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The Beginners Guide to Western Boots: 7 Things to Know Before Buying

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2007-04-05 08:11:10     
Article by Scott Corbett

Not that long ago it seemed like Western boots, a.k.a. "cowboy boots," were the stuff of ranch hands and classic movies, but now everyone wants to get their hands on a pair (or two) of these fashionable boots. This is a simple guide for anyone looking to buy their first pair of real Western boots.

1. Terminology: Don't call them cowboy boots; they are Western Boots. This rule may seem like pure semantics, but what could be worse than shelling out hard earned cash on a pair of fine boots only to instantly lose your rodeo credibility by calling them by the wrong name? Longtime western boot aficionado Eddie Evans lamented to us recently how, "It gets me every time. These gosh darn city-slickers come around here talking about their new cowboy boots like they know something."

2. Sizing: We all know that there's nothing worse than buying a pair of shoes that just isn't comfortable. The key to selecting the correct size for your boots is to remember that as you break 'em in they will get a little bigger. So, as a general rule you want to buy your boots a little snug. When you try on a pair of boots you want to make sure that the ball of your foot rests at the widest part of the boot. If it lies ahead of this point, try a size larger.

3. Materials: Nowadays you can get a pair of boots in any material you can think of-from traditional leathers to exotic materials such as lizard or ostrich. What you want to consider when selecting a material is price and what you feel comfortable in. While you could easily shell out $600 for a new pair of stingray boots, you have to ask yourself "are these boots right for me?"

4. Breaking in Your Boots: Any boot enthusiast will tell you that the absolute best way to break in a new pair of boots is to simply walk around in them. We've heard many horror stories of expensive new boots being damaged or even destroyed by quick fix efforts to break in a stubborn boot. Our advice is to take your time with a new pair and wait for the breaking in process to run its course.

5. Styling: Western boots come in a variety of different colors and styles. While they were originally plain black or brown, the most prominent decorative aspect, in fact, the hallmark of western boots is their style of stitching. The simpler styles often feature single-layered jagged leaf-like patterns running up the front and sides of the boot in a thread that is a similar color to the leather of the boots. More complex patterns can include backdrops to designs in a contrasting color, or even cut outs of different shapes, set in with more decorative stitching. Common themes in the design of western boots include lone stars, signature of the Texas cowboy, silhouettes of riders on horses, swallows and other birds, and Native American symbols. For more information on the history of boot fashions consult this informative website: (http://www.madehow.com/Volume-2/Cowboy-Boots.html).

6. Cost: Pricing for western boots ranges quite a bit. Today's shopper can sometimes find these boots at the local thrift store for as low as $20. This is of course, if they don't mind the smell. New western boots tend to run a bit more expensive. Prices range with $50 as a minimum and can (for standard western boots) go as high as $300. The kind of leather also has a lot to do with the price. The more exotic materials, like elephant, will run a higher price.

7. Western Boots in Fashion: Recently, western boots have come back into fashion. These boots can now be found almost anywhere shoes are sold. Increased popularity and demand for these boots has also changed some key features of the boot, especially in women's styles. One common trend is a stiletto heel, or suede boots as opposed to leather. Rhinestones and other glittery accessories have also made their way onto the once-rugged western boot, focusing more on the image than the function.

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