Wednesday, December 15, 2010

A Cowboy Boot Guide

You may remember that a little while back I copped to having a pretty fierce cowboy boot jones. It was a bit too eccentric a shoe style for me to splurge on, so I decided to go used (bonus: they would have the beat-up look I wanted).

I checked Etsy, but the ones I liked were all at least $50. A bit pricey. So, to Ebay!

My dad grew up on a farm in a time/place where cowboy boots were way cool. So he knew a thing or two about good leather, brands, what the boots were worth, etc.

A few things:

- Two brands he specifically recommended for quality were Justin and Tony Lama.
- All natural leather is important (obviously), and some pairs have nice leather soles too. Rubber soles will be cheaper and less slippery, though.
- A quality, new pair of cowboy boots can cost hundreds of dollars. So keep that in mind as you're junking for old ones ($50 actually isn't that bad, I'm just cheap).
- Women's shoe sizes are roughly 2 bigger than men's. I usually go for a women's size 10 boot (to leave room for thick socks) so I went looking for size 8 in men's boots and mine fit great.
- The more exotic leathers (lizard, for example) will wear down much more quickly.

I checked out Ebay with these points in mind. I wanted brown boots for sure, and I preferred men's boots because they looked more traditionally 'cowboy' than a lot of the faux-leather, high-heeled versions I saw for women.

I had to be a bit patient, a bit cutthroat (Ebay bitches!) and a smidge lucky, but I eventually found these Tony Lamas for $20- they're pretty much perfect.

Then I wore them. OUCH.

The ankle of the boot caved in on the side exactly where my ankle curved out. Within minutes of wearing them, I had sores rubbed into my ankles. Dad to the rescue again.

How to Break in Boots

#1. Soak them in hot water for about half an hour. Some dye will probably get in your bath, but don't worry about it.
#2. Wear those suckers wet. Walk around in them. Do not take them off until they are dry. This molds them to your feet. Personally, I got bored and took a nap in them (true story). I recommend thick socks.
#3. Saddle soap is your best friend. Once the boots dry, they will be very stiff (mine also seemed much lighter in color). I bought some Kiwi saddle soap at Walmart and lathered those puppies up. After that they were darker and softer.
#4. At this point, the boots will already be 85% more comfy. You'll be able to walk in them without pain. This is the stage I'm at, and I'm told to just keep wearing them and they'll break in the last bit themselves.

I LOVE my boots. I've gotten lots of compliments and they're surprisingly comfortable now that I put a bit of work into them. All told with shipping and soap, they cost me about $35.


  1. wow, thanks for the tips!
    the picture of girls with pretty dresses and cowboy boots? priceless!

  2. Huh. I would have never though soaking boots in water could ever be a good thing.

    Glad to hear you got a great score -- and they look fab!

    Chic on the Cheap

  3. Great post!! You found a great deal on beautiful boots :)

  4. I can't wait to see these boots in person! They look FAB! I'm not gonna lie, I kinda got dizzy reading all these tips and instructions. Having cowboy boots seems a bit like raising a child or something. So much to do! :P

    Oh, and I love how your dad is now helping young fashionistas with his stellar advice. That's just awesome!

  5. No way! I had no idea about this. I have a pair of Dan Posts from years and years ago, but they are not comfortable! I totally wanna try this out, but have a question...

    So you lather 'em up in saddle soap, then rinse them off? I have no idea what saddle soap is, so pardon if my question is BS :)

  6. Not a stupid question at all Chelsea!

    The saddle soap I got is Kiwi brand. They have it at Walmart and Target in the shoe polish section.

    It comes in a tin and it's kind of like a wax. There are directions on the tin to help you out! You get a rag (I used an old sock) and get it wet. Rub the rag in the saddle soap and then buff it on your shoes. It lathered up a bit for me, but not a ton. Afterwards, you use a damp cloth to wipe off any excess soap. The tin suggests you buff the boots when they're dry to develop a 'luster', but I didn't do this.

    Does that help?


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