I don’t remember learning how to tie my shoes. I grew up before Velcro and I refused to wear Mary Janes or flats. All of my shoes were lace-ups. I’m pretty sure I was taught the “bunny ears” method before I mastered the adult method. I made a double knot to avoid tripping on my laces.
I am a walker. I started walking around the city when I was eleven. My school was 1.5 miles away; it didn’t take more time to walk than to take the M15 bus. I liked the independence and the adventure. I used my bus money to buy a pastry or a bagel at one of the bakeries on my route. I double knotted my shoes so I wouldn’t have to stop and re-tie them. The knot and I were both chubby and clunky.
I own 13 pairs of shoes that lace up (five pairs of sneakers, two pairs of light hikers, two pairs of work boots, two pairs of chukka boots, a pair of boots for my transmasculine soul (see below), and a pair of insulated snow boots). I am hard on my shoes. I either wear down the soles or wear through the padding on the back of the collar. I try to rotate my shoes so they will last longer, but I notice myself mostly reaching for my light hikers. The ones with the fat round nylon laces that keep coming undone.
The last thing I bought before I decided to stop shopping was a pair of Heritage Chippewa Service Boots in Tan Renegade. They are neither hiking boots, work boots, snow boots, nor dress boots. They are objects of beauty. I wanted them, and I bought them, even though I do not need them. They arrived unlaced.
I also splurged on new shoelaces for my old work boots. I took the original laces out, cleaned the boots, applied two coats of leather protector, and started to thread in the new laces. I realized I didn’t know the best way to lace them up. One website lead to another, and I ended up watching a video on Gentleman’s Gazette on how to lace your dress shoes. At the end of the video, there was a tip for keeping your shoelaces securely tied.
I am not knowledgeable about knots. I am probably the only butch who never wore bow ties or regular ties. I don’t go sailing or rock climbing. I was tying my shoes incorrectly.
I pay attention to some things, but I am oblivious to others. I attribute it to growing up gender non-conforming. A double knot is an effective, but ugly way to tie a shoe. It is a honking big knot, not a dainty girly knot. It is not as bad as mending my pants with Duct Tape (one of the guys in my office), but it is far from an elegant solution. I often use brute force to fix my problems.
I discovered I was tying my shoes with a “granny knot” instead of a “reef knot”, and that there was a sleeker way to make a double knot for extra security. Just the name “granny knot” was enough to make me change how I tied my shoes. The difference is which direction you wrap around for the second loop (and how the bow sits on the shoe). If your bow aligns with the length of your shoe, you are making a “granny knot”. To align your bow with the width of your shoe (like a bow tie), you need to change the direction of the second loop, i.e. make a “reef knot”. For a sleek double knot, go around an extra time before you pull the second loop through. Video links in Notes. It is a simple change with a big reward.
I have experimented with this all week and my laces have remained knotted in place. I have also been taking long walks in my new boots without rubbing up any blisters.
Notes: Gentleman’s Gazette is chock-a-block full of articles and videos on classic menswear. There is something slightly creepy about Sven, the narrator, and his shoe obsession, but the videos are useful if you don’t have a clue. This is the link to Sven’s video on how to lace and tie your shoes. Surprisingly, there is a 3 minute TED talk by Terry Moore on this subject, and the Runner’s World gear guy also has something to say about how to tie your sneakers.