I bought my first pair of cowboy boots in 1988 when I was in 12th grade. At the time, snakeskin cowboy boots were all the rage in Houston. Unfortunately, I couldn’t afford the exotic boots. So, I saved up my money and bought a pair of $40 imitation snakeskin boots. Although they weren’t the real thing, they looked nice and worked well with my jeans and t-shirts.
Now that I’m older, I own three pairs of cowboy boots each costing significantly more than $40 (one of my favorite pairs cost $700). I still wear them with jeans and t-shirts, but they also work well with suits and khakis and button-down shirts.
You don’t have to live in Texas to wear cowboy boots. This fashionable footwear is good for city dwellers and country boys alike. If you’d like to Cowboy Up and buy a pair for yourself, take the following things into consideration. These tips will show you how to buy cowboy boots that fit well and suit your personal style.
Anatomy of a Cowboy Boot
There are two main styles of cowboy boots – Roper and Western (or Traditional). The roper style has a short boot shaft that stops above the ankle but before the middle of the calf, with a very low and squared-off heel, shaped to the sole of the boot, usually less than one inch high. Roper boots are usually made with rounded toes. The Western-style is distinguished by a tall boot shaft, going to at least mid-calf, with an angled heel, usually over one inch high. A slightly lower, still angled, “walking” heel is also common. Although western boots can be customized with a wide variety of toe shapes, the classic design is a narrowed, usually pointed, toe.
However, both styles of boots can have a variety of toe and heel designs.
Cowboy boots are made out of many types of animal hides. Obviously, leather is the most popular, but other popular skins include snake (python, cobra, etc), alligator, lizard, crocodile, ostrich, elephant, hippopotamus, and others. Before choosing a skin, you should keep a few things in mind regarding care. Ostrich is a soft skin that will stretch; however, boots made out of gator tail won’t stretch. Elephant and hippo are tough skins that will last a lifetime with proper care.
To ensure a proper fit, ask a salesperson to measure your foot. Boots are typically available in 6 widths: B (extra narrow), C (narrow), D (regular), E (wide), EE (extra wide), and EEE (triple wide). After you have determined your size, try on the boots and walk around in them. The boots should fit snugly without feeling too tight. Bottom line: Don’t buy uncomfortable boots. Although the boots will be more comfortable after breaking them in, you want to make sure that they do not hurt your feet when you buy them.
Cowboy boots can range from just under one-hundred dollars to upwards of a thousand dollars. Some popular boot brands include Lucchese, Black Jack, and Larry Mahon on the high end; Tony Lama, Nocona, and Justin in the mid-range; and Ariat and Laredo on the low end. You can also have your boots custom-made to your exact specifications. Of course, this option can be more expensive. Set a budget to make sure you can find the type of boots you want within your price range.
If you’re ready to channel your inner Willie Nelson, pony up to your local western-wear store and pick your favorite pair of cowboy boots. You’ll appreciate their durability and ruggedness. Most of all, you’ll walk taller and boost your cowboy cred.