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Forget the Shoelaces. This Shoe Hack Will Change Your Footwear Life

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

a sneaker with regular laces
Ditch the laces. 
James Martin/CNET

This story is part of Try This, CNET's collection of simple tips to improve your life, fast.

The past two-plus years of working from home have elevated comfort and convenience over style and polish. That means T-shirts and sweatpants for some, slippers or bare soles for others. But as many transition back into hybrid schedules, that doesn't mean workwear has to bounce back as well. 

If anything, the WFH and hybrid life only reinforces my long-standing admonition against the primitive shoelace. Retrofitting your shoes with elastic slip-on laces makes even more sense if you're stepping back into an office but want to keep some work-from-home comfort. The no-lace lifestyle I discovered several years ago is more relevant than ever, now that history has exonerated my unconventional footwear advice. 

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My prepandemic take on ditching your shoelaces remains the same: I've always favored slip-on shoes, but try to find a good slip-on pair of laceless wingtips or Oxfords. 

Over the years, I've bought a handful of lace-up shoes I love, but rarely wear them just because of the hassle of the old-fashioned shoelace. 

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. For more tips, here's how to put an end to junk mail and how to see if your state owes you money.

@cnetdotcom Retrofit your lace-up shoes with no-tie elastic shoelaces #notieshoelaces#sneakers#shoes#shoelaces#lifehack#trythis#shoehacks#elasticshoelaces♬ original sound - THXOC

Where do I get no-tie elastic laces?

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.

I ordered several sets in different colors, from two different brands via Amazon. The actual products were identical as far as I could tell.

How to switch from shoelaces to elastic laces?

Just use your fingers, or maybe something pointy but not sharp, 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 similar-colored shoes, subtle in appearance.

I tried a few different brands. 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.

rubber shoe lace in someone's hand

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

Sarah Tew/CNET

Why elastic laces are cool

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.

For more life hacks, here's how to cut a cake with dental floss and how to wash your car without water.

Originally published on June 1, 2018.