Straight Bar Lacing
Horizontal “bars” on the outside with inner, hidden verticals, which looks neat plus relieves pressure on the upper ridge of the foot.
Lacing Technique – Variation 1 – for even numbers of eyelet pairs
• Begin straight across on the outside (grey section) and in through the bottom eyelets.
• The left (blue) end runs straight up on the inside, then straight across on the outside.
• Both ends run straight up on the inside, each skipping one eyelet and emerging two eyelets higher up.
• Both ends continue straight across on the outside and in through the adjacent eyelets.
• Alternate running up on the inside and across on the outside until lacing is completed.
• Variation 1 is for shoes with even numbers of eyelet pairs.
• Variation 2 is for shoes with odd numbers of eyelet pairs (see details below).
Even no. of eyelets = neat
Odd no. of eyelets = messy
28% longer ends (approx.)
• Also referred to as “Lydiard Lacing”, named after the influential running coach Arthur Lydiard.
Odd Eyelet Pairs Limitation
Straight Bar Lacing only works neatly on shoes with even numbers of eyelet pairs (eg. 8 pairs = 16 eyelets). This is because the shoelace must cross the shoe an even number of times so that the ends meet in the middle and can be tied together.
On shoes with an odd number of eyelet pairs (eg. 7 pairs = 14 eyelets), a workaround is needed so that the ends still meet. The “across and back” workaround (shown above) is probably the best compromise in terms of retaining the overall look plus allowing a regular knot.
See below for several other odd workarounds.
Sports / Military Advice
Like other straight lacing methods, Straight Bar Lacing has an additional benefit for sporting or military use: The upper horizontal sections of shoelace can be quickly cut through with a knife or scissors in order to more easily remove a boot from a broken, sprained or otherwise injured ankle or foot.
Note that most military forces have regulations for just about everything, so I'd recommend that military personnel check before they adopt this – or any other – possible non-regulation lacing method!
Shoelace Lengths for Straight Bar Lacing
|Pairs of eyelets:||2||3||4||5||6||7||8|
|Length needed:||63 cm
Shorter shoelaces needed than those for basic Criss Cross Lacing.
Longer ends if existing shoelaces are re-used (+28% on average).
As mentioned above, Straight Bar Lacing only works neatly on shoes with even numbers of eyelet pairs. Here's several common workarounds for shoes with odd numbers of eyelet pairs, using sample diagrams with seven pairs of eyelets.
Ends Tucked In
This first diagram shows how the ends don't meet naturally across the top of the shoe. For a quick fix, simply tuck the ends into the shoe diagonally across from each other at the top and second-from-top eyelets.
For a tighter fit, you could also permanently anchor the ends inside the eyelets, either with simple stopper knots or using Lace Anchors.
Across and Back
As shown in more detail in the main lacing diagram above, the second-from-top straight section runs straight across from left-to-right (on the outside), then right-to-left (on the inside), tucking under the vertical section on the left side. The inner straight section is fairly well hidden by the outer straight section, especially with flat shoelaces. Contributed by Jeremy J.
Twice Through One Eyelet
Lace the shoe normally, then at the top of the shoe, both ends emerge through the same top eyelet (in this case, the top-right). Feed one end across and out through the opposite eyelet (in this case, the top-left). When the ends are tied, there will be a double-pass across the top, but this will be fairly well hidden by the shoelace knot. Contributed by Dan S.
Use a single diagonal somewhere in the lacing. At the top, it's less noticeable due to the loops and loose ends. At the bottom, if can even be run around the inside of the tongue to hide the diagonal, though at the expense of some slight discomfort. Near the middle, a diagonal may be positioned to line up with and run through a tongue centering loop (if the shoe has one).
Instead of trying to hide a single diagonal, this alternative makes a feature out of a single crossover, similar to the look of Roman Lacing. This crossover can be placed at either the top or bottom of the lacing, but unlike the above “One Diagonal” variation, it cannot be placed in the middle of the lacing.
Like a squashed version of the above “One Crossover” variation, both ends run straight across one pair of eyelets and feed a second time through the opposite eyelets. Near the top, it's less noticeable due to the loops and loose ends. Near the bottom, any difficulty with tightening or loosening this section is not so noticeable as the shoe doesn't need to open wide at that point.
Combine with Lock Lacing
Lace normally up to the second pair of eyelets from the top, then finish with a High Lace Lock through the top two pairs of eyelets. Although this doesn't look as neat, it does pull the lacing extra tight.
See the Lock Lacing page for more information.
Skip One Eyelet Pair
All of the above odd workarounds are laced normally through an even number of eyelet pairs, then something is added that may be either visually or functionally awkward. An alternative is to not add anything – instead leaving either the top or the bottom pair of eyelets empty, or even to skip one pair of eyelets somewhere in the middle of the lacing.
Cut and Tie Off
Finally, if you're prepared to cut your shoelaces, the two portions can be anchored diagonally opposite each other at the bottom of the shoe, either with simple stopper knots or using Lace Anchors.
