent leather oxford shoes.

As with every outfit it all comes down to the details, so you would pair this up with a black bow tie in the same fabric as your lapels as well as a black cummerbund ( in warm weather ) or low cut waistcoat.

As with the dress code, tuxedos have come a long way, and much like suits you get them in all types of fits and styles. You should really only ever buy 1 or 2 Tux’s your entire life, you probably wont get much wear out of them, but when the occasion calls for a Tux, you gotta look the part.

This is why, the little collection I’ve put together goes against my normal, ‘get it cheap’ motto. This is the one time you wanna spend more than you would, it’s the only way to guarantee that when you walk into a black tie event you feel like a million bucks!

I’m a big fan of the 1 button tuxedo jacket, I think it’s just so versatile you can even wear it with a pair of skinny jeans for a rockstar look, everything else is pretty standard, a nice pair of patent leather oxford shoes, some simple classic cufflinks and a pleated tuxedo shirt with a black bow tie. I have eliminated the cummerbund though, why? you ask. Simple. it’s just f@#cking ridiculous and looks terribly outdated, I hate those things.

Tuxedo by Hugo Boss

Shirt by David Donahue

Bow tie by David Donahue

Cufflinks by David Donahue

Shoes by Salvatore Ferragamo

Okay. Stay fancy. VERY fancy!

Derby shoeThere’s a reason this has taken so long.

Explaining the intricacies of mens footwear is a tricky situation as it often comes down to the smallest detail on a strange part of the shoe.

I had to start somewhere so I’ve started with one of the more difficult ones, the Derby. Identifying a derby shoe, all comes down to the eyelet tabs. The derby has what is called open lacing, which is to say that you can see a gap between the laces (in front of the tongue of the shoe), caused by the eyelet tabs being placed apart from one another.

The one further detail that makes a shoe a derby and not a bulcher (the two are often confused) is that the eyelet tab is attached to the vamp of the shoe as a separate piece of leather. What’s the vamp you ask? Simply explained its the piece of shoe that warps around your foot from before the toes to your ankle or heel.

I’ve indicated the explanations above on on this pair of derby’s from Zara below.

Derby-shoe2 Derby-shoe3Once again guys, I’m no shoemaker or fashion history expert, but I do research the death out of my posts before I wright them. If someone out there has a better explanation or finds fault with the description, drop me a comment and I’ll be happy to re look it.

Okay. Stay fancy.

Oxfor ShirtsI love my oxford shirts.

But I only found out quite recently exactly what makes an oxford shirt, an oxford shirt.

First and foremost an oxford shirt is a dress shirt, which is to say that they have buttons all the way down the front and feature collars and historically sleeve cuffs – though now days they are available with short sleeves.

They look a little something like  this on from ASOS

Oxfor Shirts3But this is what most people believe defines an oxford shirt. It’s not.

An oxford shirt is defined by the cloth from which it is made, oxford cloth (no surprises there). Originating from Oxford (surprise surprise) in England the original pattern was called The Royal Oxford and made using pure cotton only. The  weave of the fabric resembles a basket pattern giving is a slightly elevated soft feel and making it very durable.

Oxfor Shirts2Despite it’s strict beginnings, oxford shirts now come in a variety of colours and prints as well as different styles, it’s the evolution of fashion I guess.

Although they never really go out of fashion they are currently quite fashionable and lend themselves perfectly to a preppy look.

Okay. Stay Fancy.

So, Ive decided to add a new section to the blog.

Menswear 101.

This is a back to basics extension of Dressiquette and Know your patterns posts I’ve been doing for a while now and it goes hand in hand with my motto of “a well informed man, is a well dressed man“. Ok, that’s a lie I just made that up and it barely makes any sense.

The truth is, while I write posts I’m researching and learning new things about menswear that I never knew before, stuff that I find interesting and think is worth passing along. Like this, the first in the series, the mystery of…the brogue!

broguesI’m starting to realise that the Irish and Scotts have played a fundamental role in todays fashion landscape, they gave us Tartan, and apparently, they gave us the brogue as well.

It’s origin was a simple leather shoe with perforations in it to allow water to drain out (what were these people walking through??!) today the now decorative perforations (or broguing) still characterise this formal dress shoe and it’s many forms. Yep, many forms, lets start with the current mega trend, the wingtip.

brogues3Also known as the full brogue, it has decorations all along the toe cap and it’s serrated edges which extend down the shoe into a wing shape. From the top, the W shape looks like the extended wings of a bird, cool uh? A shoe with the same wingtip-style toecap but no perforations is known as an “austerity brogue”, while a plain toe with wing-tip perforations is called a “blind brogue”.

brogues2The above shoe is called a longwing brogue, and its distinguishing feature is the extended wing tip that reaches around the shoe and meets in the back.

brogues4Meet the semi-brogue or half-brogue, its distinguished by its rounded toe cap that is perforated both along its jagged edge and the centre of the toe cap

brogues5Lastly we have the quarter brogue, unlike the above semi brogue, it only has decorations on the jagged edge of the toe cap.

That’s it really, thats the full brogue story as far as I know it, use this information wisely.

All the above shoes are from Zara.

Okay. Stay Fancy.