How to lace dress shoes in 2023

How to lace dress shoes in 2023. Forget that expensive designer suit – even the slickest of looks won’t save you from embarrassment when you’re lying face down in a pool of your own blood, surrounded by startled party guests, with your shoes nowhere near. Now don’t get us wrong – it’s not like we’re looking to scare anyone away from wearing fancy footwear.

It’s just that we’ve seen people trip over their shoelaces so many times before (and this is just for standard dress shoes) and are here to set the record straight about how important it is that your most formfitting pairs are laced up properly.

You see, some lace-ups can really put themselves together nicely while others require more complex or intricate lacing systems in order to provide proper support throughout the day.


It sounds so simple, but every weekend, thousands of men are denied entry to nightclubs for wearing their Nike Air Max sneakers. This indicates that there’s still some confusion surrounding what smart shoes mean. So let’s break down the basics—for all their sakes—again.

As broadly as possible, when you’d wear them to work with a suit, they’re considered smart shoes. They need to be made of leather and come in black or brown colors; they also shouldn’t have any excessive details or branding logos on them at all.


When choosing which shoelace style to use on your high-end work shoes, you’ll have to be aware of the subtle difference between open and closed lace styles. Closed lace styles usually feature a ‘vamp’ – which is the piece covering the front and side of your foot – that goes under the lower section containing eyelet holes called ‘facing’.

This can result in a cleaner overall look but does so at the cost of flexibility when it comes to how tightly or loosely you tie your shoes. On average, closed lace shoes are considered much more professional looking than those featuring an open lace design because they’re simpler in appearance.


Scots and Irish were responsible for the invention of the Oxford shoe. It features a closed lacing system and has become the go-to option for formal events thanks to its sleek black colorway.

It also happens to function with anything from a tuxedo to a denim jacket or shirt thanks to added details that take it beyond just looking dressy (such as broguing or wingtip panels).


The Derby shoe has long been a trusted companion of businessmen. Wear it every time you step out, but smart enough to make a suit look good.

Although it may not be as dressy as an Oxford, the Derby takes pride in what it does offer – practicality and style. Unlike its Oxford cousin, Derbies are traditionally open-laced shoes – this means you don’t need to tie them!


Nowadays, people lace up their shoes differently. With a closed lacing system, Oxfords require you to lace them up just so—or risk getting sore feet by the end of the day. When buying new shoelaces, measure those that come with your shoes first before cutting them off.

They’ll need to be thin and matching in color completely; there’s no room for big, broad statements here. Once you have what you need – either European straight lacing or ladder lacing – simply follow whichever instructions are relevant to your situation:

European straight lacing is more versatile because it allows plenty of space for adjustments when fitting around different shoe styles (four eyelets being the recommended minimum), while ladder lacing requires less space but won’t work well on anything other than low-profile sneakers (anything with four or fewer eyelets).


The process of lacing a pair of Derby shoes is similar to lacing Oxford shoes. You’ll need to find lace that matches in color and pattern; then it’s simply affixing them in place. The smart shoes should have a neat appearance in this part.

Unlike Oxfords, though, there’s an open lace system which means the tongue usually remains exposed – which disqualifies any lace knot tying diagonally across the shoe’s width (because those tend to show). Instead of straight bar-lacing, create an S-shape between eyelets and conceal everything below the facing.


Insert both laces ends upwards through the lower two holes, skipping one hole at a time. Keep pushing the left lace upwards and through the next higher-up eyelet – only push it so far as to come even with the one below it (don’t overlap). Do the same thing for the right-hand side – but keep going all of the ways up until you reach where there are no longer any more eyelets (meaning your shoe will now have been laced all together).

Repeat this process of looping an empty hole on either side (left or right) for about half of your total laces when there are still pairs of loops remaining near each other after completing one whole loop around.

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