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Were monk strap shoes really worn by monks?

The ‘Pixie Monk Strap Flat’ for women by Kate Spade New York.
The ‘Pixie Monk Strap Flat’ for women by Kate Spade New York.
Stock Image.

This may not be the burning question on your mind, whether “monk strap shoes” or “monkstrap” shoes were really worn by monks, but I’m terribly intrigued by the humble yet tres cool monk strap shoe, especially as a style option for women who want to stand out from the crowd…

Monk shoes made quite a comeback a couple of years ago and are very much on-trend these days, after their last heyday in the 1980’s, now adding the innovative double strap, and even a triple strap, for added funk…

For those of you not familiar with monk strap shoes or simply, “monk shoes,” they have no laces but straps that buckle up over the foot, sometimes near the ankle. The ones by Kate Spade, which have been used as an illustration, may be straightforward enough in their simple black patent leather design, however, as stated earlier, variations on the monk shoe are endless.

Monk shoes come with a number of straps, uniqueness and number of buckles, application of studs or other textures and choice of materials. They can also be in perforated “wingtip” styles, using a combination of materials that you could really called “mixed media.”

But why exactly are they called “monk” shoes? Apparently, similar buckled strap shoes were favored by monks, who would wear such shoes because they offered more protection than their sandals. Monk shoes were also easier to remove than boots. These days, there are even monk strap boots – usually studded!

I tried desperately to look up whatever I could on the history of this hip shoe and the monks who wore them but there’s precious little written about them. Nevertheless, visions of cloistered Gregorian chant-singing central European monks wearing sturdy monk strap shoes made of rough-hewn brown leather and thick brass buckles as they tended to their viticulture chores took hold of my imagination. Alas there were no images of monk shoe-donning friars available!

Meanwhile, we’ll just have to contend with memories of flounced tulle skirts, lace mittens, crucifixes and monk shoes on 80’s femme fatales, to inspire us when it comes to finding the perfect monk strap shoes. Enjoy the hunt…

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