A treatise on the oxford hunt

The backstory
My oxford hunt continues, even though I am ostensibly participating in Aesthetic, Ascetic August. I ordered metallic oxfords from Banana Republic and, after helpful forum guidance, returned them. Ultimately I didn't like the synthetic lining or the shape of the shoe on my foot.

Then I bought the Stuart Weitzman brogues on the last day of NAS, figuring that since the sale started in July, my purchase could be considered a continuation of July's sale purchases. They didn't work out, though, so I returned them. (I swear they fit in the store! They felt clearly too small at home.)

My impulse for oxfords is to have a pair that goes with things that my  well-loved caramel Born Arlettas don't go with. And that I like better than my current second pair of oxfords--black Josef Seibels. I have worn the Seibels quite a lot, though I find them a little hard to style without having them feel too, I don't know, unflattering? I was thinking a different style in black could work as my not-brown oxford, but I was also wanting metallic--and then you all opened my eyes to the possibility of metallic instead of black. Then there is the question of vibe, or oxford genre. What I like about my Seibels, besides the #1 consideration of comfort, is that they are kind of funky while also being, well, a traditional, or classic shoe (an oxford, after all). What I don't like about them is that they are on that razor's edge between funk and frump, and admittedly some might not actually see the funky or arty possibility in them.

The latest attempt
Yesterday, I came home with a very different, quirky pair of oxfords. Not metallic and not black, but a blend of colors that works well with a lot of my wardrobe. They are a style called Fox, in the Cliff Dweller line from Cydwok, and they are a "painted" leather in shades of green, deep teal, brown, taupe, and a little tan.

The photos
Here they are:
1: a photo I found on the web. The colors in mine look deeper and less light-green.
2-4: The shoes on me, with the outfit I wore yesterday. I have not taken any other styling photos yet--sorry--but I will do so when I get a chance.

The last photos are of my outfit yesterday:
5-6: Dark brown shorts (Eddie Bauer); turquoise v-neck tee (Caslon); tan belt (Trafalgar); jean jacket (AG, Robyn); caramel oxfords (Born, Arletta); navy and tan satchel (Dooney & Bourke).

More thoughts--pro and con
A little more info on the oxfords: They are very comfortable. You've probably heard me go on about my Think! sling-back Mary Janes (the Aida style below) and how great the arch support is in them. They are a no-fail shoe when I need comfort all day. I imagine these oxfords to be similar, because they are made with a steel shank and molded arch support. Unlike the Think! shoes, these have a negative heel, like the old Earth shoes (not sure if Earth still does that). I never got on that bandwagon, but I do find these comfy. I really like the idea of an oxford that I could count on for great support, for my increasingly fussy feet (recent plantar fasciitis).

On the other hand, I have been aiming for more sophistication in my style: more tapered-toe shoes, more jackets or stylish pullovers. Pre-YLF, I lived in closed-back clogs by Ariat--they were stylish, but still clogs--with my jeans, tees, and cardigans. I have an arty streak and a little bit of boho, but artsy-craftsy is not my style.

I did try on these shoes with a few things but didn't get photos. I liked them with chino pants, especially rolled up, and I can see them with skinny or narrow jeans (what footwear does not go with those? Okay, maybe clogs. . . ). I thought I might wear them with narrow skirts that hit at or just below the knee. I might even wear them with my Eileen Fisher harem pants.

What say you? Am I fooling myself with these shoes, looking at them through comfort goggles? Or are they an arty style that could work for me?

If you've stayed with me this far, thank you. And thanks in advance for your thoughts!

eta: new photos of the shoes. . .

7: on my feet

8: with what I'm wearing today 

9: with harem pants and tops I'm wearing today

10: with harem pants, denim shirt and wine hi-lo sweater

11: with wine corduroy skinnies and sweater

The shoes are an easy match for my browns and greens, but I wanted to see how they would go with black and wine, and of course, the harem pants, which I mentioned. Not sure about oxfords and harem pants, but that kind of potential pairing is one thing that makes me hesitate about another brogue style like my Borns.

This post is also published in the youlookfab forum. You can read and reply to it in either place. All replies will appear in both places.


  • Deborah replied 5 years ago

    Firecracker.... I love them. They do have an arty / alternative vibe. They are kind of ugly but attractive, does that make sense? I actually find them really beautiful in their unusualness. The tones would work beautifully with your wardrobe and there is something about them that lends them to more dressy ensembles as well.

  • Sterling replied 5 years ago

    I really love them as well.  

  • Emily replied 5 years ago

    They are really cool and they look great on. They definitely make an party statement. If you love them, I vote keep!

  • Suz replied 5 years ago

    I love the colours for you and it sounds as if they are comfortable. I have a poison eye for shoes with negative heels. So to me, they read more "artsy-craftsy" than sophisticated artsy. But keep in mind, my very low tolerance for this type of thing, e.g. I do not wear Birks, if that tells you what planet I come from. 

