How To Lace Oxfords

How To Lace Oxfords & Tie Men’s Dress Shoes

Shoestrings, bootlaces or shoelaces. It doesn’t matter what you call them. They all do the same thing; they keep your footwear secured and comfortable while you wear them.

One of the easiest ways to change the look and feel of your shoes is to simply change your shoelaces. The advantages are simple: it’s quick, easy, inexpensive and reversible… but before we show you with two videos how to Lace Oxfords the proper way, let’s take a closer look at shoelaces in general because a dress shoe requires a certain kind of lace.

How To Tie Shoes Tie Right Way

History of the Shoelace

While historians haven’t completely narrowed down the history of shoelaces, many believe in accordance with ancient recordings that shoelaces were probably rudimentarily invented sometime in early 3000 BC. The problem with dating it is that for the most part, shoes (as we call them today) that were worn in ancient times were actually just natural materials that were wrapped around the feet of the wearer as without protection and cushioning from the elements, the feet were even more prone to injury, infection and discomfort. One could assume that shoelaces have been around since the dawn of man, as it would seem almost obvious to anyone walking on unpaved natural ground that by covering up the feet, you might be able to survive walking for longer periods of time. Whether shoes were developed for treating injury or in prevention of it, one could presume that they would require some form of fastener in order to secure the material to your feet. If large leaves were used, they probably wouldn’t stay on the bottom of your feet without tying them on, and whether it was strands of grass or another natural string, one could easily call this the invention of laces.

The Areni-1 shoe which was found and has been dated to 3500 BC was actually far more advanced than that, using leather shoelaces passed through slotted eyelets that were cut into animal hide used as shoes. In fact, in 3300 BC, there were even more complex shoes worn by Ötzi the Iceman, that he had tied on using lime bark cut into strings. While these are obviously barbaric versions of the shoelaces we have today, even footwear as far back as the 12th century had surpassed previous developments and were already quite similar to the laces we use today. The Museum of London has a variety of documented samples of medieval footwear that shows the wearer used laces that were passed through a series of hooks down the front or sides of the shoe. One very well known historical myth as it relates to shoelaces is a fairly common rumor that Gurkha soldiers, when fighting on behalf of Britain would quietly crawl the grounds, feeling the laces of other combatants since it was believed that British soldiers used straight lacing whereas the fighters for Japan criss-crossed their laces. In the dark of the night, the Gurkhas would crawl the battlefield feeling the laces discern friend from foe.

If we look into the past few centuries, traditional laces were made from a variety of natural materials including hemp, cotton, and various leathers. Virtually any materials used to manufacture ropes were adopted for use in shoelaces. Today, however, most shoelaces are made of synthetic materials rather than traditionally natural fibers. While the synthetic laces are far more durable and less prone to friction and rot, they are also very slippery and tend to come undone easier than the natural laces.

Dress Shoelaces Should be Made of Waxed Cotton

For dress shoes, it is essential to have quality shoelaces made of waxed cotton because cheap, thick and coarse shoelaces will ruin the look of your shoe laces. 80cm – 31.5″ is the perfect length because it works for 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 rows of eyelets basically covering the entire spectrum of lace-up men’s dress shoes.

Round Shoelaces

The most formal shoelaces for Oxford shoes are round, thin and made of waxed cotton. The thinner your laces are the better the quality. Of course, that’s only true if the laces don’t rip but usually poor quality laces are not made to be very thin because they would break right away.

You don’t want the shoelaces to snap when you pull on them. Even quality shoes like the ones from J.Fitzpatrick sometimes come with laces that are weak and rip the first time you lace them. If came that far and invested in quality goodyear-welted shoes, you should also get good pair of shoelaces or two.

Flat Shoelaces

An alternative for dress shoes is to go with flat thin dress shoe laces. They are a bit wider than round ones and create a different look that is a bit bolder than if you go with round shoelaces.

Appealing Round Boot Laces waxed Cotton in Red and Royal Blue by Fort Belvedere

Appealing Round Boot Laces waxed Cotton in Red and Royal Blue by Fort Belvedere

Dress Boot Laces

Generally, boot laces are thick, robust and made for work boots and the selection of shoelaces for dress boots such as the Balmoral boot is very limited.

