Cowboy boots bear so much symbolic weight it’s a wonder anyone can walk in them. The cowboy, the most iconic figure in American history, represents the way we like to imagine ourselves: tough as nails, independent, unafraid of violence but guided always by a rigid code of honor. The image of the cowboy may be anachronistic, but it exerts a powerful pull.
All of which only partially explains why I bought myself a pair of Lucchese NV1503s in waxed and burnished olive leather.
I was born and raised in the Bay Area and followed my college sweetheart, a San Antonio native, to Texas after graduation. I associated cowboy boots more with the stereotypical urban Texan—plump, loud, driving a too-big pickup—than with the rugged individualist of the bygone frontier. Moreover, my feet are extraordinarily wide and flat. But let’s face it: cowboy boots are cool.
I bought my first pair at a trendy boutique on London’s Kings Road during our honeymoon many years ago. (I know, I know: what kind of idiot travels from Texas to England to buy cowboy boots?) They were honey-colored suede, with white stitching, lethally pointed toes, and rakishly undercut heels. They were also one size too small and way too narrow. The shopkeeper assured me that they would stretch, which was of course utter nonsense. I wore them maybe twice before giving them away.
But these new Luccheses fit comfortably, and they are light enough that I can wear them even when the temperature is above freezing. And they are beautiful, if plain by Texas standards.
I don’t wear them very often, but I like seeing them in my closet, knowing they’re there if I want them.
They symbolize my willingness to take on the trappings of my time and place. We live in Texas, and we own a ranch; we are Westerners, in other words. Wearing cowboy boots is a step—a small step, perhaps, but significant—in my long journey toward accepting and acknowledging who and where I am. This is my life, and these, believe it or not, are my boots.