Why is that? Well, there are many reasons. In short, the manifold styles and models of western boots make it hard to generalize, and the accompanying clothing has changed over the years. Do you want to wear traditional cowboy boots? You could be looking for a typical work boot, or are you wondering how to wear western ankle boots? Let’s get to it and answer some of the questions you may have.
What Makes Western Boots Special?
First off, the history. When you put on western boots, you are continuing a centuries-long tradition. The first western boots were designed to be functional, cheap, and durable boots that cowboys could wear to work. They are as functional when riding as they are when walking.
In a short time, their popularity skyrocketed. Western boots were no longer just meant for the ranch, but became everyday footwear. Then, the designs started becoming much more elaborate, until you get to the modern versions – you’ll be hard-pressed to find a basic western boot with no special patterns or decorations.
The second reason to wear western boots is their functionality. Even with the evolution that western boots have undergone, they still serve their original purpose – comfortable and durable boots that will get you through thick and thin. Regardless of whether you’ll wear them to work or to the pub, you won’t be lacking comfort and protection.
Third, we can’t talk about cowboy boots without mentioning their unique style. If you are of the opinion that your personal style reflects your personality, there’s no footwear quite like western boots. You can wear the most expensive boots in the world, but they won’t make a statement like western boots do.
Cowboy boots are instantly recognizable. And we’re not talking about riding on a horse with your cowboy hat on, just wearing the boots. Some people may like the fashion statement you are making while some may not, but they will notice and remember you. Unless you are at an Old West-themed festival, showing up in cowboy boots will make you the center of attention.
Finally, we have to talk about the heels. It may not seem like a big deal, but once you start walking and hear that distinct click-click-click sound, it’ll be like every other cowboy is cheering you on. Plus, let’s not forget the few inches you get. The sound you make when walking and the added height will boost your confidence to new levels.
The Different Styles
Because you are wondering how to wear western boots, you first need to know about the typical styles and designs. The different styles still have the same distinct look and may not make much of a difference in regards to what you wear with them, but you should still know what you have on.
The most noticeable element of western boots is the stitching. You can find boots that are relatively plain (at least compared to other western boots) to boots that are so elaborate in their decorations that they would make a burlesque dancer blush. If your boots are on the safer side, you can go wild with the rest of your outfit. If your boots are intricately designed, play it safe and at least wear a simple pair of pants in a neutral color.
Then, we get to the toe shapes. Western boots are usually thinner than other boots and have a distinct taper at the end – this gives them their unique look. Besides the traditional, thin toe style, you can also find boots with a more rounded or squared toe. These features add some variety to the look you can go for, but they still have the same overall distinct appearance.
Finally, we should discuss the height. Authentic cowboy boots are usually around 10-14 inches high. So, they rarely go below mid-calf. Modern cowboy boots have changed it up and you can find even ankle-high western boots.
What Goes Well With Western Boots?
Now, we get to the core of the article – what to wear with western boots. First things first – one western item per outfit. Unless you are an actual cowboy on a ranch or going to a western-themed festival, there’s no reason to add anything to your boots. So, no cowboy hat, bolo tie, or spurs. A pair of cowboy boots makes enough of a statement on its own, without any additions.
Your safest bet is to put on typical work jeans and a collared shirt. This way, you’ll still stand out because of your boots, but look fashionable while doing it. You could try to pull off the iconic Bruce Springsteen look – cowboy boots, blue jeans, and a plain white T-shirt. This look is more casual and would fit right in at a country music festival, but is not ideal for more formal social occasions.
A riskier look and a bit more difficult to pull off is the cowboy-formal. That’s cowboy boots with a suit. However, if this is your choice, make sure that the suit is casual and that the pants are wide enough so that the boot shaft doesn’t make a bulge. And don’t tuck your pants into your boots, ever.
In more urban areas, throwing on a simple jacket is a good choice. A denim jacket goes well with cowboy boots and will balance out the look. Adding a nice leather belt will complete the outfit and can turn your style from casual to semi-elegant.
In the beginning, we said one western item per outfit. While this is generally a good rule of thumb, it’s not set in stone. After all, it’s your style and you should do what you want; overemphasize your western style as much as you want. Dress all in denim and put on a cowboy hat, just know that wherever you go it’ll scream cowboy.
A Few Things To Consider When You Wear Cowboy Boots
Cowboy boots are casual footwear. You shouldn’t wear them to a black-tie event unless you really want to stand out. Don’t wear them to business events unless you are in Texas and dealing in oil. They are appropriate for any fun social events – fairs, festivals, bars, concerts, and anything similar you can think of.
Of course, based on the color and decorations of the boots, you may or may not fit in no matter the event. To go to the extreme, pure white cowboy boots with American flag decorations will stand out wherever you go, regardless of the rest of the outfit you wear.
However, when you buy such boots, that may be the point. So, do what you want and show off as much as you like, as long as you feel comfortable. “Proper” fashion is only an idea some people have, after all. Buck their expectations if you feel like it.
Trying On Western Boots for the First Time
In the end, if you’ve been a sneaker or traditional shoe man your entire life, it’ll feel a bit strange the first time you put on western boots. Don’t be discouraged – as soon as start walking and hear the distinctive click of the heels, you’ll be amazed at how much more confident you feel.
We won’t go so far as to say that you’ll be an entirely new man once you put on cowboy boots, but we will say that your attitude will change. You’ll be carrying on a proud tradition of hardy and strong men and it will be evident in your walk. Put on some bleached jeans and a flannel shirt and go show off your new look around town.