For that reason, I created dress boot laces that are perfect for high-quality men’s boots in the sense that they are not only durable but also stylish and elegant. For 95% of men’s boots 120cm – 47.25″long laces are perfect, and hence I opted for that length. If you have chukka boots, or other boots with just 2,3,4 or 5 rows of eyelets, you should go with regular dress shoe laces. For all other boots, 120cm – 47.25″ is the ideal length.

Color Swatches of Flat Waxed Cotton - Luxury Dress Shoe Laces by Fort Belvedere - Made In Italy

15 Color Swatches of Flat Waxed Cotton – Luxury Dress Shoe Laces by Fort Belvedere – Made In Italy

Quality Shoelaces in 15 Colors

I always had a hard time find great shoelaces in the length, quality, and color I wanted. Over the course of an 18 month period, and countless failed tests, we came up with quality dress shoe laces for Fort Belvedere in 15 different colors. We do not only offer them in round and flat but also the same color palette for boots. This is the most comprehensive selection of quality dress shoe laces you will find online. All of our dress shoe shoelaces are made in Italy, of long staple, waxed cotton and should last for a while.

We do not only offer them in round and flat but also the same color palette for boots. This is the most comprehensive selection of quality dress shoe laces you will find. All of our dress shoe shoelaces are made in Italy, of long staple, waxed cotton and should last for a long time.

If you wear Oxfords or Derbys, you should head over to the shop and take a look at our 15 colors of dress shoe laces in round, flat and boot boot laces.

 Evening Shoe Laces

When wearing a tuxedo or tailcoat, most men today wear a patent leather oxford shoe with ordinary cotton shoe laces, whereas elegant gentlemen during the heydays of men’s clothing, would only wear opera pumps or oxfords flat silk shoe laces for evening wear because the wide, flat shoe laces will create a little bow, that looks just like the bow tie your wear around your neck. During my last trip to Europe, I was able to acquire a lot of Original 1930’s silk shoe laces from France but unfortunately they were way too big for the eyelets on my shoes and so I replicated these in different materials so you can match them to your bow tie. We have Satin in 1cm and 1.5cm width, Grosgrain / Faille , Barathea and Velvet.

We offer Satin in 1cm and 1.5cm width, Grosgrain / Faille , Barathea and Velvet laces in our shop, take a look.


How to Mix Your Shoelace Color with Shoe Colors?

Today, you can basically mix and match your shoe colors in any way you want. If you want to be strictly classic, you stay with brown and black shoelaces or generally darker laces that match the shoes. For example black goes well with purple shoelaces, grey or blue. Brown is very versatile and works with almost anything green or brown. However, because there are so many shades of browns, you should play around a little bit to see what really works!

At the end of the day, it’s all up to your creativity. Do you have a pair of black oxford shoes that are a bit too formal for a desired outfit? Try some yellow laces and they will look much more relaxed. Especially during spring summer season it is great these laces will make it look more casual, an

How to Lace Oxford Dress Shoes

Lacing with even number of eyelets
Lacing with uneven number of eyelets

Mathematically, there are a number of ways of how to tie your shoes but when it comes to classic men’s clothing, things are much simpler, yet it seems like many men don’t know how to tie shoelaces and places like GQ even teach it wrong.

As such it was time for us to create a hands-on video tutorial on how to lace Oxfords, Derbys and Co.

How To Lace Oxford Shoes – Straight Lacing

Oxford shoes traditionally have a different lacing than derby shoes, and the gentlemanly way to lace oxfords is horizontally and parallel. Now, you can achieve the final look in various ways, however some are more difficult to tighten than others.

The Best Way to Lace Oxfords: This works for all kinds of oxfords, not matter how many eyelets they have. Most oxfords have 5 rows of eyelets, and that’s what we use here.

