I’ve got a special treat for you all this week- Cavender’s Western Wear brings us a write-up on the history of the cowboy boot, boot fit and more! Please enjoy this post, and the photos I’ve chosen. If you love boots as much as me, I know you’ll love reading this! And be sure to visit their site. There’s so many boots you won’t know what to do!
The original cowboy boot evolved in the mid-1800s to meet a strictly practical need. Many of the earliest cowboys moved west, following the American Civil War, and were still wearing their military-issue boots. These boots, however, did not meet the needs of the cowboy’s new lifestyle, because:
- A durable, waterproof and flexible boot was needed.
- A taller shaft was needed, to protect his legs from cactus and thorny bushes, barbed wire and rattle snakes.
- A pointier toe was needed, to make it easier to slip his foot in and out of the stirrup on his saddle.
- A smooth sole was needed, to prevent his foot from becoming snagged in the stirrups if he should fall off his horse.
- A taller and wider heel was needed, to prevent his foot from sliding completely through the stirrup and becoming stuck.
- A boot with no laces was needed, to eliminate another possibility of the cowboy’s foot getting tangled or stuck in his stirrup
Some forward-thinking cowboy took these needs to a local cobbler and the cowboy boot was born. It quickly became a staple to the cowboy life and western wear. The cowboy boot is still worn by modern cowboys and cowgirls, yet today is not just practical, but has become a fashion statement and favored footwear of many, around the world.
Different Styles in Cowboy Boots
When you look at a boot, there are several aspects that can change and that you might like more or less than others. Investigate and get comfortable from the outset.
Cowboy boots come with a variety of toe styles and shapes, listed below from least to most pointed.
Square toe — Flat, wide and angular.
For example- these awesome Macie Bean Boots by Anderson Bean:
Round, W toe, U toe or Roper Toe — Fully rounded into a U shape
Tapered or R Toe — Tapered with a rounded tip, the most common toe shape
Snip or D Toe — Tapered toward a point, but with a flattened tip
Pointed or J Toe — Sharply tapered with a pointed tip
Typically, the top of the boot will reach to mid-calf.
Overall boot height of between 12 and 13 inches is most common.
Most common is an angled heel of an inch-and-a-half or more.
Stacked leather heels are considered the practical standard for working boots. For fashion or for everyday use, the angle and height of the heel should be an individual choice.
Leather is the traditional material used for the sole of cowboy boots, and smooth leather is considered best for riding.
Rubber may be preferred if worn in muddy and/or wet conditions, but you do lose the tradition.
Referred to as the “upper” on a cowboy boot is the shaft (the part that goes around your leg) and the vamp (the part that extends along the sides and over the top of your foot). The upper is usually made from some type of natural leather. Traditional western wear cowboy boots are made only from smooth cowhide.
For a more unique western wear look, cowboy boots are also made from exotic leathers, including Alligator, Caiman, Ostrich, Snakeskin, Bison and, yes, Stingray.
Cowboy boots should pull on without a lot of effort. Listen for a “thump” when your heel hits the bottom of the boot.
For best results, try boots on in the afternoon when your feet will be their largest. Wear the same type and thickness of socks you plan to normally wear with your boots.
The boot should fit snugly but your toes should not be pinched or crowded. They also should fit snugly, and comfortably, at the instep. Cowboy boots will not stretch with wearing to any great extent.
Your heel should lift slightly when you are walking in your boots. This “heel slip” means your heel should come up no more than a quarter of an inch from the bottom of the boot.
In the tradition of the early cattle wranglers, cowboy boots come in a wide variety of shapes, styles, colors and are not reined in by strict rules or constraints. Cowboy boots can be simple or they can make a bold fashion statement.
Made for Fashion Western wear, fashion cowboy boots may have a taller shaft, often knee-high. They usually have extremely pointed toes and are highly decorated in bright colors and elaborate designs. These boots may have higher — substantially higher — heels, and boots made for women are tailored to fit their legs and feet.
Cowboys and cowgirls are no longer the only people wearing these boots. They have become favorite footwear for people from all walks of life around the world. These people will tell you there is nothing better than wearing a good pair of cowboy boots.
Thanks again to Cavenders for sharing all these details with us!
What is your favorite cowboy boot style? I’d love to know!