Those who know, just know. Men’s monk-strap shoes are distinctive, stylish and a great way to make a subtle statement through the way you dress.
If you’re uninitiated, you’ve come to the right place. Look no further for all of the information you’ve ever needed when looking for a pair of monk-strap shoes for men.
What are Monk-Strap shoes?
Monk-strap shoes are fairly formal, less so than a full Oxford but more so than a Derby, which has laces.
They do not have laces and instead feature a strap and a buckle, like a belt for your feet. The straps are adjustable and the better ones are supported by elastic for a little stretch. This makes them a comfortable footwear choice.
They’re shape is somewhere between an Oxford and a Loafer, but with the former’s tongue to help with support.
Characteristics of Monk-Strap Shoes
The easiest way to describe a monk-strap shoe is by its most noticeable characteristic – the straps. Monk-strap shoes are stylish shoes with a buckle (or two) instead of shoelaces.
One or two straps are standard, but some designers created a three-strap version. Some have more than three, but fashion experts agree that anything more than two straps is a fad that’ll disappear in a few years.
Monk-strap shoes are made from leather and generally have a hard sole, so they’re not as comfortable as a tennis shoe. However, they’re at the higher level of comfort when it comes to dress shoes.
Rubber and elastic go a long way when it comes to these shoes. A well-constructed piece of footwear is always going to be comfortable. It all depends on where you get them from.
If you buy a cheap pair of monk-strap shoes, you’re going to pay for it in a different way – with uncomfortable shoes.
They’re also one of the most versatile dress shoes available. They can easily transition from formal wear to casual wear, depending on the occasion. There are a few rules to keep in mind, but otherwise they’re one of the more fun options in menswear.
Monk-Strap Shoe Buckle Variety
The single and double strap is a classic look that never goes out of style. The straps vary between shoemakers. The buckles come in various sizes as well, including octagonal, hexagonal, oval, rectangular, and square.
Brass is the most common material for the buckles, but more expensive versions of the shoe will have silver or even gold buckles.
Ideally, you’ll want to buy monk-strap shoes that match other buckles and hardware on an outfit, such as belts, tie bars, cufflinks, collar pins, or a suitcase. This won’t always be possible, however, and it’s OK if the look works.
Monk-Strap Shoe Buckle Spacing
A single strap shoe has a bit of leeway when it comes to spacing. The strap can live both higher and lower on the shoe and still retain an elegant look.
When it comes to double straps, the appearance of the shoe will change drastically depending on the spacing and positioning of the straps. A lower-end shoe will have narrow spacing between the buckles, and they’ll often be parallel with each other.
A more refined monk-strap shoe’s buckles are going to be slightly offset, at an angle, and with wider spacing. It all comes down to taste, but be aware that high-quality shoemakers never position the buckles parallel.
Some shoes have extreme spacing between buckles or feature them extremely high or low on the shoe. Avoid these. A classic look is all about balanced proportions.
History of the Monk-Strap Shoe
The most obvious historical touchstone when discussing men’s monk-strap shoes is the connection to monks.
This distinctive subset of men’s footwear started in Europe a number of centuries in the past. Monks who had to trudge through manual labor needed better sandals to stand up to arduous daily work.
Mostly, they needed toe protection for their sandals. From this, monk-strap shoes were born.
It took a little while, but the distinctive look found its way into the fashion arena in the 1700s and through the 1800s when buckled shoes were all the rage. The buckles went out of fashion when shoelaces became popular again.
Monk-straps made a comeback in the aughts when a whole new generation discovered classic menswear styles, and millennials tweeted and Tubblr’ed them into public consciousness again, using the #menswear hashtag as a propellant.
Now, a monk strap is a way to show the world that you’re fashion conscious but also a classicist at heart. A monk-strap can provide quite the silhouette to the lower part of an outfit, and for that reason, they don’t really go out of style.
How to Wear Monk-Strap Shoes
Monk-Strap shoes are versatile and work for different occasions, but there are a few things to keep in mind. Depending on what you’re wearing, you’re going to need to remember a few basic rules. Let’s go over them.
When Wearing a Suit
When pairing monk straps with a nice suit, go for black and brown. Those colors are classic and natural. For a black suit, go with a single strap if you want a formal look. For suits in the charcoal, beige, and dark blue spectrums, brown double strap monks provide a crisp, neat look.
A deep red or green also works with those shades, and look for creative buckles as well.
When Wearing Jeans
For a more casual look with jeans, go with brown or beige monk-strap shoes. Tan suede also pairs well with denim. A slim-fit denim paired with a blazer and an oxford shirt is a versatile, casual look that’s appropriate everywhere.
Dress shoes and shorts aren’t the easiest look to pull off, but it is possible. Go for double strapped monks – they’re a little skinner. Wear slim shorts and keep to the suit color rules. Try an oxford tucked into shorts for a casual but cool look. Don’t wear socks.
Monk-strap shoes are an excellent way to show off some personality to a formal event. Here’s where you can really play with color. An ocean blue or forest green monk will set off a lighter-shaded suit perfectly.
Accessorize with a pocket square or tie bar, but try to match the hardware of the buckles with any other accessories (like a watch and belt buckle).
Who Makes the best monk-strap shoes for men?
There are a few well-known, modern brands that make excellent monk-strap shoes for men.
Beckett Simonon Hoyt is known for its double-strap shoes. They have a soft lining and a slick European silhouette. The heel is made of rubber for comfort.
For a brogue double strap, go with Johnston & Murphy Reece. They’re made of Italian calfskin leather with a cushioned insole and rubber sole.
If you’re looking for a high-quality single strap shoe, go with Beckett Simonon Leonard. These beauties are full-grain Argentinian leather with a Vachetta leather lining.
Looking for a more affordable option? Check out the Cole Haan Johnson double strap.
Now that you have a better sense of what Monk-Strap shoes are all about let’s go over some quick tips to remember.
- Double straps are less formal than single straps. Wear them for parties or weddings (someone else's not your own).
- If going to a business meeting or a more formal event, opt for the single strap. The thinner look creates a clean silhouette that stands out.
- For black-tie affairs, go with the black leather single strap. It matches well with a black suit and tie. Remember to try and match the accessories.
- Never wear socks (or wear no-shows) when wearing monk-strap shoes with shorts.
- Have fun with color. Monk-strap shoes come in a variety of shades, and deep greens, blues, and reds can really create an interesting accent on an outfit.
- Resist the temptation to slide in and out of your monk-strap shoes. Unbuckle them and use a shoehorn, and they’ll last longer.
Remember, it’s OK to experiment, but follow the basic rules, and you’ll never go wrong.
Frequently asked questions
How Much do Monk-Strap Shoes Cost?
There’s a large range when it comes to these shows. They can cost upwards of $1,000 for a quality pair (even more if they’re handmade). On the low range, you can get a pair of monk-strap shoes for men for as low as $45.
What Socks Should I Wear with Monk-Strap Shoes?
First things first, do not wear socks with monk-strap shoes if you’re wearing shorts. If you’re at a more formal event, your best bet is black dress socks with black shoes.
If your monk straps are brown or a deeper red like oxblood, go for gray or charcoal socks. If you want to go for no socks with pants, make sure there’s a break at the end of the pants to give a hint of skin.
What Are Some Good Monk-Strap Shoe Brands?
Here are some great brands for Monk-Strap shoes.
- Vince Camuto Briant
- Paul Evans
- Stacy Adams
- Cole Haan
- Florsheim Belfast
- Ted Baker
- Wolf & Shepherd
- Kenneth Cole