Have you ever worn them?
Do you even know what they are?
If not – that's okay.
Maybe you stick to oxfords or other dress shoes with laces.
Monk straps are stylish. They can be used to change things up.
- They're unique
- They have interesting details
- They help you stand out in a sea of other well-dressed men
Yes. People do look at the shoes you wear and make quick judgments.
But if you're wondering which shoes I'm talking about…there are two types to check out: Single & Double Monk Straps.
This article offers a guide to buying either one.
The Origin Of Monk Strap Dress Shoes
If you're wondering how monk straps came into the scene…no one really knows for sure. It's a shoe that officially became a registered design in 1901. But many believe its history dates back a few centuries ago.
Monk straps were most likely invented in Europe. It is said that an English man had visited the Alps sometime in the 15th century and learned of these shoes (initially a special type of sandals which monks used to protect the feet better). The man was given a pair and when he returned home, the sandals became popular with the locals. Then they'd evolve into dress shoes. But this story has yet to be proven.
Like most other products – monk straps went on to be developed with multiple styles for the market. The most popular ones these days are Single Monk Straps and Double Monk Straps (while those with 3+ straps are more of a fad). Let's see how the two versions differ.
Part 1: The Single Monk Strap Dress Shoe
Instead of typical shoelaces…think of a “half belt” going across the dress shoe where you use holes on the strap to tighten. That's the single monk strap.
You'll notice right away that this shoe has no laces – which makes it sort of non-traditional compared to oxfords and balmorals. But aside of that, the single monk strap shares similar properties with other dress shoes. It's low-fitted and constructed from multiple leather pieces. It often has a toecap as well.
The tongue of the shoe is known to be wider though. That is because there are no shoelaces present and you'll be wrapping the strap around it. The quarter also overlaps the tongue so once you've fastened the strap, three layers of leather are piled up at the front to secure your foot.
Part 2: The Double Monk Strap Dress Shoe
The name says it all. The double monk strap has twice as many straps and buckles as a single monk strap. So there's a little more going on in the design.
Most people wouldn't notice much difference between the single and double monk straps in terms of function. But if one does have rather small or narrow feet, then the double monk might provide a more accurate fit.
The real asset of the double monk strap is its appearance. It stands out more than the single monk because of the extra leather and metal. The more detail a dress shoe has…the more interesting it makes an outfit (and better if the leather/buckle colors match your clothing).
Does the double monk strap have a place in formal wear? It was first seen as too casual to go with suits…and too dressy for most casual settings. But now times have changed. You'll find double monk straps in many different stores. They're considered very versatile.
Just remember if you're attending a black tie or business event with a strict dress code…try not to wear double or single monk straps. Black oxfords would be more appropriate (since dress shoes with laces are still more conventional in the end).
Single Vs Double: Which Monk Strap Dress Shoe Is Better?
One versus two straps. One versus two buckles. That's all there is to it. So is choosing between these shoes that big of a deal?
Not really. It's not so much a question of which dress shoe is better – but which one can serve your desired purpose more.
Let's start with single monk straps. Although they're not as popular as the double, you may like how they're simpler and show a cleaner silhouette. You can wear them to the office (make it a black pair) and your trousers can partly cover the straps – making the shoes look like other typical dress shoes. It's a subtle change to your work wardrobe that you'll enjoy. Plus you'll get away with not having to tie any shoelaces!
Meanwhile, double monk straps are pretty versatile. They're perfect for parties or social functions. They might even come in handy at networking events with lots of young people wearing navy blue/bright colors. You can also travel with these shoes, as there are places like the Mediterranean countries where men like to wear unbuckled double monks to reflect their laid-back style. And if you're just strolling around town on a weekend (and the weather is nice) try wearing a white V-neck t-shirt, a navy blazer, and blue jeans combined with dark brown double monks. Those shoes complement those colors – and you'd look quite classy while casually dressed.
Tips On Buying Monk Strap Dress Shoes
1. Choose the color of the monk straps carefully. Black can make them more formal but also harder to match. But if you've got a black leather jacket, a black pair works really well with it.
2. Consider shoes on which the buckles are a similar color to your belt buckle and watch.
3. Always wear monk straps with socks if you're in business settings or special occasions. But in a casual environment, you can go sockless unless the shoes are black. The rule about this though is to ensure there's a slight break at the end of your trousers.
4. Be selective about the leather quality. You want it made in the U.S. or countries like France, Italy or the U.K. The higher the quality of leather, the better your shoes can look with age.
5. Suede is a great alternative to leather. But take note that if you opt for suede monk straps – there's a risk that they'll blemish and absorb liquid more easily. So find a good conditioner to apply on these shoes (especially if you're living in an area where it rains or snows often).