Trends may come and go, but it is tough to get the evergreen style of the Wild Wild West out of our system. From the swagger-like walk to the Stetsons and especially the distinctive cowboy boots, fashion has never been able to put a dampener in the proverbial saddle of the true or wannabe buckaroo. So, how did the cowboy boot achieve its near-legendary status?
Though most cowboy practices like lassoing and branding cattle began in Mexico around the 19th century, the cowboy boot as we know it today was created by German shoemakers with the single aim of enabling riders to be comfortable in stirrups. The boots had narrow toes so they could slip in and out of the stirrups easily while mounting or dismounting the horse, and high heels to ensure the cowboy’s foot didn’t slip completely out of the stirrup. However, these boots were known to be extremely uncomfortable for walking or for any work the men had to do on foot.
Boots worn by real cowboys were tough and utilitarian in nature, meant for the extreme outdoor conditions the men had to work in. Initially, the boots had to be custom-made, with cowboys going to local boot makers and having their feet measured. The boots were not exactly comfortable anyway, hence getting the wrong size or shape was not something to consider. Later, when mail-order catalogs came into vogue, some cowboys sent for their boots, instead of waiting to have then made. Things changed when Hollywood brought in the cowboy era, with Westerns and men such as John Wayne sporting the classic cowboy look and style. America was hooked, and so was the rest of the world. The fact that cowboys never wore their boots for style was secondary. The actors and later actresses who wore them symbolized spunk, individuality and strength. For men, it was a sign of blatant masculinity.
Initially, cowboy boots were made of cowhide, but modern boot makers soon branched out into more exotic material, including ostrich. The plain cut and look of the boots gave way to colorful stitching, sequins, feather and other designs and nowadays, these boots are seen more on the ladies of Hollywood, with Britney Spears, Miranda Kerr and Jessica Simpson, to name a few, sporting designer cowboy boots. While the original cowboys wore their boots over jeans, it is more in keeping with trends to slip them on with tiny shorts or even dresses these days.
Cowboy boots carry a vista of history and stories with them, with all the myth of the bygone Western era engulfing them, even years later. In certain areas of New Mexico, a tie and cowboy boots with a jacket are considered perfectly acceptable business attire. In fact, you’ll probably make your deal quicker if you wear a pair of those boots. So, whether you’re a six-shooter at heart, or are just looking to show off your toned legs, a pair of cowboy boots will certainly up your fashion measure and lend you the mystique and swank of the Wild Wild West.