“CAN I PULL THIS OFF?” WINGMAN: MONKSTRAP SHOE EDITION

In honor of the Papal Conclave, Miss Wingman thought it only appropriate to do a little clergy-inspired style story of my own. Besides, why should cardinals get all the buzz? Monks can be fun, too.

In case you haven’t heard of the male shoe du jour (actually, it’s been popping up the past few seasons), then clue yourself in to the tasteful alternative to lace-up or loafer dress shoes: the monkstrap.

Image courtesy: GQ

With its roots hailing from European monasteries in the Alps, the story goes that a friar visiting England introduced the strappy style to a larger audience and voila! A cobblers delight was born.

The monkstrap experienced a resurgence when it resurfaced on the runways last year, and now dudes everywhere have been putting their best buckled-foot forward.

But, as in all “Can I Pull This Off?” features, the question remains: How do you, the non-fashion editor, non-male style blogger-type Regular Joe pull off this snazzy look? It’s easy, just follow these three simple steps.

1) Decide which monk best suits your style. One strap or two? For a shoe that’s already pretty formal, the double monkstrap may not be for the fashion faint of heart, but everyone has a preference. Find out which one’s yours.

2) Shop around. There are so many designer variations on the monkstrap, with price points running the gamut from $140 Banana Republic kicks to $1350 for Ralph Lauren Purple Label Narvells, (though I prefer their Obrian Calf monkstraps). Or you could have a little fun and add a hint of wingtip to your toes by opting for Ben Sherman’s Montaigne style.

Image: Thom Browne via Selectism

My personal favorites are Alexander McQueen’s perforated leather monkstraps, Paul Smith’s Fosters (with a bit of fringe!), and the classic Peal & Co. single strap (if double’s not your thing), available at Brooks Brothers. But don’t just take it from me, hit up sites like Polyvore and Mr. Porter to check out brands like A.P.C., Saint Laurent, Mark McNairy and a host of others. Your feet will thank you.

The final and most important thing to consider when contemplating a monkstrap purchase is how to wear them. As in, “do these pants make my ankles look fat?”

Kidding. But seriously, what you pair them with is more than half the battle, and is the key to pulling off this dapper look with ease. The good thing about these monastic mo-fo’s is that they’re versatile. You can wear them with a well-tailored suit or dress them down with some dark-washed or distressed denim and a cardigan. Just make sure the hem is slightly cropped so as not to hide your footwear flair.

Image courtesy: Tumblr

Or, you can even pair them with a double-breasted sports coat, pocket square and chinos, if you’re feeling particularly preppy that day.

Image courtesy: Menstylefashion.com

The important thing is to be mindful of fit. If you’re brave enough to try monkstraps, then you should be undaunted by a cropped and cuffed hem or narrow-legged pant. Add a tie for a little extra polish, or just a casual jacket over a slim-fitting sweater. And if you really want to go full monty, then invest in some striped or bold-hued socks to add a pop of color. They’re like Christmas for your feet.

From friars to frat boys, monkstraps look good on pretty much everyone, so long as they’re executed properly. So wear them with confidence. Wear them with style. And soon enough, you’ll be wearing them religiously.DAPPER WINGMAN

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