Do we think I could pull of a mint, leather-and-suede Out of Office hat? But really tho? —erica
Stuff We Love
Go Way Back
They’re preppy, they’re boyish, they’re cool, and they’re a whole lot more comfortable than a four-inch heel. Read on to see how the collegiate invention got their foothold. —maura brannigan
The Origin: True to their name, oxford shoes are born at—where else?—Oxford University. But first, the half-boot contraptions go by the very-clunky moniker Oxonian, which make their debut around 1825.
The Evolution: It doesn’t take long for the dudes on Oxford’s frou-frou campus to start wearing the school’s namesake shoe for just about everything—relegating their boots to horse-riding.
In the late 1800s, narrow stitching and perforated holes take the place of the kind-of fussy side slits…and the shoes win over American (male) feet.
Here’s a cartoon of the 21st president Chester A. Arthur wearing a very early take. Note the ladylike detailing—very fetch.
Come the 1920s, gals—wanting to try out that borrowed-from-the-boys look, obviously—begin gravitating towards the style…
And, soon enough, the mid-height heeled oxford becomes a flapper staple.
But in the 1940s, when women hit the factory floors, that heel disappears. The working-girl look: hat, skirt suit, gloves, and oxfords.
The sensible oxfords of the World War II era give way to a major 1950s staple: the school-girl-appropriate saddle shoe—one of the first lace-up loafers marketed specifically to women.
Take Lucy of Peanuts fame—she’s been rocking her black-and-white saddle shoes since the comic strip’s launch in 1952.
Over the next couple decades, women’s footwear options expand to even include—gasp—sneakers, but some ultra-chic ladies get the power of the oxford. See: Twiggy.
Once the nineties hit, oxfords get bigger and, er, clumpier—with Doc Martens leading the way.
But the shoes never lose touch with their academic heritage, as Molly Shannon demonstrates in her mid-1990s portrayal of armpit-smelling, knee-sock-wearing Mary Katherine Gallagher on Saturday Night Live.
The Right Now: Everybody’s on-board: Sienna Miller, Taylor Swift, Alexa Chung, and even envelope-pushing Rihanna, who works ‘em with suits, cut-offs, see-through skirts—you name it.
What is it about a shawl collar that looks so confident? Try on this 7115 blazer, and you tell me. —erica
Helen Hunt and Matthew Broderick
If you’ve never googled “Helen Hunt and Matthew Broderick,” you should probably do that right now. Oh, heck—just click here. The shots of them at a Michael Dukakis presidential campaign event in 1988 are almost too much. —erica
Buttons down the back! Shaina Mote does just a little witchy, and I’m way into it. —erica
You know when you start working with someone, and you’re like, “How did we even do this before?!?” Robb Chen-Ware’s very much that person for Of a Kind right now. As a senior product architect at HappyFunCorp (yes, really!), he’s overseeing our very big, very exiting site redesign—which is coming to a computer near you soon! Below, a glimpse into what his life is like when we leave him alone for, like, five seconds. —mattie kahn
Q: What’s your favorite social media platform?
A: I’m actually still a Facebook user after nine years. I’ve never suspended my account. I’ve kept no more than 250 friends ,and that seems to be the right amount for Facebook as far as I’m concerned. It’s just a great way to stay in touch with family and friends you don’t see all the time. It’s not about meeting new people. It’s just keeping in touch with people you know. I think it does a pretty good job of that despite a lot of the changes that have happened over the past few years.
Q: How did you celebrate your last birthday?
A: I threw a party at Hot Bird on Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn and ordered barbecue for all my friends. It’s in February—so it’s super cold out—but I just had a bunch of friends over there and had barbecue. It was nice.
Q: It’s 2:49 P.M. What are you snacking on?
A: I have to say that I end up doing the granola bar. Like, whatever the closest granola bar is. That’s definitely my regular hook-up. At Brooklyn Roasting Company, around the corner from our office, they have a chocolate and peanut butter chia seed bar of some kind that’s just really good. That’s my preference.
Q: Ooh, that sounds good.
A: Yeah. It is. It goes from being a dessert to a snack because it has chia seeds in it.
Q: What is the most-underrated restaurant in your neighborhood?
A: That’s a little difficult to say because I feel like Fort Greene has a reputation for being quite good. But Brooklyn Public House achieves something that so few places do in that area—which is complete lack of pretension with pretty good food and great beers on-tap. It’s a comfortable place to go.
Q: We would all be a little happier and a bit more fun if we…?
A: Took some time to enjoy life.
Q: We have an afternoon to kill and a personal chauffeur at our beck and call. Where do we go? And what do we do?
A: I would say Jamaica Bay. There’s a really awesome bird sanctuary out there. There’s a beach. It’s secluded, but you can still see the city in the background. I just never make it out there, because it’s just a little too far for a small trip, but as long as I have a chauffeur… I’d definitely want to go out there.
Q: What was the last piece of advice you actually listened to?
A: The piece of advice that I just gave on how to be happier was the parting advice that Ben, our co-founder, gave this morning in our morning meeting. After this, I’m actually going to do it and go for a nice walk around the neighborhood.
Tell you what: This, from Osei-Duro, is like the least-boring take on a black pencil skirt ever. —erica
If you’re on the prowl for a backpack that doesn’t feel too…backpack-y, The Stowe's got you. —erica