  • unfrumped replied 5 years ago

    I think using unusual colors or unique finishes can be a good way to go. Not sure about the heel as per Suz. I can see these working as a casual shoe. You'd think I could give good advice on oxfords, but I've returned more than my share, myself. I have this idea that you need a slightly lower vamped style with some detailing or color blocking on top and a crisp heel. Something that lets your higher- volume foot align with your fashion- model angular build.

  • UmmLila replied 5 years ago

    I like the color and if you were going for an occasional funky look, they would be okay. But as a day to day somewhat sophisticated look, then I would say no to these and keep looking for something more Clergerie-ish.

  • La Belle Demimondaine replied 5 years ago

    This is so different from my style, but I want to weigh in on a couple of points:

    1. You don't look happy or excited about these shoes in your photo. You look as though you are thinking very hard about whether you like these. In your WIWs, even if you aren't smiling, I can usually see your happiness when you have on something you love.

    2. You have great legs and these are a great color against your skin! You could probably put on clown shoes and make them look like a million bucks. If these shoes are expensive, I would caution you to step back and look objectively at whether you love the actual shoes, or whether your legs are just making them look better than they actually are.

    For my part, I really like these on you, but I don't know if they are YOU. If that makes any sense.

  • Angie replied 5 years ago

    More love from me too. You art sorted. xo

  • JAileen replied 5 years ago

    I like these. The color is fantastic. I like the SWs also. The BRs look like men's character dance shoes to me.

    Anyway, I hope they work for you.

  • Firecracker replied 5 years ago

    Thank you all for commenting! I really appreciate your thoughts.

    Deborah, your analysis is great. Yes, I get the ugly-yet-attractive feel. They are not conventionally attractive shoes, yet they do appeal to me.

    Sterling and Emily, thanks for your votes of confidence.

    Suz, the negative heel bugs you more than the round toe, huh? It's funny, but I don't really notice the negative heel looking at them; they don't have the obvious look of the old Earth shoe sole, anyway. I've been looking and trying to determine whether I think they look odd that way. And as much as I really admire the Birkenstock trend on everyone else right now, I do not like them at all on me. I could probably do a Munro Birk-alike, but not the real deal.

    Ummlila, interesting thoughts! I agree they aren't a day-to-day sophisticated look. I have admired Robert Clergerie shoes, but haven't tried any on. They seem a heavier look than I want to go, but they are a good illustration of your point about sophistication.

    Unfrumped, thanks for weighing in. You have described a look I could certainly wear if I found it. I have wondered about the AGLs that I'll add to finds below. I'm unsure of a spectator/color blocked style, though. I do like the look of Naots that Angie featured the other day, but I'm not sold on the colors they come in--and neither of these options may be quite the lower vamp that you're envisioning.

    La Belle Demimondaine, your thoughts are really helpful--thank you. Your point is well taken--not sure they are me, though I like the look. I'm wondering if my expression or body language had more to do with my outfit, which I was completely meh about. I wanted to wear the shorts, and then I decided to wear the oxfords, too, for comparison with others in the stores. The whole look was overall too tomboy and too plain (no print in sight, no drape, no artiness).

    Angie, you always surprise me. No reservations, huh?

    JAileen, I love your comparison--totally agree.

    Today I have some new observations to add: I have been wanting to wear these shoes (a response I didn't really have with the BR ones). I've been wearing them around the house and holding back from wearing them anywhere else until I really decide about them. (The return policy is 30 days.) I tried them with a couple of outfits and am adding the photos above.

  • Isis replied 5 years ago

    I like them!  I like the color a lot!  Not sure I could find the negative heel comfortable....

    I do like the heel of the Siebels better--Do you think it is the black color that makes them feel frumpy?  Could you dye them?  Some have had success with dying shoes metallic ; I remember a cool metalic dye on sandlas (do a search on the forum for  tarrago, the name of dye, for examples).

  • Firecracker replied 5 years ago

    Thanks, Isis! I have been toying with the idea of dyeing the Seibels and found some past posts on the Tarrago dye. I'm stuck on the color to try, etc. And I'm not crazy about the look of the heel or the vamp on them. (I bought them in spite of the heel, when I would have preferred more of a flat look.)

  • Hil replied 5 years ago

    I absolutely love them! They are totally funky and have zero frump factor. I would wear them in a heartbeat. I also just love your first harem outfit.

  • JAileen replied 5 years ago

    I dyed my Kork Ease sandals silver. Here's the link:


  • Firecracker replied 5 years ago

    JAileen, your sandal dye job is fanastic! I'm inspired.

    Hil, thank you! I was surprised at how well the harem pants worked with what I had on today.

  • Gigi replied 5 years ago

    I like these, Firecracker. As far as blending with your outfits, they seem to take on the required sheen to work with colors besides brown and green; maybe the metallic part reflects the color of your bottoms (like the black harem pants) and pulls everything together.

