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Guide to Monk Straps

Updated: Jul 15, 2018

One of the questions that I received the most from you guys is what type of dress shoes you should get. This question struck my mind particularly as I believe that everyone has its own style and there is not an one-size-fit-all answer.

Thus today, I want to start off a new series that introduces different types of dress shoes so you could have a better idea on what you should get. Since Monk Straps are my personal favorite, they will be the ones to kick start this new series.

To begin with, the history of monk straps. Tracing back as early as the 15th century in Europe, it is said that monk strap shoes were originated from the fact that monks used to wear double-strap sandals while plowing the fields. However, since monk were plowing in rather harsh and mountainous terrains back in the days, the sandals were soon proven to be ineffective as it does not offer enough protections for the monks. Thusly, the solution was a closed version of the double-strap sandals, a prototype of the double monk-strap shoes that you could see nowadays.

What's interesting was especially on the position of the monks back in the days. While they were not considered formal enough to dress in formalwear, they were not considered as peasants that could just wear anything casual. In other words, they have to wear something that is in the middle of the formality spectrum. Thusly, the monk strap shoe was able to blend in both formal and causal; a striking resemblances with regards to its position in the world of dress shoes these days. (More on that in the following)

However, it was not until 1901 when monk-straps finally has its own registered design. For a period of time, monk straps transformed into a rather flamboyant and fashion-forward type of dress shoes. They were only either reserved for high-end customers or youngsters who seek to wear something other than the conventional laced-up dress shoes. However, nowadays monk straps are considered a rather proper dress shoes type. It is not as formal as oxford shoes, but at the same time more formal than derbies and loafers. Thus, it could be worn in both business and casual occasions.

Today, Monk strap shoes come in many different versions. The most common ones are definitely the double-monks that you could see in the cover photo, and the single-monks from the above picture.

Now, it is totally possible that you could find something like a triple-monks or maybe something even more. Personally, I think those are rather fashion-forward and would not be a good investment if you are planning to get something timeless.

Nevertheless, a similarity that could be found among all monk strap shoes is that they have buckles rather than laces. So if you happen to be in a hurry, you would always have the option to wear the second buckle unbuckled, unlike oxford shoes.

A pair of brown monk-straps that I worn to my high school junior-year prom.

So why do I like monk straps that much, you may ask? Ever since I discovered the existence of monk-strap shoe during my junior year in high school, I have fallen in love with its aesthetic.

Coming from a background that I was required to wear black oxfords to school everyday, I was truly fascinated when I first put on a pair of brown monk-straps. Not only are they in stark contrast to the oxfords which I have been wearing for many years; but also are they more fun to play with as I was able to choose something with broguings as well. Perhaps, that is the reason why the youngsters back in the days chose monk-straps as a symbol of being rebellious back in the days.

However, what I consider truly important and would be applicable to many of you is that since I was not required to dress formally very often during my time in high school, getting a pair of brown monk-straps was actually much more practical than getting a pair of brown oxfords. Conclusively, if you are not a person who is required to dress formally all the time but intends to invest in a dress shoes that you could wear in different occasions, I would definitely recommend you the brown monk-straps.

In most cases, I would advise you to get a pair of monk-straps that has a brown shade. The reason why I don't recommend you to start with a black one is because it is rather formal for a pair of shoes that you intend to wear in more casual occasions as well. The only reason why you would get a pair of black double monk-straps like what I did is because you wear grey or charcoal suits a lot.

With regards to which shade of brown, I would definitely recommend something like a cocoa-brown or a tan one since its color tone is not that similar to a traditional medium-brown oxfords that you would get for your first pair of dress shoes. Matching those with a navy suit is without doubt one of the most elegant yet stylish outfit you could wear for formal occasions. Similar effects could also be achieved by pairing the shoes with a blazer and a pair of dress pants.

As for more causal occasions, you could be pairing it with jeans for the weekends or white chinos in the summer as demonstrated above. You could also wear socks that have more patterns or even no-show socks to tone down the formality of the outfit.

With all that said however, choosing what dress shoes to get all goes down to what that person needs in life. There is not a right answer as I said from the beginning. Nonetheless, I hope you would have a clearer understanding on monk-strap shoes after reading this guide!

What is your general impression on monk-straps? Comment down below to share your thoughts! Also, check out this article if you want to know more about brown oxfords!



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