Monk straps have enjoyed a very fond place in men’s wardrobes these past few years. The trend started becoming popular again sometime 2012 then went on full swing in 2013. I remember the first pairs asked of us being made of suede uppers with EVA outsoles, pretty much like what Florsheim was trying to promote at that time with their line of derby and oxford suedes with colorful EVA outsoles.
Monk straps is considered to be the most advanced of the dress shoes in terms of its versatility. One can easily dress it down with denim jeans just as it can be easily paired with a formal suit making it the a staple in every modern man’s wardrobe. As the name suggests, it was developed from monk sandals (think Birkenstock sandals) for use by the European monks on dressier occasions which required them to wear closed shoes. The design in itself is simple, having one to two straps to lock the shoe instead of the traditional lace. Afterwards, it was favored as a work shoe with a functional toe cap for added protection.
Due to the lack of elastics in older variants, people found them cumbersome and difficult to wear making them one of the dressiest pairs around. Remember the general rule in shoes, the harder it is to put on, the dressier it will be. But nowadays, shoemakers have solved the problem by adding an elastic on the buckle so that it will adjust itself when pulled on.
The double monk has become more popular in the recent years and has spawned a variety of looks from the standard captoe to the sleek plain toe with custom medallions and patina. It has also become one of the more sought after dress shoes because of its versatility and attention grabbing lines.
The absence of a lacing system makes the monk straps perfect for showing off colorful and patterned socks. It has that preppy but utilitarian look to it which exudes maturity but is not afraid to be playful. This is why it is considered as the most advanced of dress shoes, it’s versatility has created multiple ways of pairing monk straps with various outfits depending on the occasion.
If in suede, it can go well with casual and smart casual occasions, usually with denim or chinos. Wearing suede monks with linen can also work, creating a relaxed vibe especially for parties and gatherings. With calf leathers though, it becomes a jack-of-all-trades. From denim to Barong to the suit, a properly color coordinated monk strap (especially a double monk) would feel right at home and is not only considered a safe fashion choice, but a good one. A chukka boot hybrid is also a good choice since boots are also considered as a very versatile style which makes for a very interesting style combination.