What Is a Monkstrap Shoe? - Your Ultimate Guide
Let’s say you have been a good gent, and you already have a pair of Oxfords and Derbies.
These are indeed the most important shoes you can have, but at the same time, you want to look for alternatives to shape a personal style.
What could be an option? If you have seen Monkstraps, this is the way to go.
It is less formal than an Oxford and some types of Derbies, and yet it is an excellent shoe to add a personal touch to your suits and business casual looks.
It’s funny how this shoe has grown in popularity and has been categorized as footwear for the modern man, and yet, it’s one of the oldest styles of shoes known.
But why is it called a "monk strap?"
The simple answer is that the genesis of the shoe dates back to European monks during the Middle Ages. More on that later.
First, let’s learn about the construction of a Monkstrap, its history and how you can adapt it to your wardrobe.
What Makes Up a Monkstrap Shoe?
The Monkstrap is a shoe with a no-lacing system, supported by a broad strap of leather across the vamp, and fastened with one buckle (single Monkstrap) or two (double Monkstrap) on the side:
The straps are the alternative to the lacing system. Usually, they are adjustable or have elastic support to stretch the straps, so this makes the Monkstrap very comfortable.
The straps can be constructed with different angles and with different spacing between each other.
Also, buckles can come in various shapes and materials, so this is the fun detail of Monkstraps.
When you’re choosing the buckles on your Monkstraps, we would recommend brass buckles, as you don’t want them to look rusty with time.
Also, Monkstraps may feature a cap-toe, wing-tip or broguing, and they come in all materials you can imagine.
Regarding their shape, we can say it is the beautiful son of an Oxford and a Loafer, although it retains the tongue of his laced father for additional support.
A Little Bit of Monkstrap History
The name of this shoe points out its origins: Monks.
Those who chose to be monks lived a life dedicated to worship and labor. Consequently, ancient monks looked for efficiency and quality in their clothing construction, and footwear was no exception.
During the 15th century, European monks wore double-strapped sandals to do their work, but soon they realized it was no fun picking crops or walking through rough paths with their toes exposed. They needed a shoe that was durable, protected the foot, and able to withstand the rugged terrain of their work.
What started out as a sandal evolved into the modern understanding of the closed-toe monkstrap shoe.
In the beginning, the buckles were made in solid bronze, and had symbolic motifs depending on the monastic order, but soon, they also became a shoe for the layman.
For a couple of centuries, it seems like they went through a dark period, but during the 20th century, the Monkstrap was revived as a convenient shoe for the businessman.
The more “modern” version of the monkstrap shoe and its popularity is cited to a number of fashion designers, including Alexander McQueen, Yves Saint Laurant, or Italian-style aficionado Lino leuluzzi.
So how do you style your Monkstraps and which type should you choose if you’re a first-timer? Let us give you a hand with this.
Why Choose a Monkstrap Shoe?
The monkstrap shoe is for the man that likes versatility; today, it can be seen as formal or casual. The monkstrap shoe can satisfy a countless number of occasions where a variety of dress codes are required; from the board room to baggage claim to a 5-star restaurant, the shoe won’t deter from daily activities.
21st-century clothing construction technology has permitted the shoe to become even more practical and comfortable than ever before. Plus, you won’t be bothered with laces coming untied throughout your day.
Wondering whether or not socks are necessary? Just keep in mind the setting. For more formal occasions, socks complete the gentleman’s ensemble. In more casual environments, going sock-free or wearing no-show socks are perfectly acceptable; just keep your pant length in mind.
If that’s not enough, the shoe is more eye-catching than the average dress shoe. People often claim that the most notable part of a man’s attire is what he fancies on his feet.
Your Ultimate Guide to Monkstraps
Double or single, that is the question. There’s a lot of debate between these two styles, but to be fair, both single and double Monkstraps will add versatility to your wardrobe.
Either way, we would advise you to, first, get a pair of smooth leather Monkstraps in black or bordeaux.
When you wear them, a good idea is to make sure to match the color of the buckles with the buckle of your belt and your watch strap.
After getting your first pair of Monkstraps in black or bordeaux, you can experiment a little bit more with brown or tan colors and different materials such as suede.
The single Monkstrap has a cleaner profile and therefore is more subtle. It looks great with formal suits and with business casual looks.
However, don’t stretch things too much: Monkstraps are not a good choice for black or white tie events, so stick to them when it comes to the office and casual events.
The double Monkstrap is the edgy brother of the single Monkstrap.
It is a great shoe when it comes to showing your personality, as the buckles will be visible even when you are standing up.
There’s even a fashion in some Mediterranean countries where men wear their Monk Straps unbuckled, as a symbol of sprezzatura.
They look very good with business casual looks, and you can even wear them for more casual occasions, although never with shorts.
Monkstraps have stuck around long enough to prove their timeless character and unique flair.
They are also adjustable thanks to the strap system, so this is a plus when it comes to comfort.
After you have got a pair of Oxfords and Derbies, we would dare you to go for a more individual look: Go after Monkstraps.
Although they might be intimidating to wear because of its unconventional looks, once you have tried Monkstraps there’s no going back.
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