4 Easy Ways to Shorten Your Shoelaces

When you buy shoes, what do you usually focus on?

As a boot enthusiast, I would often pay more attention to the fit. I would research and read articles before heading to the shop because I want to get the best value for a new pair.

However, there is this one detail that I often overlook: I tend to end up with shoes that have very long laces.

Just when you thought you have the shoes of your dreams, you realize that it is not so. Some shoelaces are just too long; they remain looking like giant bunny ears even after doing a double knot.

That scenario can be annoying. Good thing, because of so many repeated similar experiences, I have learned to deal with it.

I have found several remedies on how to deal with that excess length.

[Check out my Thursday Captain Boot review for more details on best value boots!]

how to shorten shoelaces
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Anatomy of A Shoe Lace

Humor me for a minute and just let me tell you more about shoe laces.

A shoe lace can be made of different materials: leather laces, nylon laces, spun polyester, cotton, and more. They are often found in sneakers or rubber shoes, boots, or work shoes. They are very important in supporting the feet and keeping the shoes from falling off.

There are only two parts of a shoe lace: the cord, which is the woven tape that holds the shoes tightly together, and that hard tip, which is called the aglet.

The humble shoe lace may seem simple, but it does a great deal in ensuring the safety of the person wearing the shoes. Just imagine the disaster when an athlete steps on too long shoelaces while in a game or when you trip because of loosely tied lace.

Improper tying can affect the comfort and function of your feet. Thus, the shoelaces must be of perfect length. So, if you happen to love a pair of shoes so much, but it has this issue, just learn how to shorten shoelaces.

4 Things You Can Do to Shorten Shoelaces

There are simple ways to shorten a lace, such as extending the length of the loops. You may also learn a knot trick or two, just to get by. But if you want more than the knot and loops, here are other things you can do.

Measure and Cut

measuring tape
To bring your new shoe laces to the correct length, what you can do is perform a minor operation on them. Don’t worry; it is a simple method and one you can do at minimal cost in a very short time.

Let me walk you through the process.

What you will need:

  • a measuring tape
  • a pair of sharp scissors
  • heat shrink tubing (a tube which shrinks when exposed to open flame; they will be used to make new aglets)
  • felt pen
  • candle, match, or lighter


Step 1: Tie your laces to see how much is the excess.

Step 2: Measure the excess length. Make sure that both laces will have the same length. Lay them on a flat surface and use a felt pen to mark where the shoelace ends.

Step 3: Remove the laces from the shoes.

Step 4: Use the scissors to cut the laces on the marked area. The scissors must be sharp to prevent fraying.

Step 5: Measure your heat shrink tubing, and cut accordingly. It is what you will use as the new aglet.

Step 6: Fit the heat shrink tubing to the end of the shortened laces. Ensure that there will be no excess cord hanging out of the tubing.

Step 7: Using your match or lighter, apply heat to the tubing of the shoe lace to make it shrink. Be careful not to subject the tubing to too much heat by keeping it at a distance of around two inches. You may wear gardening gloves for protection.

Step 8: When done shrinking the tubing for both shoelaces, put them back on the shoes and simply tie them up to see if you got the desired length.

Extra tips:

  • The tubings on most aglets come in various sizes. A 4mm tubing will be best suited for round braided laces. If you are working on thicker ones, choose the 5mm tubing.
  • The tubings come in different colors, too, so you can have fun doing mix-and-match to compliment your shoes.
  • This one is an optional step. Before step 5, you can use a toothpick to add a small amount of super glue or krazy glue inside the tubing to add more durability.
  • Fraying can also be prevented when you apply glue to the material.

Tuck and Go

This trick of shortening shoelaces will not be applicable for every shoe. It works more on shoes for informal activities such as strolling or daily walks. However, if you are an athlete or for intensive physical activities, you may need to reconsider.

Tuck n go is simply the art of tucking in your shoelace either on the side of your shoes or behind the tongue to shorten your shoelaces All you need to do is tie your shoes, and what’s left of the extra length will be hidden through tucking in.

You can do this trick and the lacing patterns we will discuss later together. Tie the shoelaces, and hide the knots where it feels comfortable to you. Tucking enables you to maximize the length of the shoe lace while you shorten your shoelaces at the same time.

Lace Up

Now, let us move on to another method of adjusting long shoelaces, which is lacing up. There are many ways to tie shoelaces, not just the bunny ears we grew up doing. There are different knots you can come up with; you only have to know how.

We will only tackle a few ways to lace up. There are so many of them, and you can even come up with your style. But to get you started on this trick of getting the right length for your shoelaces, let us begin with the simple ones.

Ladder Lacing

This method is one of the most effective in providing support and stability. It keeps the shoes steady while giving them a distinctive appearance. It works and looks best for shoes like boots, which have many eyelets.

How to do ladder lace:

  • Hold one aglet and insert it through the first eyelets; ends must be down.
  • Pull both ends to see if the shoelaces are even in length.
  • Make the aglets pass through the eyelets straight up the sides, going to the higher one.
  • Next, run the ends straight across, but this time, it must be below the vertical lace opposite the current position.
  • Keep doing the last two steps until you have run through the last eyelets.

Straight Bar Lacing

If your new shoelaces are too long and you need to learn a new and easy way to lace them, this method may appeal to you. It is suitable for shoes that are made with equal pairs of eyelets.

