Do side laces on boat shoes serve any real purpose?

Someone has a pair of Sperry boat shoes, they “don’t lace tight enough”, and he wants to remove the laces that run around the sides, and just thread the laces up the front instead in the usual way. He says its only decorative lacing and the boat shoes are certainly not being worn anywhere near water.

I’m not sure what that will accomplish. The shoe lace that runs around the topline of the shoe and thru the counter (the stiff/heavy leather piece at the heel) holds the top of the shoe snug to the foot. The shoe lace then crisscrosses up the eyelets and is secured in a Square knot with a half hitch with a bight (or the personal knot of choice).

Skipping or ignoring the loop around the topline doesn’t change the pressure applied across the eyelets.

I’m guessing that your “someone” bought the wrong size shoes. They could try adding an insert (Dr Sholls etc) to take up some space.

I can see how removing the lace from going around the shoe could possibly allow you to pull the top flaps closer together, but I suspect you won’t know how much it helps without trying it.

I should have specified the shoe is canvas, not leather. It’s also a high-top, sort of a short boot. He took the laces out, laced the shoes up, cut off a little of the excess leather lace, and walked away contented. So apparently the side lacing doesn’t do anything.