How To Lace Dress Shoes

How To Lace Up Dress Shoes

Does it matter how you lace men's dress shoes with shoelaces? (Yes, it does.) Or what types of shoe laces you should use? What's the difference? Men’s style experts agree – bar, or straight lacing, is more formal, and the only way to properly lace dress shoes.

Criss-cross lacing is too casual and not appropriate for formal events. Walk down the aisle, looking dashing, and be in classic tip-top shape for that formal business meeting. Impress your lady, with a pair of well laced dress shoes. Yes, she will notice the difference.

Are all your ‘good shoes’ dress shoes? No, they're not. There are many styles of men’s shoes, and they aren't all ‘dress’ – there are Loafers, Brogues, Oxfords, Wingtip brogues, Chukkas, Derbies, Boots, Monk straps, and more.

Different types of shoes have laces that are specifically engineered for that particular shoe. Laces are designed to complement the style and function of the shoe. Laces for athletic shoes are very different from laces for formal shoes. What kind of laces do you need for dress shoes?

Types of Shoe Laces

Dress shoe laces are made from different materials and are designed to fit through the eyelets, or holes, in the ‘vamp’ part of the shoe. These are the two pieces that open to allow you to slip on your shoe more easily when the laces are undone. Ill-fitting laces will make it more difficult to lace up, and open, your shoes. Make sure the length is correct.

There are two main styles of dress shoelaces. They can be either a thin, round, shaped lace or thin and flat lace. Both types have a waxed edge.

Laces can be made from either organic fibers or synthetic. What's the difference? Well, synthetic laces are very strong, but, tend to come undone more easily.

Prevent Shoe Laces From Untying

You have the wrong type of laces, perhaps of inferior quality, that does not ‘grip’ well. You may have experienced this irritation, and not known why. Are you constantly tying your laces when you're wearing a particular pair of shoes? Perhaps, it's time to change the laces. This is a simple way of up-styling your shoes too. You can even go for stylish, bright colored shoe laces, and stand out from the crowd.

Which Shoe Lace Style Should You Choose?

Even if you've bought brand new formal shoes, you need to check the quality of the laces. Cheaply made laces can snap, and it's often worth your while to upgrade to better quality shoe laces.

Dress shoelaces are a ‘finer’ styled shoe-lace than regular ones. Never buy nylon athletic laces, but, instead, buy the best durable dress laces you can afford.

You could choose cotton laces or a poly blend/nylon lace. Remember that they must be either thin and round, or thin and flat.

Proper Shoe Lace Length

There are two factors to consider, that will help you decide what length lace you'll need. The first is the number of ‘eyelet pairs,’ or ‘holes’ on your shoe. The second being the width and size of your foot.

Why does this matter? Well, over time, your shoe may stretch a little, or your feet may be a bit bigger. Generally, you'll only ever be deciding between two lengths of laces.

Dress shoes either have an even, or odd number, of eyelet pairs, and you choose your laces accordingly.

Shoe Laces Length Guide

  • 1-2:   21 inches
  • 2-3:  24 inches
  • 3:      27 inches
  • 3-4:  30 inches
  • 4-5:  40 inches
  • 5:      40 inches
  • 5-6:  45 inches
  • 6-7:  54 inches
  • 7-8:  63 inches
  • 8-9:  72 inches
  • 9-10: 84 inches

Pro-Style Tip

Men’s fashion stylists suggest that you check the laces that come with your shoes. Remember that even some higher quality dress shoes may be sold with inferior quality laces.

Your shoes are an investment, and upgrading to more superior laces is recommended.

Different Shoelace Types

Fashion Trends: Bow Ties, Velvet & Satin Dress Laces

Men’s fashion has also seen, historically, some very interesting trends with laces. There have been satin ribbon laces, velvet ribbon laces, and wider laces.

Men then tied small bows, which matched their bow ties, on their shoes, and looked very dapper. Trends change and, even if you fancy some vintage laces, you may have a problem fitting them into modern shoes, as the eyelets may be too small. Dress shoes are best paired with a classic pair of dress laces.

How To Thread Dress Shoe Laces: Bar Lacing Method

Count First! Odd or Even?

You need to count the number of pairs – they will be odd or even. This is important.

Odd: One Side Is Longer

You must not start threading your lace straight away. If your shoe has an uneven number of eyelets, the threading process will not even out, and one side will be shorter and irritate you – forever. What you'll need to do is make sure that one end stays a few inches longer, probably two or three.

Bar lacing looks smarter, and the laces are over the eyelets, not under. Feed the laces in, through the holes, and then, like a big loop stitch, take one lace over to the opposite hole.

Repeat with the right, and left laces. Do not cross the laces over. The same lace will thread over the same level eyelet pair, and create a straight line. This is bar lacing and will compliment your dress shoes appearance. 

Colored Laces For Dress Shoes? What are the Style Rules?

Traditionally men’s dress shoes are worn to smart events or may be part of your formal business attire. ‘Fancy colored’ laces are also available but proceed with extreme caution.

Your enthusiastically chosen bright colored shoe laces may scream poor taste, when worn with beautiful Oxfords, to a business meeting. However, they can add a lot of character, and be a fun choice if you’re wearing formal dress shoes to a less formal event.

The golden rule, often quoted, for men’s shoe choices is this – “Avoid brown in town.’’ Generally, brown shoes, even dress shoes, are not a good choice for the evening.

It's usually better to wear black dress shoes in the evening when you're ‘out on the town.’ Be sure that your laces are threaded correctly in your shoes, and never – never – criss-cross your dress shoe laces.

It may seem like a small difference, but it looks much smarter. Keep your dress shoe laces straight, or bar, and enjoy looking your stylish best.

Last Updated on January 14, 2020 by Comfy Soles

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