In many ways it’s quite surprising that a fundamental thing like how you lace and tie your shoes are given such a little attention in many cases. Most do what they’ve always done, tie their bow the way their parents though one to do and let the lacing be the way it was when you picked the shoes out of the box. It’s in many cases a big mistake. Now this is of course partly a subjective topic, but here I share what I think is the optimal way to lace and tie your somewhat formal shoes, both when it comes to function and appearance.


Starting with the lacing, we use the standard low shoe make-up with five pairs of eyelets. In my opinion, the best option is a so called Boston two-step lacing, where you skip one pair of eyelets per side, so to speak, see the film below for an explanation of how it’s done. This is a lacing that give you the classic horisontal lines, but which also gives an even strain over the laced area, it “locks” in place in a good way so the lacing don’t slide up, and it’s easy to tighten and loosen. This compared to for example “the shoe store lacing”, where you pull one side of the lacing back and forth upwards, and the other end straight from the bottom to all the way up, which gives an uneven strain and since the respective ends differ a lot in length they are difficult to tighten. Unfortunately many people use the latter since that’s how the shoes often comes laced when purchased, without contemplating if it’s actually the best way to do it. The con with the Boston two-step lacing compared to shoe store lacing is that it can look a bit more messy with the lacing showing in the back, especially if it’s a derby or an oxford with a larger spacing, but in my eyes the pros definitely weigh out the cons.

Shoe store lacing, good looking but unpractical. Picture: Ian’s Shoelace Site

When it comes to the actual knot the most common way to make a bow is to make a loop of the right lace end, and clockwise pull the other end around the loop and pull. This achieves both an ugly and impractical knot, which twists vertically and also easily slides open. If you instead do it the other way around and take the other lace end counter-clockwise around the loop, you get a perfectly even, horisontal bow which also is stronger since the knot is pulled tighter when stress is put on it, instead of the other way around as with the other variant. Also this knot is shown properly in the video below, and will likely be an eye-opener for many of you. I personally prefer a classic, clean and discrete bow like this, above ones like for example the Berluti knot or similar.

How the bow looks when done the wrong way. It’s turned vertically, and when the shoes are worn it easily comes loose.

Here’s picture of bows done the right way, they are placed nicely aligned horisontally, and are strong. You also see how the Boston two-step lacing looks on both an oxford and a derby.

Now, the video showing both how the lacing and the bow is done:

For some these things might not be news, but my experience is that a lot of people don’t use these methods, due to laziness or lack of knowledge. Let’s change that.