compulsive shopping

I Can’t Stop Buying Shoelaces (to Zhuzh My White Sneakers)

Photo: Priscila Zambotto/Getty Images

A version of this story originally appeared on the Strategist U.S.

If one was to do a poll of the most impractical sneaker colours, surely white would be at the top of that list. Yet somehow, white sneakers are a staple in my — and practically everyone’s — wardrobe. Slim-fitting black trousers, a slouchy sweater, and pristine white sneakers have basically been my daily uniform for the last decade. I’ve bought countless pairs of LaCoste white sneakers, a few from Tod’s, a handful from Rag & Bone, and, in flusher times, even some from Gucci (the ones with the glittering gold bees).

Despite being a neat and anal-retentive person, I wear my shoes hard. While there does come a time that most white sneakers will need to be replaced (if you still want them to look like white sneakers, that is), I have found that, much like a belt or necklace can dramatically change an outfit, slipping different pairs of shoelaces into my various white sneakers has been a quick and easy way to extend their shelf life and make them (kind of) look like new again. Read on for all the shoelaces I use to freshen my kicks, from the chunky made-for-skaters set I use to up my street cred, to the laces I always switch in when it rains, to a leather pair (that are also gold-tipped) for when I really want to stand out. While I prefer (most) of mine in white, I’ve noted which pairs come in other colours for those who may be bolder than I.

The laces I wear all the time

This company Miscly is great. The red packaging and wiggly logo are fun (and what caught my eye at first) and the laces come in petite plastic bags, which can help preserve them between wears. I’d say these are a pretty consistent go-to. While just simple polyester laces, they’re well-made — the weave is tight and they show no signs of fraying in my experience. They’re sold in a set of three, so you’ll always have backups, and come in a few colours beyond white, including red, blue, black, brown, and grey.

The backup laces I wear all the time

The more you change your laces, the more adept at it you become. I’m nearly at the stage where I could start my own YouTube channel, threading laces against a countdown clock. These, which I use almost as often as my Misclys, are thick and flat, which means they tend to stay tied. The meaty and tight-woven design looks good on just about every sneaker and these come in eight lengths (as well as five colours beyond white), so there’s definitely a style for all.

The laces I wear when it rains

As a kid, it’s a watershed moment when we learn to tie our shoes. As adults, we rarely, if ever, think about it. Based in the UK (like me), the creatively named Pimp My Shoes makes high-quality flat laces in various lengths. The brand has an easy-to-follow guide for choosing the length for your shoes (it breaks down the best lengths based on how many eyelets a sneaker has), which makes them ideal for rainy days, as there’s nothing worse than long laces that become long soggy laces the minute you step out the door.

The laces I wear for nights on the town

Shoelaces first came to England in 1792, when they began to replace the richly decorated and ornate buckles on shoes that became less in vogue following the French Revolution. I can’t help but feel there is something reminiscent of that history in these gold-tipped laces. They prove the perfect companion with a dressed-down formal look, say, when I pair my white sneakers with a jumpsuit or pencil skirt.

The laces I wear for even more drama

These waxed, gold-tipped laces claim to last more than three-times longer than regular ones. I don’t know what the brand bases this claim on, but it was clear from the moment they arrived that these Loop King laces are designed with quality in mind. They are thin — less than a quarter-inch wide, to be precise — which can make any sneaker look more high-end, and their gold tips are made even more resplendent by the brand’s logo finely etched into each.

The laces I wear for street cred

I ordered these by mistake once when I was in a hurry. I had already thrown out my old laces, so I just had to go with them. There is something nostalgic — a hint of ’90s skateboard culture — about the chunky white laces. I don’t use them that often, but they’re a fun pair in my mix. In addition to white, these come in bolder colours like red, blue, and even pink.

The laces I wear for a full-on upgrade

Leather is one of those things that is trendy and yet manages to never go out of fashion. The material always seems to reincarnate itself as something cool, like these shoelaces, which are definitely not for every day. They stand out, they don’t always wear well, and they can be a pain to tie, but they’re so unique. With their gold-plated ends, I think they have just the right amount of Miami Vice style — in a good way. Like the Loop King laces, these also have the brand’s logo ever so faintly etched into their tips.

[Editor’s note: This price doesn’t include shipping fees.]

The laces I wear when I’m feeling brave

In the Before Times, while checking out at an exhibition at the Royal Academy, I stumbled across these vivid laces from Banvard and James in the museum’s gift shop. Launched by two distinctly English brothers in 2013, the company aims to bring a little sartorial edge to classic designs and accessories. While it calls itself a men’s brand, I don’t really believe shoelaces have a gender — surely not in 2020 — so I bought a sleek burgundy pair. Their colour makes them stand out even more than my laces with hardware on their ends, which is why I tend to reserve these for days when I’m feeling exceptionally put together.

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I Can’t Stop Buying Shoelaces (to Zhuzh My White Sneakers)