June 19, 2019 | 65° F

Boots made for walking: Cowboy boots return to fashion

Photo by Instagram |

We’ve seen them in western films and country music awards. Taylor Swift, Carrie Underwood and Jessica Simpson famously wear them. A staple feature of country and the rodeo, the cowboy boot has a pretty straightforward reputation. Fashion has recently changed that. Shown on models all over the runway, the western leather boot is slowly becoming a closet staple.

Cowboy boots haven’t always been in style, but they’ve been around for quite some time — for centuries, in fact. Actual cowboys preferred boots that had a taller heel. Two styles of boots were popular: the Wellington and the Hessian. While the style of these boots differ from the modern ones we see today, the structure has remained very similar. The Wellington, a British boot, was usually made in black or brown leather and typically had a 1-inch heel. Think of heeled, leather Hunter boots. The Hessian, another British boot, was actually introduced by the Germans. These boots were shorter than the Wellington boots, usually falling under the knee and had the distinct v-shape cut in the front that we see today. Many people credit Charles Hyer, who was from Kansas, for creating early models of cowboy boots, but it wasn’t until Lucchese, a shoe company from San Antonio, that this style was capitalized on. Lucchese has specialized in cowboy boots since 1883, and has become very well-known for its creations. Celebrities began to purchase their boots, and even began to request custom designs. Original or rare Lucchese boots can cost hundreds of dollars today. 

The price of these boots are not cheap, even if you aren’t getting a pair of rare Lucceses. A pair of boots from a traditional western store can take out a few hundred dollars from your wallet. The leather alone creates a steep price point. While many of the shoes that we purchase today are mass produced, a pair of cowboy boots are usually handcrafted. These unique designs and perfect craftsmanship don’t come quick and easy. A basic cowboy boot can take up to 400 steps. This includes cutting the shapes, sewing down the fabric, securing the soles and everything in between. This doesn’t happen overnight, and this is definitely a craft that takes time to master. A pair that was created by Tres Outlaws in El Paso, Texas once cost $75,000 for all of the detail and time (approximately 600 hours) it took to create a pair. It makes $400 for a pair sound affordable. 

We didn’t hear much from cowboy boots until Fall 2014, when Tom Ford shocked the runway by recreating the cowboy boot into a high fashion shoe. He turned the once super western, almost opposite of fashionable shoe, into a look that all the fashion forward people wanted to slip into. This past summer, cowboy boots made a steady comeback and diving straight into fall and winter, they are here to stay. This past fashion week showcased a bunch of cowboy boots. Calvin Klein and Ralph Lauren both paired couture with cowboy boots, showing how versatile these boots can be. Tons of brands have made their own renditions of this western boot, such as Coach’s glittery boot or Maison Margiela’s highly sought out pointed toe boots. If you don’t want to fully invest in the trend, there are affordable options to ease you into the look. Zara always comes to the rescue with affordable trends, like its snake skin cowboy boots. Topshop offers a more simple, classic boot

Once you find the pair of boots you love, there are so many ways to make them every day. Wearing it with a slip dress and an oversized jean jacket makes the look flawlessly girly and casual. For cooler weather, putting on your comfiest jeans and a fitted sweater is a simple outfit that has a more fashionable feel with the cowboy boots. With so many different styles now, ranging from thigh-high and heeled to ankle length and flat, there’s a way to always make them work. Take some inspiration from Kate Bosworth, who paired over-the-knee cowboy boots with leggings and an oversized t-shirt. Kendall Jenner wasn’t afraid to mix styles, wearing bright blue cowboy boots with cutoff shorts and an oversized blazer.

Finding a pair of cowboy boots can be easy right here in New Brunswick. By the By Vintage, a second-hand shop that recently opened up at 9 Elm Row, carries cowboy boots for us to easily get our hands on. By The By Vintage co-founder Nicole Gifford loves the idea of cowboy boots making a comeback. 

“I think the cowboy boot trend is a fun twist on more basic boots that have dominated fast fashion for years,” she said. “They’re easily dressed up or down and tend to be sturdy.” 

The shop has been lucky enough to get their hands on some older, authentic pairs of boots because of how well made they are. 

“We do tend to have them in stock, and we do currently, but I wouldn’t say that we’ve seen extremely high demand for them yet,” Gifford said. Right from the co-founder of By the By Vintage, get your cowboy boots before they begin to sell out.

Leona Juan

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