Wearing Monks

Wearing Monks

Courtesy: theidlelman.com

Monk strap shoes are a classic, and worn casually or formally they can work in any situation. This simple guide shows you how to style them this season. 

A guy can be dressed head to ankle in the best clothes, but if he chooses the wrong footwear his overall outfit can fall apart. Although styles can be mixed and matched, with footwear like trainers able to merge with certain suits and formal wear, there still has to be a general match, as anything too conflicting can create some odd looks.

Still, having a pair of shoes for every style and look isn’t really financially sound, and it’s better to have some footwear that fits into the versatile sector. You might be surprised to know that monk shoes actually fit into this category, and despite their formal appearance they can go with a fair few casual looks.

how to wear monk shoes men look

Men’s Monk Strap Shoes

Monk shoes are fairly similar to the common loafer shoe with a touch of oxford shoes thrown in there for good measure. It’s main features are;

  • An easy slip on design with no laces
  • A single or double buckle strap

You commonly get monk shoes in leather, although they come in a variety of other materials as well, such as suede, which can give a less formal sheen.

Single Strap Monk Shoes Vs Double Strap Monk Shoes

Although monk shoes have a unique look there are some variations for you to choose from, with single straps or double straps making a subtle difference that can change up your look.

  • Single strap monk shoes:  Give more of a streamlined, neat edge, with the strap circling smoothly around the shoe and minimising any bulk.
  • Double monk straps: Have a more complex, unique style that stands out a little more, with the straps more of a statement part of the shoe.
how to wear monk shoes double strap

Black Monk Strap Shoes

Monk strap shoes come in a range of colours as well as a range of materials, and when you’re looking for something versatile a black pair can be your best friend. Whether you choose one in a high shine leather or a subtle suede, they’re able to work in a good deal of looks, giving each outfit a unique twist.

Casual Look

For a laid back, casual outfit with a sleek twist, some black leather monk shoes can work surprisingly well. Grab a pair and pair them with some straight leg chinos  in a dark neutral colour like black or navy.

For the top you can go for a smart casual look with a white oxford or grandad collar shirt, or go more relaxed with a slim fit white T-shirt. Keep this look understated by leaving it as it is, or add in some subtle accessories like a pair of sunglasses or a simple chain pendant.

how to wear black monk shoes casual

Formal Look

Black leather shoes are perfect for formal looks. Black leather monk shoes are even better. Their unique style is great at adding a boost to the standard suit and tie look, especially if you go for the bolder double strap design. With black shoes it’s best to stick to neutral colours when it comes to the rest of your outfit, so go for the standard black suit and white shirt.

However as monk shoes are more of a statement piece than say, oxford shoes, you can create a more complex look that will match with the unique vibe of the shoes. You can achieve this with more stand out accessories like pocket squares, cufflinks and even lapel pins (although not all together).

black monk shoes formal

Brown Monk Strap Shoes

Brown shoes might not seem as versatile as black ones, but when it comes to summer and autumn and matching your footwear with warm, earth toned pieces then brown shoes are key. You automatically get a less intense look, and even if you go with a darker tone of brown you can keep your outfit looking light and summer ready.

Casual Look

Brown goes perfectly with blue, so what better combination for a casual look than some blue denim jeans and some brown monk shoes? You might want to cuff the bottoms of your jeans to show off your monk shoes, as there’s really no point hiding them, and to keep things in a clean summery tone, finish off with a light blue shirt. For a classic look go for a normal oxford short or add a twist with a grandad collar shirt.

how to wear brown monk shoes casual

Formal Look

A navy suit is the perfect alternative to the more striking and intense black suit, able to give you a smart vibe while keeping things cool, tailored, and ideal for the less conventional monk shoes. You can try out suede monk shoes for a subtle finish, or stick to leather for more conventional formal look. Both will go perfectly with the cool toned navy look, with the warm brown balancing out the tones and creating a clean, put together outfit.

how to wear brown monk shoes formal

Burgundy Monk Shoes

You can gain a subtle burgundy finish by using a red shoe polish on a brown leather pair of monk shoes, with the polish creating an auburn sheen that can be built up gradually. If that sounds a little risky then just stick to the fail safe option and buy yourself a pair. Leather is really the only option here, but with the subtle, versatile shade you can still create a range of looks and outfits.

