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Tying shoelaces: An essential life skill

Key Takeaway: Know how to tie your shoelaces! Shoelaces are so ubiquitous that it has practically become a life skill to learn how to use them properly. They’re a time-tested and time-honored way of lacing up shoes of all kinds, especially your office or dress shoes, boots, and athletic shoes.

It’s the start of a new working week, dear readers, and as such, I’m featuring something that I’m sure is taken for granted by everyone, but is still something quite essential anyway.

I’m sure you know how to tie your shoelaces. Shoelaces are so ubiquitous today, more than ever, that to not know how to lace them up would be almost akin to not knowing how to brush your teeth or clip your own finger- and toenails. Shoes of all kinds and shapes feature them, and the most classic dress shoe still remains to be a lace-up.

Allen Edmonds (click to visit)
Allen Edmonds (click to visit)

Shoelaces have been around since at least 3,500 BC, and though loafers and slip-ons abound today, the fact that shoelaces have been existing – and still do – for more than 5,000 years means that they are a time-tested and -honored concept in everyday use.

As such, I believe it the responsibility of every child to learn how to tie their own shoelaces as early as they can. I can say this because I learned it the hard way. I was humiliated in class in second grade (meaning I was already EIGHT years old), because when we were changing for gym class, I couldn’t tie my basketball shoes’ laces (for some reason, my parents stopped buying me slip-ons) because someone else usually did it for me. (Spoiled brat, yes, I know…) So our gym teacher and the entire class went on ahead and left me alone in the homeroom until I could tie them. Out of pity, perhaps, he sent a classmate back to tie them for me. I immediately resolved to learn how to tie them, though at that time I firmly decided not to stick to the hassle anymore and use only slip-on shoes.

It all changed a few years later, when I realized my interest in work boots – lace-up ones at that. So when I started wearing boots, I got a lot of practice tying my laces, and so this “hard” skill is something paying off today as I don’t have to limit myself in terms of shoe styles when I go shopping. (I still don’t wear sneakers or gym shoes, though; I almost exclusively wear leather boots.)

Photo copyright 2015 Allister Roy S. Chua
Photo copyright 2015 Allister Roy S. Chua

Anyway, the point is that one should know how to tie shoelaces at least the basic square knot way (un-learn the granny knot if you need to, as it is much less secure and will often come undone). It also helps to know the length of the shoelaces you need for your shoes, should you need (or want) to replace your laces at any point during your lace-ups’ life.

A certain Web site I discovered many years ago, and still occasionally return to for reference (i.e. whenever I buy a new pair of boots), should prove invaluable: Ian Fieggen’s site on shoelaces. It features the basic lacing tutorial, as well as tutorials on tying shoelaces in different manners (such as the straight-looking hidden knot lacing best for dress shoes or the army lacing best for combat boots) and for different implements (like lugs – you know, what you find in hiking boots) – and comparisons among such, shoelace marketplaces, shoelace tips, and ideal lengths.

One example found on his site is the Surgeon’s Shoelace Knot, which is supposedly a most secure way to keep your laces tied, but with a quick pull you can undo them. Step-by-step diagrams are presented, with the left-hand lace in one color and the right-hand one in another.

Ian Fieggen/Theoretical Ken
Ian Fieggen/Theoretical Ken

Which reminds me, I should get to learning this knot…

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