With spring around the corner, it's time to shed the boots and head toward oxford. Not the fabled English university, but the humble guy shoes that are turning up on gals' feet.
There are variations on the theme for sure - some are worn lace-less, others are hybrids with high heels and even peep toes, but bottom line is, they all smack of the classic men's footwear, introduced in 1640 as part of the Oxford University uniform.
"The ballet flat told the world that you don't have to wear a heel to look fashionable," says Gregg Andrews, Nordstrom's fashion director. "Oxfords are an alternative, and look newer than a ballet flat."
Oxfords could not be hotter, says Glamour's executive fashion editor at large Suze Yalof Schwartz. "People are wearing them with evening dresses. There's the whole masculine/feminine trend, and these play right into it."
Shoe mogul Steve Madden agrees. "It's sort of a sexy boy look that's cool right now," he says. And let's not forget how they feel. "The comfort factor cannot be overlooked," says Brooke Jaffe Scott, the fashion director for accessories at Bloomingdale's. "I think women are truly comfortable walking in a man's shoes."
How to wear them
Most style experts prefer oxfords with bare ankles. "Wear them with no socks and show off your leg, or at least your ankle," says Glamour's Suze Yalof Schwartz. She likes them with rolled up shorts or skinny pants with a boyfriend blazer. And go for flesh or metallic tones, which, she says, make your legs look longer.
Nordstrom's Andrews, who warns you have to have a slim ankle to pull off the look, also likes the neutral tones - "saddle, winter white, nutmeg, tan." The shoe is "visually a little bit heavy, and lighter colors make it more feminine." His favorite oxford looks are with shorts, cropped or capri pants or little short skirts. "Sure, you could wear a ballet flat, but when you wear an oxford, it doesn't look as precious and is a bit more current."
And it's oxfords for everyone, says Bloomingdale's Brooke Jaffe Scott. "There is no age to this trend."