Style Guide: How To Wear Monk Strap Shoes
Plus, the best monk strap shoes for every occasion.
The monk strap shoe is a perennial favourite among lace-averse gentlemen. Representing a viable alternative to traditional dress shoes like Oxfords and derbies, monk strap shoes are structured enough to be paired with a suit, while the presence of the eponymous straps add a sense of louche irreverence to any outfit.
What are monk strap shoes?
Monk strap shoes synthesise the best of both worlds; combining the ease of a loafer with the formality of Oxfords. Retaining the vamp and tongue of its lace-up cousins, monk strap shoes eschew laces in favour of their namesake straps across the vamp, secured with one or two (and rarely, even three) buckles. Monk strap shoes can also feature wink-tips, toe caps, broguing, and tonal detailing for added interest.
Single monk strap vs double monk strap
A loaded question. Single monk straps have a streamlined silhouette that makes them a no brainer for business, formal, and smart casual dressing. Meanwhile, double monk strap shoes allow for a little more sartorial expression, adding a playful touch to any outfit. They work well for casual and office wear alike.
History of the monk strap shoe
Monk strap shoes as we know them today are a 20th century development, however their inspiration dates back several centuries. As their name indicates, monk strap shoes have a relatively unconventional source of inspiration — monks. Dating back to the 15th century, the life of a monk typically consisted of workship and manual labour. For those in the European Alps, the latter element necessitated a more protective style of footwear than the sandals the profession is often associated with. The result? A closed-toe take on the single- or double-strapped sandals, which formed the base inspiration for what has become monk strap shoes.
A version of monk strap shoes rose to (sartorial) fame during the 18th and 19th centuries, however was pushed to the side in favour of lace-up styles. The monk strap shoe reemerged into the collective consciousness in the 20th century, however it wasn’t until the early 2000s that the style solidified itself as a mainstay in contemporary wardrobes. Today, monk strap shoes have well and truly shed their manual labour origins and are primarily connoted with dressier occasions.
How to style monk strap shoes
Monk strap shoes are able to effortlessly adapt to varying dress codes. Whether you’re attending a gala dinner, heading to a meeting, or going out for drinks, here’s how to style monk strap shoes for multivarious occasions.
Casual And Smart Casual
Double monk strap shoes are ideal for casual fare. Skip dark shades and patent leather in and opt for laidback materials like brushed leather or suede in lighter colours. Pair them with jeans or relaxed trousers (in cotton or linen) and a knit polo or t-shirt.
For smart casual occasions, mid to dark brown leather single or double monks are a failsafe option, paired with pleated trousers and a button-down shirt. Alternatively, inject a little personality into your outfit by opting for monk strap shoes in atypical shades like oxblood or forest green, or try a two-tone version.
A pair of monk strap shoes makes an easy substitution for derbies or loafers. Stick to subdued shades like black and chocolate brown, and pair them with tailored suiting or separates.
The perfect way to add a little flair to formal get-ups while still being dress code-compliant, monk strap shoes pair well with most suiting. Monk strap shoes in black or dark brown are safe bets, however more adventurous shades like forest green, oxblood, and deep blue can serve to enliven an otherwise staid outfit.
The best monk strap shoes for men in 2023
Santoni Light Blue Suede Double Buckle Loafer
Combining the DNA of a monk strap with that of a loafer, these double monks bear moc toe stitching typically found on the latter. Rendered in light blue suede, they serve to elevate casual and smart casual wear.
Approx $1670; santonishoes.com
Tom Ford Elkan Double Monk Strap Boot
A fresh take on the style, these double monk strap boots provide an interesting addition to formal outfits. With a soft square toe and toe cap stitching, these boots exude understated elegance.
Approx. $3090; tomford.com
Carmina Double Monk Straps
Made with Goodyear welt construction, these burgundy monk straps feature toe cap stitching and steel hardware, making for a failsafe option for formal occasions.
Berluti Galet Scritto Leather Monk Shoe
A decidedly artistic take on the style, these single monk strap shoes feature the maison’s signature Scritto artwork along the upper, complemented by perforated details. A surefire way to put your best foot forward on formal occasions.
Jimmy Choo Finnion Monkstrap
If ever there was a pair of shoes simply begging to be paired with an immaculately tailored suit, it’s this one. Crafted from smooth black leather, they’re secured with gunmetal-toned buckles with subtle Jimmy Choo branding, and feature a stitched toe cap.
Herring Monkwell Monk Shoes
An undeniably refined take on the style, the Herring Monkwell Monk Shoes are an apt substitution for Oxfords, allowing them to be worn on formal occasions. Available in dark brown or black leather, these single monk strap shoes are constructed with a Goodyear welt, allowing them to stand the test of time.
Brioni Black Benedict Shoes
A decidedly subdued style, these elegant single monk strap shoes are ideally suited for business formal wear. Their tapered sole and streamlined silhouette allows them to be paired with slim-cut trousers.
Approx. $1680; brioni.com
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