How to Lace Shoes: 7 Different Ways Explained

As a child, you learn how to tie shoes, and as an adult, you learn how to lace shoes. However, there are actually several effective ways to lace shoes. Plus, it sometimes depends on what type of footwear you’re lacing.

We’ll take you through several of these techniques. Also, you’ll learn a thing or two about tying laces on the way.

Today, we’re talking about the ways of lacing shoes. We cover the following methods, and more:

  • Straight lacing for formal footwear.
  • Straight-lace alternate #1 and #2.
  • Lacing for athletic footwear.
  • Lattice lacing.
  • Ladder lacing.
  • Star lacing.
  • X-lacing.

How to Lace Shoes

Is There a Correct Way to Lace Shoes?

There’s no one way to do most things in life, including lacing shoes. The correct way achieves the following:

  • Holds the shoe in place.
  • Supports the foot.
  • Feels comfortable and even.

However, we can share some suggestions based on your shoe type, then teach you alternatives to play with.

Lacing by Type

Formal Shoes

In formal situations, you want to look well-presented and put together. Your footwear should appear as smart as the rest of you, so you’ll need closed lacing in this case. To achieve it, you’ll need to use the straight bar method.

This lacing style can take you from a business meeting to a wedding, to a meeting with a monarch. It’s a classic that you can use on any dress shoe, including the popular formal oxfords.

Here’s how you do it:

  1. Start at the eyelets closest to the toes.
  2. Slip both lace-strings into their respective sides.
  3. Take one side—let’s say the left—and slip it through the next left.
  4. Now put the right through the third eyelet on the same side right.
  5. Thread the left lace through the second eyelet on the opposite side.
  6. Lace the right one through the third eyelet on the left.
  7. Continue this pattern until the footwear is laced, leaving only straight lines across.

Pro Tip

  • For this type of footwear, thin cotton lace-strings work best.

Casual Shoes

Casual shoes cover any shoe or boot that you’re not wearing to a formal event, the office, or to the gym. You have more liberty with these, and you want them to look neat, but not formal.

For beginners, the most straightforward approach would be a criss-cross method, but these are the kicks you can experiment with. You can show off your personality, if the shoe fits for that to happen.

There’ll be a tutorial on several ways of tying your shoes later on.


“Sneakers” is a broad category referring to basic pumps, tennis or running shoes and other specialized athletic kicks. If a sport you play has specific lacing rules, please ignore this section. For those without, there’s a simple way to lace—criss-cross.

The reason? It’s tight, effective and uncomplicated. You get even support across the front of your foot, and your heels will also be locked in.

This is what you do:

  1. Start at the end closest to the toes, as usual.
  2. Thread the laces through into an even, straight line.
  3. Take the left lace and pop it through the second eyelet on the other side.
  4. Put the other lace through the second eyelet on the left.
  5. Repeat until the shoes are laced, and tie tightly.

Pro Tip

  • Never use a tightly tied criss-cross lace in place of properly fitting footwear. Are your shoes too loose? Check out our guide on how to tell if shoes are too big, so you know whether it’s the kicks or your lacing.

Blue sneakers

Lacing by Method

For your everyday casual footwear, there are several lacing options you get to make use of. Two are alternate versions of the straight lacing method that aren’t formal enough for special occasions but might work for parties.

Straight-Lace Alternate #1

  1. Start at the bottom, running the shoelace from the bottom right (R) to the top left (L).
  2. Take the top portion and put it through the top R
  3. Pull the same piece through the second-from-top L.
  4. Now pull it through the adjacent hole on the R.
  5. Continue this diagonal-to-straight method until the shoe is fully laced.

Straight-Lace Alternate #2

This method is for footwear with five or more eyelets.

  1. Thread the lace through the heel-side eyelet on the L.
  2. Now, put it through the R heel-side eyelet, second from the bottom.
  3. Lace it into the adjacent eyelet on the L.
  4. Next, the top (toe-side) R eyelet.
  5. Lace it through the adjacent eyelet.
  6. Go diagonal to the R eyelet, second from the top.
  7. Adjacent.
  8. Repeat the diagonal, adjacent pattern until the shoe is laced.
  9. Even out the lace on both sides.


  1. Run the lace through the top L and R eyelets.
  2. Run the left side through the second R from the bottom, and vice versa.
  3. Lace the L through the bottom-left eyelet, and vice versa.
  4. Next, lace them through the third eyelets from the start. Make sure you’re doing L into R and vice versa.
  5. With the last empty eyelets, string left on left and R on R.
  6. Finally, bring the lace-strings back down towards the heel-side of the shoe. Do this diagonally, so they cross over each other and make sure they go beneath the already-laced laces.


  1. Lace the shoelace through the first eyelets, toe-side.
  2. Thread the left lace (A) through the third left eyelet.
  3. Right lace (B) goes through the second eyelet on the right.
  4. A through the third on the right.
  5. B through the second on the left.
  6. A through the second-last on the right.
  7. B through the fourth on the left.
  8. A through the second-last on the left.
  9. B through the last on the right,
  10. A through the last on the left.
  11. B through the top on the right, even though there’s already lace threaded through there. This should run over your shoe, but under the straight-laced laces.
  12. Do the same with A, to the top left, as you did with B.

Lacing for Fashion


This method requires six eyelets on each side.

