It's a Thing

Boldly Colored Laces on Dress Shoes

Photo: Cator Sparks

Mark McNairy for New Amsterdam.

Nothing wrong with “heritage,” but the movement’s current stranglehold on menswear can leave more sartorially adventurous guys feeling a little…suffocated. And so the mavericks among us are taking to the streets in ensembles laced with subtle barbs to convention. Literally. More and more, we’re seeing men swap out their standard-issue shoelaces for boldly colored ones. It’s a move that can give an otherwise classic pair of dress shoes a shot of playful irreverence—and breathe new life into a man’s wardrobe. “Changing out the color of your laces has a powerful effect, the same way changing the buttons on a suit does,” says Steven Taffel, proprietor of New York men’s shoe store Leffot. “And it’s much easier to do.”

According to clothing designer and shoe junkie Eddie Ebani, shoelaces are accessories that should be switched up daily, like a pocket square or a pair of socks. “Wearing a suit and tie every day to work doesn’t give men much of a chance to express themselves,” he says, “so this is one way I like to have fun with my outfit, and not be too obvious about it. It’s like a quiet rebellion.”

Longtime proponents of the trend include Lapo Elkann and Paul Smith, who throws in two sets of laces—a brightly colored pair as well as one in standard brown or black—when you buy select pairs of his brand’s shoes. But it’s Mark McNairy—shoe designer for Bass Weejun and New Amsterdam—who’s been most recently credited for bringing the look back. (His interest in eye-popping color goes way beyond shoelaces, but that’s a different story.) When we asked him to tell us why he favors a louder lace, he simply sent us this picture:

Photo: Mordechai Rubinstein

Esquire fashion director Nick Sullivan gives his caramel brown wingtips an attitude adjustment.

Photo: Mordechai Rubinstein

Photo: Steven Taffel

A pair of Gaziano & Girling cap-toe oxfords at Leffot.

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  2. Jeff says:

    Seems too hipster for me.
    I pictured myself putting on these shoes and I just kept thinking “not traditional enough”.
    Maybe i’m out of touch, but I really liked my grandfathers style and loosely base mine on his.
    That said…the black shoe/brown laces do look pretty good.

  3. Dennis says:

    This is a great way to change it up – when the dark days of winter come and maybe you find your style in a rut. Looks great on lace-up boots too. The brand called Helm Handmade makes colored laces for boots that can be seen / ordered here: http://shop.helmhandmade.com/products/laces

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