If you asked us to describe this fashion season in one word, we'd definitely say eccentric! Whether it's a novelty-print dress (think: fruits, monkeys, and butterflies), a pair of glittery flatforms, or a silky, '70s-inspired jumpsuit, it seems you can find just about anything on the S/S 11 runways. But of all the unconventional trends to try this spring, offbeat oxfords are at the top of our list. Why, you may ask? The reason is simple: these quirky lace-ups--typically in fluorescent hues, lively prints, or intriguing textures--have a refreshingly modern look that will instantly update your wardrobe basics. These exuberant shoes are a sure way to make a statement, so it's no wonder we've already spotted many well-dressed woman--including Sienna Miller and Fearne Cotton--wearing them!
To shed some light on this must-try spring accessory, we'd like to start off by addressing a few well-executed runway, celebrity, and street style examples. First we have Paul Smith's S/S 11 collection, which offered up an assortment of intriguing oxfords to accompany the collection's range of boy-meets-girl ensembles. We particularly love the way the designer contrasted feminine pieces, like the Silk Floral Sleeveless Jumper ($980, 646.613.3060), with the masculine look of the Clear Brouges ($695, 646.613.3060). The unusual, yet totally awesome, see-through shoes tone down the romantic vibe of the silky one-piece, resulting in a cool, laidback outfit that's perfect for afternoon outings. We also believe it's important to note that oxfords aren't only suited for menswear-inspired looks! Just take the Baroque Shoes ($290) from Tibi's S/S 11 collection for example. Styled with a cream Crochet Tape Yarn Top ($264, select Bloomingdales stores) and Crochet Tape Yarn Skirt ($297), the black and white leopard-print oxfords add an unexpected element to the delicate look, while further accentuating the outfit's youthful spirit.
Of course we discovered a number of these statement-making shoes off the runways as well! For example, we spotted Behati Prinsloo at the Tribeca Film Festival last month wearing Miu Miu's Leopard and Patent Lace Up Shoes ($590, select Miu Miu boutiques) with an Alexander Wang leather bustier top, vintage jacket, and vintage Chanel skirt. The spotted shoes certainly stand out against her black and white mix, offering the edgy, bare-midriff ensemble a cute and playful finish. If feline-inspired prints aren't your thing, we recommend following in Sienna Miller and Fearne Cotton's footsteps and going for a fluorescent style instead. Snapped leaving the Theatre Royal Haymarket in London two months ago, Miller picked a pair of highlighter yellow Christian Louboutin lace-ups--her exact shoes are from the S/S 09 collection, but you can find similar styles at select Christian Louboutin boutiques--to punch up her nude sweater and black marbled cropped pants. Just a few weeks later, we came across Cotton outside BBC One Radio in London wearing Mulberry oxfords from the F/W 08 collection in the most amazing electric orchid hue. To keep all the focus on her jaw-dropping footwear, Cotton kept the rest of her look simple and neutral, selecting a white Darling dress and vintage black and white checked jacket. Additionally, we noticed a slew of bold oxfords on Stockholm Street Style and particularly loved the way one stylish civilian finished her layered look with Prada's Brushed Lace-Ups ($795) from the S/S 11 collection.
Now if you're ready to try these playful shoes, but aren't sure where to begin, you're in luck, dear readers, because we have offbeat oxfords galore! One of our absolute favorites is Miu Miu's Woven Leather Brogues ($545); the rustic design would look totally chic worn with a pair of tailored shorts and a button-down blouse. We're also mad about ASOS' Marky Suede Traditional Brogues ($63), which have an amazing bright green hue that is perfect for giving your afternoon looks a refreshing pop of color. If you're looking for a subtler pair, we suggest checking out Topshop's Kelsey Off White Woven Lace Ups ($100) or Anthropologie's Rambler Oxfords ($138); both are charming choices that would look lovely paired with a fancy party dress. Looking to liven up your spring basics? Then you simply must try Osborn's Muilt-Colored Oxford Shoes ($148), H by Hudson's Dolly Printed Oxfords ($175), or Tibi's Cap Toe Flat Oxfords ($290). Whichever style you choose, we promise your look will be anything but dull!--Jessica Baker
Photos of Behati Prinsloo and Fearne Cotton, courtesy of Wenn; Photo of Sienna Miller, courtesy of Pacific Coast News; Paul Smith runway image, courtesy of Paul Smith