How To Lace Shoes The Classy Way – Straight Dress Shoe Lacing Guide
You know how to lace shoes…
Well – if you're lacing your dress shoes…
like you lace your TRAINERS…
you might as well go the whole hog.
Stick a pair of flat white nylon laces in there and go for a jog.
Okay – maybe I'm exaggerating a little. But cross lacing is too casual for dress shoes. It looks messy. People in the know will notice.
Trouble is – doing it without instructions can be a real brain twister (ever tried?)
Today we're going to fix that. It's easy when you know how.
Read on for clear step-by-step instructions on how to lace dress shoes:
#1. How To Lace Shoes – Straight Lacing
- Start by removing the laces from the shoes, then insert both ends of the shoelace into the bottom holes.
- Make both ends equal in length if you have an even number of eyelets. Make one end longer than the other if you have an odd number.
- Take the right lace and put it through the right hole. Then bring it over and through the left hole.
- Grab the other lace and go through the left hole. Then go over and through the right hole.
- Switch laces again and go through the left hole. Cross over again and go through the right hole.
- Switch laces then go through the right hole, crossing again to the left. Finish by going up through the top left hole.
- Switch laces one final time and go up through the right hole.
- Both laces should be of equal length in the end. If not, start over, adjusting the ends as needed.
#2. Difference Between Straight Lacing And Shoe Shop Lacing
Shoe shop lacing used to be common in shoe shops because many shoes came pre-laced this way from the factory. It looks like straight lacing, but it's produced by threading one lace through all the eyelets and running the other one straight from the top eyelet to the opposite bottom eyelet.
The problem with this is that it might look symmetrical on top, but it's lopsided underneath – so it tends to pull the eyelets out of line, and the loose ends behave differently from each other when you try to tie a bow. Straight lacing gives you very even tension and lace ends that behave in the same way.
Straight lacing also makes it easier to loosen and tighten the laces evenly than either shoe-shop or criss-cross lacing. This makes it especially useful on the best men's dress boots.
#3. When To Straight Lace Dress Shoes
If you're wearing shoes like oxfords or balmorals (including oxford or balmoral boots) the rule is simple – ALWAYS straight lace. These are shoes with a closed lacing system – the vamp (front part of the shoe) is sewn on top of the quarters (the part with the eyelets). As well as being too casual, cross lacing looks awkward on them because it doesn’t bring the sides of the vamp together in the middle.
But what about how to lace shoes with an OPEN lacing system? Less formal shoes such as brogues, derbies, and bluchers have open lacing – the quarters (with the eyelets) are sewn on top of the vamp. That means cross lacing looks fine on them, so straight lacing and cross lacing are both acceptable. It depends on personal taste and whether you want to dress your shoes up or down (e.g. wearing dress shoes with jeans.)
Still not sure? A great compromise with derbies and bluchers is to straight lace until the last pair of eyelets and then add a single criss-cross lace. This adds a touch of visual interest to the plain shoe. Don't try it with brogues, though – they're already so busy such a minimalist detail would be lost. Plain straight lacing looks great on brogues because it allows the detail to stand out.
- Always straight lace shoes with closed lacing (oxfords and balmorals).
- Straight lace OR cross lace shoes with open lacing (derbies, bluchers, brogues, more casual shoes).
- Choose straight lacing when you want to look sharp.