Updated: Jul 14
How to look the part: a complete guide to lacing and tying your Oxfords...properly!
Oxford shoes are an absolute essential for any wardrobe. Timeless, stylish, and elegant, they’re the perfect formal, work, or even smart casual shoe.
But how do you lace an Oxford shoe properly? You likely learned to lace up your shoes when you were young: but lacing your dress shoes the same way you lace your trainers or boots is a fashion faux pas.
Whether it’s your first pair of Oxfords or you’re dusting them off for a special occasion, read on for a beautifully simple step-by-step guide on how to lace up an Oxford shoe.
How to lace up Oxford shoes
Step 1: Choose the right laces
Before embarking on the dress-shoe-lacing maze, you’ll need to make sure you’ve got the right sort of laces for the shoe. While thicker, nylon laces might work well with your casual shoes, all dress shoes require much thinner laces. For Oxfords, we recommend sourcing the thinnest laces possible to remain in keeping with the sophistication of the shoe.
Round waxed cotton laces are the most traditional option for Oxford shoes, but ribbon laces offer an alternative look. Look for a 75-80cm lace length for the perfect fit.
Step 2: Choose your lacing style
Due to the closed lacing system of the Oxford shoe, you’ll need to stick to a simpler, straight bar lacing method. Steer clear of criss cross lacing! While it might work for your brogues, it’s to be avoided at all costs for dress shoes.
Most Oxford shoes have 5 holes on each side. So, you’ll need to make sure that one end is slightly shorter than the other when lacing up (approximately 6 cm).
Firstly, poke both ends of the lace through the holes closest to the toe into the shoe to create a bar bridging across them.
Take the longer lace and draw it up through to the second hole on the same side. Pull it through the hole towards you.
Take the same piece and thread it over to the parallel hole, again creating a bar across the shoe.
Next, take the other end of the lace (that was shorter originally), and pull this up through the third hole on the same side, towards you. Cross this over to the parallel hole to create the bar.
Repeat this, switching sides, until you reach the top.
At the top, bring both laces through to the outside of the shoe, and tie in a single bow.
If you end up with uneven laces, simply loosen the bars across and pull each end of the lace through to even out.
Top tip: If you struggle with your laces coming undone, don’t be tempted by a double knot! When it comes to tying your shoes, loop the second half of your bow around twice before feeding it through to create the bow.
If bar lacing is too straight-laced for you, why not try something a bit different? For less formal looks, a diagonal lacing method can look super stylish.
Step 3: Colour
While formal events call for the standard black lace, that doesn’t mean you can’t change things up for other occasions!
Many look at the shoelace as a practical tool to keep your shoes both comfortable and secure while wearing them. But they can also be an inexpensive, versatile, and interesting way to make a fantastic fashion statement.
In fact, one of the best ways to give your Oxfords a facelift is to swap your plain laces for something new, bold, and exciting. They can really make a big difference.
Colour is a great way to do this. Give your black Oxfords an exciting edge with an electric blue lace, or treat your brown shoes to a sunshine yellow or rich red for a warm look. For an extra striking look, pair your blue or red Oxfords with a clashing colour.
Not sure where to look? The Original Laces Company offers an incredibly wide range of high-quality, coloured laces. You’ll find the perfect shade to match any outfit.
You should now be ready to dress your Oxfords to impress!
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