Oxford shoes for men : History and characteristics of this shoe classic

richelieu chaussures homme
What is the link between the illustrious Cardinal Richelieu, minister of Louis XIII, and this emblematic model of men’s shoes, a symbol of elegance and sophistication? How can you definitely recognize this model of leather shoe? Where to find the right craftsman to design your pair of Richelieus? Choose it in black or dare with colors? To avoid making a mistake, immerse yourself in the world of luxury and elegance with our complete guide to the Richelieu, a high-end men’s shoe.




One thing is certain, the history of these men’s shoes is not linear, and several versions are considered. If they are called Richelieu in France, we know them under the names of molière in Luxembourg and Belgium, Oxford in England, Balmoral in Scotland and Ireland, or even Bal-type in the United States. But then, where do these essential shoes of masculine distinction come from?




One of the possible origins of these shoes dates back to the 18th century, at the court of Versailles, with the Duke of Richelieu. Great-grandnephew of the famous cardinal and godson of Louis XIV, the duke was recognized for his military and diplomatic qualities, but also as an icon of fashion and elegance of the time.

However, we have few details on the leather, sole or closure style of his shoes. It is therefore difficult to establish a direct and certain link between this eminent member of the Versailles court and the so-called Richelieu shoes.




Let’s move to the other side of the Channel in the 19th century, with Queen Victoria, or rather her husband, Prince Albert. During a stay at their Scottish residence in Balmoral, he had a new model of shoes made, more practical for walking on the moor and elegant enough to wear indoors.

The queen herself, won over by these lace-up shoes, in waterproof leather, would have had a low version made so that she could walk more comfortably on her lands. We find the same closed lacing on current models of Richelieu shoes.




Still among our British friends, and more precisely at the University of Oxford, we are witnessing the birth of men’s shoes which stand out from traditional models, in the first half of the 19th century.

Indeed, some students no longer want to wear high boots, have the idea of ​​having ankle boots made with lacing first on the side, then on the front. Called Oxonian shoes then Oxford, these shoes would later be available in a low version, to resemble today’s model.

Whether it’s called Balmoral, Oxford or Richelieu, this men’s shoe remains a must-have for masculine elegance, with a price to match.






Richelieus, which can also be written Richelieus or Richelieux, are low city shoes, which are distinguished by several unique characteristics.

  • Quality leather  : leather, often calfskin, cowhide or lamb, is chosen for its finesse and resistance. The quality of the leather, black, brown or colored, is a determining factor, influencing the comfort, aesthetics and durability of the shoes.
  • Clean design  : the Richelieu is recognized for its minimalist design, using few leather pieces. These are assembled with precision, without excess thickness, offering an elegant and smooth appearance to the shoe, ideally suited to thin feet.
  • Closed lacing  : unlike other types of low shoes such as derbies, Richelieus have so-called “closed” lacing. It is created by cutting out the vamp (top of the shoe), giving a characteristic V-shaped lacing area and a smooth, tapered silhouette.
  • Quality sole  : traditionally, a leather sole is preferred, preferably hand-stitched. Today, a rubber sole is a more flexible and resistant alternative, suitable for the city. We also find the leather sole with rubber pad. In the Richelieu, a leather insole contributes to the comfort of the shoe.






Acquiring a pair of quality men’s Oxfords is an investment, it’s true, but they are worth the price. Here are some tips for choosing and maintaining them wisely.






Look for high-quality leather shoes, like custom-made shoes in Paris for example, with sturdy construction. Prefer hand-stitched soles (whether Blake or Goodyear stitching), rather than glued.


Prioritize your comfort and the good fit of the leather pieces, in line with your personal style. Note that if you have a strong instep, the Richelieu model may not be the most suitable. Shoes like derbies or moccasins would probably suit your body better and be more comfortable.




To preserve their elegant appearance, flexibility and shine, they should be maintained regularly with a product suitable for leather (polish, wax or nourishing milk) and stored correctly. Adding a rubber pad extends the life of the sole.

Other good practices consist of alternating your leather shoes to avoid wearing out too quickly and using shoe trees, made of raw cedar or beech wood, to maintain their shape and wick away moisture.





The value of Richelieus also lies in the know-how of the craftsman who produces them. The skill of a shoemaker in Paris , for example, allows him to create tailor-made shoes, with a classic style in black, or more modern in colors. He will know which leather to choose and which pad to add to the sole if necessary, at the price that suits you.

Choosing a qualified craftsman for your Oxfords has a significant cost, but it is priceless if you want to wear men’s shoes that suit you. This timeless model is still at the top of sales for men’s shoes, so it’s a safe bet, to choose in quality leather, to keep it for a long time!






Men’s Oxford shoes transcend their utilitarian role to become a true symbol of luxury and refined elegance. These shoes, traditionally in black leather, are often chosen for professional environments or special occasions (ceremonies, cocktails, auctions, etc.).

An elegant man must own a pair of Oxfords at all costs, especially in black, but other colors are now commonly accepted. Here are some suggestions for what outfit to wear around town with these iconic men’s shoes:

  • Classic suits  : a business suit, black or charcoal gray, combined with black Oxfords, creates a formal and timeless ensemble for men.
  • Casual business outfits  : pair your Oxfords, in black or chocolate brown leather, with beige chinos and a white shirt for a professional, but less formal, look.
  • Casual chic look  : for a more relaxed look, opt for quality jeans with a tweed jacket and black leather Oxfords or in bolder shades.


By choosing the Richelieu, a timeless and top-selling men’s shoe, you are investing in high-end and style, but also in a product that speaks of your love for luxury craftsmanship.


To complete your outfit, do not hesitate to consult our advice on how to recognize a good tailor in Paris . If you want to find pieces that pair perfectly with your Richelieus, we invite you to explore the best men’s suit workshops in Paris . In the capital, everything is done to be elegant from head to toe!