Different ways to tie your shoelaces and minor acts of rebellion

I had my primary and secondary education in Malaysia. The goal of the Malaysian education system seemed to be to make every student the same – both in the way they look and the way they think. I attended 7 different schools in 3 different cities across East and West Malaysia, so I feel well qualified to write about Malaysian schools. I attended one school that even printed a rule book that stated clearly all the school rules.

All Malaysian government schools have a school uniform which is the same across the country. Even one of the kindergartens I attended had a uniform. School rules were restrictive and didn’t seem to serve any purpose apart from making us all look the same. There were school rules that dictated hair colour, hair length, skirt length, even fingernail length (and yes, they check!). No hair clips, makeup, jewellery or nail polish (not even clear polish) was allowed. There were rules that stated what colour rubber bands you can use to tie up your hair, even rules on the colour of the lenses in your glasses. On top of that, every student has to wear a name tag because there are too many students for the teachers to remember our names. What has all this got to do with shoes, shoelaces or socks? Bear with me, I will get to the point.

Of course there were rules on the colour of school shoes and socks. Both shoes and socks had to be all-white; not even a stripe of colour or a coloured logo was allowed. I don’t know who decided Malaysian students should wear white canvas shoes and socks. They are so hard to keep clean. While the school rules can dictate the colour of my shoelaces (white of course!), none of the schools I attended had rules specifying how I should tie my shoelaces. So, the way I tied my shoelaces was the only way I had to show my individuality at school.

I will now share these different ways to tie shoelaces. You do not need to stick with the usual way of tying laces with criss cross Xs. Back in June, I wrote about LA Gear sneakers, which were the first to introduce me to tying shoes with two pairs of shoelaces. Since it was LA Gear sneakers that first inspired me, I have used my LA Gear shoes here, but all these ways of tying shoelaces can be used with any sneaker or shoe that requires laces. These styles have all been road tested (or should I say walk tested) by me.

These are my LA Gear sneakers with shoelaces as they came in the box.

The picture above is how the shoelaces looked when I took them out of the box. But Xs are so boring! You could try shoelaces tied parallel.

Try parallel shoelaces

Or in a zig zag pattern. The zig zag pattern works best with a pair of short shoelaces.

Or maybe zig zags

If you have two pairs of shoelaces, here’s what you can do:

To achieve a chess/checker board design, start with one pair of shoelaces tied parallel. Then, weave a second pair of shoelace through the first pair to get the desired pattern.

This weaved pattern was my favourite way of tying shoelaces as a teen. Even though I could only use white shoelaces at school, I love the chess board design.

This style works best with 2 pairs of short shoelaces

This shoelace design is one I associate the most with the 1980s LA Gear style of tying shoes with 2 pairs of laces

A zig zag pattern with 2 pairs of shoelaces


Converse sneakers

I feel like writing about something sporty (it must be the effects of the London Olympics and Paralympics). So I thought I would write about the hugely popular Converse All Star sneaker. It seems as if anyone under the age of 30 either owns a pair or is wearing a pair. This style is known by many names – Cons, Chucks, Chuck Taylors, Converse All-Stars.

This Converse All-Star design is fun and cheerful. This pair is made in Vietnam (Photo by Sarah Naylor).

Converse is an American shoe company founded in Massachusetts by Marquis Mills Converse in 1908. Its most famous shoe is the Converse All-Star basketball shoe that first came out in 1917. It is a canvas shoe with rubber soles meant to be an elite shoe for professional basketballers.

In 1921, a basketball player named Charles ‘Chuck’ Taylor started working for the Converse company. Chuck Taylor helped improve the design of the shoe and introduced a patch to protect the ankle. In 1923, Converse added Chuck Taylor’s name to the patch and the shoe became known as the Chuck Taylor All-Stars. This is still the signature design for Converse now – a canvas shoe with a round patch at the ankle, a blue star and Chuck Taylor’s name on the patch, with white rubber soles that say ‘All-Star’ at the back, and a diamond pattern on the soles.

A shop window display celebrating 100 years of Converse shoes. This design is the classic Chuck Taylor Converse shoe (Photo by Chang Shih Yen).

Converse was the dominant American sneaker brand from the 1920s, but struggled from the 1970s. Converse filed for bankruptcy a few times and was eventually sold to Nike in 2003. These days, Converse is a subsidiary of Nike.

The Chuck Taylor Converse All-Star is the most successful selling basketball shoe in history. Some current NBA players still wear Converse. The Converse All-Star sneaker is still wildly popular though not necessarily as a basketball shoe, but as a casual sneaker.

Biomechanics and the science of walking

Since participating in the shoe prints and forensic science research study, which I wrote about in late July, I have taken part in another research study. My friend told me about this study, researching the natural variance of the human footprint.

This study took place in a biomechanics lab (biomechanics is just a fancy name for the study of human movement). There, I was asked to walk across a designated area barefoot and with shoes. Special equipment on the floor measured my footprints while I walked and sent information to a computer. This kind of technology – assessing footprint patterns when walking – is often used to determine what footwear best suits a person.

I found the researcher quite amusing because he was way more excited about my results than I was. I guess it’s nice to see someone so passionate about their research. To me, my results were just a bunch of colourful graphs and diagrams, but the researcher kept saying my footprints were ‘Beautiful!’ and ‘Fantastic!’ Errr… thanks, I think. This is the first time anyone has ever complimented me on my feet or soles of my feet. The researcher was very excited because in the results, all my individual toes and weight transfer across each toe can be clearly seen. The researcher said this was not common and some people’s toes were all squashed together.

My results for walking with bare feet in the biomechanics lab. Areas that are coloured red and yellow are areas where I have exerted more force/placed more weight.

My results from doing this study: my weight transfer from heel to toe is consistent all over, which is a good thing. When I walk, my left foot points straight in the direction that I am walking, but my right foot is slightly turned out, at an angle of about 13 degrees. The researcher also said my feet are wide. I kind of already knew that, but it has just been scientifically proven. Lastly, he said that there are 26 bones in the foot and you need to take care of them. One way to do that is to replace your shoes before the soles get too worn.

I could choose what shoe to wear for the research study. This is my result for walking with skate shoes in the biomechanics lab.