How to Know Which Chakra Is Out of Balance

….Stumbled upon this and though, what better way, then to share…

Molly Rae | August 31, 2018

How to Know Which Chakra Is Out of Balance

Source: Chernishev Maksim/

Takeaway: By tuning into what is stagnant or persistent in our experience, we can likely determine which chakra may be out of balance and then begin healing.

Chakras are our energetic centers in the body. We can tune into the seven major chakras to give us signals about how we are functioning energetically, physically, emotionally and spiritually. From Sanskrit, chakra means “wheel,” and these wheels need to be open in order to allow energy to flow through them for us to function optimally.

My body, mind and spirit are connected in each one of these chakras on the physical, mental and spiritual planes. My increasing ability to tune into subtle shifts in these different chakras has provided me with important insight into my inner emotional healing work, and allows me to make more informed choices on how to use specific mantras, affirmations and asana to balance the desired chakra.

In this article, I’ll explain how imbalance in each chakra can manifest in the physical and astral bodies, and offer solutions on how to bring them back into balance.


This is the first of the seven chakras. In Sanskrit, mula means “root” and adharameans “base” or “support.” Muladhara is the foundation of our being where we cultivate a sense of safety, survival and stability. It is essential to first create balance in this chakra before addressing our higher chakras. An out-of-balance first chakra could manifest in our bodies in lower back and leg pain, and in emotional imbalances like anxiety or eating disorders.

Many people who experience a lack of consistency in their early childhood, whereby they may have felt unsafe, unstable or neglected, may experience imbalances in their muladhara later in life.

(Learn about the connection between The Chakras and Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.)

There are many tools, including pranayamaand asana, to work with opening and unblocking the first chakra, but having our basic needs met may be the greatest contribution to a balanced or open muladhara. This balance is what allows us to feel safe and courageous as we navigate the world.


The second chakra is the center of emotional expression and creativity. It is considered to be the center of our sexual energy. Svadhisthana is “the dwelling place of the self” in Sanskrit, which could speak to how the entire self is affected by an out-of-balance second chakra.

This is the wheel of creation. Creating is not just about reproduction, but rather anything a human can create, for example: art, ideas, food, building things or any type of creative manifestation. If we feel unable to innovate and create, then the second chakra may be out of balance.

Participating in sexuality consciously, working through healing sexual trauma, challenging patterns of sexual compulsivity, and maintaining a healthy and open relationship to our emotions helps to keep this chakra in balance.


This third chakra is the place of power. This chakra is located in the solar plexus area between the navel and breastbone, and is connected to the element of fire. When we have a balanced manipura we feel in touch with our sense of purpose, motivation and self-confidence. In the physical body, it is connected to metabolism and digestion.

If our third chakra becomes out of balance, it could manifest in a low sense of self-esteem, difficulty making decisions or staying motivated, or problems with digestion. This is the area where we experience our “gut feelings” that drive us toward our goals. Ignoring these gut indicators, or drinking and eating in ways that do not support a healthy digestion, could lead to the third chakra becoming out of balance.


This fourth chakra is located in our heart center and is said to be the bridge between the lower physical chakras and the higher spiritual chakras. An open anahata allows us to love and remain compassionate toward ourselves and others. It is physically connected to our heart, lungs and breasts.

When this chakra is open, we experience love, the ability to forgive and acceptance. If the chakra is closed or out of balance, we may experience anger, fear, hatred, grief, jealousy or emotional numbness. We may sink our chest inwards and roll the shoulders forward to withdraw and protect the heart, and possibly feel tightness in the chest or experience cardiovascular health issues.

Choosing love and empathy over fear and spite is one way to keep the anahata open and balanced.

(To help, here’s How to Choose Love Over Fear With Each Thought.)


