Tuesday, April 6, 2010
Cowboy Boots: Functionality and Frippery
Long viewed as symbolic of American style and the Western lifestyle, Cowboy boots first entered national consciousness as a humble riding boot. The original styles, heavily influenced by Spanish vaquero designs, were made of leather, and included a high heel (roughly and inch and a half), round or pointed toe, high shaft, and no lacings. The structure of the sole and heel provided an easy fit and release from saddle stirrups.
As a result of the cattle drive era (1880s), Cowboys enjoyed an increase in wages, thus invested to a greater extent in high-quality, ornate boots. New, exotic materials were used for the construction of the boot, such as ostrich, snake, alligator, and sting ray. Decorative styles, featuring top stitching and geometric patterns, became widely available as dress boots. In later decades, cowboy boots became status symbols for those involved in Country-Western sub-cultures, and also among more mainstream film stars.
Cowboy boots have enjoyed a great period of longevity and popularity within the American market. While they remain a indelible emblem of national independence and bravura, they are also a relevant vehicle for creative design and artistic licence of their creators.
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