How to Shorten Your Laces

by Jamie Wilson
How to Shorten Your Laces

Reviewed & updated: October 19, 2022 by Jamie Wilson BA

Ever wondered how to make shoelaces shorter? It’s a simple shoe trick, but it can give you one hell of a shoe update. Follow this simple guide to getting lace perfection

It’s a sad day when your favourite Converse are finally shown the bin. The material is  dull, there are scuffs on the soles and the laces are all stretched. So what if I told you there was a way to add a bit of extra time to your shoe-bestie’s lifespan? Today is your lucky day.

Long laces are a massive tell-tell sign that a pair of shoes have seen better days. Sometimes sprucing up your laces – or simply making them shorter – can give your shoes a new burst of life. Of course, it isn’t just old shoes that can suffer the long laces curse. Sometimes the laces can be out of whack right from the word go. It doesn’t always mean you have freakishly skinny feet, sometimes manufacturers are a little bit generous with material and haven’t heard of the saying ‘less is more’.

How to Shorten Shoelaces

How to Shorten Your Laces
@Erik Mclean via pexels

We’ve all been there. Out for a mooch around the shops. And there they are. The perfect pair of Timberlands. They have your name written all over them. They fit like a glove and you’re absolutely rocking them. There is just one problem. The laces are too bloody long! Seeing long laces always takes me back to the childhood days of shoving the laces down the side of my foot. How uncomfortable was that? But it looked cool so it didn’t matter.

Well, now we are adults (kind of). Why should we settle for childish tactics to keep our swag? I’m mad as hell and I wont take it anymore!

Ok, so maybe a slight overreaction. But in all seriousness, we don’t have to resort to our childhood habits to rock our shoes anymore. A little bit of creativity and imagination is all you need. There are plenty of ways to shorten your laces. Whether you are physically taking scissors to them,  or lacing your shoe in a different way. We’ll explore all the options available to keep your feet looking sharp.

Cutting Your Own Laces

What to do with long shoe laces? Well if you fancy a little DIY, then why not get creative and cut your laces. You don’t need a lot of supplies. As long as you have:

  • Scissors
  • A Measuring Tape
  • Heat Shrink Tubing
  • A Lighter

You’ll be good to go.

If heat shrink tubing is just a bit too much hassle to acquire, then there is always a classy alternative. Duct tape will do the job just nicely. I have first hand experience with this during my student days. So if you really can’t be arsed to find the tubing, go ahead. No judgement! It won’t look as good though and it will fall apart. The heat shrink tubing will last a lot longer. But, at least you know the option is there for a quick fix!

How to Shorten Your Laces
@Denis Zagorodniuc via pexels

Types of Laces You Can Cut

Whatever your shoelace is made out of, you can cut it. Whether it’s leather, cotton or polyester; as long as you have your heat shrink tubing (or duct tape…) you’ll be good to go! No need to worry about frayed ends, the tubing takes care of that. Converse laces too long is something that comes up with this topic, all the time. Guess what? You can shorten these too.

A little tip! If your laces are a light colour – and rather grubby – make sure to give them a good wash before you cut them. After a thorough wash, see which end has scrubbed up best. Make sure to cut the shoelace on its grimiest side. We want your shoelaces look fresh and new!

What is Heat Shrink Tubing?

Heat shrink tubing is usually used to insulate wires. The plastic tubing shrinks when heat is applied to pull the wires together and hold them securely. You see an electricians material, I see a fashion godsend. It works just as well to tie up frayed laces as it does any other handy job.

The great thing with heat shrink tubing, is that it comes in all different colours. So depending on what shoes you are shortening the laces for, you can really personalise your laces making them unique. You don’t want too many colours clashing, so don’t be afraid to just use black or white.

But if you have a funky pair of asics covered with vibrant colours, then matching the tubing will make the laces really stand out. In a good way! You can also count on the fact that no one will be rocking the same look. Your asics will always have that little edge, completely personal to you.

Cutting Your Laces

I added a measuring tape to the list but it isn’t desperately necessary. The best way to get your laces the perfect length is to lace your shoe so that one side is just over the perfect lace length. That way, you can cut the other side to make it symmetrical with the other.

