Laces! They really tie the whole thing together, don’t they?

With all the different kinds of laces out there, it can be tricky to pick the right lace for the right pair of boots or shoes. Luckily, we got the help of Jesse, head honcho of Guarded Goods (and esteemed Stitchdown Patina Thunderdome judge) to set us straight.

Guarded Goods is well-known as a quality purveyor of exquisitely-constructed leather belts, wallets, and watch straps. But Jesse has also sold his fair share of laces—36,528 pairs, in fact (and counting). He’s seen his laces adorn all kinds of footwear, so we figured there would be no better person to ask in helping us identify the various pros and cons of different types of laces, and make some recommendations (none of his own!).

guarded goods white flat waxed laces

A Quick Note on Styling

When it comes to pairing footwear with your laces, Jesse explained that color coordination goes a long way towards making your laces look like a natural fit. 

“I always like to try to match the welt, and then the leather,” Jesse said. “Especially if it’s a lighter welt with a darker leather, that ends up looking really nice.” Typically, if your laces are the same color as the uppers, it “always somehow ends up making it look more dressy,” Jesse added, so keep that in mind if that’s the look you’re going for.

If you’re looking to make your footwear really pop with its laces, Jesse recommends vibrant colors like olive, rust, or sapphire. Whiskey, he added, “is a ‘safe’ pop.”

But, if you really just want a brightly-colored set of laces, try matching primary colors with adjacent secondary colors, or vice-versa. “Rust on a burgundy Chromexcel,” Jesse named as an example, “looks pretty cool.” Otherwise, “You can just ignore everything and just go for bright laces if that’s your thing.”

guarded goods paracord laces

Paracord Laces

Pros: Extremely strong and durable. Capable of standing up to the most punishing of speed hooks and can handle years of use and abuse. Great for any outdoor or work boot that will take a beating.

Cons: These laces have a tendency to come untied, and often require being double-wrapped around a boot in order to stay put.

Jesse Recommends: Mad Dog Laces, Pisgah Range LTD

guarded goods rawhide laces

Rawhide Laces

Pros: Provides a more casual vibe to most footwear. A great way of pairing different kinds and colors of leather together. Full of patina potential.

Cons: Longer laces will have some variance in thickness due to the difficulty of cutting the leather consistently. Some speed hooks have a tendency to eat rawhide laces quickly, or will be difficult to fit into. Some rawhide laces do not age as well as others.

Jesse Recommends: Cobbler’s Choice Co.

guarded goods flat laces

Flat Laces

Pros: With the right lacing pattern, these laces have a super clean look. They work with a variety of formal and informal styles.

Cons: Some types of eyelets just don’t work for flat laces, or the laces themselves will get scrunched up and look awkward.

Jesse Recommends: Viberg

guarded goods round cord laces

Round Cord Laces

Pros: Goes quite well with dressy styles or for classing up a pair.

Cons: Typically some of the thinnest kinds of laces, and the least durable.

Jesse Recommends: Viberg

guarded goods braided cord lace

Braided Cord Laces

Pros: Just as round cord laces are good for adding refinement to a pair, braided cord laces will give them a bit of ruggedness.

Cons: None really, other than the fact that their ruggedness arguably makes them less suitable for dressy pairs.

Jesse Recommends: Red Wing Shoes


Big thanks again to Jesse for his help in putting this story together. Check out Guarded Goods for all sorts of laces and other amazing accessories.

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