  1. Insert both ends of the lace in the bottom holes /eyelets of the shoe, so you have a line that is horizontal and on top of the leather.
  2. Pull both ends so they are even and have the same length if you have an even number of eyelets such as 4,6… For uneven eyelets, 5, 7 etc. the lace on the outside of the shoe should be about 2″ – 5 cm longer.
  3. Take the lace on the outside of the shoe, and insert it from the bottom in the second hole on the same side, and back into the second hole on the opposite side from the top.
  4. Now, take the lace on the inside of the shoe and insert it from the bottom in the third hole on the same side, and back into the third hole on the opposite side from the top.
  5. Continue in the same fashion. With an even number of eyelets, you will reach the top eyelets from the bottom on each side and it tools great. With uneven holes, you have to make a cross underneath with one end from the bottom. For that reason, one shoelace has to be longer than the other one.
  6. Pull on both ends to tighten the lacing and tie your shoelace. Traditionally
How To Lace Oxfords & Men's Dress Shoelace Primer
Article Name
How To Lace Oxfords & Men's Dress Shoelace Primer
Learn all about shoelaces, how to lace your Oxford Dress Shoes + Derbys with 2 videos & where to buy quality shoe laces + History.
Gentleman's Gazette
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16 replies
  1. Andy Cowen says:

    Sven ,
    I was a bit nervous about which was going to be the “correct” way , but my nerves eased when I saw the “bar laced” shoe !
    This is the way I am was taught by my late Father . However, his method was slightly different . Starting at the bottom left or right
    eyelet, you laced upto and through the opposite side top eyelet underneath, not over, the eyelet sides pulling some length through
    at the top hole. Now, with the other length, you simply bridge over the top , under and then across to the next eyelet up .
    Suppose we are looking down at the shoe :-
    bottom eyelet 1 o o
    second eyelet 2 o o
    third eyelet 3 o o o = eyelet !
    fourth eyelet 4 o o
    top eyelet 5 o o
    take lace, thread thru from bottom L 1 across to top R 5 – going UNDERNEATH leather and not OVER the leather. Pull thru a few inches for knotting.
    take other end of lace . thread OVER to bottom R .
    then under to second left
    then over to second right
    then under to third left
    then over to third right
    then under to fourth left
    then over to fourth right
    finally under and out of top left # 5 .
    tie knot and adjust accordingly …….
    Phew ! easy to do but not easy to type !
    I’m really NOT trying to be a smart a#se, it’s just a second way of doing the same thing –
    but, more importantly , it brings back memories of watching and being taught by my father.

    Andy Cowen

  2. Andy Cowen says:

    please delete previous message – it bears no resemblance to the format in which it was typed and will only convince others that I am a lunatic .


    Andy Cowen

  3. W.Adam Mandelbaum Esq. says:

    Bravo Sven! I don’t know how many times in court I have seen dress shoes laced like sneakers. Ugh!!! Bar lacing or to use an older term ballroom lacing is the only way to go with a dress shoe. This is one of the most frequent sartorial errors committed by those who are not yet on the dandy wavelength. Usually amongst the prosecution. The defense bar often knows better.

  4. Virgilio says:

    Hi, I have shoes with only four eyelets. I can extrapolate from the 5 one example but will be good to add that example as well.

  5. Marc says:


    I agree with everything but the thing with this technique is that is tends to pull eyelets on the same side together. If the under laces are hidden or with matching colour I prefer to cross the lace underneath for more secure. Another advantage of crossing is if you have an older shoes which the eyelets on the left and right are not level anymore, you can pull one side to make them level.

    Of course if you have a dangerous profession, the classic lacing method is not secure enough, you might want to use inverted nova lacing if you are expected to run.

  6. Andrew Palacio says:

    Dear Sir,

    Thank you kindly.

    I just received my Fort Belvedere dress shoe laces and was delighted-as well as thankful-to have the foresight to research proper oxford lacing before tackling my new brogues.

    Again, your video and column taught me something new and If I may moved me a little closer to becoming the dapper dandy I aim to be.

    Thank you again,

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. The Oxford: An Elegant Classic - Gucinari


    […] See The Gentleman’s Gazette  for an in depth guide to Oxford shoes. They even have a guide on the correct way to lace your oxfords. […]

  2. […] week, we showed you How To Lace Oxfords the Proper Way, and today we’ll show you a video of how to lace Derby Shoes but there is actually quite a […]

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