Men’s Derby shoes are a favorite because of their versatility. Whether you want to wear them to a business meeting or a day on the town, Derbies will give you a look that’s sure to impress!

What are Derby Shoes?

Derbies are a style of shoe or boot with defined quarters and an open-lace design. An open-lace design has exposed eyelets on top of the vamp, the part of the quarters that sits on top of the tongue.

An open-lace design also means the bottom of the vamp is free to pull away from the shoe’s tongue since they’re not sewn together.

Men’s Derby shoes are suitable for any type of feet, although men with wide feet often prefer Derbies because of their open-lace design. Open-lace shoes are less restrictive than other sorts of shoes.

The Derby shoe has gone by various names in its history. They are sometimes known as the Gibson or the Blucher, and the name varies depending on where you live.

Derbies vs. Oxfords: What’s the Difference?

People often compare Derbies and Oxfords to each other, and not without good reason. The two types of shoes are very similar, especially in their shape and design elements. They share characteristics like defined quarters and design choices like brogues or polished finishes.

The primary differences between Derbies and Oxfords are their laces and their insteps. As mentioned before, Derbies have an open-lace design, which means the vamp is not sewn to the shoe. Oxford shoes have a closed lacing design, which means the vamp is sewn to the shoe’s tongue.

When it comes to insteps or the arch of your feet, Oxford shoes tend to be better suited for those with flatter feet. Derby shoes are much more comfortable for those with wide feet or high arches.

Many people think men’s Derby shoes are less formal than Oxford shoes because of their lace structure. Less formal shoes mean you have more opportunities to wear them!

How to Wear Derbies

Men’s Derby shoes are incredibly versatile, so you can wear them in either formal or casual settings. Here’s a quick guide to help you choose the best Derbies for whatever event you’re looking forward to.


If you’re choosing Derbies for a formal occasion, make sure you choose a Derby dress shoe. These have a sleeker design and are normally made of leather. You can find Derby dress shoes in black or brown, which pairs best with suits needed for formal occasions.

You should also be looking for a shoe that has a leather sole and a slimmer build. A leather sole looks so much better than a rubber sole, so try to avoid them at all costs. A slim shoe also helps make the shoe look more formal.


If you want to wear Derby shoes for a more casual look, try a shoe material that isn’t polished leather, like suede. Adding a design element to your shoes, like brogues, can give your shoes a smart-casual look that’s sure to impress.

Men’s Derby shoes can also come from specific designers, like Dr. Martens. These shoes are much wider than other Derbies, so they have a unique look that helps achieve a casual outfit.

Types of Derbies

Men’s Derby shoes come in various styles and materials. What sort of look you’re going for will determine what style of shoe you need. Here’s a breakdown of the most common styles and materials found in Derbies for men.


Derby shoes are not defined by the type of material used in their manufacturing. That means shoemakers are already using any material that you can imagine in Derbies. The most common materials are leather or suede, which many people prefer because they’re a higher quality material.

Other common materials for Derbies include synthetics and textiles. Some examples of these materials are polyester, nylon, cotton, and wool. Synthetic or textile shoes weigh less than leather shoes, so they’re a good choice if you plan on wearing them in more casual settings.


Men’s Derby shoes come in various styles. The most common styles are the classic Derby, boots, brogues, and Derby shoes with exaggerated features, like Dr. Martens.

The classic Derby shoe is usually a leather shoe with a polished finish. Slim in its build, the classic Derby shoe has minimal stitching that only appears around the edges of the quarters.

Derby boots tend to be the least formal type of men’s Derby shoes. They’re built using leather so they can withstand normal activity, although Derby boots are not meant for hiking or other outdoor activities. You’ll best utilize Derby boots for casual, outdoor occasions.

Derby brogues are a fantastic way to tone down any look for a more casual setting. Brogues are the punched holes in a shoe. Shoemakers design the holes in such a way that the shoe looks much less formal. Try not to pick a brogue design with too much intricacy, since your shoes will come off as pretentious.

The final common style of men’s Derby shoes is the exaggerated style. These shoes often have tall soles, almost like a platform shoe, and are extremely wide. The most common type of this shoe is Dr. Martens, which are as wide as boots and often come with an exaggerated sole.

What to Wear with Derby Shoes?

Derbies for men are ideal for almost any occasion, but you might be asking, if my shoes are going to look amazing, what should I pair them with? Read on to find out what to wear with Derby shoes depending on the occasion and color of the shoe.

By Occasion

The outfit you pair with your Derbies depends entirely on the sort of occasion you’ll be attending. The occasion also changes the style of Derby you should wear, since formal occasions call for a certain type of shoe, and vice versa.

If you’re attending a black-tie event, like a wedding or an award ceremony, you need to wear the classic Derby shoe since it’s the most formal. You can pair a classic leather Derby shoe with a black suit, tux, or dress slacks with ease and style.

