ICYMI: You don’t have to live on a ranch to wear cowboy boots. In 2022, the Western-inspired silhouette popped up well beyond the barn, from the concrete jungles in New York and London, to sunny coasts in L.A. and Australia, and everywhere in between. As much as we love the look of the pointy, heeled boots, we’d be lying if we said that every pair on the market is met with amazing reviews on the comfort front. Unfortunately, the sad reality is that many western boots just aren’t comfortable—let alone good for your feet.
“Trendy cowboy boots can be uncomfortable and harsh on your feet; their toe boxes, heels, and stiff materials can be uncomfortable and harmful to some,” says Vionic Innovation Lab Member and nationally renowned podiatrist, Jacqueline Sutera, DPM.
But that doesn’t mean that all western boots are worth overlooking. Here is some podiatrist wisdom to wrangling a pair of western boots your feet will adore.
What to look for in western boots
Even though the sharp, pointy look of classic cowboy boots is cute, it's not necessarily the most comfy on your precious toes. “Look for styles with softer, more flexible leather, a comfortable heel height, and a toe box that is accommodating to your foot shape,” Sutera suggests. “For example, if you have a wide forefoot, bunion, or hammertoes, you should really avoid the narrow, pointy, and stiff versions. Instead, opt for round, wide, or even square toe boxes.”
Brad Schaeffer, DPM, who is a board certified foot surgeon at Sole Podiatry NYC, a spokesperson for Dr. Scholl's, and star of TLC’s “My Feet Are Killing Me,” says to keep your boot's heel height to under three inches. (If you’re already accustomed to wearing cowboy boots, you might be able to comfortably go a bit taller.) “As a general rule, the higher the heel on the boot the more strain they will put on your feet,” he explains. “I always say, if you can’t walk in the shoes, don’t buy them.” Noted.
Then there's the insoles, which are included, but oftentimes, less than stellar. “I always recommend proper insoles to help prevent foot aches and pains, especially for shoes with heels and [unsupportive] soles, like cowboy boots,” Dr. Schaeffer says. “For boots or high heels in general, I often recommend Dr. Scholl’s Invisible Cushioning Insoles, which create a cushioning and a protective barrier between your shoe and the ball of your foot. This can help absorb shock, and make the boots more comfortable.”
Still, even with insoles and a silhouette suitable for your foot shape, discomfort is possible. After all, most cowboy boots require a break-in period to get that stiff leather (vegan or otherwise) to soften up. As such, Schaeffer suggests having products on hand to help prevent and treat potential blisters your boots may cause. And I can attest! As someone who personally loves cowboy boots and has sensitive, blister-prone feet, I always keep a box of the Band-Aid Hydro Seal Blister Heels ($4) in my medicine cabinet, not to mention a few in my purse when I actually go out. Then, if I ever develop a bad blister, I keep corn cushions (like the Comfort Zone Corn Cushions ($5)) on-hand because the hollow center works perfectly around blisters.
The point is, with proper planning, you can both buy a pair of more comfortable Western boots and prevent any pain during the break-in process. To help you with the first part, keep reading for eight Western boots that are cute and comfy. (But remember: You’ll have to break them in, so be patient and trust the process.)
8 western boots that'll make your feet say 'Yeehaw'
Available sizes: Women’s 5-12, in half sizes.
Tecovas are one of the most popular boot brands among folks who wear cowboy boots day in and day out. They’re crafted with the highest quality leather with Goodyear welt construction (the footwear’s industry gold-standard to increasing durability—it’s a little strip of material along the outsole that allows the sole to be resoled over time without altering the core shape of the shoe) which makes them particularly rugged.
The Lucy ankle boots feature a low, 1.75-inch heel and are made with water-resistant suede, so you can wear them with confidence in any weather. You’ll also notice the toe isn’t as pointed as other options, making them more comfortable for wider feet and toes. Available in grey, sand, desert rose, and sky blue suede.
Available sizes: Women’s 5.5-12, in half sizes.
If the idea of breaking in a pair of Western boots feels daunting, Alvies are for you. The brand is renowned for its short break-in time, not to mention its extremely well-made silhouettes, which also feature a Goodyear welt construction, so you know they’re durable as can be. The Rainey style is a short, side-zip boot with a stacked 1.75-inch heel. Since there’s a zipper, you won’t have to fight them to get them on and off (another annoying part of the break-in process.) Wear ’em with jeggings, skirts and tights, or a chic sweater dress—really anything you want to give some western flair too. Available in tan, brown, and dark brown.
Available sizes: Women’s 5.5-12, in half sizes and two widths.
Ariat boots are beloved in the equestrian community for being high-end, well-made, and up for both casual and work (as in, on a ranch) wear. The Women’s PrimeTime Western Boot is a very popular SKU that’s sold in three color ways, including black, red, and turquoise pair we can’t take our eyes off of. Per podiatrist recommendations, they sport a smaller heel that’ll equally distribute weight while you walk, plus a square toe box for un-cramped comfort. They also come in standard and full widths, making them a solid option for those who need a more spacious fit.
Available sizes: Women’s 5.5-11, in half sizes.
Don’t take your horse to Old Town Road—take it to Ranch Road, where where modern style trends and top-notch materials meet. The Presidio Short Boots sit atop a 1.5-inch heel and feature that tough-as-nails Goodyear welt construction, so you know they’re designed to last. (Better hope so, because they come with a hefty price tag…) And unlike most cowboy boots that feature the iconic, lasso-like leatherwork and desert imagery, these are a bit more feminine, adorned in adorable stars that will stay on-trend season to season. Available in white, cognac, and black.
Available sizes: Women’s 5-11, in half sizes.
Sam Edelman boots are notoriously tougher to break in, but they’re worth it. That said, the leather the brand uses in its Britten boots is soft and flexible, so they’re incredibly comfortable and only take a couple wears to form to your feet and calves. They’re sold in six colors and are great for folks looking to dip their toes into the trend before going fully Western. Just note, the heel is a bit taller (2.3-inches) so if you’d prefer a lower height, this might not be the option for you.
Available sizes: Women’s 6-11, in half sizes.
Yellowstone meets Sex and the City in the Dolce Vita Landen boots. The electric pink is very stylish (not to mention incredibly eye-catching), but there are quieter colors to choose from, too, including black leather and dune suede. Or, go full Barbiecore with the shiny, electric violet and metallic blue, which are equal parts fashionable and functional. Just keep in mind that these short boots have slightly taller heels, measuring in at 2.4 inches.
Available sizes: Women’s 6.5-11, in half sizes.
Yep, you can get cowboy boots on Amazon. If you do, make sure you get the Ropers, which have more than 2,500 5-star reviews based on ruggedness, comfort, and cuteness. Less clunky and heavy than traditional boots, the Riley boot is a great option for anyone who wants something light on their feet and their wallets. They also sport a padded insole to keep feet sweet, and a lower heel to take pressure off your forefoot. Available in brown, red, tan, and pink.
Available sizes: Women’s 5-11, in half sizes.
You don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars to test out the Western boot trend. These Chinese Laundry boots are $90, have a shallow pointed toe (as opposed to a more elongated one, which is known to be more uncomfortable), and a 1.25-inch heel. Plus, the red lizard-inspired material and lightning bolt accents? Très trendy.
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