Accurate Shoelace Lengths

Accurate Shoelace Lengths

Calculating a reasonably accurate shoelace length for a particular shoe with a particular lacing method requires taking into account many factors – and some pretty complex maths.

Shoelace Length Factors

Shoes with EYELETS

For shoes with eyelets, the shoelace length depends on FOUR measurements plus the lacing method used (such as Criss Cross Lacing in the diagram below):

Shoelace length factors diagram – Eyelets

[P] – Pairs of Eyelets. The diagram at right has 7 pairs of eyelets.

[H] – Horizontal spacing between centres of adjacent eyelets, measured with the shoe tight on the foot. If the horizontal spacing varies from one pair of eyelets to the next – just use an average.

[V] – Vertical spacing between centres of eyelets, or from the top of one eyelet to the top of the next eyelet. If the vertical spacing varies from one pair of eyelets to the next – just use an average.

[L] – Length of each shoelace end (with which you tie your knots), measured from the middle of the knot to the end of the shoelace. 250 mm (10") is usually ideal; allow more if you prefer a larger bow, less if you like it compact.

Shoes with LUGS

For shoes with LUGS, the width of those lugs is also considered. This means that the shoelace length depends on FIVE measurements plus the lacing method used (such as Lug Criss Cross Lacing in the diagram below):

Shoelace length factors diagram – Lugs

[P] – Pairs of Lugs. The diagram at right has 4 pairs of lugs.

[H] – Horizontal spacing between the inside edges of adjacent lugs (where the laces pass through), measured with the shoe tight on the foot. If the horizontal spacing varies from one pair of lugs to the next – just use an average.

[V] – Vertical spacing between centres of lugs, or from the top of one lug to the top of the next lug. If the vertical spacing varies from one pair of lugs to the next – just use an average.

[W] – Width of lugs, measured vertically.

[L] – Length of each shoelace end (with which you tie your knots), measured from the middle of the knot to the end of the shoelace. 250 mm (10") is usually ideal; allow more if you prefer a larger bow, less if you like it compact.

Calculating The Length

Having measured the shoe to determine the above factors for P, H, V, W and L, an accurate shoelace length can now be calculated for any lacing method on that shoe. This can be done several different ways:

  • Shoelace Length Calculator The easiest way is to enter the measurements into my web-based Shoelace Length Calculator. This will automatically calculate the correct lengths for all of the different lacing methods.
  • Shoelace Length Formulas The next most difficult way is to refer to the underlying Shoelace Length Formulas, then enter those formulas into a spreadsheet, substituting your own measurements for P, H, V, W and L.
  • The hardest way is to again refer to the underlying formulas and then manually calculate the length. Remember the order of precedence: Brackets, then Multiplications and Divisions, finally Additions and Subtractions.

Non-Technical Methods

Measuring the actual shoelace

Not everyone enjoys maths, and most people won't need to resort to the above measures to determine a reasonably accurate shoelace length. Here's a couple of non-technical methods:

  • If the shoes contain existing laces that are already the exact length (or close to it) but that need replacement for whatever reason, it's easiest to simply remove and measure those laces, adjusting by a small amount if necessary.
  • If the shoes don't contain existing laces, a piece of cheap string can be used instead. Lace the shoes as desired, tighten comfortably, tie with suitably sized bows, trim the loose ends so they won't get underfoot, then remove and measure that string. This takes into account all the subtleties that can't easily be factored into a mathematical formula.

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This page last updated: 23-Apr-2020. Copyright © 2004-2020 by Ian W. Fieggen. All rights reserved.

Website created by Ian Fieggen (aka. “Professor Shoelace”), inventor of the Ian Knot.

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