Let’s face it— when you’re shopping for cowboy boots, you fall into one of two categories: you know exactly what you want or you have no idea. For those in the second crowd, we have put together 5 guidelines to help you find your perfect pair!
1. First Things First: Function or Fashion?
Deciding the purpose of your boots is a good place to start. What role will they play in your wardrobe? Your traditional cowboy boot, built for function, is made to be comfortable and durable. The fashion cowboy boot is made to make a statement or add accent to your outfit. While those are the two main categories, there are also styles that toe the line between function and fashion.
2. Choose a Leather
Once you know the role your boots will play, you’ll know what leather will be practical.
- Goat: A classic, all-purpose traditional leather for cowboy boots, goat leather doesn’t have a distinctive texture or pattern. It’s smooth texture is what makes it a go-to for a traditional cowboy boot look. Goat leather is tough and will break in quickly, becoming soft within the first few wears.
- Snakeskin: Nothing is more striking as a snakeskin boot! This cowboy boot leather is definitely meant to make a statement. Keep in mind that this leather requires the most maintenance and care. While other hides contain natural oils to help keep the leather supple, snakeskin does not. This means conditioner should be applied more frequently than with other leathers.
- Ostrich: Ostrich leather is the most durable, breathable leather out there and gets significantly softer with time. It is also visually distinctive. Full quill ostrich leather is textured, with bumps where the feathers were plucked. Ostrich leg is also a distinct leather with a pattern that is reminisce of scales. Ostrich leg is often mistaken for snakeskin. Ostrich leather is also distinct from other cowboy boot leather because it is soft right off the bat, while other leathers can take a few wears to become soft.
- Lizard: Much like ostrich and snakeskin, lizard leather has a very distinct look. Often finished with a high gloss, lizard cowboy boots are often worn for formal occasions and with business attire. The natural structure of the leather, stiff rows, means lizard cowboy boots won’t soften a whole lot, but will keep their shape nicely over time. Like snakeskin, lizard leather requires regular maintenance and conditioning to prevent cracking or splitting.
- Caiman: The most common of the exotic leathers, caiman leather is often chosen for its stunning and distinctive patterns. Tough and durable, this leather keeps its shape, but also softens up quite a bit after a few wears.
Leathers Pictured: Caiman Alligator | Full Quill Ostrich | Ostrich Leg | Lizard | Python | Goat
3. Style Details
Next up, you need to consider style details that make up your perfect boot. Consider the length of the shaft (knee-high, traditional, ankle), the height of the heel, the toe style (pointed, round, or square) and the material of the sole (leather or rubber).
Toe Styles Pictured: Roper | 7 (Square) | 6 (Round) | 5 (Snip)
4. Small Embellishments
Once you have an idea for the basic silhouette, it’s time to consider the small details that will set your cowboy boots apart from the rest. Details that show your personal style! From fringe and rhinestones, to stitching and inlay, there are thousands of options and combinations.
5. Getting the Right Fit
Once you have a good idea of what type of boot you want, it’s time to start finding your size. At Allens, we encourage you to try on multiple pairs. Fit can vary by leather, style and maker so it’s important to slip on a few pairs and decide which is most comfortable. A perfect fit means your toes are comfy with wiggle room, and the leather should be snug across the widest part of your foot. (The leather will stretch where pressure is applied.) You should also feel your heel lift in the back of the boot.