While we usually associate the classic oxford shoe with the 1940s and ‘50s, they have actually been around for much longer than that. Early versions of the oxford shoe date as far back as the 1640s in Europe – wow! However, it wasn’t until the early 1800s that oxfords as we know them were created. First appearing on Oxford University’s campus around 1825, the school’s namesake shoe was not widely popularized until later in the century. By 1910, the lace-up oxford could be seen on many men and boys on several different occasions.
Over the course of the 20th century, women gained certain freedoms (such as the right to vote) and, as a result, a class of more modern, active women emerged. Oxfords were often worn for athletic events and paired with clothing that was more liberating and less delicate. A perfect example of this new androgynous woman is Amelia Earhart, who was frequently photographed wearing oxfords during her many adventures.
In the 1920s, the mid-height oxford heel became popular alongside the flapper look, and by the ‘30s women were flocking to styles which promised “beauty, poise, [and] charm.”
By 1940, the mid-height heel had hit the road and a more practical, flat oxford was introduced for the working woman. The low oxford proved to be a popular style for nurses working during World War II. A spin-off of the low oxford (and my personal favorite oxford style), the saddle shoe, was introduced in the 1950s. The saddle shoe was the first of its kind as it was specifically marketed to schoolgirls and women.
Oxfords are worn today for any occasion we like! Casual and classic, these reliable yet elegant shoes are an absolute staple of retro fashion. Celebrities like Taylor Swift (who’s also a fan of our red Ballerina Dress!) are often spotted out and about in cute oxford shoes.