What are Oxford Flats?

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  • Written By: Amanda Piontek
  • Edited By: R. Halprin
  • Last Modified Date: 07 March 2020
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Oxford flats are a classic, common style of shoe. They are typically constructed of leather, have a low top that is cut beneath the ankle, and feature a short run of shoelaces over the instep, or arch of the foot. The oxford flat can be a either single color or multi-toned like the widely recognized black and white saddle shoe. Oxford style shoes originated in Europe as early as the 1600s and have been a popular formal, casual, and even dance shoe for men, women, and children across the world ever since. Although oxfords are available for both sexes, the term oxford flats generally refers to casual, low-heeled oxford shoes for women.

Oxford flats are commonly viewed as practical yet formal, no-nonsense shoes made of seamless leather. The basic oxford style is known as the Balmoral. More ornamental oxfords called the wingtip and the saddle shoe display toe caps, or decorative leather on the instep. Women's oxford shoes can have varying heel heights, but the oxford flat typically displays a low heel, and is therefore usually considered to be a more casual shoe style than those with higher heels. High heels, however, can be hard on the feet, and oxford flats are often a good, practical shoe variety for women in a business or office environment.


Basic colors for oxford flats include black, white, and brown. Women's shoes are often more adventurous in color than a man's; oxford flats for women can be found in red, blue, silver, and pink among others. Saddle shoes are well known style of low-heeled oxford shoes and are normally white with a contrasting "saddle" of black, brown, or navy colored leather sewn across the top.

Historically, oxford shoes have been a man's style. They were initially worn primarily by men attending university. Over the years, oxford shoes changed and evolved and today, the classic style is available for both men and women. As is common with many other women's fashions, the popularity of oxford flats for women comes and goes throughout the years. Although the classic, plain oxford flat may remain a staple in the business environment, its status as a trendy or up-and-coming shoe style varies just like many other fashion accessories.

Oxford flats are also a popular choice for a jazz or tap dance shoe. Their classic styling is commonly revamped to include such features as soles with extra grip, metal taps, and ultra-flexible or breathable materials. An individual wondering whether or not the oxford flat is an appropriate choice for his or her primary dance footwear should contact the dance company or teacher for guidance.


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