The fifth chakra moves us into the spiritual plane. This chakra is connected to the throat, thyroid, jaw, neck, mouth and tongue. An open vishuddha allows us to express ourselves, speak our truth freely, as well as listen openly to others and the messages coming from the Universe. An open and balanced fifth chakra is related to our work in our lower chakras, as this work prepares us to understand ourselves and how we want to express our desires.

If this chakra is not in balance, it could manifest in not speaking up for ourselves when our boundaries are not respected and could shift to the physical plane by developing something like laryngitis or losing the voice.


This sixth chakra is said to be the seat of our third eye. This is where we cultivate our intuition and clairvoyance. Ajna means “beyond wisdom.” This energy center allows us to visualize and intuit beyond the physical plane. We have access to infinite inner guidance when we create the space for this information to come through to us.

When the sixth chakra is out of balance, it may be because we are ignoring our sixth sense of intuition. The same way we can throw our third chakra out of balance by ignoring our gut feelings, we can ignore our higher intuitive sense. This could manifest in feeling a fogginess, as you are lacking your intuitive sense.


The seventh chakra is located on the crown of the head, and is the place of our divine connection. We are connected to every living being, and we are a piece of a greater all-encompassing whole.

Sahasrara is truly opened and in balance when we can experience ourselves as the pure consciousness that we are. If this chakra is out of balance, we will likely experience a lack of awareness of our spiritual essence and divinity.

The crown becomes open through regular meditation, prayersilence and persistence. Through this, we can experience glimpses or even periods of prolonged bliss defined by a feeling of pure beingness and awareness of our sacred connection to all that is.

Unity of Your Physical and Spiritual Bodies

Our chakras are systems of energy that can be tuned into and focused on through healing on the emotional, mental, physical and spiritual levels. By tuning into what is stagnant or persistent in our experience, as well as maintaining awareness of subtle physical cues, we can likely determine which chakra may be out of balance and work with healing or moving that specific energy.

thanks, for indulging me… keep well and be safe…

shoe guide

The Ultimate Men’s Dress Shoe GuideThe anatomy and style of classic men’s dress shoes.

Written by Jacob Sigala

Having a great pair of dress shoes in your closet is not a luxury, it’s a necessity. Even men who default to casual shoes and sneakers will eventually need to suit-up. Opportunity favors the prepared.

This guide is intended to help you make a wiser choice on your next shoe purchase. Once you understand the differences between the options available, you will be half-way to looking your best at any event, interview, meeting, or date that requires a formal shoe.

Take the quiz: What shoes should you wear with your outfit? 

Deconstructing the Dress Shoe

vamp, upper, sole, quarters, facing, toe, heel

In order to understand a particular style, you should first understand the components that make up a dress shoe. Working from front to back, a dress shoe is divided into four parts: toevampfacing, and quarter. It is the placement and construction of these pieces that help give a dress shoe its individuality.


The Oxford

The Ultimate Guide to Dress Shoes: Oxford Balmoral

The Oxford is the most basic and timeless of the dress shoes, and a great starting point if you’re looking for a classic staple. They are a versatile option that can be dressed up with formal wear or down for a more casual arena. Gaining its name from its history at Oxford University, oxfords were a newer version of the popular Oxonians that were popular at the university circa 1800. This half-boot style was — at century’s turn – judged outdated, and students began looking for an alternative style. The oxford shoe was the fulfillment of longings for something modern.

The shoe is characterized by its facing being stitched under the vamp. This is called “closed lacing.” The facing’s placement provides a slim silhouette that hugs the foot’s contour.  It is on account of its minimalism (and ability to go with just about everything) that the Oxford enjoys its popularity. For general everyday wear, there are many colors from which to choose, in both leather and suede. For business attire, dark brown, cordovan, English tan, and black leather are your safest choices. If you’ll be pairing them with a tuxedo or other formal wear, black patent leather is your best bet.

