In life, it’s crucial to make a lasting impression and how you dress is a significant factor that makes all the difference as to whether you receive that well-earned promotion, seal a business deal or simply have your name remembered. Alongside good manners, a clean appearance and tailor suiting, a classic formal shoe is a must in every gentleman’s wardrobe whether it be worn in the boardroom, formal events or social parties.
A Goodyear welted English shoe by Barker is a shoe rack staple but which style should you invest in? This guide to classic shoes highlights the tried and tested staples in the Barker shoe collection that won’t let you down and will age with you gracefully, providing you caretake of them.
A timeless classic and go-to dress shoe is the men’s Oxford shoes, championed around the world for years due to it’s a formal silhouette and iconic style. Characterised by a closed lacing system, the Oxford shoe dates back to the 1800 and derives from the Oxonian, a half-boot with side slits that gained popularity at the prestigious Oxford University, England. A wide range of Oxford shoes features in the Barker range, in particular, the Handcrafted, London, Professional and BarkerTech collections.
The most popular Barker men’s Oxford shoes include the Arnold, Burford, Malvern and Winsford shoe styles which are all made in the Barker factory located in Earls Barton, Northampton. An Alternative is the Wholecut, made from a single piece of premium leather with or without a back seam, it's the only shoe design smarter than an Oxford dress shoe.
The Oxford shoe’s long-standing counterpart is the Derby (also known as a Gibson or Blucher) and is characterised by its open lacing system which has previously been seen as less formal when compared to the Oxford shoe. Popular Barker men’s Derby shoes include the Darlington, Ellon, Nairn and Skye styles from the Country, Creative and Professional collections. Aside from style and design, the Derby is often than not more comfortable than an Oxford especially if you require wider fitting or have a high in-step for example.
An English classic is a brogue, a historic shoe design for many of the Northampton shoemakers that can be worn formally or casual depending on the design and materials used. From humble beginnings as an outdoor shoe worn by Scottish and Irish to remove bog water when crossing wetlands, the brogue today is a Goodyear welted shoe staple.
Whilst the Country brogue comes to mind first the Barker collection includes a selection of traditional and contemporary Oxford and Derby brogue designs particularly the Creative collection. The Professional collection includes the Albert and Alfred traditional dress shoes while the Calvay, Kelmarsh and Westfield men's brogues are all Country classics. The imaginative Creative collection features the Barker Grant, McClean and Valiant Oxford brogue styles.
Other notable classic handmade leather shoes include the Double Monk Straps (Fleet and Tunstall) and if you’d prefer slip-on style the Caruso, Jevington and Portsmouth classic penny loafers come highly recommended.