A man's shoes are the cornerstone to his outfit.
Most women agree that their eyes are first drawn to a man's feet – allowing them to make a snap judgment about his personality.
What you may not have heard before is that a quality pair of leather shoes can fail to make a good impression if your shoelaces are tied wrong.
Learning how to tie shoelaces is an important rite of passage for every child. We learn a standard sequence of looping and securing our laces in kindergarten.
And we continue with the same ritual into our adulthood!
As an adult, we need to revisit this childhood routine to check if this daily ritual can be improved to reflect grown-up values.
Why is it important to relearn this simple daily ritual and do it the right way?
- Your shoelace knot won't look sloppy or bulky.
- Instead, it mimics the shape of a bow-tie.
- The laces won’t come undone.
- The shoe fits more snug, providing comfort and preventing injury.
You may have just purchased a quality pair of dress shoes and are looking for more information on how to properly lace them.
Continue reading for options on lacing style, shoelace length and knots.
How Lacing Works
Nobody knows who invented shoelaces. They have existed for thousands of years, probably starting off as basic strips of tree bark used to secure leather thongs.
The plastic (sometimes metal) ends of a lace are called aglets. They make it easier to pass the laces through the eyelets and prevent the ends of the laces from fraying.
Traditionally, dress shoes are made with either 5 or 6 pairs of eyelets. However, this number can range between 2-8 pairs of eyelets. The laces are fed into the eyelets bottom-up, working their way up from the toe cap to the top of the shoe. When secured, the laces should draw the tongues of the shoe together, closing the gap that allows your foot to fit into the shoe.
Done correctly, the laces provide an even, balanced pressure that secures the shoe to your foot and provides comfort and support while walking.
The Wrong & Right Way To Tie Your Shoes
If your shoelaces are always coming undone, or you have a crooked shoelace bow, you probably used an unbalanced granny knot.
The granny knot is the standard and most well-known technique for tying shoe laces.
If you are tying your shoelaces with a granny knot, the laces tend to sit vertically (from heel to toe), instead of across the top part of your shoe like a bow-tie. There is also a higher likelihood that your laces will come undone.
Wrong way to tie shoes looks like this:
Right way to tie shoes looks like this:
The most common technique to tie shoe laces is a two-step process.
- By layering two half-knots on top of each other and wrapping the left piece of the lace over and around the right one and pulling it through.
- The laces are secured by passing the left piece through the gap just formed under the knots and pulling both loops in opposite directions to secure the know.
This produces the unstable and aesthetically incorrect granny knot.
By reversing the orientation of the first half-knot (pass the left piece of the lace under the right one before pulling it through) results in a much stronger knot.
The correct technique results in a balanced knot that sits straight and stays secure.
- The starting knot – Left end over right end or right end over left end.
- The bow, or finished knot – Check the 6 steps listed below.
For the starting knot, if you start with left end over right end – create a loop with the right hand and with the left hand, make an anti-clockwise loop around the first loop, thread it through and fasten.
If you start with the right end over left end – creat a loop with the left hand, make an anti-clockwise loop around the first loop, thread it through and fasten.
Also known as the bowknot, this method of tying laces mimics a bowtie knot and sits horizontally across the top of your shoes. A more appealing presentation than the regular granny knot.
- Step 1 – Start with a left over right, simple knot. Make the right end into a loop by simply doubling it back onto itself.
- Step 2 – Take the left end and pass it around to the right, going clockwise behind the right loop.
- Step 3 – Continue the left end around the right loop to end up in front.
- Step 4 – Feed the left lace into the gap that has just been created.
- Step 5 – With the left lace now through the gap, hold both loops and pull the knot tight.
- Step 6 – Continue pulling on the loops until the knot is firmly secured.
How To Lace Your Oxfords & Dress Shoes
On an average shoe with 6 pairs of eyelets, there are at least 40,000 possible ways to feed the laces through the eyelets!
Here are just a few of the most popular styles – International lacing, bar (ballroom) lacing, military style (for boots), basic criss-cross lacing and straight lacing technique.
Straight lacing is considered the correct method for shoes with closed laces, while criss-cross lacing is considered appropriate for open laced and casual shoes.
Dress shoes such as Oxfords are best secured with straight lacing because it allows the uppers of the shoe to come completely together in the middle. The laces run parallel and straight across on the outside and diagonally on the inside. The underlying zig-zag mess will be completely hidden – presenting a clean and uncluttered view from the top.
Follow this sequence of straight-lacing for your dress shoes to avoid uneven pressure on one side of the foot from improper lacing techniques.
- Begin straight across on the outside and in through both the bottom eyelets. On shoes with odd numbers of eyelet pairs, adjust so that the left end is slightly longer than the right end.
- Cross the left lace diagonally on the inside and then straight across on the outside.
- Cross the right lace diagonally on the inside and then straight across on the outside.
- Alternate both the right and left laces in this progression until you reach the top.
Use The Right Materials For Shoelaces
A pair of thin, waxed cotton laces are preferable for dress shoes. Laces from the drugstore are acceptable for an emergency, but richly dyed laces will keep your shoes looking sharp. The wax prevents the laces from becoming too slippery.
Thicker, nylon laces are best used on sneakers and sports shoes.
Replace your shoelaces when they begin to fray or if the aglet is broken. Keep an extra pair of laces handy.