In a recent tweet, a former Democratic ethics adviser had some less than flattering comments for the current president (as is the norm in Washington.) When discussing the investigation, he said,

Kushner, Donnie Jr. and the rest of the Trump crime family better keep their overnight bags handy. Pack shoes with no laces guys.

What does it mean to pack shoes with no laces, and what is the implication here? It must be some colloquial phrase, but exactly what it implies I don't understand.

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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it asks about an interpretation of a witticism based upon localised cultural mores, not about a standard expression. Nov 29, 2017 at 0:34
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    @EdwinAshworth I'm afraid it is common parlance. It just depends on what company you keep.
    – Nigel J
    Nov 29, 2017 at 1:06
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    @EdwinAshworth I think it is not the kind of expression that will figure greatly in recorded literature. It is 'street-speak', which is quite legitimate - in my own view. It is English and it is spoken.
    – Nigel J
    Nov 29, 2017 at 14:26
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    @EdwinAshworth I couldn't agree more.It would seem that my answer answer is being strongly supported.
    – Nigel J
    Nov 29, 2017 at 23:21
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    @EdwinAshworth Now you've lost me completely.
    – Nigel J
    Nov 29, 2017 at 23:29

2 Answers 2


The quote mentions :

the 'Trump crime family'.

[I am quoting, not agreeing or commenting.]

When one is placed in a holding cell, one's laces are removed from one's shoes. This is to prevent suicide. Persons unused to cell conditions can easily fall prey to depression.

So 'pack shoes with no laces' means 'you're going to jail'.

Sergeant Carville said when he joined the force 17 years ago it was the practice to remove a prisoner's laces but over a period of time this was changed to the discretion of duty officers in some stations.

"It was felt removing shoes and laces affected the dignity of the prisoner, but they were taken away if it was thought the person might use them to endanger themselves," he said.

Herald Scotland

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    The remark is, in English English, a witticism. An American would, I think, call it a wisecrack. In either version of English, it is clever. Thank you for making me smile.
    – Tuffy
    Dec 6, 2017 at 23:33

"Pack shoes without laces" when taken in context with "Better keep overnight bags handy" means be ready to leave quickly.

Laceless shoes just need to be slipped on while the lacey kind require time to lace up.

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    I assume "overnight bags" is a reference to bags of personal belongings to take to prison. See e.g. prisonuk.blogspot.com/2014/10/…, devonlive.com/news/uk-world-news/…, books.google.com/… I don't get the impression that people need to hurry to put on their shoes in this context.
    – herisson
    Nov 29, 2017 at 18:40
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    @sumelic: You wrote "I assume "overnight bags" is a reference to bags of personal belongings to take to prison." Yes, in the specific context of the OP's quote, but your assumption doesn't apply more generally, because "overnight bags" is not understood in general usage to be specifically for prison. My comment was to emphasise the general meaning of overnight bags - i.e. preparation for an unplanned period away from home - which Hussain Akbar had then misapplied in the context of laceless shoes (being a very specific reference to entering prison). If I've misread your assumption, I apologise. Dec 6, 2017 at 23:22
  • @Chappo: ah, thanks for the clarification. I didn't mean to imply that "overnight bags" always refers to bags to take to prison; just that it did in the case of this particular tweet. I agree with you about its general meaning in most contexts
    – herisson
    Dec 6, 2017 at 23:34
  • @Chappo Must be a cultural nuance. Where I am, shoes with laces implies a person who takes care in dressing and/or formal shoes while laceless shoes are semi-formal / casual, neither implies incarceration. For such a case, we would say "slippers" as those are prison footwear. Dec 8, 2017 at 8:06
  • Hussein, see Nigel J’s answer. Shoes with laces are probably universally regarded as more formal, sophisticated and stylish. The point is, don’t wear nice shoes (with laces) if you expect to go to jail., Dec 8, 2017 at 12:44

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