  1. Start with your shoes facing you, toes first. In this method, the toe-side will be the bottom of your footwear.
  2. Lace through the third right eyelet, outside to inside.
  3. Along the inside, lace up to the top right eyelet.
  4. Lace a straight line to the left adjacent.
  5. Slip the lace through the outside of the top-left eyelet.
  6. Grab the part of the lace you haven’t been lacing with.
  7. Pull it through the third left, out to in.
  8. Now, through the bottom left, in to out.
  9. Pull it through the (already occupied) third right, out to in.
  10. Bottom right, in to out.
  11. Third left, out to in.
  12. Thread it under the lace-strings already laced at the bottom.
  13. Bottom left, in to out.
  14. Under the straight-line third and top eyelet laces.
  15. Go under the rest of the laces and out just above the bottom ones.
  16. Bottom right, out to in.
  17. Pull to the top, under the already laced laces.
  18. Top right, out to in.
  19. Tie the laces under the tongue and place them under the insole.

Pro Tip

  • When threading through the eyelets for a second time, watch out the lace tip doesn’t cause damage to the shoelace.


This only works with six eyelets. Once again, we’re calling the heel-side the top of the shoe.

  1. Lace through the bottom two eyelets, right, in to out.
  2. Bottom two left, out to in.
  3. Next to up, right, in to out.
  4. Adjacent on the left, out to in.
  5. Lace the laces under the straight-lined laces.
  6. Top two eyelets, in to out.
  7. Take the bottom lace and lace it through the adjacent left, out to in.
  8. Lace that same lace in to out, top left.
  9. Tie under the tongue and hide them beneath the insole.

For a few x-lacing options, check out this:

How Do You Slip Lace a Shoe?

Tying your laces can be a pain, and untying them is worse. Everyone’s had that mishap at some point, where the loops come undone, but the knot remains.

You might have noticed the last two lacing methods don’t require re-tying every time you wear your kicks. How do you do that without the quirky shapes in your laces?

There’s a way to turn your lace-up shoes into slip-ons by slip lacing the footwear. This keeps the laces out of the way, neat and secure enough to hold the shoe on your foot without being tied.

  • Lace your shoes as normal.
  • Pull each side of the laces as they go through the eyelet. Do this until they’re all tight but comfortable.
  • Now your kicks should be secure enough to wear without tying them.

However, when using this with regular shoelaces, it isn’t going to hold over time. So, for this style of lacing, it’s best to use elastic laces to lace your shoes.

This method isn’t suitable for lacing dress shoes. You shouldn’t replace your dress laces with something so casual. But for most other types, it should work.

One-Handed Lacing

You can create a lacing style that you don’t have to tie, and without using elastic laces. It may not feel as secure in comparison to other designs, frequent tightening is also a possibility, but it works. Here’s how you do it:

  1. Thread the lace through one of the side eyelets at the top.
  2. Tie a stopper knot on one side, directly after you lace it through the first eyelet.
  3. Weave it in a zig-zag pattern all the way down. Example: start at the top left, over to the adjacent right. Second, both sides.
  4. Your lace-tops will be on the opposite ends of your footwear, and thus can’t be tied.
  5. Tuck the loose end inside, to avoid stepping or tripping on it.

pink lace for women

How Do You Do Shoelaces?

Okay, your shoes are laced. There are several ways you tie off the lace of shoes. They’re equally effective, but some people find certain methods easier than others.

They work regardless of the lacing design and work on any shoe type.

The Tree

  1. Start with the lace in shoes flat, on either side of the shoe.
  2. Make the base of your knot—cross the lace-strings over, pull one underneath through the gap and pull tight.
  3. Form one lace into a loop. Let’s call this the tree.
  4. Bring the other lace over and wrap it around the tree from behind. The piece of the lace should now be facing you.
  5. There should be a gap between the lace and the tree. Use this to pull the lace through. This forms another loop.
  6. Pull both loops to form a tight knot.

The Bunny Ears

  1. Start as with the tree method and complete the first two steps.
  2. Make a loop with one lace, resembling a bunny ear.
  3. Repeat this process on the other side.
  4. Cross the ears over.
  5. Pull one ear under the gap below both ears.
  6. Pull to tighten.

Pro Tip

  • This is the easiest method for children to learn.

The Circle

  1. Repeat the first two steps previously mentioned.
  2. Go to tie your basic knot as per step two as dictated in the tree method—cross the laces over, pull one underneath through the gap.
  3. Do not pull tight, keep it loose, forming a circle.
  4. Lay the circle flat, up against your shoe.
  5. Slip one shoelace into the circle, forming a loop.
  6. Repeat the process with the other shoelace.
  7. With the loops in place, pull tight.

The Magic Fingers

This is by far the most complicated method, so don’t worry if you prefer one of the other three.

  1. Do your usual first two steps.
  2. With your fingers facing you, grasp one of the laces. Use your thumb, index and pinky finger to do this. Your hand should form a lobster claw shape.
  3. Do the same on the other side.
  4. Make your fingers face each other, forming two sides of a rectangle with your lobster claws. This will force the laces into an “X” shape, with some tension.
  5. Pull the laces through each other.
  6. Tighten the laces into a knot.

Tying Things Up

As we’ve seen, how to lace shoes isn’t a one-size-fits-all scenario. You can impress your friends with an original design or create that finishing touch to your formal footwear.

You can really show off your personality through your lacing style.

Why not experiment with a few different styles and see which one you like. Chances are it’ll be the one that’s comfortable and looks the best with your footwear.

We hope you’ve enjoyed learning all about lacing. Let us know how you get on in the comments, and don’t forget to share.


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