Your shoes should complement your personal style, whether it’s casual, sporty, chic, or polished. But beyond the type of footwear you’re wearing, you can express yourself even further with various lacing techniques.
If you’re looking for inspiration for lacing sneakers, you’ve come to the right place. There are endless methods, each with a unique flair. And since we can’t possibly go over every single way to tie your shoes, we’ll outline a few of our favorites.
Lacing Sneakers: 7 Ways
When you take a new pair of tennis shoes out of their box and slide them onto your feet, you’re faced with a choice. Will you go with a traditional lacing style or something with a little more personality?
Beyond enhancing the appearance of your footwear, some lacing techniques can also make shoes more comfortable or suitable for different activities, such as stretches to do before walking or during your walk. If you’re not sure which route to take, let this be your guide. Here’s how to lace sneakers in seven ways.
1. Classic Criss-Cross
There are many different ways to lace sneakers, but let’s start with the basics.¹ The classic criss-cross lacing method is undoubtedly the most popular option for lacing sneakers, walking shoes, and hiking boots.
All you need to do is alternate the laces going across and down or across and up into each eyelet.² Whether you take the laces down or up through the eyelets, just make sure you keep the pattern consistent so it looks intentional and not sloppy.
2. Over-Under Alternative
Another option is to alternate your running shoe lace between inner and outer crossovers. This will help alleviate friction and reduce wear-and-tear while making your sneaker easier to get on and off.
The finished appearance is typically slightly looser and more laid back than what you get with classic criss-cross laces. It’s ideal for anyone wanting to make athletic sneakers look more casual or streetwear-ready.
3. Straight Bars
This traditional lacing pattern has straight, horizontal lace lines down the length of the tongues.³ It looks tidy while lending to a clean, minimalist aesthetic. Not only that, but straight shoelaces also relieve pressure on the forefoot, as the finished effect isn’t as tight as traditional lacing.
An even number of eyelets is a must for pulling off this simple, retro-inspired style, as the sides have to meet in the middle and cross the same number of times. Start with a single bar running across the bottom eyelets, pulling one side up and through the next eyelet and then directly across the second row on the outside. Pull the other side up through the third eyelet, then across the third row on the outside, and repeat until you reach the top.
4. Loop-Back Lacing
Lacing sneakers with the loop-back method will give them a somewhat unconventional appearance and an undeniably snug fit. Start with the classic criss-cross lacing technique, but instead of simply passing over each other, the laces will intertwine in the middle.⁴ This helps keep your feet in place, which is ideal for playing sports, hiking, and running on uneven terrains.
5. Diagonal Lacing AKA “Lightning Laces”
We also like diagonal shoe lacing. It looks just like the horizontal bars method on a running shoe, only with a diagonal strike through the middle—which is where it gets the name “lightning laces.”⁵ Not only does it look electric cool, but the lacing approach lifts the toe boxes and aligns with the natural position of your feet.
Begin with a straight line across the bottom eyelets with the tips of the laces pointing up toward your body. Pull the left side diagonally over the outside of the tongue and into the right top eyelet.
Next, take the right side and run it straight across and into the second eyelet. Pull the left side up and out through the third eyelet, then directly across on the outside, and continue until you reach the top. Tie the left lace (AKA the “lightning lace”) with the right.
6. Lattice Laces
If you’re open to something a little harder and want to wow your friends with jazzed-up sneakers, you might consider lattice laces. This relatively complex shoe lacing technique is inspired by the criss-cross weave of wood often used to create garden trellises.⁶
Start with a straight line between the bottom eyelets with the tips of the shoelace pointing up and toward you. Next, cross the laces and pull them down through the fourth row of eyelets (three rows from the bottom). Run the laces straight down on the inside and pull them out through the second row of eyelets.
Cross the laces again and pull them down through the fifth row of eyelets. Then run them straight down again and pull them out through the third row of eyelets. Run them diagonally across the outside once more, weaving the laces through the existing crisscrosses, then tie them at the top.
7. Gap Lacing
With gap lacing (sometimes called skip lacing), you’ll lace your sneakers using the standard criss-cross method, only you’ll skip one of the crossovers to leave a space in the middle of the tongue (or wherever you want a little more room).⁷
People often opt for this method to reduce pressure on a sensitive area of their forefoot, though it can also help with flexibility. It can also accommodate people with high arches.
Make Sure Your Laces Are Even
One of the most critical things to remember when lacing sneakers is to make sure your laces are even. This means that whatever your starting point is, the right and left laces should be equal in shoelace length.
After pulling them through the bottom row of eyelets (or whichever row you’re starting with), pull them taught on both sides. Adjust the shoelace length by giving either side more slack until the tips reach the same point.
No matter what technique you go with, evening out your laces will create a more cohesive, put-together appearance. Not only that, but you’ll have a hard time tying your trainers when the laces are uneven.
Standout Sneakers for Men and Women from Vionic
At Vionic, we’re known for our comfortable, supportive sneakers for men and women. Our podiatrist-developed active and casual shoe styles feature built-in orthotics, which offer superior arch support, plush cushioning, and heel stability.
While we’re all about comfy footwear that benefits foot health, we know a thing or two about fashion-forward sneakers. Our designs are always aligned with the latest trends, and you can count on versatile, effortlessly cool looks for every occasion.
We have some of the best shoes for home workouts, including women’s casual sneakers, men’s cross-trainers, essential lace-ups, walking sneakers, performance trainers, and everything in between. Whether you’re a serious athlete, a streetwear fashionista, an athleisure enthusiast, or just like the sporty-chic vibe of casual sneakers, Vionic has something to complement your unique taste and lifestyle.
- “How to Lace Your Sneakers Three Different Ways: The Ultimate Guide”. YouTube, uploaded by Highsnobiety, Aug 20, 2020, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=90yED-bgeyc
- Amir Ismael. “How to lace up your sneakers 3 different ways for unique looks — a step-by-step guide”. Insider. Updated Apr 21, 2020, https://www.businessinsider.com/how-to-lace-up-sneakers
- “How To BAR LACE Nike Air Force 1s (THE BEST WAY!!)”. YouTube, uploaded by
Also Sam Alxr, Jan 30, 2020, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hfcreZnnzGQ
- “How to Loop Back Lace Chuck Taylors”. YouTube, uploaded by Classic Sport Shoes. Apr 4, 2012, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kW4dB44bdGY
- “Lightning Lacing Tutorial – Professor Shoelace”. YouTube, uploaded by ProfessorShoelace. Aug 18, 2017, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eaIW0Frxe_s
- “Lattice Lacing Tutorial – Professor Shoelace”. YouTube, uploaded by ProfessorShoelace. Sep 30, 2018, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1kt9VsWPZmI
- .”Gap Lacing Tutorial – Professor Shoelace”. YouTube, uploaded by ProfessorShoelace.Apr 14, 2013, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HGMQfdpAEhI