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It might seem as if cowboy boots are back in style but, the truth is, they never left. Made popular in fashion by 1940s Western film stars, these boots are an “investment and a staple piece in your closet,” says E! News style expert Jeni Elizabeth. With their iconic silhouette, cowboy boots come in a variety of styles that can transform a wardrobe with style, personality, and even practicality.
Meet the Expert
Perhaps you’re looking for a classic cowboy boot style that will transcend trends and last for decades. Or, maybe you wish to add a little western flair to your closet with a striking pair of high heel cowboy boots. No matter what design you’re going for, there is a cowboy boot style for you.
Up ahead, we dive into the world of Western wear to uncover the best cowboy boots for any style.
Best Overall: Ariat Magnolia Western Boot
When we think of the best overall cowboy boots, we think of a pair with a classic silhouette and embroidered style that is designed to last. These western boots from Ariat are just that. With their authentic shape and a traditional heel, these cowboy boots boast a timeless look with beautiful stitching that feels classic with a feminine touch.
Composition: Full-grain leather | Size Range: US 5.5-12 | Colors: Distressed Brown | Heel Height: 2 inches
Best Budget: Nasty Gal PU Squared Cowboy Boots
You don’t have to sacrifice style for budget. Case in point: These knee-high western boots. With their shiny patented finish and knee-high design, these boots take inspiration from traditional cowboy boot silhouettes without the intricate detailing, making them minimalistic enough to wear with any outfit.
Composition: Synthetic | Size Range: 5-10 | Colors: Black | Heel Height: 3 inches
Best Designer: HAVVA Texas Stitched Boots
Designer cowboy boots are like works of art for your feet. This pair by London-based brand Havva features edgy contrast stitching, a classic silhouette with pull-tabs, and is set on a low Cuban heel. Albeit highly detailed, these are a great wardrobe investment as they are traditional enough to wear for decades yet stylish enough to make a statement in your closet. Havva’s waste-conscious collections are made in small batches by traditional artisans in Turkey.
Composition: Leather | Size Range: EU 36-41 | Colors: Black | Heel Height: 1.1 inches
Best Vegan: Roper Dawn Western Knee-High Boot
Just because it’s vegan leather, doesn’t mean it should sacrifice authenticity. These knee-high cowboy boots have that leather look with a feminine and bohemian floral embroidered design, pointed toe, and chunky heel for a unique spin on western wear.
Composition: Synthetic | Size Range: US 5-11 | Colors: Floral/Skull Tan | Heel Height: 2.5 inches
Best White: Tecovas The Annie
White cowboy boots are statement-makers by nature and these from Tecovas live up to our expectations. We love the milky texture of the white leather and tonal thread stitched detailing. What’s more? They’re made from ultra-soft bovine for a shoe that fits like a glove.
Composition: Bovine | Size Range: US 5-12 | Colors: Black, White, Sequoia, Cocoa | Heel Height: 2 inches
Best Black: Durango Harness Western Boot
The motorcycle boot meets the cowboy boot. These edgy mid-calf cowboy boots are designed with a modern take on the classic stitching designs, traditional square toe, and boot silhouette with pull tabs for added detailing.
Composition: Full-grain leather | Size Range: US 6-11 | Colors: Oiled Black, Distressed Brown | Heel Height: 1.75 inches
Best Embroidered: Miron Crosby Kirstin Tall Boot
One of the best things about cowboy boots is the detail, and Miron Crosby fully delivers with gorgeous embroidered designs. We love this pair for its unique spin on cowboy boot embroidery (like the pop of color from the yellow daffodil and poppy blue stitching).
Composition: Leather | Size Range: US 5-11 | Colors: Crosby Crème | Heel Height: 1.75 inches
Best Over-The-Knee: Jo Ghost Midnight Magic Over-The-Knee Western Boots
Stylish and chic, these over-the-knee cowboy boots offer a modern spin on the traditional silhouette. The suede upper coupled with metallic python leather give these western boots a relaxed yet sleek feel that can be dressed up or dressed down for any occasion. On top of that, the design features side zippers, making them easier to slip on and off.
Composition: Suede and leather | Size Range: US 6-11 | Colors: Metallic Silver/Gray
Best High Heel: Rachel Comey Willow Tall Boot
We love a high heel cowboy boot. These from Rachel Comey are an excellent choice because while the 4-inch heel is sure to make a statement, the rest of the boot boasts a simple and clean design that draws inspiration from the classic western boot without feeling too over the top.
Composition: 100% crinkle patent leather upper; 100% leather sole | Size Range: US 5-13 | Colors: Black, Taupe, Cognac, Banana | Heel Height: 4 inches
Best for Wide Feet: Ariat Heritage R Toe Western Boot
When shopping for boots with wide feet in mind, sizing options are key. We love these R toe boots from Ariat because they come in two different foot widths—medium and wide—so you’re bound to find a perfect fit. On top of that, these cowboy boots come in a variety of colors, so you don’t feel limited by fit requirements.
Composition: Leather | Size Range: US 5-12 | Colors: Russet Rebel, Distressed Brown, Black Deertan, Copper Brown | Heel Height: 1.5 inches
Best Metallic: Jeffrey Campbell Dagget Western Boot
These classic cowboy boots add some sparkle with six different metallic-colored finishes. From fuschia pink to lime green, these boots were made for walkin’ with a lot of personality and pizzazz. Another reason to love these funky western boots? Despite their metallic look, they’re high-quality and made of real leather.