The One Piece Oxford is a variation on the classic oxford, constructed of a single piece of leather rather than various pieces sewn together. This style has only one seam connecting the piece of leather to the back of the shoe while maintaining the original oxford shape and signature “closed lacing.” The limited stitching gives a sleek and sophisticated look that adds to the shoe’s simple, no-nonsense style.

Take the quiz: What shoes should you wear with your outfit? 

The Derby

The Ultimate Guide to Dress Shoes: Derby, Blucher

The Derby shoe, also known as the Gibson or the blucher, was originally intended as a sporting and hunting boot circa the 1850’s. At the turn of the 20th century, Derbies became accepted as appropriate footwear for the town. Derbies are often miscategorized as oxfords, as their shape is very similar and their differences are very slight. Though not obvious upon first glance, the difference lies in the placing of the face. The Derby shoe has the facing stitched on top of the vamp; with an oxford, tabs are sewn under the vamp. This construction, called “open lacing,” allows for a wider fit than is typical with an oxford. For many, this makes the Derby a more comfortable shoe. This simple detail has kept the derby reminiscent of its sporting roots, for which reason it is received as a less formal version of the Oxford.

Take the quiz: What shoes should you wear with your outfit? 

The Monk Strap

The Ultimate Guide to Dress Shoes: Monk Strap

A shoe with a monk strap is similar in shape and construction to an Oxford but in place of an eyelet closure, the monk strap has a wide swath of leather fastened across the front of the shoe. This is the “strap,” which is fastened with either a single or double-buckle closure. The shoe takes its name from the monks who originally donned them. The simple closed-toe design provided greater protection than the sandals traditionally worn by men in the orders.

How “formal” is a monk strap? All else being equal, the style itself lies somewhere between the Oxford and the derby. This classic alternative to laced dress shoes adds a certain panache to any outfit. While this has not always been the case, the monk strap is now regarded as a very versatile style of shoe style. It can be worn with cuffed jeans, or with the most dapper of suits. Monk strap attracts attention and may at times become the focal point of an ensemble. Monk strap shoes are often crafted out of leather or suede, and will sometimes decorative broguing.

Take the quiz: What shoes should you wear with your outfit? 

The Loafer

The Ultimate Guide to Dress Shoes: Loafer

The loafer is a moccasin-inspired shoe that is most recognizable for being a slip-on style. The loafer was originally intended as a casual house slipper made for King George VI of England. The loafer was neither acknowledged nor popular as a casual shoe until the King’s slippers crossed the pond. Manufacture of the loafer in the United States was underway in earnest by the 1930’s. It kept its status as a casual-only shoe until the 1960’s when American businessmen and lawyers began wearing loafers with suits. In 1966, Gucci introduced the bit loafer. This variant features a metal strap (in the shape of a horse’s bit) across the instep. Gucci’s innovation further elevated the loafer’s status as formal footwear — or at least confirmed that this was not strictly casual.

The loafer often features a saddle — a decoration that might be a plain strap, a strap with a slit (as with penny loafers), or a metal ornament. Tassels or a kiltie might hang from a saddle, while the minimalist version (the Venetian) has an exposed vamp absent embellishment or ornamentation. A signature characteristic of loafers (especially those nearer to a moccasin than a regal slipper) is an elevated seam that runs along the shoe’s toe. A very casual variant of the loafer is the driving moccasin or driving shoe. These are often made of softer materials, are less structured, and have soles and heels made to optimize wearer-comfort while driving.

Take the quiz: What shoes should you wear with your outfit? 

The Dress Boot

The Ultimate Guide to Dress Shoes: Dress Boot

dress boot is constructed like an oxford, and is very often the same shape, but with a longer shaft. This short, lace-up boot often features wingtip broguing on the toe and along its seams, typically rising over the ankle. This style traces its roots to the Victorian era when men’s footwear options were limited. The dress boot quickly became an accepted dress shoe option, appropriate for formal daywear. The place of the dress boot in menswear has remained much the same, and it is an attractive alternative to typical dress shoe styles.

