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Wearable Tech

Lose the laces with this one low-tech shoe hack that will change your life

For less than $10, I retrofitted all my lace-up shoes with no-tie elastic shoelaces, and I've never been happier.

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There are a handful of artifacts from earlier times that feel especially out of place in our modern lives. Most office phone and voicemail systems have remained largely unchanged for many years. I personally find it confounding that people still walk around handing out tiny paper cards with their phone numbers printed on them

And, I can see no reason in 2018 that we need to secure our shoes on our feet with flimsy pieces of string tied in a knot.

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That (and apparently my poor shoelace-tying technique) is why I've always favored slip-on shoes, but try to find a good slip-on pair of laceless wingtips or oxfords outside of an expensive Soho boutique... Over the years, I've purchased a handful of lace-up shoes I really like, but rarely wear them just because of the extreme hassle of the old-fashioned shoelace. (If you think that's insane, try it while ushering a first-grader out the door.) Velcro's for kids (or New Balance), so that was a nonstarter for me. 

And then I discovered a low-tech shoe hack that rescued my forgotten lace-up shoes, and proved to me once and for all that shoelaces are an archaic throwback best forgotten.

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Four pairs of shoes I'll actually wear now. 

Sarah Tew/CNET

While clicking around on Amazon, I came across several listings for rubber shoe laces. Not long rubber strings that you'd have to thread and tie like a regular lace, but short bands that go horizontally across, eyelet to eyelet. They come in kids and adult sizes, in a wide variety of colors, and each set includes nine pairs of bands, each with a different width, ranging from 45 to 80 millimeters wide for the adult set.

Just use your fingers or maybe a tablet stylus to push the anchor-shaped rubber ends through the eyelets of your shoes, and you're good to go. I found these no-tie laces to be secure, comfortable and, if you match black and brown laces with like-colored shoes, very subtle in appearance.

I tried a few different brands of laces. Most of my dress shoes only needed four or five pairs of bands, and I ended up using bands from the smaller end of the nine-band range, despite wearing a size 13 shoe -- so if you have small feet, perhaps try the kids' size.

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You'll need one of these bands for each pair of eyelets. 

Sarah Tew/CNET

I ordered several sets in different colors, from two different brands via Amazon. The actual products were identical as far as I could tell, and each set cost $7.99. Amazon UK has them for £6.99 and Amazon Australia has them for AU$11. The two brands I tried were:

Now, I know what you're thinking: Aren't these elastic laces just for preschoolers or senior citizens? Aren't they profoundly uncool? Once upon a time, perhaps. But like grandma sandals and vinyl records, elastic laces are being seen in a whole new light. 

"In our earlier years, we saw overwhelmingly positive feedback from those suffering from motor-skill issues," says Keith Martine, the PR manager for Hickies, one of several popular brands of elastic laces. "Then when our product was seen on Jessica Alba, Kendall Jenner, Gigi Hadid, Alessandra Ambrosio, Bradley Cooper and more, we became a hit with millennials."

In other words, traditional laces are yet another item to add to the millennial kill list.

As for me, I feel like my shoe collection has doubled in size since I started switching all my lace-up shoes to these no-tie bands, and I encourage everyone to join me in a lace-free future.

What other out-of-date everyday objects should we replace with something new and clever? Hit me up on Twitter at @danackerman and let me know.

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