Classification of monk shoes
You can recognise monks by a strap with one or two buckles. The belt is fastened on the outer quarter.
Monks with one buckle are called single strap monk. In this style the tongue of the shoe is covered with quite a thin strap.
Monks with two buckles have the name double strap monk. They are characterised with a wider strap elongated with two buckles in the upper and the lower parts of the tongue. In contrast to single monks, in this model the strap partly covers the vamp as well.
The origin history of monk shoes
The monks got their name due to the fact that their buckles were much alike the fastenings on the sandals that monks used to wear. These sandals are assumed to have been worn since the 15th century by monks from the Alps, and later on they were introduced to England by a gentleman who liked them. More or less modern-looking monks appeared even later — in 1901. Today they are quite popular, and, moreover, the style with two buckles is considered to be in right now.
How are monks worn nowadays?
Monks can become a great choice for those who don’t want to tie and untie their laces all the time. Tim Gunn wrote that «men often ask if it is obligatory to wear classic shoes with lacing with a suit. No, it’s not! My alternative to lacing are monks with buckles. They look formal enough to be combined with a suit». When Bernhard Roetzel describes the advantages and disadvantages of monks, he states that «the supporters like them for tight fitting and easy fastening, while the opponents consider them pretentious and unnecessary».
Writing about monks, Michael Anton notices that «dandies have always liked this style for its exquisite look and rarity, the more so as the simple toe lets you admire the mirror-polished brown leather, which reminds of good old bespoke riding boots». He adds further that monks are «quite narrow, and they make the foot look smaller, that’s why they match suits with narrow silhouettes made of light fabrics». However, some monks can as well be worn with jeans, chinos and odd trousers made of wool flannel. For combinations with openly informal trousers it is better to choose burgundy, tan or brown models; black monks are better to be left for wearing with suits and grey flannel trousers. Monks are usually combined with tapered slim fit trousers of Italian type which are short enough not to brush against the buckles on the walk.
It is considered trendy to wear them with the upper buckle unfastened, demonstrating straightforward nonchalance, especially since monks are one of the few types of closed footwear that look good when worn barefoot. In fact, they belong to semiofficial shoe types, but correct use can make them an ideal match for a business look with a hint of nonchalance and chic. In case you want to create an elegant business look, you should choose classic monks (smooth leather, no broguing).
It’s worth noticing that monk shoes aren’t worn with tail-coats, morning coats or tuxes.