Monkstrap shoes come in a variety of designs. However, the concept remains the same in the sense that they use buckles rather than laces. Despite being a forward-fashion style, they have a unique medieval heritage that you’ll learn about here.
In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about Monkstrap shoes including:
- Best Monkstrap Shoes
- What Is A Monkstrap Shoe?
- History Of The Monkstrap Shoe
- How To Wear Monkstrap Shoes
Scroll down to read the guide in its entirety or use the links above to jump ahead! Furthermore, we also offer a separate guide dedicated to double monkstraps if you specifically want to learn about them instead.
Other Dress Shoe Guides
Related Shoe Styles
- Color: Black, Bordeaux, Tan
- Material: Argentinian Calfskin Leather
- Pricing: $200 [Buy From Beckett Simonon]
We’re particularly fond of Beckett Simonon’s approach to the single monk strap with the Leonard. An ethically handcrafted shoe from Argentinian calfskin leather, they’re made using a Blake stitch construction and offer fantastic value for money. You can also benefit from a 20% discount with our code “BU20” during checkout.
Read More: Beckett Simonon Leonard Review
- Colors: Black, Tan, Bordeaux, Brown
- Material: Argentinian Full Grain Calfskin
- Pricing: $200 [Buy From Beckett Simonon]
A great alternative from Beckett Simonon is the Hoyt double monk. While the Leonard is more rustic in appearance, the Hoyt is much more contemporary style for men with modern tastes. Made using the same construction and Argentinian calfskin, they offer just as much value for money.
Just don’t forget your 20% discount using the code BU20!
Read More: Beckett Simonon Leonard Review
- Color: Midnight, Onyx, Honey, Maple, Slate
- Material: Italian Full-Grain Calfskin
- Pricing: $365 [Buy From Wolf & Shepherd]
A slick and contemporary monkstrap, Wolf & Shepherd’s footwear are a technological marvel. Crafted from Italian calfskin, they feature ultra lightweight PhoenixTECH outsoles, memory foam footbeds as well as a high-density EVA heel.
Paul Parkman are known for their original and daring handcrafted shoes. However, we were utterly blown away by their green Goodyear welted monkstraps. While indeed an unusual design, you can’t deny that the use of a kiltie tongue and visible stitching isn’t unique.
A more understated alternative from Paul Parkman, the tobacco monk strap isn’t without its unique touch. Using a traditional opanka construction, you can see the characteristic visible stitching of the sole that wraps up over the uppers.
While we prefer the comfort of Wolf & Shepherd, Propét produces orthotic-friendly footwear, which are ideal for people with foot conditions. Considering this, they actually look pretty good!
The Graham features an OrthoLite insole with open-cell PU foam for high-level breathability as well as a firm heel counter to reduce pronation. Furthermore, the Graham is Medicare A5500 pending, which indicates the benefits that it offers.
What Is A Monkstrap Shoe?
Monkstraps are simply any shoe that uses a single buckle closure instead of laces or gore. Sometimes referred to as the “most advanced” dress shoe for men, the monk strap has been overshadowed in recent years by its flashier brother, the double monk.
Still, it’s an indispensable element of any man’s shoe collection.
An excellent shoe to dress up or down, the single monk has a rich history and is available in leather or suede, ready-to-wear or custom, and even in boot versions.
Monk Strap History & Construction
The single monk was first spotted in 15th-century European monasteries (hence the term “monk strap”). These buckled shoes served to protect monks’ feet from the elements, and the common story is that an Englishman saw the shoes while abroad, fell in love with them, and brought them back to England. The style was popularized, and centuries later, it still sells.
Monk Shoe Construction
Ninety-eight percent of the time, you’ll see monkstraps available as a style of dress shoe or boot (the single monk sneaker, though it exists, is much rarer than it’s double monk counterpart). Different makers use different construction methods to achieve different aims such as lightness, flexibility, longevity, and others, and monk straps are not exempt from this.
You may find them Goodyear welted or Blake-constructed from higher-end makers, or you may find a cheap glued version from a budget shoe manufacturer. Their popularity is such that they’re made to sell at any price point.
Aesthetically, monks needn’t be plain. The strap itself is the the defining factor of a monk shoe, and though they’re often plain toed, they’re available with many different varieties of broguing, cap toe seams, and different buckle materials and shapes.
Though all single monks have a single buckle by definition, the placement of that buckle can vary from shoe to shoe.
Across the instep
This is the most common strap placement. It allows the buckle and strap to remain visible while wearing trousers
Against the collar
Single monks like the one pictured above have a buckle that hugs the shoe’s collar (the part that sits just below the ankles). The buckles on these single monks are often smaller than we find on across-the-instep models, and their placement makes them more likely to be hidden by the average dress trouser.
With that said, collar-hugging monkstraps are just a tad sleeker than their vamp-spanning counterparts.
How To Wear Monkstraps
Depending on the color and material, monkstraps can be worn casually with denim or dressed up to be worn with worsted suiting.
While the shoe is indeed a classic, it’s important to remember that it’s not conservative. Shoes with buckles will always make the wearer stand out in a room where all the guys are expected to wear lace-ups, so be sure to wear these judiciously if you work in a sartorially conservative industry, like law or government.
Like double monks, single monks are less formal than closed-throat oxfords, but more formal than open-throat derbies. Because they’re available in a ton of colors and materials like leather, suede, nubuck, cordovan, and canvas, they can be worn nearly anytime and for anything.
Black patent leather versions can be worn with black-tie attire if you have the courage to move off the beaten path.
- Light-colored suede or leather (bone, beige, tan, etc.): Jeans, casual trousers
- Brown or black single monk with broguing details: Jeans, odd jackets & trousers, suits
- Black patent leather monkstrap: Tuxedo (this is debatable, to be clear)
When wearing double monkstraps, it’s common to leave the top buckle unbuckled. Whether or not this is a good style move or a misguided attempt to show sprezzatura is another conversation for a different time, but the question remains: can you wear a single monkstrap with the buckle undone?
We say no. Wearing clothes in a way that demonstrates a casual élan is one thing, but single monks just won’t fit correctly if you don’t buckle them. Our feeling is that unbuckled single monks have a certain “walk of shame” vibe about them, and we advise you to buckle them.
As single monks are made in nearly limitless permutations of colors and materials, they can be worn any time of year. Below we offer some suggestions for colors and materials based on season.
- Spring: Tan, caramel, or nutmeg leather or suede with quarter brogue detail
- Summer: Bone or white suede cap toe single monk
- Autumn: Tobacco or chocolate leather or suede, possibly with lug sole
- Winter: Dark brown or black plain toe single monk in calfskin or cordovan
Should You Own Monkstrap Shoes?
In a word, yes.
For most men building a dress or dress casual shoe wardrobe, a monk strap shoe can be third in line to buy, right behind an oxford and a derby. Whether or not you go with a dressy version or a more casual one is a decision to be based on the things you wear on an average day. If you’re a jeans guy, try a lighter color with some broguing details. If you’re a suits guy, pick up a darker color with a simple cap toe seam.
Either way, this is definitely a shoe that a man of style should own.
Now that you have learned about monkstrap shoes, check out some our related footwear guides for men:
- Oxford Shoe Style Guide
- Double Monkstrap Shoe Guide
- Best Dress Shoes For Men
- Most Comfortable Shoes For Men
- Men’s Shoes Homepage
"I love monk strap shoes. This guide was great because everyone makes double monks while I personally prefer single ones. It's good to see them get a bit of attention for once."Rating: 5.0 ★★★★★