How to lace shoes

How to lace shoes

Learning to tie our shoes as children was a rite of passage: you threw away childish things and graduated to a world of opportunity as a ‘grown up’. That was the first day of the rest of your life.

Then, in a cruel twist of fate, another lace-related challenge awaits you further down the line. If you receive a new pair from Cheaney or collect a well-loved pair that has been repaired in our factory, the shoes aren’t laced up. To provide them as such would genuinely involve employing a full-time lacer-upper, and how you lace your shoes is entirely your choice depending on style and situation.

However, with oxford and derby shoes, I believe there is only one way to do it (and one variation), which I will attempt to explain in this blog.

Why does it matter?

We could get quite nerdy about lacing up your shoes. On a shoe with six eyelets, there are over one trillion different ways to lace them up. For the purposes of this blog, I tried every single one in order to find the best.

Aesthetically speaking, how you lace your shoes is a signifier to the world of your attention to detail. It would be a shame to put a nice outfit together with a sleek pair of shoes only to ruin the look with a slapdash lacing system that more resembles a tangled pair of headphones than a smart shoe.

However, the method of lacing your shoes can also affect the fit and comfort of your footwear. Although ‘criss-cross’ lacing is easy to do and has its place in certain styles (specifically trainers and casual boots), it looks untidy on most other shoes and prevents the facings (the section where the eyelets are that the laces thread through) from coming together properly. This can result in a shoe that feels loose.

How to straight-lace Oxfords

Otherwise known as bar lacing or European straight lacing, this is our go-to for Oxford shoes, where the facings are flush with the rest of the shoe. It is secure and neat, perfect for any formality of oxford.

  1. Begin with the laces threaded through the bottom eyelets of the shoe, creating the first ‘bar’. This is how the shoes will arrive if you’ve ordered online or had a repair back. For an even number of eyelets, make sure both ends are the same length. For an odd number, make the right-hand lace longer by about an inch.
  2. Take the right lace and thread it underneath to the opposite facing, one eyelet up.
  3. Take the left lace and thread it underneath to the opposite facing, two eyelets up.
  4. Take the first lace and create the second bar by threading it on top to the opposite side, before threading it underneath back to the other side, two eyelets up.
  5. Repeat this process until you reach the top.
  6. High-five yourself.

How to lace Derbies

You could easily use the same lacing system for both oxfords and derbies, but the diagonal pattern underneath the facings could be seen as untidy with derby lacing, where the facings are usually further apart.

If this bothers you, you may like to enter the mysterious world of ‘invisible lacing’ for a cleaner look.

  1. As before, start with the laces threaded through the bottom eyelets, creating the first bar.
  2. Thread the right lace straight up on the same side underneath the facing, then over the top to the left-hand side, creating the second bar.
  3. Thread the left lace up underneath the same facing to the next available eyelet, and over the top to the right side, creating the third bar.
  4. Repeat the process until you reach the top.
  5. If you have an even number of eyelets, you finish there. If there is an odd number, to save on one unsightly diagonal behind the facings, you should loop the lace back behind on the penultimate eyelet and wrap around itself before threading through the top eyelet.
  6. Have a cup of tea.

These two lacing systems will see you right for any style you have and are the neatest ways to do so, as well as being the most appropriate for formal events.

However, outside of such events, feel free to explore the other 999,999,999,999 methods and see which works for you.