A summer’s worth of footwear. Shoes are second from right.

Nearly all my shoes are boots. I do possess one pair of genuine shoes (sensible, of course), along with a pair of sneakers and an ancient pair of Birkenstock knockoffs, but most of my shoes are boots.

When I was a kid, I thought I’d know I was a grown-up when I started drinking coffee and wearing high heels. It never dawned on me that these were acquired tastes — that they did not happen automatically like, say, breasts, pubic hair, and periods. My mother drank coffee and wore high heels. I, like my father before me, am a morning tea drinker. I did become a recreational coffee drinker in my early thirties, but to this day I’m baffled that anyone would choose to wear high heels if they weren’t being well paid to do so. Since I’m less than a week shy of my 61st birthday, I’ve pretty much given up on growing up, at least in this lifetime.

A few weeks ago the lace on one of my lightweight hiking boots, the ones I wear on my long morning walks with Travvy, started to come apart: the woven exterior peeled back from the core, making it hard to tie. The tying got harder and harder. 72-inch laces aren’t all that easy to find (surprising, considering how many people around here, male and female, wear work boots and hiking boots), and the selection was limited to rawhide, rawhide, and rawhide. I don’t like rawhide, but hey, necessity is the mother of settling for less, so I bought a pair. One snapped the first time I tightened them up. I knotted it and carried on. Within the week it had broken again. I made another knot. Did I say I don’t like rawhide laces?

Hiking boots with mismatched laces

Thursday at up-island Cronig’s I spotted a few 72-inch laces hanging among the 24s, 36s, and 45s. True, they were more suitable for high tops than hiking boots and only came in bright white, but they sure beat the twice-knotted rawhide so I bought a pair. This morning I managed to replace the broken lace but ran out of steam before I got to the other boot. It takes considerable time to thread a lace through four pairs of lugs, even when the lace has aglets. Aglets are the hard cylindrical tips that make laces easier to lace. Rawhide laces don’t have them. The only way to get them through the lugs on my hiking boots was to wrap the ends with Scotch tape. Did I say I don’t like rawhide laces?

Did you know that there’s a whole website devoted to shoelaces? I discovered Ian’s Shoelace Site while procrastinating resting up after the arduous task of lacing one boot. This is how I can toss words like aglet and lug around like a shoelace pro. Check it out. Ian says that there are two trillion different ways to lace a boot or shoe with six pairs of eyelets but he only illustrates 37 of the more useful ones. As soon as I finish this blog, I’m going to follow the site’s links and see if I can find more interesting laces for my hiking boots.

Plenty of people think shoelaces are too much PITA to deal with and sometimes I agree, like when the crappy rawhide lace broke the first time I tightened it — after I’d wrapped the ends in Scotch tape in order to thread the lace through the lugs. Slip-ons are convenient, but slip-ons tend to stretch with wear and the only way to snug them up again is to wear heavier socks. With laces, footwear continues to fit until it falls apart. Laces will not keep a boot from falling apart, but they will keep it snug across the instep.

Like most devices that hold things together, shoelaces are low-tech. Think about it. Paper clips, clamps, staples, Scotch tape, Band-Aids, wire, baling twine, bungee cords, even Velcro — the only thing digital about them is that they’re manipulated by fingers. They may not make the world go round, but they do make it more coherent.

My malamute sneakers




About Susanna J. Sturgis

Susanna edits for a living, writes to survive, and has been preoccupied with electoral politics since 2016. She just started a blog about her vintage T-shirt collection: "The T-Shirt Chronicles." Her other blogs include "From the Seasonally Occupied Territories," about being a year-round resident of Martha's Vineyard, and "Write Through It," about writing, editing, and how to keep going.
This entry was posted in outdoors, technology. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Shoelaces

  1. jo says:

    i found Ian’s site several years ago and found it to be an excellent time-waster! tell me what kind of 72-inch laces you’re looking for, and i’ll send them to you. more choices available here in the “big city.”


  2. Sara Piazza says:

    Susanna – good one.

    When I was three or four I had a little pair of red shoes that I loved so much I set them next to my bed at night and couldn’t wait to get up in the morning and put them on. I especially remember the laces: a red, woven-plaid pattern.

    Feet are literally the foundation of an active life and shoes are the most important part of my wardrobe. I can’t get a thing done without a proper pair of secure, tie shoes. The last Birkenstock-type shoe that fell of my foot while running a brief sprint in from the cold a few years ago, causing me to fall and nearly break a rib, was the last pair of open-back shoes I ever owned (and don’t get me started on how crazy it makes me to see kids living their lives in those dreadful plastic shoes – how can a child run and play properly with those slippery-slidey things?).

    A busy, productive life requires solid footing – snug and secure shoes (practical), with good laces to hold them on. Thank you for your research. My black high-tops (power shoes) are in need of new laces and I haven’t been able to find them, anywhere.


    • Amen amen amen. As a teenager I watched many a woman miss the bus or the trolley because she couldn’t run in the shoes she had on — her skirt was usually too tight around the knees too. I decided I’d never wear shoes I couldn’t run in. My sandals always have a strap in the back. The other kind fall off my feet.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.