When is a boot dressy enough?  It should be sleek, not too chunky, have laces thinner than those found on casual-wear boots, and should have soles which immediately distinguish the boot as a high-top dress shoe. Lug soles and commando soles will rarely be appropriate, though there are exceptions. If the boots are made of fine leather, their color doesn’t much matter so long as it compliments the suit. Unless you are an expert, assume that a suede dress boot is a contradiction (though it need not be).

Read: Essential Guide to Men’s Boots

The Chelsea Boot

The Ultimate Guide to Dress Shoes: Chelsea Boot

The Chelsea boot originated in Victorian England, reputedly with shoemaker J. Sparkes-Hall  (boot maker to the Queen Victoria). Then as now, the boots’ elastic gussets allowed for them to be pulled-on and slipped-off with ease, without compromising the refined silhouette of a laced boot. Indeed, the absence of laces contributed to their neat shape. The Chelsea boot became the practical alternative to the rigid Victorian boots of the age and quickly recommended themselves to the equestrian set. There was an uptick in sales the 1960’s when Mods took them from the paddocks to the pavements. Victorian naturalist Charles Darwin might have had a fondness for beetles, but The Beatles had a fondness for Chelsea boots. Thanks in part to blokes like them, the style remains popular today.

These boots are ankle length with rounded toes and low heels. The vamp and the quarters meet near the ankle and are joined by an elastic gusset. The Chelsea boot owes its clean, tidy look to the fact that – in dressier versions – the vamp and quarters are made from a single piece of leather. This keeps the stitching to a minimum. Classic Chelsea boots are absent decorative flourishes or embellishments. Their simplicity puts them in a class all their own: jeans get an upward lift, and traditional-style suits gain an edge.  If you purchase suede Chelsea boots, wear them only as part of a casual or smart-casual ensemble.

Take the quiz: What shoes should you wear with your outfit? 

The Chukka Boot

The Ultimate Guide to Dress Shoes: Chukka Boot

The Chukka has origins in the game of polo: it is the unit of time by which polo matches are measured. (A typical chukka is seven minutes long, and a polo match consists of four, six, or eight chukkas.)  Some have said that chukkas resemble shorter versions of the boots worn by polo players, but it is claimed also that they were intended to be a more comfortable version of polo boots that players could wear after the game — think the original Uggs and surfers.

Chukkas are ankle-length boots with two to three pairs of eyelets on each side for a lace-up closure. These eyelets allow for a snug fit around the ankle which, unlike regular boots, will not disrupt the shape of one’s trouser-bottoms. Chukka boots generally have a rounded toe, minimal stitching, and open lacing (similar to the derby). They are traditionally made of soft suede, but nowadays there are many versions from which to choose.

Chukkas are not to be confused with desert boots. Desert boots are a much more casual version of a Chukka boot and have a nearly identical shape. They are distinguished by soles that are not made of leather.

These are the least formal of the shoes we are discussing. They would not be appropriate for anything except casual attire, although pairs in high-quality leather compliment a smart-casual ensemble. Both chukkas and desert boots are exceptional.

Take the quiz: What shoes should you wear with your outfit? 

The Opera Pump

The Ultimate Guide to Dress Shoes: Opera Pump

Popular during the Victorian era, opera pumps were part of a formal evening wear ensemble. They are traditionally made of patent leather and are adorned with a grosgrain bow. Back in the day men would wear them with knee-high stockings and breeches to operas, dances, and other formal events. Though they are not as popular today, opera shoes will occasionally be seen at full-dress events, worn by fashion-conscious individuals.

Take the quiz: What shoes should you wear with your outfit? 

Dress Shoe Toe Styles

cap toe, wingtip, plain toe, medallion, apron, split toe

When making an investment in quality footwear, consider and take note of the details, because it’s all about details. As with everything relating to style, particularity about (and attention to) details enable you to bring elements of personality to your ensemble. When choosing your next pair of dress shoes, abide by the one golden rule: the toes of your shoes should be rounded, and never squared or pointy. There’s a time and place for this style of toe but we are now discussing investment in a pair of dress shoes.

