Written by Jon Clarke

As one of our most popular styles here at Goodwin Smith, we wanted to bring our loyal readers a concise guide to the monkstrap shoe. From origins to wearable inspiration, by the end of this you’ll know how to look better than everyone else in this timeless sleek slip-ons.

Origins of style

Some time ago, centuries in fact, European monks were having trouble with the traditional sandal. They weren’t protective enough, you know, just in case those monks dropped beer kegs on their toes. Enough was enough, so they invented a closed-toe sandal.

Now the name ‘closed-toe sandal’ is neither catchy or cool-sounding, but over time, they became known as the monkstrap. The buckled strap made for easy but secure wearing, and the enclosed design was much better for their feet. They didn’t know it at the time (or maybe they did... those monks are clever folks), but in doing this, a fashion legend was born.

The construction and design of Monkstraps

These days, after many iterations and trend peaks and troughs, the monkstrap is seen favourably in the fashion community. Although widely popular, the style remains a sartorially bold choice - something with an edge over the regular shoe style. To wear a monkstrap puts a bit of extra pressure on the rest of your outfit, as they whisper to your subconscious, “up your game.” And (most of the time), monkstrap wearers do just that.

Traditionally-styled monkstraps are found with a cap toe, as a nod to the durability desired by monks - but such is the evolution of style, they can now be found in brogue style, plain toe and even boot. One or two buckles are the norm, with the former offering a more formal appearance due to the cleaner lines, but the latter being more popular due to the smart/casual versatility.


Contemplation, humility and great shoes are key to living the life of a true monk.


Construction-wise, the monkstrap is somewhere between an Oxford and loafer (two styles we will be covering soon on the blog). While slipping on like a loafer, they still retain a tongue or vamp.

Popular colours of Monkstrap shoes

As with most shoes, brown and black are the most popular variations - however our Dyson Blue Monkstrap offers a beautiful alternative, and is finished in burnished nubuck to give it a very unique touch and matte-like appearance. If blue isn’t your thing though, you should check out the mink version.

Dyson Blue


Two-tone monkstraps are also very popular, as the sales of our Walsden Tan prove. It’s hard, almost impossible in fact, to make a black monkstrap look anything other than formal, but pair them with a killer suit and you’ll be the talk of the office. To be on the safe side, we recommend you get a pair in black and brown.


How to wear a Monkstrap

Formal wear of Monkstraps is easy - keep it to one buckle, minimal detail (forget the brogue-type designs) - and go for black or dark brown. Add the detail elsewhere in your outfit by opting for a check grey suit and Italian leather belt.

Note: depending on the boldness of your suit and shirt, a twin buckle shoe could work too.

Going smart casual gives you more options when it comes to monkstrap style. Opt for tan, blue or mink - go double buckle and explore the more detailed designs. As mentioned earlier, the Walsden Tan are a good all-rounder, with their two tone embossed upper and traditional toe cap.

Walsden Tan

When wearing these, go for slim fit jeans or chinos - keep them dark, black, navy, or grey. Stay away from ripped jean designs. Tuck your shirt in to show off your belt buckle - as this will compliment the buckles on the shoes.If you don’t want to tuck your shirt in because of love handles, read this.


Turns out those monks were really onto something, doesn’t it? Now a firm fashion staple in every gent’s wardrobe, we hope you feel a little more confident about wearing this alternative style shoe. If you don’t own a pair already, we won’t judge you. But we do suggest you invest in a pair of these laceless beauties as soon as possible. Shop our full range of monkstraps today.

August 08, 2018 — Bonnie Jackson