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Books & Boots Gift Guide: How to buy cowgirl boots

I wear boots nearly every day. I have sneakers. I have Birkenstocks. But my boots are my true love. When people see me in my boots, here are the most asked questions:

  1. Where did you get them?

  2. How can you wear those everyday and they not hurt your feet?

Surprisingly enough, both of these questions are difficult to answer. I bought them at a western store way out in the country and the purchase was so long ago, there is no way one could replicate them. As to how I wear them everyday, when you have a good pair of boots or shoes, they don’t hurt your feet, so I just wear them.


Compared to high end designer boots, a good pair of western boots are not that expensive and with proper care can last you many, many years, growing more beautiful with every scuff.

Whether you are homesteading like Joanna, pioneering like Rae, junking like Amie and Jolie, or just channeling your inner Beth Dutton, here is my shopping advice for how to buy cowgirl boots this holiday season.


How to buy Cowgirl Boots:


Two boxes open to show two pairs of Ariat embroidered Western booties

Go try them on

I can spend hours – like legit hours – online looking at boots. And as tempted as I am to pull the trigger for delivery, the truth is all boots fit differently.

I like to go to the boot store and try on different styles. Boot Barn, Cavender's, or your locally owned boot and tack shop.

Boot stores are set up like most other shoe stores – there are boxes with labels to show sizes and the little container of footie stockings if you forgot your socks. You can absolutely help yourself.

Sometimes these places can be a little intimidating, especially if you don’t “ride”. There are bridles on the wall, rows of clothes, and if you take a wrong turn, end up in the tack room. But people at the stores are happy to help.

Most local boot stores are run by families. Most likely you will be helped by a teenager who probably got up at sunrise to feed a variety of animals, plow a field, or haul a load of wood off to pop pop’s house. But they also want to help you find some boots you like. I’ve never had the “Gurl, you look fierce” moment like I usually get at the mall. I do get direct answers to my questions. And that mama running the cash register would never, not once, allow that child to be rude to someone looking to spend money.

If you do not live anywhere near a boot store, then I recommend ordering from Sheplers, Boot Barn, or other store which specializes in boot fit and has a legacy of fitting cowboys and cowgirls by mail. We ordered boots and hats from the Sheplers catalog every year around Christmas. No one was disappointed.


Drawn in my cute but stick with quality

At the store, I will feel the pull of a “cute” pair of boots only to see the brand is one I am not familiar with. Then I have to look into the brand, because what you are really shopping for with these boots is quality.

A good pair of boots from a high quality brand will ensure that you will not only love your boots, but you will be able to have them resoled when you love to wear them everyday for a year.

Google the brand names before you go.

I have always – and I mean all the way back to my first pair of boots as a kid – worn Justin boots. That’s what my dad wore. It’s what everyone wore.

I know that many of my people back home wear Ariat boots. I have a couple of pairs of those, but I don’t like them as much as my Justins. I think they run smaller on my foot.

This is why it’s good to try them on at a boot store before you buy.


The fit is it

Buying boots is not like buying shoes where you are “flexible” with your sizing. Often with flip flops, dress shoes, or sneakers, shoppers might purchase a too big pair or a too snug pair because they are on sale and they will “make it work”.

Boots are an investment piece. If the plan is to keep them around for a while, you don’t want to “make it work” When you try them on at the store, walk around in them for a while. It’s best to bring a pair of the socks you plan to wear with the boots when you are at the store, so you’re not surprised when you get home.

I found a back up pair in a half size larger than my regular pair. I thought a half size was not that big of a difference, except I was totally wrong. They slid on my feet when I walked in them – just enough to be annoying.


Go for leather soles

Some western-style boots have rubber soles, which work for people who are looking for an anti-skid experience.

However, if your goal is to kick it around town in these boots, go for the leather sole. Rubber soles will wear down just like sneakers. Which means, just like sneakers, once the rubber has worn down – that’s it for those boots. Leather soles will wear down, but when that happens, you can take them to your local cobbler – yes, those still exist! A shoe repair store will be able to resole your boots for you. Mine criticizes me for never bringing them in early enough– once even wearing them down to where I almost had a hole in the bottom. But he was able to fix them.


Buy a Leather Conditioner

Leather will crack if it gets too dry, so rubbing the boots down with a leather conditioner every couple of months will keep them supple and gorgeous. I have always used Bickmore 4 with a soft cloth.

You don’t have to polish the boots. In fact, I made a mistake with some polish and now I have to wait until it rubs off and returns to its original color.

Boots are surprisingly low maintenance. If they get wet, let them dry. If they get muddy, let the mud dry and brush it off. If they get scuffed, that’s part of the patina.


Buy the Boot Remover

Boot stores, usually in a basket near the boots or near the register, will sell a boot remover. It might seem like a silly purchase, but having been without mine and asking both my husband and my kids to help me remove my boots for me, I know it is essential. It’s a small plank of wood on a mini platform. Place your foot on the plank and then the heel of your other foot into a V-shaped notch at the end. Boots slide right off. It’s a $10 lifesaver.

If I plan to wear my boots on vacation, the boot remover is in the suitcase.

At a historic tour of Boston, a docent pointed at an old one in their tableau and told the kids, “I bet you’ve never seen one of those before. Who can guess what this is?” And Behr immediately replied, “It’s for taking off your boots! My mom has one!”


Here is one of the many pairs of boots I am obsessed with.


I have many more on my Books and Boots: The Look Pinterest Board. Go check out all the styles I have picked out!


Read Boots. Wear Boots.

XOXO,

B.


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