The Richelieu or Oxford shoes are certainly the most emblematic pair of shoes of all. Closed type with a lacing passing through the vamp, it is usually worn with a suit and corresponds to a formal dress style.
But why such diversity? So many models and different brands, it is easy to get lost! So I propose you a small overview to help you make an informed choice and find the pair that will suit you.
The origin of this shoe is in France, in the 17th century, under the reign of Louis XIV.
The court of Versailles was then an example to be followed by all other European courts, especially in terms of dress.
The shoes in use were high-heeled boots, closed with buttons, worn both indoors and outdoors.
Louis-François-Armand de Vignerot du Plessis, duke of Richelieu, reputed to be one of the most elegant and gallant men of the court, would have given his name to this pair of shoes.
The modern Richelieu Oxford shoe was born in 1825 in Oxford, England: students had to wear knee-high boots, so some rebels developed a new model of shoes more comfortable to wear, called “oxonian shoes”. The name “Oxford shoes” was later adopted.
At the same time, another variation was born at Balmoral Castle, owned by Queen Victoria in Scotland: her husband Prince Albert was looking for shoes that were practical both indoors and outdoors.
A pair of boots, with closed lacing and waterproof, was developed. Appreciated by the Queen herself, she had others made for walking on her land at Balmoral.
The name has remained like Richelieu and Oxford. This explains the different names attributed to the Richelieu Oxford shoes and their great variety.
You understand why there are so many choices around this shoe. But among this crowd, here are the brands I recommend to find your ideal pair of Richelieu Oxford shoes: for high-end, you need John Lobb or Saint Cripin’s.
If it’s the authenticity of the old-time shoemaker that you’re after, then I suggest Alden or Sanders.
More classic? I would suggest British Shoes or Loake (note that the latter makes very nice brogues).
Otherwise, Carvil is still a safe bet in this area. If you’re looking for originality or you’re still looking for the pair that makes your heart beat faster, then Finnsburry is the brand to choose.
But I would recommend J. Fitzpatrick, which not only offers a very large choice, but also daring and original styles.
Finally, if you don’t have a big budget to spend, Rudys and Bexley are the brands to turn to. Paul Smith London offers some really nice models for this price range.