Composition: Leather | Size Range: US 5-11 | Colors: Green, Fuschia, Gold, Blue, Light Blue, Red | Heel Height: 2.25 inches
Best Square Toe: Idyllwind Tumbleweed Performance Western Boots
Square-toed cowboy boots give us major barnyard bohemian vibes. These from Idyllwind feature that classic cowboy heel we know and love, plus intricate embroidered detailing and a cushioned footbed for maximum comfort.
Composition: Leather | Size Range: US 6-11 | Colors: Brown
Best Wide Calf: Ariat Heritage X Toe Elastic Wide Calf Western Boot
One of the trickiest things about knee-high boots of any style is pulling them up over the calf—this is especially true for those with wider calves. We love these Ariat cowboy boots because the shaft is wider than your average knee-high boot and they're even designed with hidden elastic gore panels for a more comfortable fit.
Composition: Leather | Size Range: US 5.5-12 | Colors: Black Deertan, Distressed Brown | Heel Height: 1.75 inches
What To Look For in Cowboy Boots
“A cowboy boot fit is one of the most critical shoe fits that exist,” says Elizabeth. “They are one of the few shoes that are not just for the look, but actually serve a purpose.” When shopping for a pair of cowboy boots, fit is one of the most important things to consider. Typically, cowboy boots should fit snug. Like finding a well-fitted blazer, you want to take note of the widest part of the boot and ensure that the ball of your foot fits nicely in that area when standing up. And, while cowboy boots should feel snug, you also want to make sure you have enough toe room when walking around.
Another important thing to consider when finding the right-sized cowboy boot is sock choice. When trying on cowboy boots, make sure to confirm their fit with a pair of socks you plan on wearing with them. Trying them on with thinner or thicker socks could skew your fit and create size issues when you go to wear them for real.
It might not seem that important, but cowboy boots are all about style, so keeping style in mind while shopping is ultra important. If you want a pair that will last you for decades, it’s recommended you go with a traditional, timeless design and high-quality leather (psst: The Ariat Magnolia Western Boot (view at Amazon) is a great option). If you want something a little more trendy, go for a pair that has a modern flair, such as the Jeffrey Campbell Dagget Western Boot (view at Nordstrom) in metallic green.
All cowboy boots feature a heel, so this is an important thing to consider. Most traditional cowboy boots feature a shorter heel of about 2 inches, but some also feature 4-inch stacked and stiletto heels. When shopping for a cowboy boot, consider where you might wear your boots. If you want something more every day, a shorter traditional heel is the best option. But, if you want something with a dressy twist, a high heel cowboy boot such as the Rachel Comey Willow Tall Boot (view at Nordstrom) might be a better option.
How should cowboy boots fit?
According to Elizabeth, the fit should always be “comfortable and correct.” There are a few ways to determine whether or not your cowboy boots fit. The first one is to make sure they are snug but not too tight. You want enough wiggle room for your toes, so make sure you have some room up front, but not too much room or else your feet might slip around when walking. To ensure cowboy boots properly hug the feet, a trick is to focus on the widest part of the shoe and ensure the ball of your foot fits comfortably in this area when standing up. You also want to look at the shaft of the boot. The shaft should fit nicely around the calf without feeling too tight or too wide.
How do you break in cowboy boots?
The best way to break in cowboy boots is to steam them, says Elizabeth. “Boil a pot of water on the stove and hold the boot upside down over the steam, making sure to allow the steam to hit the leather on top of the foot and specifically the width and toe of the boot,” she notes. “Once you can see the leather is getting moist, immediately put the boot on,” she adds. Elizabeth also recommends wearing a thicker sock while steaming cowboy boots to protect your feet from any heat and help with the stretch. “Walk around for a good 30 minutes with the steamed boot on and let the perfect shape take place.”
If you are in a pinch for time, Elizabeth says you can always try wearing a thicker sock for the first 10 hours of wearing. “Cowboy boots are made of a wonderfully soft leather that will mold to your foot, however, it could take about 80 hours of wear to get them to the comfort point.” A thicker sock will likely make the boots more snug (and less comfortable) for the time being but can help stretch them out and protect the skin on your feet from blisters.
What jeans can you wear with cowboy boots?
The great thing about cowboy boots is that they are incredibly versatile and can be worn with a variety of looks. As for the best jeans to wear with cowboy boots, it’s all about how you plan on wearing your boots. If you want to tuck your jeans into your boots, Elizabeth recommends a classic pair of skinny jeans. This style won’t create a bunched-up look in the boot and make it easier to slip them on and off. For over-the-boot jeans, a pair of flare denim is always a great choice. Make sure your denim is long enough to cover the boot but not too long to where it drags on the floor.
What kind of socks should you wear with cowboy boots?
“Much like wearing a ski boot, you always want to wear a thinner absorbent sock,” says Elizabeth. “If you are in the process of stretching the boot, then go with a thicker winter sock, however thin is best for day-to-day,” she adds. Elizabeth also recommends wearing a high sock as well “to make sure the boot doesn’t rub.”
Why Trust Byrdie
Jessie Quinn has a bachelor’s degree in fashion journalism and has covered style trends for publications such as NYLON Magazine, The Zoe Report, Elite Daily, and more. Jessie grew up in an old Western town outside of Los Angeles, California where she developed a deep appreciation for Western fashion and, of course, cowboy boots. She received her first pair of cowboy boots in 7th grade—a pair of classic brown leather Ariat boots with blue embroidery that she still wears today.