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Bal vs Blucher


Feb 1, 2016
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I've finally decided to start investing in some nice kicks and have started with a couple of pairs of AE - Strand (Walnut) & McAllister (Black). I loved them so much I ordered a pair of McGregors in brown and am not happy with them. It is just now that I'm realizing what the difference is between a Bal-type and a Blucher/Derby type and I think I'm coming to the conclusion that I don't like the Blucher/Derby type. Perhaps is because they are less formal looking, but I also find that they also 'cinch' up a bit near the bottom of the laces causing an unsightly wrinkle (?) in the leather. Perhaps the McGregor simply doesn't fit my foot as nice as the first two AEs I bought. Regardless I'm sending them back.

So what says the hive about Bal vs Blucher? Is it simply a matter of formality vs casual, or is there a comfort or style issue as well. I've always felt that it is better to be over dressed than under, so I never see the harm is going more 'formal' than needed.

Thanks in advance.

P.S. This is my first post - YAY!


Senior Member
Jan 28, 2008
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Welcome to styleforum!
I too prefer oxfords/balmorals over derbys.
The only derbys I own and do not mind wearing are 3 eyelet plain toe (shoes or boots) for their sleek appearance.
That said, there are are some shoes that look amazing in a derby design; i.e. cordovan brogues.
Last edited:


New Member
Mar 17, 2017
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E's are great budget dress shoes. I also don't mean "budget" as in poor quality, I mean it as - the best possible shoe at their price point. Also check out their factory shoe bank online - it is a great way to purchase very inexpensive shoes with minor imperfections.

To your question - functionality of the two shoes are identical. Most AEs use 360 goodyear welting. Balmorals (or Oxfords) are much more formal. To really answer your question, you can wear whatever the hell you want. You are your own man. But, as a basic rule, the differences come down to more or less formal appearances.

For example, if you wear a full suit everyday, i would first purchase black balmorals. If you wear khakis/slacks and a blazer or sportcoat, I would first get black cap-toe bluchers.

The firm I work for is pretty laid back. For example, it is Friday, and I am slacking off a bit in jeans and a sweater writing this post... I typically wear slacks, a nice shirt/tie, and no jacket. So I wear black bluchers with my charcoal wool trousers. I also wear my wedding shoes (gorgeous Crockett & Jones walnut balmorals) fairly frequently - with navy slacks, light grey slacks, even nice khakis and a sport coat. Others may disagree, but the lighter brown, more intense burgundy/oxblood colors are less formal to me. So IMO, you dont look tacky wearing those brighter colors on a balmoral shoe - even if you are not in a full suit.

To be honest, I dont think it matters (as in, really really matters) unless we are talking about black shoes w/ suits or tuxedos. Don't get me started on black patent... The more important thing, I think, is the last matching your foot. A blucher that fits you like a tight glove will look sleeker and feel better than a clunky balmoral. Going to an AE, Alden, or any other nice shoe store and experimenting with the lasts will pay huge dividends later on - trust me. Nothing is worse than dropping serious coin on a shoe that still doesnt feel right after 3 months. If you select the right shoe/correct last, it will feel better than your sneakers/running shoes in 3-4 months - I guarantee it.

Cherrs my friend


Senior Member
Aug 28, 2016
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When I was young I didn't know the difference between Marmite and marmalade so I just called it marmamite.

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