This pattern gives the shoes a neat appearance while making adjustments of either tightening or loosening, a breeze.

  • While holding the aglets down, insert them onto the first eyelets.
  • Pull the ends up and check if they are even on both ends.
  • Holding the left end, run it straight up from inside, and then run it across outside.
  • Now, run both aglets straight up inside the shoes. They must skip one eyelet every time they re-emerge at the surface.
  • Keep doing these steps until the aglets reach the top.
  • Tie the knots to check if they are already the length that you desire.

Cross Lacing Method

This method of tying shoelaces is fun and stylish. It is almost like the ladder lace but with a twist.

Here are the steps in doing it:

  • Again, with the ends up, start inserting the shoelace end in the first eyelet.
  • Cross the ends from outside, running them through the highest eyelet.
  • Once the cross is set up, start tying the rest of the shoe lace, normally starting from the top until you reach the shoe’s bottom.
  • Tuck the shoelaces in to avoid tripping on them and getting into an accident.

Wrap Around the Ankles

If you want to adjust the length of your shoelaces, but you have no time to learn the methods or to cut and measure, one thing you can do is to wrap the extra lace around the ankles or once you reach the top eyelet.

The advantage of this method is that you can choose how long you would want left to be knotted. However, it may put you at risk of muscle compression or injury to tendons or muscles if you make it too tight.

Buy A New Set of Laces

The most intuitive solution to get the correct size of shoelaces is to buy a new pair. I am sure not everyone is so psyched about the idea of making double knotting or doing the above remedies, and you might be among those who would rather just go the easy path.

Well, it is understandable. If you are still in the store where you bought your shoes, you can already inquire about shoe laces that will be perfect for your needs. You can even get several reserves, choose from different colors and material make up.

Guide to Choosing Shoelaces

When you buy a new set of shoelaces, make sure that you do it right so that you don’t end up with a bunch that you won’t be able to use.

Here are three tips when buying a shoelace:

Measure the laces

Check the length of shoelaces you need to replace. See how much needs to be adjusted. To ensure that this is the perfect length, look at the current one and measure the excess.

Count the eyelets

If you cannot go to a physical store and don’t have a measuring instrument, the next best way to ensure you will get the right shoelaces is by counting the eyelet pairs. Some stores have a guide for this so that you can accurately choose the one you need.

Pick based on shoe type

Different types of shoes often have that standard shoelace length. There is a chart recommending which works best. See if your shoe is on the list to have a basis for what to buy.

Why the Right Size of Shoelaces is Important

More than just the way it looks, too long shoelaces can be an eyesore. The main reason why laces need to be the correct size is for safety and the comfort of your feet. Doctors say that the way you tie your shoelaces may affect the overall health of your feet.

Did you know that there are different types of feet? And for each type, a particular way of lacing is most applicable.

For example, a standard foot will not have any issues with any method. Traditional lacing will work fine. Just pull the shoelaces securely towards your ankles. Your feet will not have proper support, and you will feel discomfort or can even be injured if you don’t.

People with narrow heels will find lock lacing the most helpful way to tie laces because it keeps the foot in place. It is because this type of foot easily slips to the back of the shoe. By tightening the shoelaces around the ankles, it will prevent this from happening.

If you have wide feet, the holes closest to your toes must be left empty. Skip them so that it will not add pressure to that area when you tie your laces. You will still secure the ankles but will provide breathing room for the sole.

When the arch of your feet is raised more than normal in the middle, you need to tie the laces so that there is enough room for your feet so that they will not rub to the top of your shoes, as this can irritate.

Doctors advise that before you put your shoes on, you must loosen the laces first. You see, there are times of the day when feet swell, so it would be more convenient to put it on when laces are loosened. Doing so will also help preserve your shoes because too much pressure can encourage wear and tear to the material. The foot must comfortably slide to the middle as you put the shoe on.

Pro tip: when buying shoes, it would be beneficial to choose more holes to have more liberty in adjusting the fit.
[Learn More: How to Pick the Best Shoes for Your Foot Type (Pronate, Supinate, Neutral)]

Your Laces, Your Rules

So there you go, the different way to shorten shoelaces. Now you can focus on the more important factors in choosing because if the lace goes wrong, you now know how to deal with it.

You may read the Red Wing Iron Ranger review if you need further reading.

There are many ways to adjust; it all boils down to what appeals to you most. In the end, what matters is your safety and convenience. No matter how it will end up looking, if you can rock it, stick to it.

It doesn’t matter what others will say. The priority is always what you think and feel is best for you.

Featured image via: ìShoe Lacesî by little-feather is licensed with CC BY 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/ 

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Nick English

By day: Manhattan-based journalist with reporting experience on four continents, published in Vice, Men's Health, Popular Science, and a bunch of other places.By night: ravenous consumer of anything and everything related to high end men's boots.Stridewise is where I nurture a maniacal obsession with footwear and share my findings. Say hey: [email protected].

2 thoughts on “4 Easy Ways to Shorten Your Shoelaces”

  1. Great article but… Here is an alternative method I don’t think you mentioned.
    Measure to find out how much too long your shoelaces. For example, mine were 20cm too long. Fold the shoelaces in half. Measure up half that amount and tie an overhand knot (half on each side makes the full amount. Now that loop will be about 7cm long because of the knot.) Now tie your laces as normal, but tuck that loop behind the laces. Cross some of the laces as you lace up the shoes through the loop so it doesn’t fall out.


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