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An Oxford is a style of laced shoe characterized by shoelace eyelet tabs that are stitched underneath the vamp, a construction method that is also sometimes referred to as "closed lacing". Oxfords first appeared in Scotland and Ireland, where they are occasionally called Balmorals after the Queen's castle in Scotland, Balmoral. Most shoe stores in U.S. will refer to Oxfords as bal-type opposed to blucher-type. In France, Oxfords are better known under the name of Richelieu.
Oxfords are traditionally constructed of leather and were historically plain, formal shoes but are now available in a range of styles and materials that complement both casual and formal forms of dress. It is derived from the Oxonian, a half-boot with side slits that gained popularity at Oxford University in 1800. The side slit evolved into a side lace that eventually moved to the instep, as students rebelled against knee-high and ankle-high boots. The toe cap can either be lined with two narrow rows of stitching, perforated holes along the end cap stitching (quarter-brogue), perforated holes along the end cap stitching and on the toe cap (semi-brogue), or a semi-brogue with the classical wingtip design (full-brogue).
The meanings of the terms Oxford and Balmoral vary geographically; in the U.S., "Balmoral" is synonymous with "Oxford" in U.K. usage (as described in this article), while "Oxford" is often used to refer to any "dressy" style of lace-up shoe, including the Blücher (Derby); elsewhere, especially in Britain, the Balmoral is a particular type of Oxford where there are no seams (apart from the toe cap) descending to the welt, a style particularly common on boots. The bal-type shoe (Oxford) is considered more formal than the blücher-type (Derby/Gibson) design.
Oxfords can be made from a variety of materials including calf leather, patent leather, suede and canvas based on considerations of function or fashion. These are commonly black or brown, and may be plain or ornately styled Brogues.
See also 
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