Plain Toe

Plain toe shoes are as simple as it gets. The vamp is unadorned. The resulting look is clean and unassuming.

Cap Toe

A cap toe has a horizontally stitched line across the vamp of a shoe — it “caps” the toe. In most cases, this will actually be a separate piece stitched as the toe on the vamp, but sometimes the cap is accomplished by stitching. Many cap-toe shoes will be in the Oxford style, but the cap can appear on other styles too.

Split/Apron Toe

The split toe, otherwise known as the apron toe, features a seam that begins in the middle of the shoe, runs around the toe, and ends at the middle of the shoe on the other side. This toe style is more common in casual shoes.


The medallion style has a plain toe and hints of brogue decoration at the toe.


This toe style has a winged cap that peaks in the middle of the toe. This toe style often features broguing in the center of the toe and along the seam of the cap.


Any dress shoe style can have brogueing. Brogue simply refers to the decorative perforations in various patterns on dress shoes. Originally, the perforations were holes which were intended to allow water out of shoes: when yomping across crossing wet terrain (wet shoes being inevitable), the holes let water be squeezed out with each step. Brogueing is most often seen on Oxford, derby, and monk strap shoes, and is available in four different toe cap styles: full brogue, longwing brogue, semi-brogue, and quarter brogue.

full brogue, semi-brogue, half brogue, quarter brogue, longwing, long wing brogue

Full Brogues / Wingtips

Also known as wingtips, the wing-shaped cap extends around to the outside of the toes.

Longwing Brogues

Longwing brogues are most commonly seen on the derby shoe. The shoe’s brogued wingtip cap continues along the side of the shoe all the way to its center seam in the back.


Semi-brogues, also known as a half brogues, feature broguing along the seam of the cap toe as well as some decorative broguing on the center of the cap toe. This is more subtle than a full brogue.

Quarter Brogues

The most reserved of the lot, the quarter brogue simply features decorative broguing along the seam of the cap toe, with no decoration on the center of the cap toe.

Take Your Pick

A signature pair of well-made dress shoes is an essential possession. Choose a well-crafted pair, and choose wisely. Ideally, your selection will express your personal style, and “fit” with the ensembles you are most likely to be wearing. You can add a little more dimension to your dress shoes through creative lacing or the addition of a colorful laces. Not every man will be able to spend a fortune on dress shoes. As you consider your budget, we recommend taking into consideration how often you will be wearing them, and where you will be most likely to be wearing them. If use is likely to be limited mainly to the occasional wedding, funeral, etc., there’s no need to break the bank. If you are most likely to be wearing your dress shoes as part of your business/professional ensemble, spend a bit more than you’d like to. If you will be wearing them regularly, we recommend spending as much as you can comfortably afford to spend, and that you consider a well-made pair of dress shoes a small investment.

Take the quiz: What shoes should you wear with your outfit? 

The graphic below was designed for your convenience, and we welcome you to share it.

The Ultimate Guide to Dress Shoes

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re-invent your style

How to Reinvent Your Style An unbeatable guide for starting over

Written by Salvatore Marashi

Stagnation is the gravest enemy to a great man. Likewise, your style needs to be invigorated periodically. It’s a new year, Gentlemen. Why not do a little reinventing?

We’re not big on simply chasing trends here, but sometimes wearing the same thing day in and out can make us feel, well, tired. It’s funny how changes in appearance affect how you feel about yourself.

Here’s our primer on reinventing your style for the better.

Reinventing Your Style

Out with the Old

reinventing your style out with the old

Unsplash Crew

There’s a lot of junk in your closet. How many tee-shirts did you forget that you even had? Before you can start reinventing your style, you need to get rid of all the stuff that put you in this rut in the first place.

