Once upon a time cowboy boots were worn only by John Wayne and his band of, well, cowboys, but they experienced something of a comeback in 2003 and are now seen on every fashionable hoof in town. The western retro look sees tight jeans tucked into a pair of cowboy boots, which come in a dazzling variety of colours from pastel pink to the more traditional tan or black leather. Unless you are a professional cowboy it is probably sensible to steer clear of wearing the hat, tasselled jacket, faded jeans, boots and chaps all at the same time as you might end up looking more like a guest at a fancy dress party than a fashion icon. Still, cowboy wear is popular with the general public these days and the boots have been all the rage for hundreds of years.
The history of cowboy boots
Mongol tribesmen wore riding boots with red wooden heels while they were out on skirmishes and the fashion caught on so that even Louis XIV was seen sporting red heels. English cavaliers wore similar boots and, having been defeated by Cromwell, they scarpered across the globe, taking the boot design with them. What we now think of as the cowboy boot probably originated in America (Kansas is often mentioned) in the 1870s when real cowboys modified the standard issue military boots they had previously been wearing for years. They made the toes more pointed so that they slid more easily into the stirrup, added a bigger heel to give support when their horse was rearing, and a scalloped edge to the top of the boot to stop it rubbing. Somewhere around 1880 the boots starting getting more fancy with brighter colours, more complicated patterns and even pictures of stars, moons and dancing girls on them. Toes can be box toes, which are quite square, or pointed toes.
Today the range of cowboy boots on offer is extensive with everything from the traditional black boot, spurs and all, for the serious rider to the fashion boots available in the high street. They look great tucked into jeans, as all the best Texas cowboys will testify, but they can also be worn with skirts for a western twist to your outfit.
The best sort are perhaps second hand cowboy boots as the leather has already been softened up by someone else. This makes them look more authentic and has the added advantage of being more supple so that your heels are less likely to be rubbed to shreds on the first outing. However, a well made pair of boots should fit perfectly and be comfortable from day one.