I don’t do these posts often, but they started off as one of my blog fundamentals – Education in men’s fashion. Not because I was an expert, because I’m certainly not, but because I realised most guys didn’t know enough about what they wore to make an educated choice, so between Menswear 101 and Dressiquete I imparted a few tidbits of history and menswear rules (often dictated by history).
I usually put a new post up when I’m speaking to someone and they say something like “What’s a Monk strap” then I realise I still have work to do. Hence the reason for this post.
The monk strap, as the name implies is a shoe style named after the European monks who wore a buckled shoe due to the additional protection they offered in comparison to the sandals they were accustomed to wearing or the ‘difficult to remove’ boots – a problem when walking in and out of monasteries all day I suppose.
For those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about, they look a little something like this. Take note of the labels as I’ll be speaking about them later.
A strap is defined as a narrow piece of leather used to fasten something or offer support, in this case, it combines with the buckle in order to fasten the shoe. This is, of course, the monk strap’s most defining feature as the quarters of the shoe are fastened with buckles at the side rather than with laces in the middle as with the Derby or Oxford shoe.
The number of buckles can and will vary on monk strap shoe, personally I’m not a massive fan of the single monk (1 strap) and find the triple monk to be overkill (or maybe I just haven’t seen one I like), but the double monk…the double monk is like Goldilocks and the three bears ie: It’s just right. I only recently acquired my first pair of monk shoes and a second pair followed very quickly after. I now have to stop myself wearing them with everything in fear that they will just get ruined.
These shoes have become such a big part of my wardrobe, I have decided that I have no choice, but to make them a WMBW Essential.
Despite having been around for centuries, like most fashion they have only recently made a massive comeback – by recently I’de say the last couple of years.
Their popularity is said to come from the grandfather of style Mr Lino Leluzzi, one of the Sartorialists favourite subjects and owner of the Al Bazar haberdashery (I did a mini-feature of him in my Sartorial Sundays #7 post quite a while back) possibly making them the most worn shoe at Pitti Uomo.
Truthfully I think their popularity is owed to their versatility, with these shoes dressing up or down with zero effort. they give a suit an extra dapper edge but feel as much at home paired up with some skinny chinos or even an old pair of jeans – though you maybe want to undo the top buckle for that added sartorial detail in that case.
The shoes above are from Paul Evans, and are possibly one of the most beautiful pair I’ve ever owned. The craftsmanship is impeccable all the way down to a leather sole that matches the colour of the shoe. If you’re in the market for some, You can get them here.
Okay. stay fancy.