Available Shoelace Lengths
Having calculated a theoretically accurate shoelace length, the problem arises of how to buy a shoelace from the limited lengths available. It all comes down to the resulting end lengths that you find comfortable.
Typical Stock Lengths
Shoelaces are typically available in a range of stock lengths, both in metric and imperial sizes.
Typical metric sizes
60 cm, 70 cm, 80 cm, 90 cm, 100 cm, 110 cm, 120 cm, 140 cm, 160 cm, 180 cm, 200 cm, 220 cm, 240 cm, 260 cm, 280 cm, 300 cm.
Typical imperial sizes
24 inch, 27 inch, 30 inch, 36 inch, 40 inch, 45 inch, 54 inch, 63 inch, 72 inch, 84 inch, 96 inch, 108 inch, 120 inch.
Unfortunately, very few stores stock every possible shoelace in every possible length, width, shape, color and material. Choosing from the limited available lengths will result in end lengths that are either longer or shorter than ideal.
Comfortable End Lengths
By my testing, I've found that an end length of 250 mm (10 inches) is an ideal medium length for most adults. The ends are long enough to hold and tie comfortably, resulting in a bow of pleasing proportions plus ends that won't get underfoot.
150 mm (6 inches)
Excessively short, making it difficult to tie.
200 mm (8 inches)
Comfortably short, resulting in a compact bow.
250 mm (10 inches)
Ideal medium length for most adults.
300 mm (12 inches)
Comfortably long, resulting in a larger bow.
350 mm (14 inches)
Excessively long, allowing ends to get underfoot.
Acceptably longer or shorter
As can be seen above, 50 mm (2 inches) longer or shorter than the ideal end length is still perfectly acceptable. Once the bow is formed, that 50 mm difference is divided by three because 2/3 of the difference goes into the two sides of the loop. Thus the loop and loose end only end up about 17 mm longer or shorter.
Buying longer or shorter
When it comes down to actually buying shoelaces, remember that you can comfortably add or subtract 50 mm to/from both ends. This means that you can buy shoelaces that are up to 100 mm (4 inches) longer or shorter than the ideal length (2 × 50 mm ends = 100 mm per shoelace).
For tall boots, choose a little longer to allow for the lacing to be loosened further without the laces coming out of the upper eyelets.
For children's shoes or dress shoes, choose a little shorter – but not too short as to make it difficult for them to be tied.
NOTE: I've used rough metric to imperial conversions above where 1 inch = 25 mm instead of precisely 25.4 mm.
Mr Lacy Shoelaces (130 cm)
The popular range of Mr Lacy shoelaces comes in a standard length of 130 cm (51 inch). From the table on the Approximate Shoelace Lengths page, we can determine that these laces would suit the following:
Larger skate shoes with four pairs of eyelets;
Medium skate shoes with five pairs of eyelets;
Smaller skate shoes with six pairs of eyelets;
Larger sneakers with seven pairs of eyelets;
Medium sneakers with eight pairs of eyelets;
Smaller sneakers with nine pairs of eyelets;
Unsuitable for typical dress shoes (too long).
Longer or shorter bows
If we are prepared to accept longer or shorter bows, the same 130 cm laces suit an even broader range of applications:
Medium skate shoes with four pairs of eyelets (using very long bows);
Medium skate shoes with six pairs of eyelets (using very short bows);
Medium sneakers with seven pairs of eyelets (using longer bows);
Medium sneakers with nine pairs of eyelets (using shorter bows);
Junior Mr Lacy Shoelaces (110 cm)
Mr. Lacy's “Junior” length of 110 cm (43 inch) would suit the following:
Medium skate shoes with four pairs of eyelets;
Smaller skate shoes with five pairs of eyelets;
Larger sneakers with five pairs of eyelets;
Medium sneakers with six pairs of eyelets;
Smaller sneakers with seven pairs of eyelets;
Unsuitable for typical dress shoes (still too long).
Once again, these laces will suit smaller shoes using longer bows as well as larger shoes using shorter bows.