From medieval monasteries to the modern man’s wardrobe
Often regarded as being “younger” and less formal than the Oxford — the most classic of all men’s dress shoes — in actual fact the origins of the Monk (or Monk Strap) shoe can be traced back to the Middle Ages.
Even though we do not know precisely when or where these shoes were invented, scholars are pretty sure that they originated in medieval monasteries — hence the name, Monk.
The footwear traditionally worn by monks was a sandal with two straps, but those living in areas where the terrain was rougher and the weather less clement started to make versions that covered and protected their feet better.
Originally used as work shoes, therefore, Monk Straps gradually became popular all over Europe and by the 15th century there were already a number of variations: some remained similar to sandals while others were ankle-high.
The Monk Strap shoe as we know it today was developed in the 1800s, and is now regarded as being “formal, but not excessively so” — sort of halfway between an Oxford and a Derby — and capable of combining elegance with a definite touch of personality.
These days men wear monk straps with both smart suits and casual attire (the more daring even wear them with Bermuda shorts).
Today, alongside the classic Monk shoe with its minimalist single strap, there are also more elaborate versions, with two (Double Monk) or even three (Triple Monk) buckles, which are sometimes coloured. In addition to the low-fitting models, Monk Straps also come in the form of ankle-boots and shoes with partly open vamps.