Identify these clothes and be brutal with your purging. Keep only things with sentimental value (which, doesn’t mean you have to wear it), or essential pieces like basics that can be incorporated into your new look. Out with the old so you can make way for the new.

Finding Inspiration

reinventing your style finding inspiration

So you’re seeking change, but you don’t exactly know what you want it look like. Finding inspiration is easier than ever. With Instagram, celebrity style icons, and great fashion sites (like ours), there are plenty of places to look.

Instead of imagining your clothes, first picture how you want your new style to make you feel.

With that in mind, seek out other guys with that air about them. What are they wearing?

Before settling on a decision, consider your lifestyle. You might want to wear Hawaiian shirts every day, but is your boss going to like that? Just because you’d like to look a certain way doesn’t mean your environment will support it. Although there’s plenty we all wish we could change about the world, I’m sure.

Think of it as reshaping your style, so you can try something new without breaking the confines of what’s reasonable.

Start Small

reinventing your style start small

Before throwing all your old clothes in a burning pile and dancing to their destruction (or if you’re boring, donating them), test the waters. Start small by experimenting with subtle changes. A new pair of sunglasses or picking up some men’s jewelry might give you what you’re looking for.

Build Up

reinventing your style build up

Changing your style begs for an understanding of what the new one will be. This is a process. While you’re becoming an expert in your new look, it’s wise to build up. Start with the basic pieces of that style. Think of changes like a neon watch strap or camo sneakers.

These simple additions provide a solid base from which to expand, while still being easy to incorporate into your current wardrobe.

Invest Wisely

reinventing your style invest wiseley


Reinventing your style can be a costly affair. Budget and pace yourself. Poor spending habits may have led to your current wardrobe fatigue.

Instead of buying anything in the realm of your new style, be selective. Thoughtfully choose items that will work together.

Cohesion in your wardrobe will maximize every piece in it, ultimately making the most out of your money. A couple of synergistic pieces are always better than a host of mixed-matched ones.

Budgeting is especially crucial if you’re upgrading to a more expensive look. Save where you can on basics, and invest in the statement items. Meaning, opt for cheaper t-shirts and occasionally splurge on a quality blazer or jacket. Your new style will depend more on these big pieces.

Time to be Bold

reinvent your style time to be bold


Once you have a grasp on your new style, it’s time to be bold. Playing it safe with your sartorial reinvention is defeating the purpose. Get out of your comfort zone and get noticed.

Play it too safe, and you’ll be bored again in no time. Fashion is meant to be a fun method for self-expression, so get creative with it.

Consider a Different Brand

reinventing your style consider a different brand

David Lezcano

Whether we mean to or not, we often gravitate toward the same stores over and over again. It makes sense. If that store had one thing you liked, chances are you’ll find something else there that fits your aesthetic.

That’s great when you’re happy with your wardrobe, but it’s a problem when you want to branch out. Finding another brand can give you a litany of new style options. Diversifying where you shop is crucial to keeping things fresh.

If you’re in need of some examples, check out the comprehensive list of our favorite places to shop, here.

Beyond the Clothes

Reinventing your style doesn’t have to be limited to clothes. Here are some ways you can reinvent yourself beyond textiles.

Choose a New Hair Style

reinventing your style choose a new hair style

Firza Pratama

Most guys pick a hairstyle as a kid or teen and stick to that pretty much their whole lives. If that’s you, you’re missing out. There are tons of men’s hairstyles, from slick-backs to buzzcuts, to a dozen varied types of fades.

When choosing a hairstyle, factor in how it plays with the rest of your reinvented style. For instance, if you’re going for an edgy IDGAF look, you can consider a faux hawk. But if you’re aiming for something more professional, you can’t go wrong with a quiff.

Take the discovery quiz: Find Your Perfect Haircut

That best part about reinventing your style through hair is that it grows back. So if you didn’t like it, you could start over in a few months.

