Chapter 8: Kooky Cowboy Boots
Banish the beige coastal cowgirl! Plus: Brimfield antique guide and what I bought on sale.
Screw coastal cowgirl, I want to be the most kooky, enigmatic, eccentric cowboy in the rodeo. And I want to wear the brightest, most colorful, ironic cowboy boots known to man. Think: if a cosmic explosion yielded Dolly Parton and Ric Flair combined as one person who loves niche high-fashion—what would they wear? I think Miu Miu cowboy boots, non?
Cowboy boots have been an obsession of mine for the past few years. It all started with the Miu Miu cowboy boots from resort 2016 (my favorite Miu Miu collection of all time). Imagine! Mrs. Prada’s signature off-kilter color combinations, covered in a sea of Miu Miu-isms and subversive brand codes: silver foiled sparrows and yellow cats galore. These were followed by my logo Saks Potts black leather cowboy boots decked out in little “SP”s. What does that mean, people ask me. Someone in the airport once asked me if they were Palm Springs merch. A new forever favorite? The Molly Goddard Dora boots in pink and red (a gloriously rich, personal favorite color scheme of mine) topped off with little hearts on the toes. We all know cowboy boots have taken flight toward becoming an everyday wardrobe staple with the nuanced coastal cowgirl trend, but in the words of Nicki Minaj, “Who wants to look simple when you can look stunning?”
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I love wearing cowboy boots with little dresses and skirts for spring, but even more so with long maxi skirts and a faded t-shirt. A highlighter yellow tulle skirt with red cowboy boots? Delicious. Throw in a distressed band tee and you’re golden. In fact, I think going in a decidedly un-western, non-folky direction is the best way to make cowboy boots shine. Pair them with something super, super avant-garde minimalistic, or a Prada leather shift dress with a giant face printed on it. There’s a certain sort of alluring irony you can play with too. Little gingham dresses with cowboy boots and a studded leather jacket are perfection. Without the leather jacket it would be decidedly camp, which, depending on your desired effect, could be great. I think kooky cowboy boots look best with old Prada and old Miu Miu! It’s like a never-fail combination for some odd reason.
Finding the right pair of cowboy boots is intrinsic because you know when you know. It’s perhaps one of the few shoe shopping experiences I would compare to handbag shopping. You have to buy based on emotion, because wearing cowboy boots in a fashion-y way is akin to practicing a bit of performance art. Don’t settle because you will eventually find the perfect pair, but it may take time. If you can, it’s always better to try them on in person, especially if they’re vintage.
As someone who grew up in the south, I never wore cowboy boots until a few years ago. But I’m not saying you should overlook your local Western store either, because sometimes they have a very surprisingly, and very garishly good collections of boots.
So, what makes the most exciting kooky cowboy boot? It comes down to color and texture. I gravitate toward boots of multiple hues, often mismatched and unexpected and even better if they have different fabrications—pony hair, lizard, or at the very least, some kind of epic embossing and patchwork. If you can, you should always opt for leather over synthetics. They last longer and look so much better in boot form. Vintage is the way to go most of the time, because zany cowboy boots look even cooler when they’re worn. There’s nothing worse than a pair of boots that look too pristine.
One more reason why I support my own love affair with cowboy boots? The cowboy boot also has an epic sort of history, perhaps unlike any other boot. It was born in the 1800s in the Western United States, but its roots and origins go deep with vaquero-style boots, which first appeared in the Americas, from Spain, in the 1600s. On the more extreme end, we have the guarachero boots or botas tribaleras—both with their own origins but with equally extreme, long, curved pointed toes. Comme des Garcons Homme Plus appropriated them for the spring 2015 collection. Beyond that, there is a culture to cowboy boots with historic brands like Lucchese, founded in 1883 in San Antonio, Texas by Salvatore "Sam" Lucchese with his brothers, still producing today. Also worth nothing, a cowboy boot is the kind of shoe that’s built to last you a literal lifetime.
Ready for crazed cowgirl season?
Vintage Kooky Cowboy Boots
I think shopping vintage, in this case, is one of the best decisions—not only for sustainability and affordability but due to the sheer selection of it all! And, they’re usually all leather. Fun fact: I found both my Miu Miu cowboy boots secondhand!
Ye Olde Miu Mius, $650
The best of the best. Keep an eye out for the resort 2016 ones because while rare, they do pop up from time to time but they sell within hours. These are the next best.
Drumroll: Some non-vintage kooky cowboy boot options!
Silky soft leather in electric shock blue.
Dagget Western Boots, $270
Lilac metallic cowboy boots. Need we say more?
Chunky and colorful, like toy blocks in boot form.
Crazed cowgirl season is upon us, friends.
Also: sale season is now! Here are a few of my favorite things I bought so far. Plus, my guide to shopping Brimfield, the country’s largest antique market!