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2 trillion ‘ways to lace your shoes’ exist in the world—how many do you know?


To get started you need—naturally—a pair of shoes, preferably newer ones, and shoe laces. When you don’t like the original laces that came with your shoes, you can order new ones in every imaginable color. Many shoe stores sell separate shoe laces as well, so you can choose from a wide variety.

Starting easy: Add color by replacing your laces

Before we get into the various ways of tying your laces, there’s one way to vamp up your shoe-tying style and you don’t need to be the creative arty type for this.

Although this is definitely the easiest way to upgrade your shoe laces, you have nearly endless possibilities while choosing your new look. Here are just some suggestions to get started.

Credit: Imgur |

Retying because of health issues

Re-tying your shoes may have more than aesthetic reasons. When your feet hurt, you can re-lace your shoes to suit your feet.

Whether you have high arches, slipping heels or a wide forefoot, the following lacing patterns might help you.

Credit: Imgur | MizzMarcyy

Credit: Imgur | MizzMarcyy

Credit: Imgur | MizzMarcyy

Credit: Imgur | MizzMarcyy

Let’s step up the game with patterns

Besides helping your feet—and maybe most important of all—the lacing should be visually pleasing. So if you’re bored with the standard lacing that comes with shoes, here are 12 (+1) more methods to revamp your shoes.

#1. Display

This is the most common non-standard lacing when you unbox your shoes. It’s also the lacing most stores use to display the shoes because the lace-ends stay inside.

Credit: Imgur | DobbyHasNoMaster

#2. Parallel style

This is perhaps the most simple style. Besides being easy, it often requires a complete re-lacing of your shoes. Just in case you don’t like the new style, try it on one shoe first, so you still know how to retie your shoe like the original style.

From top to bottom the following styles are: ‘The Hidden Knot’, ‘Bushwalk’, ‘Ladder’ and ‘Checkerboard’, with the last one looking exactly as you imagine.


The Hidden Knot (Credit: Imgur | DobbyHasNoMaster)

Bushwalk (Credit: Imgur | DobbyHasNoMaster)

Ladder (Credit: Imgur | DobbyHasNoMaster)

Checkerboard (Credit: Imgur | DobbyHasNoMaster)

#3. Diagonal Style

These four styles are quite similar to your typical display style of lacing. Also, they don’t all require a complete re-tying of the shoe.

The first one is called ‘Footbag’ and may remind you of the lacing to suit a wide forefoot, and in fact, it is similar. The other lacings are ‘The Hash’, ‘Double Back’ and ‘Lattice’ or ‘Diamond Lacing’ which may remind you of the ‘Checkerboard.’

Footbag (Credit: Imgur | DobbyHasNoMaster)

The Hash (Credit: Imgur | DobbyHasNoMaster)

Double Back (Credit: Imgur | DobbyHasNoMaster)

Lattice (Credit: Imgur | DobbyHasNoMaster)

#3. Special lacings

This is where it gets a little complicated. Here we have ‘The Riding Bow’ with the bow right in the middle (or wherever you want it to be).

The next one in this series is the ‘Loop Back’, which looks similar to ‘Display’ but actually is a lot different because the ends stay on either side.

Then we have the ‘Twistie’ being similar to the loop one before, but because of a double twist, the lace will constantly switch sides again.

Last but not least is the ‘Zipper’. This one may be one of the hardest lacing jobs in this list, yet it has a stunning look with its diamond shaped gaps.

Riding Bow (Credit: Imgur | DobbyHasNoMaster)

Loop Back (Credit: Imgur | DobbyHasNoMaster)

Twistie (Credit: Imgur | DobbyHasNoMaster)

Zipper (Credit: Imgur | DobbyHasNoMaster)

What else can you do?

In fact, there are nearly 2 trillion (1,961,990,553,600) possibilities to lace a shoe with six pairs of eyelets and one lace. But because above all shoe laces should ‘lace a shoe,’ there are some points we have to consider:

  •   Generally, start and finish at the top pair of eyelets
  •   A lace should pass through each and every eyelet only once, nor skip any
  •   The lacing should contribute to pulling together both sides of the shoe
  •   It should not be too difficult to tight or loosen the lacing
  •   Any patterns should be relatively stable, and,
  •   Ignore irrelevant variations (eg. changing the direction through a single eyelet).

While the above number is the mathematical limit, when considering all the above limitations you can practically use ‘only’ 43,200 methods—if you stay with one lace per shoe. This number was calculated by Australian Mathematician Burkard Polster, in December 2002, causing a sudden interest in the mathematics of shoe lacing.

Credit: Ian Fieggen

Adding more laces per shoe, interweaving the laces or passing an eyelet more than once will drastically increase this number. This, however, is something beyond everyday use.

Ian’s shoelace site provides at least 77 methods of shoe lacing, with the possibility to add your own creations. The videos below offer just 16 ways of lacing, so you may not have enough shoes to try them all…



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