Changing your Grooming Game

reinventing your style grooming

Drew Hays

Another super easy way to reinvent your style is through grooming. If you’ve just been clean shaving, growing out a Van Dyke or sporting a Chevron mustache can completely change things up. On the flip side, if you’ve had a beard so long that you can’t remember what your face looked like without one, maybe it’s time to revisit your baby-faced days and go clean-shaven.

Don’t forget to build a grooming routine that you can stick to.

A New Body Through Exercise

reinventing your style new workout

I. Yunmai

Your body is the outfit you can’t take off. Improving your physique will massively change your look, of course. The shape you’re in correlates directly to how your clothes fit.

While maintaining a healthy routine, you might find that those clothes you were ready to get rid of? They’re now exactly what you wanted in the first place.

Go get Started

Reinventing your style is daunting but there’s no better time to start than the present. With these tips in mind, building a better look is easier than ever.

Some 2019 Trends

We’ve curated from high to everyday-brow. Again, we’re not particularly keen on fleeting trends, but it’s cool to know what’s out there. Here are some possible inspirations for your journey:

According to Pinterest trends, here’s the latest in men’s fashion based on image searches:

  • Vintage wrist watches (Searches for vintage watches +98%)
  • Light-wash denim (Searches for light washed denim +70%)
  • Sling-bags (Searches for sling bags +1184%)
  • Corduroy (Searches for corduroy +507%)
  • Mismatched patterns (Searches for mismatched prints +89%)
  • Fades for hair (Searches for french crop haircuts +84%)
  • Plaid (Searches for plaid pants +267%)
  • Men’s scarves (Searches for neck scarves +29%)
  • Cropped trousers (Searches for cropped trousers +671%)
  • Quarter socks (Searches for quarter socks +266%)

And if you’re of the bourgeois persuasion, here’s what Vogue has to say by observing fashion-forward gentlefolk in metropolitan areas:

  • Cross-body bags
  • Animal print
  • Long and luxurious coats
  • Leather jackets
  • Puffy jackets
  • Casual, oversized suits
  • Wide-legged pants
  • Workwear and utility jackets
  • Berets
  • Men’s scarves

shop online here

How to lace all your dress shoes(the right way)

…don’t let your formal look down with your last detail…

Even that three-piece Tom Ford suit isn’t going to be enough to make you look good when you’re lying face down in a pile of your own teeth, surrounded by startled party guests, with your shoes a few yards behind you.

While it may be an unpleasant one, that mental image should illustrate to you the importance of ensuring your smart footwear is laced up correctly.

We know, tying your shoes isn’t exactly rocket science. After all, the likelihood is you’ve been able to do it since before you could even spell shoelaces. However, not all footwear was created equal and different smart shoes require varying lacing methods.

What Are Smart Shoes?

It may sound obvious, but every weekend thousands of men are left scratching their heads after being turned away from nightclubs for wearing their Nike Air Max. This suggests that there is still some confusion about what the term ‘smart shoes’ actually means. So, let’s revisit the basics for their sake.

Being as broad as possible, if you’d wear it to the office with a suit, chances are you can consider it a smart shoe. We’re talking leather, black or brown, no excessive detailing and certainly no big logos.

Closed Lacing Vs. Open Lacing

When it comes to lacing your smart shoes, you’ll need to understand the subtle difference between what are referred to as closed-lace and open-lace styles.

In closed-lace styles, the part of the shoe that covers the front portion and sides of the foot, known as the ‘vamp’, is stitched over the bottom of the part of the shoe that contains the eyelets, known as the ‘facing’. This results in a cleaner overall look but at the cost of flexibility. In general, closed-lace styles tend to be much more formal due to their uncluttered appearance.

Open-lace styles differ in that the facing is stitched on top of the vamp. This offers more room for adjustment and makes shoes more flexible, but it’s not seen as ‘dress shoe’ styling owing to the busy look this creates on the upper.

