Walking Strapped: Monk Strap Shoes

Church's monk strap shoes

Over the past few years the monk strap shoe has become a common sight in menswear magazines and fashion events. They are a stylish alternative to oxfords and other lace-up dress shoes. Choosing a style that can be dressed up or down will give you the most use from your monk straps. Suedes look nice but lack the versatility of traditional leather monk strap shoes.

Monk Strap History

It’s impossible to say where exactly monk strap shoes originated from. Did a monk invent the monk strap shoe? We’ll never know. What we do know is the monk strap gets its name from the monks in Europe who favored the shoe. Fortunately, the tonsure didn’t catch on as a fashionable hair style for men.

Many places online claim the monk strap shoe was worn by Roman monks since the 11th century. I have yet to see any of these sources cite where that information came from. Some claim they were worn chosen because they were rugged and inexpensive.

Unless a monk from the 11th century wrote about the shoe style and the reasons that monks chose to wear the shoe, this claim is highly suspect. Monks during that time were more likely to be copying religious and other manuscripts than writing about their style of dress.

Single Monk Strap vs. Double Monk Strap

For a while, the double monk strap was the “need to have” footwear in all of the men’s fashion magazines. The benefit of the double monk strap is that the second strap sits further down on the shoe which makes it easier to show off.

That said, if you want a clean look then choose a single monk strap instead. It all boils down to your personal preference and what looks best on you. Don’t purchase one or the other simple because GQ told you to.

How to Wear a Monk Strap Shoe

The monk strap is an incredibly versatile shoe. It easily blends between dress and casual. For a casual look try wearing them with a pair of fitted chinos or jeans.

For a date, pair your monk strap shoes with flat-front trousers and a cashmere polo shirt. And of course you can wear them with a suit. For formal occasions skip the monk straps and opt for a pair of oxfords.

You can find monk straps in suede as well. These should always be worn as a casual shoe. A solid leather is the most classic looking in my opinion.

Where to Buy Monk Straps

Most men’s shoemakers offer at least one style of monk strap. Below are a few places to find these shoes. Mr. Porter has the widest variety of quality monk straps that I could find in one place.

Stay true to yourself. Be kind to others. Define your own style.

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