When you try to think of the image of a cowboy in your mind, two very distinct things are likely to stand out. These are the cowboy hat and the cowboy boots. These are signature symbols of the cowboy. Everyone knows this including those who have never seen a cowboy in their lives. This is thanks to the way cowboys are traditionally depicted in the numerous western cowboy movies that a lot of us have seen and enjoyed.
Cowboy boots or western boots as they are also known as, have now become more popular as more and more people wear them more for fashion related reasons rather than for the practical reasons for which the real cowboys wore (and still wear) them. But where exactly did cowboy boots originate from?
According to this article here, cowboy boots can be traced back to the 16th century. It is actually recorded to be one of the cowboy related fashion and accessory items that were imported from the Spaniards.
The boots were originally designed to aid the cowboy in the execution of his duties which involved a lot of riding. The special design of the heels makes it easy for the cowboys to hook their feet in the stirrup while riding. The other parts also offer protection from the harsh working conditions they are usually exposed to.
It’s now a common site to see someone wearing a cowboy boot in an air-conditioned office, with their feet on the table. This increased focus on style has given rise to different styles and designs of this boot. We shall look at these in this article, so you can understand what to go for as you shop for yours.
Important Factors To Consider Before Purchasing
To help you get started with your shopping, we will look at some important factors you should consider when shopping for a pair of cowboy boots. Let’s get right into it.
This is probably the first thing you should decide on. Just in case you do not know that there are different styles of western boots, you need to know that there are, and you also need to know them and their differences.
Cowboy boots actually refer to a specific type of western boots. We will try to describe some of the different types and styles of western boots. To make it easier for you to understand, look at the terms used in the image below:
As we describe different types of western boots, refer to the image above for a visual cue to what we are saying. There are a number of different western boots. We will list some of them and some of their main features.
With a shaft height of between 7 to 10 inches, roper boots probably have the shortest shaft height of all western boots. The heels in this style of boots are usually squared off. They are actually called “Roper” heels and the height is often less than 1.5 inches. Some Ropers can be laced, and they can also have rubber soles. You can get round, pointed, or square toe cowboy boots for men and women’s styles alike.
This is like the real cowboy boot. They will usually have a shaft height of about 11 to 12 inches, a heel height of about 1.5 inches and of course the heels must be angled. They most certainly have no laces (or it won’t be a cowboy boot) and will have a smooth leather sole. The toe shape can be flattened, pointed or slightly rounded.
These have a shaft height of between 12 to 13 inches. Their heel height is about 2 inches and they are also angled. They have no laces; their toe shape is slightly rounded or pointed and they usually have a sole made of smooth leather.
For these, they have a shaft height of between 9 and 12 inches and a heel height of about 1.75 inches or less. Some of them come with laces and can have rubber soles or a different material. For the toe shape, they are usually tapered or rounded.
Western Fashion Boots
These usually do not have any fixed features. The shaft height can be any length as can be the height of the heels. They can have any toe shape and they can also have laces and any type of sole. You will find under this group a number of differences. Anything that fits the designer’s fashion statement at the time will fly.
There are other styles and helpful wearing tips you can read about here: https://www.businessinsider.com/how-to-pull-off-cowboy-boots-2014-11?IR=T.
Western boots are split into two parts – the upper and the sole. The upper is made up of the shaft and the vamp while the sole is the part under the upper. These different parts are made of different materials. The upper is mostly made of animal skin, but there are different types of these too. Here are a few materials you will find:
Alligator skin, crocodile skin, lizard skin, caiman, ostrich, bison, snakeskin, cowhide, goat, elephant, sturgeon, pirarucu and others. Recently, suede has also been added to the list.
Some of these materials can be quite expensive so make sure you check for the price.
For the sole, there are three major options to choose from – leather, rubber and leather with rubber capped heels. Riders usually prefer leather soles while those who do a lot of walking or working, prefer rubber soles. The third is a compromise between the two since it offers the functionality of both leather and rubber in one boot.
It is a generally accepted fact that western boots require a break-in period. This means that they may not feel very comfy the very first time you wear them. That said, it is important that you choose the right size from the beginning.
There are a couple of things to note. One is that sizing may differ from brand to brand. The size that fit you perfectly from one brand may not from another. Always ensure you check out each manufacturer’s size guide.
Watch this video for a clearer explanation on how to pick the right fit.
A quick note, the fact that these boots are popularly called cowboy boots does not mean that they are for cowboys or boys alone. These are now very fashionable and can be worn by females and even guys who have never seen a ranch in their lives.
Carefully pick the style that suits you the best and make that fashion statement with confidence.