What Is An Oxford Shoe?

Weirdly enough, Oxford shoes first appeared in Scotland and Ireland. They feature a closed lacing system and have become the definitive dress shoe and the only real choice when it comes to black-tie dress codes.

However, the Oxford isn’t exclusively a dress shoe. Added detailing such as wingtip panels and perforated patterning known as ‘broguing’ can help to make the style look a little more laid back.

Because of this, the Oxford is the only shoe that can function with everything from a tuxedo to a pair of jeans and a T-shirt.

Oxford Shoe Closed Lacing System

What Is A Derby Shoe?

The Derby shoe is a businessman’s best friend. The trusty stomper that’s comfortable enough to be worn every day, yet smart enough to do a suit justice. It may not be as dressy as an Oxford, but hey, it never claimed to be and what it does do, it does well.

Unlike its Oxford cousin, the Derby features an open lacing system. The facing on a pair of Derbies is always open at both the top and the bottom, which is the reason for their trademark comfort.

For an everyday shoe that can hold its own in the boardroom, a Derby is what you need.

Derby Shoe Open Lacing System

How To Lace Oxford Shoes

Due to their closed lacing system, Oxfords have to be laced up in a certain way. If you’re replacing the laces in your shoes, measure your old ones to ensure you get the best possible fit. Then it’s a case of finding something thin and round that matches the colour of your shoes perfectly. There’s no room for colourful statements here.

Once you have the right laces at your disposal, you’ll want to use one of two methods: either European straight lacing or ladder lacing. Both of these methods will leave you with neat horizontal lines running from eyelet to eyelet, while the lacing hidden underneath will allow you to tighten things up.

“Ladder lacing, or show lacing as it sometimes called, is only really practical on shoes with less than four eyelets,” explains Oliver Sweeney’s cobbler-in-chief Tim Cooper. “This is as it doesn’t pull evenly and over time will pull the shoe out of shape.” European straight lacing is more versatile, so if your pair has more than four eyelets, go for this method.

Steps for European Straight Lacing Smart Shoes

Steps For European Straight Lacing

  • Insert both lace ends downwards into each of the bottom holes.
  • Take the left lace and insert it up and through the next free right eyelet.
  • Take the right lace and place it up and through the third eyelet on the left, skipping out the second. There should now be an empty hole on the left hand side.
  • Insert what is now the right lace downward into this free eyelet, which should be directly opposite it.
  • Follow this process until completion, repeating the steps above for each lace.

How To Lace Derby Shoes

The process for lacing a pair of Derby shoes is much the same as the process for lacing a pair of Oxfords. First, you’ll need to find laces that are the correct length, colour and shape to fit your shoes, then it’s a case of fixing them in place.

Again, these are smart shoes so the method of lacing should be neat. However, the difference here is the open lacing system which means the tongue of the shoe tends to be partly visible. This rules out any type of lacing that uses diagonal lines to tighten the shoe, so the best option is to use straight bar lacing, which snakes in an ‘S’ shape from eyelet to eyelet, leaving straight lines with everything else hidden beneath the facing.

Steps For Straight Bar Lacing Smart Shoes

Steps For Straight Bar Lacing

  • Insert both lace ends downwards through the bottom two holes, leaving equal length on both the left and right laces.
  • Looking down on the shoe, insert the left lace up and through the next right hand hole, with its end pointing to the ceiling.
  • Now put the right lace up and through the third eyelet on the left, skipping out the second. There should now be an empty hole on the left hand side.
  • Take what is now the right lace and cross it over, inserting it downward through the empty eyelet on the left. This should create another straight bar, mirroring the first.
  • Do exactly the same with the left hand lace and cross it over, inserting it downward through the empty eyelet opposite it. You should now have three bars.
  • Keep lacing in this way, crossing each lace over to its opposite side to make new bars until you reach the top.