In 1916, the United States Rubber Company (now Uniroyal) launched a rubber-soled shoe called Keds. A year later, an advertising agent referred to Keds as sneakers, given the wearer’s ability to sneak up quietly behind someone because of the shoe’s soft sole. Today, Australian mathematician Burkard Polster posits that there are 43,200 ways to lace up your shoes, but you only need to learn one method before you can start sneaking around in your Keds.

Place the shoe in your lap with the toe pointing away from you.

Push the left plastic tip of the shoelace down through the left eyelet that’s closest to the toe of the sneaker.

Push the right plastic tip through the right eyelet that’s closest to the toe of the sneaker.

Grasp the plastic tips in each hand and pull the lace back toward you until it is pulled taut across the space between the eyelets, forming a horizontal line.

Adjust the lace to line up the plastic tips, ensuring that the amount of shoelace pulled through each eyelet is the same length.

Thread the right plastic tip up through the next available left eyelet. This is the eyelet next to the recently threaded eyelet.

Thread the unthreaded plastic tip on the left side up through the next available right eyelet. It crosses over the shoelace you just threaded to form an X.

Continue threading each lace tip through its opposite eyelet, creating a series of crisscrosses until you’ve pulled each lace tip through the last eyelets closest to you.


  • If an area on the top of your foot is sensitive, lace around it by not crisscrossing directly over the spot, but do crisscross above and below it.

  • Keds makes slip-on sneakers for those not inclined to lace their shoes.