Where do Men's Cowboy Boots Come From?
When most people think of men’s cowboy boots, they think of cowboys in the Midwest. They also think of cattle drives, horses and line dancing. Most people assume that cowboys created cowboy boots in the 1800s. But this assumption is wrong. Cowboys may have perfected cowboy boots and made them popular, but they didn’t invent them.
Cowboy boots can be traced all the way back to Genghis Khan. The ancient warrior was known for wearing a pair of bright red boots with a wooden heel to make it easier for him to ride his horses. Then in the 17th century, distinguished English gentlemen living in the countryside began wearing high leather riding boots with stacked heels. The boots became a staple for English riding outfits, especially for high-class citizens and royalty. The First Duke of Wellington, Arthur Wellesley, wore a distinct pair of riding boots. While he is often remembered for defeating Napoleon at the battle of Waterloo in 1815, his name is also associated with the style of a calf-length cowboy boot with a low heel. This style of boot eventually became known as the “Wellington.”
To this day, modern day cowboy boot makers still use the Wellington style boot as the basic model for cowboy boots. The simple four-piece construction made the Wellington easy to produce on a large scale, so boot makers could churn out numerous pairs of boots at a quicker pace. Many soldiers in the Civil War-era preferred to wear the Wellington because the boots offered comfort and durability when they were marching through endless fields up and down the East Coast. Even after the war ended in 1865, many soldiers continued to wear the boots. As more people ventured out to the West to begin a new life and settle on the land, the Wellington evolved into what is now known as the modern day cowboy boot. These settlers became known as “cowboys” because they raised cattle and rode horses. During long cattle drives, cowboys needed a boot that would offer ultimate support and comfort. As a result, they wore various versions of the Wellington. Boot makers took the simple design and tried a few different styles in order to create the perfect boot for cowboys. The tall design of cowboy boots protected their legs, the sturdy heel made it easier to keep their feet in the saddle straps and control the horse, and the leather kept their feet comfortable on long rides.
Early men’s cowboy boots were not made with the flair and style that you often see today. As Hollywood emerged and more cowboy-themed movies were being filmed, the cowboy boot began to be seen as a more of a fashion statement. Many famous actors and actresses wore them on and off the movie set. Like anything in history, the cowboy boot has evolved throughout the years. And even though most people see cowboy boots as a fashion accessory today, there are plenty of “cowboys” in the Midwest who still use cowboy boots to work the land and take care of their cattle.