If you plan on wearing Derbies to your office job, you don’t need such a formal look. You can still wear classic Derbies, but brogues also work. You can pair brogues with chinos, slacks, or even jeans and still achieve a stunning outfit. No need for a blazer either, although adding one can take your look to the next level!

When it comes to casual occasions, like meeting up with friends for a drink, you can’t go wrong with a pair of Derbies. Casual Derbies, like suede brogues or boots, pair well with jeans, especially when you’re wearing an outer layer, like a peacoat.

By Color

Shoemakers tend to use three main colors in men’s Derby shoes—black, brown, and burgundy, sometimes known as ‘oxblood.’ Shoe color is most important when you’re trying to create a contrast or match between the shoes and a suit.

Navy blue and light gray suits pair well with any color shoe, so you can wear these suits with whatever Derbies you own. You’ll see the contrast between a burgundy shoe and a gray suit and think it’s stunning!

Oxblood or black shoes pair well with charcoal-colored suits. People consider a charcoal suit to be more formal than navy blue or light gray, so brown shoes clash with the formal look you’re trying to achieve.

If you own a brown suit, avoid getting black Derbies for men. Brown shoes look great with a brown suit, although make sure there is some contrast between the two colors. A brown-on-brown look is suitable as long as you’re not trying to match the colors exactly.

Black suits are the least versatile out of the main suit color options. Black suits only pair well with black shoes, since every other color shoe makes the look much less formal. When you pair a black suit with black Derbies, you should be aiming for a formal outfit, like the one you would wear to a wedding.

Who Makes the Best Derby Shoes for Men?

Plenty of companies make men’s Derby shoes, like Vostey, Jousen, and Rockport. The best brands use real leather when making their shoes, not only because leather shoes look better, but because it’s one of the most durable materials available.

Designer brands like Gucci, Dolce and Gabbana, and Calvin Klein make Derbies for men. This is not an exhaustive list of the designer brands that manufacture men’s Derby shoes since almost all recognizable men’s fashion brands produce these shoes.

Some of the other brands that make Derbies include:

  • Beckett Simonon
  • Allen Edmonds
  • Dr. Martens
  • Wolf and Shepard
  • Taft Clothing

Although there are hundreds of companies that make Derbies, you should be on the lookout for ones that use quality manufacturing practices, which includes using leather or suede. These two materials will give you the highest quality men’s Derby shoes.


Derby shoes are a fantastic way to spice up your outfits without going overboard. Their slight casual elements, like the open-lace design, create a shoe that you can wear for both coral or casual occasions.

The classic Derby shoe is a perfect addition to your shoe collection! It’ll fit seamlessly with the items in your closet and give your outfits that extra nudge towards a sophisticated look.


We’ve covered almost everything you need to know about Derbies for men in this article, but you may still have a few questions about this type of shoe. Here, we’ve answered some of the most common questions about Derby shoes:

How to Lace Derbies?

The two most common lacing patterns for Derby shoes are the normal criss-cross lacing and straight lacing. With criss-cross lacing, you lace the shoes as you would with any other type of shoe.

Straight or bar lacing refers to a lace design that never crosses the other. Instead, the laces intersect beneath the vamp, so no crosses are visible to you. You can see how to straight lace your shoes here.

What Socks to Wear?

The pair of socks you choose to wear with your Derbies depends a lot on the style of Derby you have. You should wear high socks with Derby boots to avoid blisters and discomfort.

For casual occasions, you can wear a low-cut sock that exposes some ankle, like when you wear chinos or jeans. Low-cut socks can help give you a more casual look.

For more formal occasions, you should pair men’s Derby shoes with a black or navy blue dress sock. These socks are usually made of cotton, wool, or synthetic materials and have a high cut, rising to your shin.

What Are Some Good Brands?

What makes a brand of shoes good is their quality and their price. The $8000 French-made shoes from John Lobb may have the best quality, but for that price, you could put a downpayment on a home!

What you should be on the lookout for are brands that use real leather and have positive reviews. Some good brands include:

  • Alexis Leroy
  • Johnston and Murphy
  • Cole Haan

How Much do Derbies Cost?

Derbies for men vary widely in price, from under $75 to over $8000, although prices that high are very uncommon. You can easily find a beautiful Derby for around $100, although spending an extra $100 will net you fantastic shoes that, if you care for correctly, will last you your entire life.

The main reason why prices vary so widely is because of the materials used and the place of manufacture. Leather and suede are much more expensive materials than textiles or synthetics, and they take much more time to produce.

The shoemakers’ location may also impact price. Some of the best leather makers in the world are in Italy, France, and the U.S.A, so their prices are much higher than products made in countries like India, China, or eastern European nations.