What is a good kind of cowboy boots to get?
July 26, 2014 2:33 PM   Subscribe

I'd like a pair of cowboy boots. I have no idea why. None of my friends wear cowboy boots. I guess I just like them. I've never owned a pair. I'm looking for a little guidance. In particular, what's a good brand that makes a quality boot that's comfortable and will last? Or even what's a specific boot that's good?

Possibly relevant: I'm a guy.

Color: I'd like them to be black.

Stitching/decoration/embellishment: no strong preference, except that in general I prefer an understated look.

Source: I figure I'll order them on Zappos, unless anyone has a better suggestion. I live near San Francisco, so I guess if you know a great store around here that has the best boots ever then by all means let me know. Also, I'm going to LA next week, so an LA store would be OK too..

Will I actually ride a horse? Probably not, but you never know. If a horse gets loose and comes running down the street well then I guess in that case I'll be wearing the right boots.

Price range:

I'm hoping to find a good pair for under $300. Maybe $350. Are there any good boots in that range? If not, ok, ok; I'll spend more. I know how it is with boots.
posted by trevor_case to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (13 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Understated is definitely better, particularly if you're a guy. I am a gal who is basically in the same boat (horses? Ha!) and I looooove my two pairs of cowboy boots. But I definitely don't let the boots wear me.

There are a lot of good brands out there, some more on the fashion side even as they remain very functional. I would still go to a shop in person if you can, since cowboy boots will fit differently than most other shoes or boots you own. They should be tighter, but you'll have room to break them in. But aside from a little breaking in (not too much), they should be comfortable, so don't go limping around thinking, "It's going to get better... someday!" There's a reason why cowboys wear them all the time: they fit good NOW.

There are a few kinds of styles that differ from the standard cowboy boot, too. You might go for a paddock or Wellington style with a very low heel and wider, rounded toe. The point of the toe has a lot of leeway. Either way, you'll probably be best with an aged or age-able finish with some depth that will allow you to work with the boot as it mellows and grows more comfortable. Classic is always best, especially for your first pair. Try to stay away from a really flat finish, even just a single color.

A few brands:
Frye makes basically every style of boot you can think of, and they will take a while to break in the leather. They are great.

Justin is a classic brand for function and style. Definitely worn by real cowboys and those who aren't as well.

My first pair, and my very favorites, are Charlie 1 Horse by Lucchese. Lucchese is on the more fashionable end, and I am a total schlub who wears jeans and t-shirts to work as business casual (sorryyyyy), but my boots make me feel like a total badass, and I am pretty sure I pull it off :) The toe is extra-pointy but not needly, and they're still terrifically comfortable. They make me elevate the rest of my outfit and attitude so I can live up to the person the boots make me.

Again: the most important thing is always that you are wearing the boots and the boots are not wearing you.
posted by Madamina at 2:55 PM on July 26, 2014 [2 favorites]

Even their lower-end boots are bit out of your price range, but take a look at Heritage Boot. They do beautiful work and it's not all super fancy and over-the-top. In your spot, I'd fall in love with the Noir. Not sure how they do orders from afar, but I can attest their quality is beautiful.

You'll probably find something is the Ariat line. They are nice boots. Not as high end as Lucchese, but good quality.
posted by 26.2 at 2:57 PM on July 26, 2014

I wear them on a pretty daily basis, and have for about 5 years both because it's not unusual at all with a suit in TX, also because I find them really good for my ankles/back. I also have pairs that I've owned for 15-20 years, y'just have to get them resoled every once in a while.

Ebay is your friend.

If you're working, Justin makes some pretty good, functional boots.

I'll also put in a pitch for Lucchese Classics (their 1883 and 2000's lines aren't as well constructed in my opinion, especially the 1883s). Good quality, subtle, great dress shoes. (some of their other lines can veer into the extreme-kooky, to my opinion)

Normally a pair of Lucchese Classics'll set you back about $500-800, but you can find them on ebay for $200-350, if you don't mind waiting (and it depends on your boot size... the 9-10-11 range is easier than the 13D...) for the right deal.

As an example: these pass the understated and well-constructed test.
posted by Seeba at 2:59 PM on July 26, 2014

On preview: what madamina said - - if you have a place to try them on, try them on. ... the wrong boot (just like the wrong shoe) can really hose your feet/ankles/back/shoulders/posture.
posted by Seeba at 3:00 PM on July 26, 2014

Seconding Ariat. I bought these fifteen years ago, rode in them for years, and now I just wear them with jeans. I love them. They're comfortable and they aged nicely. It looks like they have plenty of simple Western boots, too. The cowboys who taught me to ride all wore Ariats.
posted by this roof at 3:05 PM on July 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

I wear Roper Horseshoes. Around a 100.00.
posted by bjgeiger at 3:31 PM on July 26, 2014

I don't know about best boots ever, but if you want to try some on in person, I can recommend OK Corral Western and Work Wear in the Mission in San Francisco. They carry Ariat and Justin as well as several other brands, and they were very friendly to me when I went in to buy a cowboy hat (for the Grand National Rodeo, which is held in the Cow Palace yearly and is a pretty fun time, if you are looking for a special event to wear your boots to).
posted by sigmagalator at 6:11 PM on July 26, 2014

Chiming in to say I love my Fryes. I took them on a weeklong horseback riding trip, and the owners/wranglers complimented them, too.
posted by Ms Vegetable at 6:51 PM on July 26, 2014

Tony Lama makes a nice boot and I've been wearing Justin for years.
posted by iscavenger at 6:55 PM on July 26, 2014

Definitely try to get into a physical store to try them on, and get an experienced boot person to help you out. It made a WORLD of difference when I was buying a pair for my wedding. (Family barn and I've ridden many a horse, so it's close enough to acceptable. Woo!)

I had tried on a few pairs by myself at a big store and..Eh, they fit okay I guess but nothing all that comfortable. I walk into a small, "real" saddlery, and the woman knew my size as I stood there. First pair I pulled down I walked out with and they fit like a glove. Total world of difference.

They're Boulets, and cost me $320 + tax. Boulets are quite well regarded based on what I've looked up, at least here in Canada.
posted by aggyface at 7:23 PM on July 26, 2014

Oh man, my Ariats are the best shoes I own, and probably the most comfortable. They're great in every kind of weather except snow.
posted by dogheart at 8:17 PM on July 26, 2014

Yeah you should decide if you want western boots with a high heel, or ropers. Western/classic cowboy boots have a higher shaft, which can be a pain if you've got big calves, ropers are generally shorter. I find ropers easier to walk in, but others may disagree. They also may not immediately read as COWBOY BOOTS at first glance. Ariat definitely makes great, affordable boots, but I have to say I really like the look of these Lucchese ropers.
posted by elsietheeel at 7:23 AM on July 27, 2014

You could also head to a store to try some on and figure out what you like best, and then come home and see if you can find them cheaper online. There's more than a few western wear shops in the Bay Area and a Boot Barn in Fairfield.
posted by elsietheeel at 7:30 AM on July 27, 2014

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