It increases flex at my instep on all pairs of my footwear that I use Straight Bar lacing on. It's the most comfortable method I have ever tried. The art of the straight bar went away after the 1970s and now roughly 90% of people do not know about it, ergo its benefits, thus never learning different methods besides the over at the first row of eyelets then under towards the rest of the rows - usually tucking in the laces inside of the shoe (tied/untied), how awful is that for the health of your feet? We need the education to come back. Most people I've seen and heard of have barely any lace to make a knot that's nice and moderate in size and sits neatly on the tongue. I always suggest to straight bar because of the extra lace length for a knot, also increasing flex and overall comfort. It's perfect; best aesthetic, more room for tightening up (while still comfort at maximum tension) unlike other common lacing methods, increases the length of the laces for the knot (allowing current/old pairs of laces to be used, more cost effective/more environmentally friendly), is the classic and historical way of lacing up dress shoes and runners - the list goes on!
The only downsides to straight bar lacing is having to relearn how to loosen & tighten, and utilising a workaround the user is comfortable with for all pairs with odd numbered eyelet rows.
– Sam, Australia, Jun-2021
I bought too short laces by mistake for my skate shoes, didn't know what to do so I found your lacing guide and went for the straight bar method, it lengthened the laces perfectly and actually more comfortable and better looking.
– David W., UK, Jul-2013
Hey Ian, here is a way I used to lace some odd numbered eyelet shoes in the straight method, without having a crossover or anything else that stands out. Apologies if this has already been added or there are any errors in my picture.
(Dan contributed the “Twice Through One Eyelet” workaround.)
– Dan S., USA, Jul-2008
I always had pain in my feet because of the pressure which the Straight European Lacing applied on them. Since I've changed to Straight Bar Lacing, the pain's all gone and my shoes look overall more tidy.
– Alex M., Kall, Germany, May-2008
I also noticed that with this method of lacing you end up with alot more lace at the end, allowing you to tie bigger bows/knots, thus making it less likely your shoe will come undone.
– Rob S., UK, Nov-2006
I have come up with a type of lacing that I don't see on your site that solves a specific problem – straight lacing on a 3-eyelet boot or shoe. It may be adaptable to a shoe with other odd numbers of eyelets as well. I thought you might be interested to add it to your list and make one of the easy-to-understand diagrams of it.
(Jeremy contributed the “Across and Back” workaround.)
– Jeremy J., styleforum.net admin, USA, Dec-2005
I have just been distracted from my work, by the arrival of a new pair of canvas low-top converse sneakers from the states. Very pleased with them, I started to lace them up, using a method I now know as “Straight (Fashion) Lacing” - and I tried... and I tried... and it just wouldn't work... So (not keen to get on with my work) I thought I'd try to find out why it wouldn't work... I hit google – and there you are explaining that this method only works on EVEN numbers of eyelets – OH!! I see now! (I have seven)...
– Nick, London, UK, Jun-2005
New Balance has had this method on it's website for awhile now as a way of taking pressure off the top of the foot,
especially for those with high arches.
It may not work for those who like their shoes to feel as though they fit like a glove. The sensation is of a looser fit, though there is no movement. I think it may just be the fact it feels different, not that it's really any looser.
– Jim G., Canada, Jan-2005
Just to tell you, the Straight (Fashion) lacing is the method of lacing [Canadian] Air Cadets use! And I'm an Air Cadet, and I finally found the way of the Straight (Fashion) for the Parade Boots we use.
– Delon R., Canada, Jan-2005
I'm aware that not all military is American, and not all American military is the Army, but you may want to note that in the US Army, straight lacing is against regulations for at least the most common type of boot worn, the standard black leather combat boot. I swear, there's a silly regulation for everything. You can read here (http://docs.usapa.belvoir.army.mil/jw2/xmldemo/r670_1/main.asp#p027-3) if you like, but I'll save you the trouble of loading it up....
c. How worn.
(1) The boots are laced diagonally with black laces, with the excess lace tucked into the top of the boot under the bloused trousers or slacks, or wrapped around the top of the boot. [....]
I had to look it up because I really wanted to try the straight lace, but it looks like I can't, and I don't want other people to get into trouble over it--I'm not sure just how popular your site is, really.
– Shannon S., USA, Jan-2005
Btw, you of all people probably already know this, but the Straight (Fashion) lacing is the same as the technique recommended/popularized by Arthur Lydiard, a pioneer in training for runners.
– David M., USA, Sep-2004
With an odd number of eyelets, or even with an even number, the straight lacing lends itself well to not tying the laces at all or not having to tie them often. One can simply tie them behind the tounge of the shoe where they remain tied (odd number of eyelets) or they can just tuck them in untied (odd or even), though I prefer the former. With some practice and luck, one can get the shoe to be tight enough on the foot yet loose enough to just slip on and slip off.
– Oren H., USA, Jun-2004
I settled on the straight (fashion) lacing because of how “clean” it looks and because they are on my daily “casual” work shoes, and was surprised at how easy it was (your instructions on the whole site are wonderful).
– Russell H., Dallas, TX, USA, Feb-2004
I have a different method for straight lacing, which I find to be both practical and fashionable (it eliminates the so called background mess associated with the “European” style if a wide gap is present).
– Tyrell P., Dec-2003
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