    My only concern is that you said these aren't really your style, that you were aiming for a more sophisticated style. I find sometimes that when I'm looking for a HEWI, I can sometimes get off my "style road" because I'm having such a difficult time finding what I'm looking for. So I end up settling for something that meets all the criteria but isn't the exact *style* I was looking for. So maybe you could ask yourself whether it's OK if these shoes don't help you in your goal to try a more sophisticated style. Will you feel bad if a more sophisticated oxford shows up in a few months' time?

    About the negative heel: I hadn't really noticed it in your pics until people pointed out that they had poison eyes for it. Will it be OK for your plantar fascitis? Do you want to ask your doctor first before committing?

  • Jeanie replied 5 years ago

    I like these in a funky kinda way.  I have had times when I have been drawn to a strange pair of funky shoe that no one seems to want and they have become some of my favorites.  Go with you gut on these.  I agree with Gigi though on the caution on negative heels.  I have heel pain issues and do much better with a bit of a heel.  Birks are the only exception I have found.  

  • Sal replied 5 years ago

    I am not sure, but think I am fatally prejudiced against oxfords unless worn with full length trousers.....I like them with the burgundy jeans but not as much with the other looks.  Sorry!

  • Firecracker replied 5 years ago

    Gigi, I recognize your description of getting off track with a hard to find item. Part of the trouble is that I don't quite know what I'm looking for in an oxford, style-wise. But these are not like anything I would have pictured. I think your advice is wise. I am going to wait to wear them out of the house and take advantage of the time allowed for returns. I'll have to check on how the shoe design will work with plantar fasciitis, too.

    Jeanie, you could be right--these could turn out to be a favorite pair, despite (or perhaps because of) their different direction.

    Kiwigal, I had the same reaction for a long time, at least about oxfords on me. I have admired the look on others, though.

  • replied 5 years ago

    Interesting the different responses here.  Sharan, I really like your style,as you know, and quite love what you wear and how you look.  I feel really odd making this my first not-in-favour comment, because I don't want to presume I know everything about you (!) but I am seeing in these the things that you are NOT looking for: really artsy-crafty,  casual as opposed to sophisticated.  

    I DO like the colour, and appreciate a negative heel,  and the European leather quality is always a plus.  The round toe is not working in my eye though.  I like to think I appreciate style from many viewpoints - even if I wouldn't wear it myself - but I think these are veering off in another direction.

    So I guess the Prada studded oxfords I found for you yesterday are out then ?


  • Firecracker replied 5 years ago

    Lisa, I appreciate your analysis. What you say makes a lot of sense. I guess I'm wondering if I want to make that detour. Or I wonder why I'm drawn in that direction. My style has been described as "elegant eclectic" here on YLF, and sometimes I think my eclectic taste can make me feel like my style is all over the map. These shoes would add to that feeling. Maybe not something I want to do. What Prada studded oxfords?! (You're kidding, right? Or did I miss a comment somewhere?) Prada would definitely be out of my price range, though I do get inspiration from the expensive designer lines. Actually I have seen a couple of pairs of black studded oxfords that I think are fun--one by Dolce Vita (or maybe DV by Dolce Vita) and the other a lower-priced Michael Kors line. I've also seen a metallic brogue by Kate Spade.

    Isis and JAileen, I think I'm going to take the plunge and dye my Seibels. I am off on a trip this week and will have to wait till I get back to order the dye. I'm pretty sure I'll still get another pair of oxfords, though (which may or may not be these arty ones). But at least I might like the Seibels better if I dye them.

  • replied 5 years ago

    Yes, I was kidding :)  I noticed the shoes on an instagram feed yesterday and admired them. When I looked them up this morning, they are a bit more "out there" than I could handle - plus they are quite out of my price range too ($1200 or something ridiculous).  They are quite the opposite of the pair you are considering, let's just say it that way :)

  • Firecracker replied 5 years ago

    Update: I returned the Cliff Dweller oxfords today, with a bit of sadness. Despite their odd looks and round toe, I was quite drawn to them. However, as Gigi suggested, I checked on how the negative heel would work with my recently developed plantar fasciitis tendencies. The answer is, not well. The arch support is terrific, but a negative heel or even flat sole tends to aggravate the condition or may induce it to return. So back they went.
    Meanwhile, I am going to order metallic shoe dye for my Josef Seibels. I will report the results here, of course. :)

  • Transcona Shannon replied 5 years ago

    I loved the unusual color of the oxfords and felt they would work well with your wardrobe. I used to have a bit of a poison eye for round toes but now that I have bunions, I know that round toes are more comfortable.

    I am glad that you realize they will not work for your plantar fasciitis sooner rather than later. As someone who has developed that condition as well, I know just how important the correct arch support and heel support is. It's not something you can overlook.

    Your oxford is out there :)

  • Firecracker replied 5 years ago

    Thanks, Shannon. You are so right! And your comment is so heartening.

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