“Oh, my gosh! You’re wearing cowboy boots,” an acquaintance of mine squealed as we met for brunch. “I love cowboy boots!”
She beamed at me as if discovering we both shared some far out hobby like drag racing or doll collecting. While cowboy boots are as American as apple pie, their love in the fashion world runs cyclically. Remember back in 2000 when Madonna dropped her “Music” album, making country-western chic all the rage among folks who’d never even heard of the Mason-Dixon line? A few years later cowboy boots fell out of fashion only to resurface as must-have footwear in 2012.
When my acquaintance shrieked at the sight of me in cowboy boots, however, she was noting my long lasting appreciation for the shoes. For me, cowboy boots aren’t a fashion trend but a fashion staple. I have two pairs of Tony Lama boots and a pair of Frye booties. Perhaps this is because my mother’s side of the family hails from Tennessee or because I spent three years living in the Southwest. For two of those years I worked as a fashion reporter, a gig that led to me visiting Tony Lama’s flagship store in El Paso, Texas. There’s also some nostalgia attached to my cowboy boot fixation. Back when I was a teen in a Chicago suburb in the 1990s, my classmates and I would wear cowboy boots during seasonal transitions—before the first frost coated the city or the Groundhog emerged to tell us when spring would come.
My affection for cowboy boots doesn’t blind me from their many detractors, though.
“The pointy toe, clunky heel and galosh-like fit on the leg just doesn’t work for me,” Christina Anderson, Huffington Post’s fashion editor, declared last year.
Fashion blogger Scott Schuman isn’t a fan of the footwear either, according to his girlfriend Garance Doré. He argues, “Cowboy boots stop at a weird part of the calf, and so it gives the impression of a much wider leg.”
This criticism is fair enough, but it won’t come between me and my Tony Lamas. I’ll just have to take my chances with the fashion police. What about you? Is there a fashion you’re obsessed with despite the side-eye it gets from fashionistas?