Balmorals Lament

The Oxford is a tricky shoe, at once elegant and playful while retaining an air of sad, Scottish mystery. Enhance the elegance and risk losing the baleful woe; enhance the misty, noir aura and risk losing the upbeat energy. Worn by businessmen and schoolgirls alike, the Oxford is a veritable panoply of footwear confusion. If you don a flat Oxford, you may inadvertently end up looking too masculine and too juvenile in the same stroke. What to do? Use history as your guide and select a pair of high-heeled, black bootie Oxfords that will simultaneously represent modern femininity while paying homage to the style’s wistful, chilly Balmoral origin.

Take a page from the Fall/Winter 2008 Collection of venerable design house Ports 1961, who always manages to churn out gorgeous, eerie clothing collages depicting a specific mood or era. While many designers attempt to represent themes, few are as successful as Ports 1961, who offers luscious, tale-telling garments without feeling silly. The Fall/Winter 2008 Collection is a throwback to the odd beauty of Gaelic mythology, offering a romantic and earthy portrait of the Scottish highlands, as viewed through a fashionable lens. Highlighting the dark mood and supernatural whimsy of Scotland, the Ports collection is enchanting, and impossible to deny for its rich, heady elegance and stark sculpturalism. Rustic tweeds and wool gauze replace heavy knits and boiled overcoats, creating a sinfully decadent yet minimal aesthetic. The harshly muted grey backdrop presents a beautiful vista for the Grand M’s favorite Ports look, and the monochromatic tone of the garments imparts a masculine edge layered upon feminine twists. The Grand M will use this look as her Oxford inspiration.

In keeping with the offbeat tone of Ports’ collection, opt for edgy quirks when selecting an Oxford. Odd and unexpected cutouts are key, as are strange twists, epitomized by the Dolce Vita Marlo, which manages to capture the masculine surge of the Balmoral in a wooden ombre chunky heel that is tempered by a delightful lack of laces, saving the Marlo from that staid, formal Oxford tendency. Most importantly, the Marlo is available in large sizes. If you’re searching for something a bit more elegant (and you have a small foot), choose the Coventry heel, by Stuart Weitzman. The Coventry is an avant garde Oxford, with its open toe and side quarter cutouts, made in combination patent leather and sumptuous satin. The towering 4″ heel is simply sinful when worn with the laces undone. Slip into either of these nouveau Oxfords and witness the power of history when paired with modern fashion!

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