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What to Wear with Oxford Shoes for Women

The Best Outfits for Women's Oxfords

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Along with pointy-toed flats, and flat shoes inspired by smoking slippers, flat oxford shoes are one of the hottest women's shoe trends for spring and summer 2013. And, even when oxfords aren't especially "in," they're still a fashionable choice for women who want to add a dressy feel to an outfit, without having to wear high heels.

The only problem is, a lot of women aren't sure what to wear with flat oxfords. I think the confusion comes in because oxfords are so different from most other women's shoe styles, that many just aren't convinced that they can work them into their wardrobe.

While there are a few items that won't work well with the lace-up shoes that are inspired by menswear, there are lots of outfits that do work with them. Below, I cover a few of the most popular and attractive combinations.

Oxford Shoes and Women's Jeans

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Joe's Jeans 'Rolled Skinny Ankle Jeans' Image: Nordstrom.com
In addition to being the most obvious choice, jeans are also the easiest thing to pair with flat oxford shoes. Skinny jeans, flared jeans, cropped, rolled, and even straight leg jeans can handle the masculinity of a pair of oxford shoes, and even benefit from being paired with them, since the dressiness of most oxfords will help to elevate women's jeans out of that "too casual" range.

And while we're on the topic of wearing oxford shoes with denim, don't forget to try out a pair of oxfords with your favorite colored jeans. Red, black, or white jeans are especially striking with the tailored design of oxfords, but really, there are no rules, as long as the colors of both are well-suited to each other.

And whether you're going with classic blue, or some form of colored denim, you have several options for topping the whole outfit off. To add a bit of femininity to the combination, you could wear a loose blouse or shimmery tank; for a cute casual look, try a simple, scoop or v-neck tee shirt; and for a clean and classic outfit, choose a blazer or a button down shirt.

Women's Oxfords with Casual and Dress Pants

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Pins And Needles Floral Print Pants Image: UrbanOutfitters.com

Dress pants and oxford shoes are another no-brainer; and the combination is probably the first one most women think of when they're considering a pair of flat oxfords.

The thing is, you don't have to just think along traditional lines by pairing them with a pair of plain black pants, or a basic business suit.

In fact, you can really make a pair of oxfords stand head and shoulders above other flats by choosing the right pair of dressy or casual pants -- or even jumpsuits -- to wear with them.

In most cases, it's the cut of the pants that will determine whether or not you've got a winning combination.

For example, as long as they fit your body type, skinny or cigarette pants will get bonus style points; while wide-legged and flared pants add a bit of laid-back sophistication to oxford shoes.

On the other hand, baggy or pleated pants should be used with caution, as the combination could have you treading dangerously close to frumpy territory.

Another way to really create a dynamic look with women's pants and oxford shoes is to use patterns and textures to create a striking contrast between the two.

You could try combining striped pants or patterned leggings with two-toned or metallic oxfords; or wearing suede oxfords paired with tweed pants will really up your fashion quotient, and show that your choice was made deliberately and confidently.

Dresses and Skirts with Oxford Shoes

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Dolce Vita 'Valentina' Lace Dress Image: ShopBop.com
I could probably write an entire book devoted to all of the pros and cons of wearing flat oxford shoes with dresses and skirts. And if I did, at least half of the text would have to be devoted to how much of a success or failure each of those different combinations could be.

I'm guessing that is the reason so many women hesitate before putting on a pair of oxford shoes with a skirt or a dress.

I totally get it, oxford shoes and dresses are always going to look a bit "quirky" together, and if that's not your thing, or you're at all uncertain, it's probably best to just skip the combination entirely, and stick with one of the simpler choices mentioned above. But, if you're feeling a bit adventurous, or happen to looking for a way to really change up your style, then I'll offer a bit of general advice for pairing flat oxford shoes with skirts and dresses.

The main thing is this: you'll want to go with a skirt or dress that provides some kind of contrast to the oxford shoes themselves. Since oxford shoes are masculine by nature, the easiest way to guarantee that contrast is by wearing them with something overtly feminine.

Now, by feminine, I don't necessarily mean floral prints and ruffles -- although those things could definitely work. What I do mean is that you want to think of what oxford shoes are, then add something that they aren't into the equation, for balance.

For example, a tailored skirt with oxford flats is fine, providing the skirt isn't too long. If it is too far below the knees, it might end up looking as if you're wearing some sort of conservative costume or retro uniform.

However, if you were to choose a shorter tailored skirt instead, your outfit automatically has a bit of built-in femininity because you're showing a bit of your legs. Don't like showing your legs? No worries, just add a pair of tights or stockings to the mix.

Prefer long skirts? That's not a problem either, you can still go with a longer skirt, but look for a less-structured fabric that will soften up the whole outfit a bit.

By that same token, things like metallic or glittery accents; flouncy designs; and even very simple, dressy dresses can look really stylish with a pair of oxford shoes. But remember to not go overboard the other way.

Like most things in fashion -- and in life -- it's all about balance.

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