We are big fans of a good monk strap shoe. They’re an easy alternative to traditional dress shoe options such as Oxfords and Derbies, and work well with both suits and chinos. While they have been around for quite a while, they have really hit their straps in the past few years and have become a must-have style for any dressed up wardrobe.
Monks aren't a typical source of sartorial inspiration, but lets just be glad it's their footwear and not number #1 haircut we've chosen to sport. Monk strap shoes originated in the 15th century in the European Alps. The primary duties of monks at the time were prayer and manual labour; with the manual labour component requiring a more protective style of footwear than their signature sandals. Hence, the monk strap shoe was born in the form of a closed toe version of the monks' sandals.
What are monk strap shoes?
Monk shoes are a mixture of both an Oxford and loafer; a laceless leather slip on which retains the vamp and tongue of its lace-up relatives. In lieu of laces, monk strap shoes are supported by a broad strap of leather across the vamp, fastened with one or two buckles. You can also find monk strap show iterations featuring wing-tips and broguing, as well as boot styles.
Single vs double monk straps
Single or double, the eternal question. Single monk straps have a clean, streamlined silhouette, making them ideal for business, formal, and smart casual dressing. Double monk straps are double the fun - slightly harder to pull off than their single counterparts, double monk shoes exude personality and are ideal for weddings, parties, or a night out. Traditionally considered too casual for the office, times have changed and with the right styling, double monk straps can hold their own in an office setting.
How to style monk strap shoes
The monk strap shoe's greatest strength is its versatility and ability to effortlessly flit between dress codes. From casual to business formal, we've got you covered.
Double monk strap shoes make for essential casual fare. A shade of deep chestnut brown is an ideal starting point if you're just dipping your toes into the world of monk straps. Pair chestnut brown double monks with jeans and a sweater. If you're feeling adventurous, opt to team your brown double monks with some patterned socks (base colours like mustard and forest green work well), tan or beige cuffed chinos, and a denim button-down shirt. Shoes in a lighter tan colour lend a chilled, summery feel to your double monk strap shoes. Team them with navy linen pants, a cream polo shirt, and cream linen jacket for a relaxed day out.
Monk strap shoes work especially well in smart casual environments, whether it be for arvo drinks in the warmer months or casual Friday at work. Pairing matching accessories like a belt with your monk straps is a surefire way to instantly elevate any look. For drinks or an al fresco dinner, try brown leather double monk strap shoes worn with an open necked button down shirt tucked into loose tan pants secured with a brown leather belt. For relaxed office attire (think casual Friday, tech industry or start-up dress codes), team black double monks with cuffed slim-fitting grey trousers, a white Oxford shirt worn tucked in, and a checked blazer.
Double monk strap shoes are an ideal way to inject some personality into your everyday office attire. Team a navy or grey suit with a white Oxford shirt, patterned tie, and brown double monks worn sans socks. To make a statement, try cuffed tan chinos worn sockless with two toned brown double monks, an Oxford shirt worn unbuttoned, and a blazer in a colour like rust orange or forest green.
Through the sleek silhouette of the single monk strap lends itself best to business formal wear, a pair of understated black double monk strap shoes can also work well in a formal business environment. Monk straps with a toe cap are your best bet for formal office wear. For a failsafe formal work look, opt for a pair of classic black double monk strap shoes teamed with a black pinstripe suit and white Oxford shirt. Once you've nailed that, mix it up with a grey three-piece suit.
Spring Racing Carnival
With the Spring Racing Carnival well on its way, it's good to have a few key outfit formulae in your style arsenal. For the more casual race days (Stakes (blog link) and Caulfield(blog link)), try a khaki or cream two piece cotton or linen suit with a matching tie and a patterned shirt, teamed with a pair of sleek brown double monks. Add a silk pocket square for extra style points. On more formal days (Derby Day, Melbourne Cup), pair black double monk straps with a black suit with a contrast vest, or try a beige three piece suit with brown double monk straps.