Western Boot styles for the next generation of urban cowboys and girls.
While traditionally reserved for a strictly western audience, cowboy boots have made their way into mainstream fashion in past years. Less of a costume and more of a wardrobe staple, boots are becoming popular among widely varying groups – and each group is utilizing them in different ways.
Michael Dvorak, of Roper USA, explains it this way, “I think, in general, boots are becoming more integrated in to daily wear in the sense that it seems no longer to be, ‘I am putting on my cowboy boots,’ and more ‘I am wearing these today.’”
Shane Johnston, director of Western product for Ariat International, says the mainstream and western looks are merging to create a very unique look.
“Western style represents the iconic American spirit that is on-trend right now,” he said. “Hints of authentic Western combine with mainstream fashion to give a person their own unique sense of style while paying homage to tradition.”
BOOT STYLES FOR WOMEN
Boots for women are exploding on the fashion scene in all shapes and sizes. Dvorak says that women tend to lean toward a pointier toe in their boots and a range of heel heights, the most popular being their “short stack” 1-1/4” heel with a wider base and their 3” stacked fashion heel.
Megan Force, media specialist for Justin Brands, Inc., says that the pointy toe is red hot this winter.
“Many women are currently enjoying the ‘pointy’ or ‘snip’ toe look, which elongates the leg, creating a longer, leaner appearance,” she said. “Elaborate stitching and distressed leathers are also current favorites.”
Perhaps the best news for women is that your boots don’t have to wreak havoc on your feet!
“Boots today are some of the most comfortable footwear, and because of improved lasts, techniques and materials, you don’t have to break them in,” Dvorak said. “They are comfortable from the first step.”
HOW TO WEAR IT
In warmer months, the hottest style is western boots and sundresses. Force says this trend will continue into the winter months, but will add layers as the temperature drops. Leggings are a great way to look great and stay warm this winter! Force also says pairing skinny jeans with boots with bright colors and intricate stitching is a great way to feature your footwear.
Dvorak gives a few tips on how to wear different styles and heel heights for everyday wear. He says their “shorties,” just 7” tall, are very popular and are often paired with colorful tights and a short skirt. Also popular is the side-zip distressed look, a 15” boot. This look is most often worn with skinny jeans tucked in or a longer skirt.
That said, Dvorak assures, “It seems that right now the rule is that there is no rule. Sweaters and a ‘Cowboy-Bohemian’ – or maybe we should coin the phrase ‘Cowboyhemian’ – look is also very strong at the moment.”
The most important thing to remember when styling your look in the morning is that your clothes, shoes and accessories are a way to express your individual style.
“Like a Lois Vuitton bag or a Prada purse, boots make a statement,” Dvorak said. “You send a message about who you are and your individual style.”
BOOT STYLES FOR MEN
Dvorak says that the major style for men right now is the wide, square toe. While this is a style that has been happily embraced by western consumers, interestingly, he says, it is just as popular with “mainstream” fashion consumers as well.
“The silhouette and shape of the toe is almost exactly the same as many upscale dress shoes and I think, for that reason, has been well accepted,” he said.
Johnston says some of the hottest trends are wide, square toe boots in an exotic Caiman or printed leather.
“The shafts are very wild and ornate,” he said. “Guys are looking to be an individual and make a statement.”
Another trend? Vintage. Dvorak says that the distressed look is becoming more and more popular.
“We are seeing a lot of interest in “distressed” boots – boots that look like they are old right off the shelf,” he said. “We have developed several processes – sanding, burnishing, bending and washing to give new boots the look and feel of a pair you have worn for years.”
HOW TO WEAR IT
Dvorak says that the current trends in boots go hand-in-hand with the hottest fashions on the market.
“Boots are a natural pairing with the current fashion looks for men – a cool, un-tucked embellished shirt paired with fashion jeans is a great look right now for men,” he said. “As guys are wearing their shirts un-tucked, I think the belt doesn’t have the same importance as it used to when people tucked in their shirts, so the trend I see is toward more casual, basic belts.”
Force says that western boots are a great casual footwear alternative to the usual looks for winter, but that you may need to make a few adjustments to your fashion staples to make it work.
“If you wear them with jeans, I’d suggest checking the length of your inseam,” she said. “Due to the heel, some jeans can look a bit short with Western boots, so you might buy your jeans an inch or two longer than usual.”
Force assures that it isn’t necessary to have a “western” belt to go along with your boots, but encourages shoppers to make sure that the leather colors match – so no brown boots with black belts, gentlemen!
Wearing a suit with a pair of cowboy boots is not necessarily the obvious trend, but the boot experts give this look the green light.
“A nice, polished cowboy boot is perfectly acceptable business attire – and not just in Texas,” Dvorak said. “A well-made cowboy boot is a dress shoe. [Roper’s] CFO is about the most non-western guy you would ever encounter, and he wears his wide square ostrich and wide square hand-tooled wingtip boots almost every day. They are dressy, and by the nature of their construction with nails and pegs supporting the arch and mid-sole, they are more comfortable than regular shoes.”
GETTING THE RIGHT FIT
Now that you know how to wear them, finding the right boot for your foot is step one. Here are a few things to remember when you’re searching for your next pair boots.
- They should be snug. There is a very happy medium between too loose and too tight when it comes to your boots. Your foot should not be sliding around inside the boot, but there should be some wiggle room.
- Pay special attention to the instep. Because boots don’t have laces like a normal shoe, the only thing securing the boot to your foot is its instep. That said, it is incredibly important to make sure that you have a good fit. Again, it shouldn’t be too loose or too tight, but it should be snug enough to hold your boot in place.
- The ball of your foot should be secured. Because your foot bends at its widest point, the ball, you will need to find a boot that supports this area. Some boots will have a steel shank between the insole and the outsole, extending from the heel to the point where the ball of the boot begins. Make sure your boot is not too short for your foot, or the ball of your foot will slide forward as you walk.
- It’s OK for your foot to slip slightly in the heel. Because of the boot’s construction, there is nothing to prevent your heel from sliding up into the boot slightly. This is OK. As you break in your boots, it’s likely that some of this slipping will go away because it will be more contoured to your foot. The solution to too much slipping is to find a narrower boot.
Ultimately, you should go with the boot that feels best. There are a plethora of cuts, colors and styles to choose from and they are more accessible now than ever. Gone are the days of monochromatic shades of brown and black. Make a statement with your boots and show off your funky personality with red, teal or pink.
If you have never owned a pair of boots, now is the time. You don’t have to fit a mold to be able to rock these shoes. You just have to have the attitude. Have fun using western boots in your wardrobe and creating your unique style!
–By Addison Magazine