Be careful not to cut the laces too short. Shortening laces is one thing; but making laces longer? That’s a whole other ball game. In fact, you’d just be better off just buying new laces. There’s no going back if you get trigger happy with the scissors.

When you are happy with your lace length, it’s time to cut the heat shrink tubing. Remember you need to do the heat shrink tubing on both ends of the shoelace. They need to be symmetrical. So cut both pieces of heat shrink tubing the same time to ensure that they match each other in length.

Another thing to remember is you don’t want to cut the tubing too long. No more than 1cm really. Otherwise it will look desperately like a home job. I know it is a home job, but do you really want your mates to notice and start asking questions? Didn’t think so.

Place the tubing on the end of the shoelace and heat with a lighter. Do not let the heat shrink tubing get too hot! If it starts to bubble, you’ve warmed it up for way too long. And have probably ruined your laces. To avoid this happening, keep the tubing out of the direct flame. Keep it high enough so it is out of the flame, but still in the heat. Slow and steady wins the race.

And remember that your shoelace is flammable. I won’t patronise, but, be careful, ok?

How to Tie Long Shoelaces

Long laces don’t always have to be a burden. The longer the laces, the more creative you can be with them when tying them up.

There are tons of ways to lace up your shoes. This diagram only scratches the surface! And some of the ways are only achievable when you have long laces. So if you don’t feel comfortable taking the scissors your laces (or you just can’t really be bothered), then try out one of these ways to spruce up your shoes. It is very simple, yet very effective.

Another thing to bear in mind, is that long laces only really look long when the bows are on show. You can always hide the bow, by lacing the shoes in certain ways.

How to Shorten Your Laces
@Luis Quintero via pexels

If your shoe is bowless, there is no telling where the lace starts and where it ends. Making sure that the laces thread inwards through the last hole on your shoes is the easiest way to hide the bow. You can even tie your shoes behind the tongue. Of course, it does mean you’ll kind of have to resort to the childhood tactics I mentioned earlier.  Shoving the excess lace down the side of your shoe isn’t the most comfortable thing in the world, but since when has looking good not required a bit of discomfort? Us women moan about discomfort all the time. Well, I do anyway. Think yourself lucky you don’t have to pluck your eyebrows.

If All Else Fails…

Buy shoes that have no laces. Shoes with no laces never have these problems! (Captain obvious strikes again). But obviously this isn’t very realistic. It’s not helpful at all and I apologise for suggesting it.

But one thing I will suggest, is buy new laces. There are so many funky shoelaces available in shops or online, it doesn’t have to be the end of your shoes life if the laces are so far gone, they simply can’t be resuscitated. Just be sensible about it. Don’t buy fat skater shoe shoelaces and expect them to fit on your dainty Converse. They simply won’t fit through the holes and will look way over the top.

In this wonderful modern world – of online shopping – you can buy shoelaces in literally any colour under the sun. But, just because they’re available, doesn’t mean you have to be eccentric. If white laces will set off your shoes, then go ahead and buy white laces.

And if you do end up just buying some new laces, but they’re too long… You know what to do. Boom!

Your Quick Guide to Shortening Your Shoelaces:

  • Don’t be too frivolous when cutting your laces! Too long is better than too short
  • Wash the laces before you cut them to see if one side is worse off than the other
  • Be adventurous with colour! But try to avoid clashing
  • Don’t cut the heat shrink tubing too long! Unless you want to look ninny
  • Keep the duct tape as a last resort
  • Don’t set your laces on fire with the lighter
  • Remember short shoelaces = buying new shoelaces
How to Shorten Your Laces
@Andrea Piacquadio via pexels

On That Note…

If you have decided to take the plunge and cut your laces, I take my hat off to you! A little bit of effort goes a long way in the world of fashion. People always underestimate shoelaces and their effect on a pair of shoes. You could have the most perfect, pristine pair of shoes; but if they laces are grubby, the shoes as a whole look like crap.

So next time, before you open the bin and say a tearful goodbye to your favourite pair of kicks, take a good hard look and see what’s really wrong with them. Because if it’s just the laces, that’s a problem that can be easily solved.

Feature image from Pexels

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