Wednesday, May 28, 2008

My Happy Feet: The Cowboy Boot

You may be wondering why, while discussing form and function in relation to Chartres, I failed to mention cowboy boots. While in Joshua Tree on the holiday phase of my Grand American Tour, I came across a hippie shop selling second hand cowboy boots. Customers were evidently rare - they were delighted to see me - and customers who found a pair of boots that fitted were even rarer - 'Wow! That never happens!' And so, for $48, I bought a pair of dead man's boots; I would guess they cost around $500 new. I had previously wondered, while watching No Country for Old Men, how actual people rushed about the desert in these boots. I now discovered why - they are uncannily comfortable and amazingly cool (in both senses). Fired up by this, when I got to a cowboyish city I bought a new pair - even more comfortable - and then ordered a custom made pair - that's me being fitted - which will arrive at the end of August. I now intend, if possible, never to wear anything else on my precious feet. One London friend was shocked - 'but they have those bits that rise up your legs.' Well, I suppose they might get me ejected from certain gentleman's clubs in St James, but I have always maintained that no gentleman belongs to a gentleman's club. A New York gay friend told me they were 'gay', but I've given up trying to decipher what that means or why it should be a problem. The form-function point is that the appearance of cowboy boots is capriciously decorative and even the shape of the foot piece looks wrong. But, when worn, they make perfect sense. A rigorously formal approach to footwear design would never have come up with this. If you're wearing anything else - well, don't.

29 comments:

  1. What the dickens is a cowboyish city when its at home. And when did custom made become be-spoke, surely they is not expecting a bloody wheelright to do the job.
    'Tis a lovely day here, btw, the Hawthorn is flowering its little heart out, best in years.
    Wishing you,Good walking/riding in the new boots.

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  2. Do you not walk a little awkwardly in cowboy boots? I wore them once and was told by a friend I was walking in a peculiarly camp manner. In fact, I wasn't walking, I was mincing. I didn't wear them again. I have enough hang-ups.

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  3. The argument would be that the cowboy boots are 'gay' because wearing something designed for an inherently manly task or occupation (such as gunfighting or horse-stealing) in an incongruent or mundane situation (such as reading poetry in a Starbucks) is rather 'gay'. Especially if you have an English accent.

    See also sailor suit, fireman's helmet etc.

    Alternatively, cowboy boots might be another victim of the devastating impact on the butch Western world of 'Brokeback Mountain'.

    (Incidentally, having just read No Country for Old Men after seeing the film... is the Cohen brothers' effort the most literal movie translation of a novel ever made?)

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  4. i have a pair of very good pirate boots. i minced at first but once i found my way i now have a pronounced heel strike.

    i note Riggs wears some pretty good looking cowboy boots in Lethal Weapon, an excellent reason for wearing them, i say.

    i'm told, however, that they shouldn't fit. A friend instructed me, when i was buying a cheap non-fitting pair and complaining about the tightness: "Of course they don't fit. Cowboy boots aren't supposed to fit. You have to defeat them. It takes grit and pain."

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  5. Like hats, to avoid looking unnatural or yet, ridiculous, you have to look confident wearing them: that they are an integral part of you. You are therefore going to have to develop the John Wayne/Robert Mitchum slouch. Of the two, I favour the Mitchum.

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  6. That reminds me of the great opening scene to Dances With Wolves, where Costner's man is due to have his leg sawed off, can't even get his damn boots off, and decides to die instead, so mounts his horse and charges at the enemy like a true Costner 90s hero. A scene unimaginable were he wearing slippers, i feel.

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  7. Forget the slouch, Bryan. You have to perfect the menacing scowl. Wayne and Mitchum relaxed in bedroom slippers, but there was only one kind of footware for this guy.

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  8. I had a pair of cowboy boots that I bought in a store in Dallas many years ago. The store was the size of a Home Depot and sold nothing but cowboy boots. They were the most amazingly comfortable shoes I have ever owned. What material are your boots made from? Mine were shark skin but you can get boots made from the skin of virtually anything. The ostrich were very cool but the snake skin looked too fragile for anything other than the opera.

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  9. I grew up wearing nothing on my feet or cowboy boots (I was a tomboy; they were my brother Andrew's cast-offs). They are amazingly comfortable because your ankle is supported. I think some men also like 'em cause they add an inch or two to one's height. How tall are you Bryan?

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  10. re Peter Burnet's link to the Jack Palance picture, I'm reminded of the line from City Slickers: 'Did you see how leathery he was?' . . . 'He's like a saddlebag with eyes.'

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  11. The first boots, Tom, are leather, the second suede and the custom-made ones black leather. All other materials seemed sensaiotnally expensive. I am 5'10" Susant - 5'11.5" in my boots

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  12. Oh and, Brit, shrewd point about the 'gay'thing.

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  13. I guess cowboy boots obviate the need for spats...

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  14. Both the hat and the giant silver belt buckle would, I feel, be de trop, though I am tempted by spurs.

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  15. The belt buckles can be very uncomfortable, too.

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  16. Bryan,

    I'm about to embark on a road-trip from Las Vegas to Los Alamos. Should I buy some cowboy boots for this, and how do I avoid being pursued across Nevada, Arizona and New Mexico by the guy with the pressurised air cylinder?

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  19. Sort of a Tom Mix set, less the die cast six shooter, didn't get one of those as well I suppose.

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  20. What about a few dozen Milky Bars for the Man-Bag?

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  21. The pointy toes make it easier to kill cockroaches in corners.

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  22. Off topic, the random word verification string on my last post spelt "ezhab". That would be a great marketing name for a chain of drop in rehab centers for busy, on the go celebrities.

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  23. Well, I for one salute you. Who cares what the style police think?

    Cowboy boots are - despite appearances - amazingly comfortable and, so long as you don't wear them outside your jeans, fine to look at too.

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  25. Cowboy boots are NOT gay. They're the kind of footwear people either like a lot or don't like. I wear my cowboy boots all the time and they're classic and comfortable. They can be dressed up or down and never go out of style. Wear your boots proudly and if somebody has issue with them, it's their loss.

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  26. I'm from Holland and wear cowboyboots [Sendra, Sancho , Rancho] since i was 15 so for 30yrs now. I own 8 pairs right now, for different occasions.
    They'll last a long time and are, after breaking in, very comfortable.
    I just love the style but never thought of them as ''gay''.
    When i think of cowboyboots i think of John Wayne and other tough guys; hardly the gay kind...

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  27. Who cares if they're "gay?" They're the most comfortable things you can have on, have their very own style not often found on shoes / boots bought off the High Street, and give you a perfect swagger!

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