Casual Look

The thing about burgundy shoes is that they bring out a warmth to an outfit, while still maintaining a unique look with their red colouring. This means you can create a fairly simple outfit and have the shoes bring out some interest to the look, meaning for busy morning, when you don’t have time to plan an outfit, they can be a life saver.

Try out a basic striped jumper and pair it with some black or navy jeans. It doesn’t matter too much about what fit you choose, but try to go for a tapered fit to make sure that the monk shoes are shown off. Keep the shoes shined up with red toned polish to maintain the colour, and try a more striking double strap design to keep things interesting.

monk shoes burgundy

Formal Look

Burgundy shoes are similar enough to brown that they can go with the same kinds of outfits, with navy suits benefiting from the colourful sheen, and black suits contrasting neatly with the intense red.

However burgundy’s warmth means that it goes surprisingly well with a lot of cool tone colours, and grey pairs great with it. Burgundy monk shoes are ideal for adding a subtle boost to a grey suit, and you can keep the rest of the outfit simple with just a fresh white oxford shirt and minimal accessories.

burgundy monk shoes formal

How to Care for Monk Shoes

So we’ve given you some clothing suggestions, as well as ways that you can weave the same shoes into formal and casual looks. However unless you know how to care for your monk shoes then this will all be fairly meaningless, as a pair of scuffed, dull shoes doesn’t really give a great finish to an outfit. Luckily it’s not too difficult to keep them in good shape, and you won’t be polishing up your shoes for hours on end every day.


Leather can be shined up, have its colour subtly changed with a coloured polish, and gradually wear down to a characteristic shade. A red polish can give a warm sheen to a brown pair of leather shoes and maintain the colour of burgundy shoes, where as a brown polish can tone down a burgundy shoe and lessen its intensity.

However if leather shoes are dirty, no amount of polish is going to save them. You need to give it a good clean, but it’s got to be a gentle one. It’s not too hard, and you can even use some everyday house hold products to make them shine again.


Suede shoes can give an understated boost of class to an outfit, and with a simple brush up they can go from dull to box fresh. Generally suede shoes should be kept away from water, so if you think it’s gonna rain, maybe opt for something else instead.

Suede can be protected from the elements however with a good shoe spray, with the particles protecting the material from any dirt or heavy rain. Other than the fear of rain, and the need for a protection spray, suede shoes are fairly easy to care for, and even using a good nail brush to brush them out from time to time can be enough to keep them in top shape.

Your Quick Guide on Styling Monk Strap Shoes

  • Double buckle monk strap shoes give a more complex, unique style, where as single strap shoes are more streamlined and give a formal, simplistic vibe.
  • Black monk strap shoes can easily be paired with tailored, formal outfits, with their unique style adding a subtle boost of interest to the standard suit and tie outfit.
  • Brown monk shoes are great to pair with lighter colours like navy, as the warm tone compliments the tone and keeps overall look balanced.
  • Burgundy monk shoes can go with cool tone outfits, and add a boost of colour to a simple outfit, making them ideal for everyday casual looks.
  • Keep leather monk shoes in good shape with proper leather care, and change up the colouring with various polishes.
  • Suede monk shoes should be brushed after every wear, and you can use a simple nail brush to do this. A protection spray can keep them safe from any dirt or harmful rain, so it’s worth investing in one.

On That Note

Despite the fact that monk shoes have a unique style that can seem to take over a look, they’re actually surprisingly versatile, while being able to add some subtle interest to an outfit. Ideal for casual as well as formal outfits, you can change up the vibe with simple changes, such as how many straps you opt for, or what material you decide on.

Both leather and suede add a clean finish to an outfit, but everyone has their favourite material, so decide on yours and learn how to keep it looking its best. Monk shoes might not be the first choice for everyone, but they’re able to move from season to season and fit into a range of looks, so they can work regardless of personal style.

Back to blog
1 of 3