The cowboy boot as we know it today comes in a variety of styles and shapes and is worn by an extensive variety of people- from ranch workers to the urban cowboy, from the stay at home mom, to the paint the town red Diva, from the Sandton Yuppie to the Cape Town Cruiser we all love and adore the Cowboy Boot. We all love it for different reasons – the feel of leather next to our skin, the way the heel shapes our legs or the way a boot provides you with a certain self-esteem. It makes the wearer feel like a trendsetter, innovator and someone who is not afraid to be themselves.
Over the past century the boot has trended, slowed down and flared up – but it’s still that item that every person needs to have at least one pair of in their lifetime. But where did this boot come from and when did it evolve into the fashion must have it is today?
The Cowboy boot is a direct descendant from the Northern European riding boot which was adapted for use on the ranch by German bootmakers who settled in Texas during the second half of the 1800’s. These boot makers had one goal and it was to design a boot to meet the requirements of working in stirrups all day. Most features on the cowboy boot were made to serve a function, the narrow toes made it easier the slip feet in and out of stirrups and the high heel prevented the foot from slipping through the stirrup. The length of the leather top was designed to protect the leg against the stirrup leathers and the reinforced arches were to make standing in the stirrups less strenuous.
The straight lines of stitches across the top of the toe of the cowboy boot are called a toe wrinkle and boot makers in the early 1900s started to add decorative stitching to the toes. The boot started to be worn as a fashion accessory in the early 1920’s as a result of the movies and radio shows about the Wild West. This was the era of Tom Mix films – one of the greatest western film actors of the era. After 1940 boot designs became more colourful and intricate incorporating images of the west such as eagles, horses and horseshoes. And when rodeo as an entertainment form became popular in the 1950’s and country music started being heard, the cowboy boot became more popular and became a must have item and the design started following fashion trends popularized in movies.
Although the cowboy boot was designed as a working boot it’s evolved into a universal shoe and can be worn by anyone.