Words by Shelby Ying Hide
In a literal sense, cowboy boots can be tricky to work into your wardrobe. Unless you live in a place where the sturdy silhouette is part of the dress code, they have a tendency to feel (and look) out of place. But over the decades, designers of all sizes have started churning out their own spins on the Western style, giving those who want something a bit more fashion focused the chance to take part in the trend, regardless of their geographical location. Then there’s street style, where showgoers at fashion weeks from New York to Copenhagen have taken to pairing their dresses, jeans, and knit separates with cowboy boots.
Though the famed workwear boot may be designed with function at the forefront, if you’re familiar with the process of purchasing an authentic pair, then you know they’re meant to be unique. From the classic Western stitching to the pops of color to the embroidered or embossed details, each pair is infused with personality. Meaning, you’re bound to find a set that aligns with your personal aesthetic.
If you’re not sure where to begin, just ahead is a breakdown of the five types of cowboy boots currently on the market—plus a well-curated selection of the best cowboy boots to help you re-create the look yourself.
The Wear-with-Anything Boot
The thing about cowboy boots is that at first glance, they’re not all that versatile. Luckily, there are more pared-back options with all the makings to become your new everyday signature—but with a Western twist. Khaite’s Dallas ankle boots have remained a fan favorite for seasons, while Isabel Marant’s signature style with the cone-shaped heel dates back to the mid-2000s, perching them on the cusp of the nostalgic Y2K bubble.
BEST BLACK EVERYDAY COWBOY BOOTS
Dallas Leather Ankle BootSHOP AT AT NET-A-PORTER
A core staple in Khaite’s collections, the Dallas ankle boot is available in a range of iterations, including black leather and camel-colored suede.
BEST WHITE EVERYDAY COWBOY BOOTS
Luliette Embroidered Suede Ankle BootSHOP AT NET-A-PORTER
Isabel Marant’s ankle boot is instantly recognized by the manageable cone heel and subtle Western stitching.
BEST TEXTURED EVERYDAY COWBOY BOOTS
Maryana Tall BootsSHOP AT SHOPBOP
Schutz’s Maryana boot is updated with a slick reptilian leather, making it a striking alternative to classic cowboy boots.
Devil Is in the Detail
Intricate details are a key feature of all the best cowboy boots. Whether that means embroidered flowers or paisley whipstitching, each pair is carefully crafted with an eye-catching design that will pop against monochromatic outfits. Wear a detailed boot with light-wash denim and a T-shirt to complete an all-American, off-duty ensemble that’s as chic as it is laid-back.
BEST TALL EMBROIDERED COWBOY BOOTS
Urson Knee High Western BootSHOP AT NORDSTROM
This pair demands to peek out from beneath a midi skirt or prairie dress.
BEST EMBROIDERED COWBOY BOOTS
Rosette Black Cowboy BootSHOP AT RANCHROADBOOTS.COM
Between the intricately stitched design and sturdy leather, this Rosette boot has all the key features of a classic Western pair.
BEST FLORAL EMBROIDERED COWBOY BOOTS
Thelma BootSHOP AT LARROUDE.COM
Floral detailing adds a romantic touch to these rustic leather boots.
Making a Statement
When you think of the Western trend in present day, it’s likely that bright colorful boots with metallic leathers come to mind. But in 2022, the fad presents itself in more modern ways, like fold-over boots from R13 and graphic sceneries à la Brother Vellies. One foolproof way to successfully pull off more eccentric pairs is to wear them with something equally as fun—think: exaggerated silhouettes and bold prints that complement, rather than clash, with their uniqueness.
BEST ILLUSTRATED COWBOY BOOTS
Eve Doodle BootSHOP AT BROTHER VELLIES
Handmade in Mexico, Brother Vellies’ Doodle boot is the definition of a conversation starter.
BEST COLORBLOCK COWBOY BOOTS
Flex BootSHOP AT REVOLVE
There’s something so distinctly ’70s about the design of Toral’s Flex Boot.
BEST FOLD-OVER COWBOY BOOTS
55mm Knee-High Leather BootSHOP AT FARFETCH
Those looking for something completely unique should consider R13’s fold-over cowboy boot.
A Vintage Appeal
To feign a vintage feel, many designers finish their cowboy boots with retro details and distressed materials that resemble something you’d find in your favorite secondhand shop. Consider styles made from materials meant to get better with each wear, like nubuck or pebble-grained leather. And those who are looking for something a little bolder should opt for tactile, faux exotics.
BEST SUEDE COWBOY BOOTS
Solei Western BootSHOP AT NORDSTROM
Follow model Amar Akway’s lead and wear yours with denim, tucked in, of course.
BEST LEATHER COWBOY BOOTS
Marc Fisher LTD
Natara Western BootieSHOP AT NORDSTROM
Crafted from pebbled leather, this Natara boot will only get better with each wear.
BEST ANKLE COWBOY BOOTS
Serpent-Print Ankle BootSHOP AT FARFETCH
The It-girl label’s take on the Western boot is emblazoned in a snake-printed leather and a sharp pointed toe.
The No-Pants-Necessary Boot
To be clear: By no pants, we mean bare legs. One can achieve this look with oversized pullovers, T-shirt dresses (with or without biker shorts), or micro miniskirts and denier tights to underpin the over-the-knee height. Remember, the boots are the star of the look. So keep the rest of the pairings minimal and let them shine.
BEST KNEE-HIGH COWBOY BOOTS
Western-Style Knee-High BootsSHOP AT FARFETCH
Emulate the Danish brand’s cool factor by styling your boots with biker shorts and your favorite collegiate sweatshirt, off duty.
BEST STUDDED COWBOY BOOTS
Amigo BootSHOP AT REVOLVE
The studded Amigo boot finds the perfect balance between tradition and style.
BEST EMBOSSED COWBOY BOOTS
Seductress Western BootSHOP AT BOOTBARN.COM
Dress it up or down—your choice.
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This article originally appeared in harpersbazaar.com