Cowboy boots

I really want a pair of cowboy (inspired) boots. I keep putting on my jeans and thinking that’s what’s missing.

I know exactly what details I want. Ankle height. Pointed “snip toe” with a lot of structure (see the examples below). Short, tapered heel. Heavy sole. Real cowboy boot shank - they’re shaped perfectly like my feet and very supportive. Dramatic but simple.

I bought two options and I’m not sure either is quite right.

These leather Zara boots are certainly dramatic. They're a knockoff of something, I believe. The heel is higher than I want, so I worry I’d never wear them, like all my other heeled boots, and yet they are very comfortable. And I generally have a rule of only leather-lined shoes and boots, no synthetic, for comfort and longevity. They are high quality for Zara though (and the price shows it - $170).

The Frye Shane boot is closer, except they feel a little too normal (can’t quite explain it) for my taste. If they had a loose cowboy boot shaft instead of the fitted ankle they’d be perfect. They fit all the other desires. But they don’t make my heart sing. But maybe under jeans they really are ideal, and the quality and wearability are top notch.

The ones I really want are unavailable or too expensive (see finds) but I’m still searching for the perfect pair!

What do you think of either of these?

[edit: a note on the Finds. The Lucchese Flannery boots or the Dan Post boots are both just about perfect but not available in black anywhere anymore - I'm showing the purple one just for reference. The other Finds are out of my price range but I like them.]

This post is also published in the youlookfab forum. You can read and reply to it in either place. All replies will appear in both places.


  • bridgie replied 5 years ago

    Greyscale, I like the drama of the Zara leather and I think they look more expensive.  The Frye Shane is also good looking.  I hope you can find a pair that meets all your requirements!

  • Mainelady replied 5 years ago

    I like both boots you have shown. The Zara are more noticeable, due to their more modern shape. The Frye are classics and may have more longevity than the modern Zara’s. Does one style make your heart happier when you look at them? When you put on outfits and thought that cowboy boots were the missing piece, what did you see in your mind’s eye?

  • ChrisM replied 5 years ago

    You should look on eBay. Using the style that you like best, do a broad search and see what’s there. You might be surprised at the number of gently used, high quality options. I’ve bought a couple pair that way - both Frye - and don’t regret it a bit.

    I like the Zara, but agree with the worry on the heel height.

    Don’t be afraid to be picky! You’ll find what you want!!!

  • krishnidoux replied 5 years ago

    The Zara ones are much more fun and in line with what you want it looks like. The Frye ones, I agree, don't cut it. I am bothered by something at the neck of the bootie, where it meets your leg. It's either not wide enough, or too wide. Or the front dip isn't as deep as it couls be. 

    If the heel on the first pair is uncomfortable for you though, then keep looking. You have identify what you want, and this quest seem important for your wardrobe coherence. Its worth the wait. 

  • Jessikams replied 5 years ago

    I vote for more dramatic, always. When I settle for something a bit too “normal”, it often languishes unworn.

  • Jenni NZ replied 5 years ago

    Well I like the look of the Frye better myself. But like the idea of your getting real ones like Luchesse. Aren't there other proper cowboy boots brands out there?

  • Janet replied 5 years ago

    The Zara’s are so distinctive — knock offs of Celine, I believe. I love the look of those best, especially for your style, but I would be very picky when it comes to comfort on this kind of purchase. I’m on a similar quest for new black ankle boots and have ruled out several already for that reason. I love those Helmut Lang ones too...

  • Bijou replied 5 years ago

    Well those Helmet Lang ones are really the perfect ones for you (except the price). Let's hope that Zara will do a knock off of those.

    You have answered your question - Zara is too high and the Frye's a bit boring - I am sure better ones will come along. Next!

  • Diana replied 5 years ago

    I think the Zaras look really cool! The comfort issue worries me a bit though. How do they feel when you walk? The shape of the heel and sole, which is admittedly a key part of the visual appeal, looks like it would mess with your gait because of how it concentrates all your weight in a small area right in the middle of your foot, and I have no idea how it would feel when walking. Probably depends on your particular gait.

    The Fryes don’t read as cowboy boots to me. They look nice but just like regular, boring black booties.

  • Sara L. replied 5 years ago

    I quite like the Frye's but they're not as dramatic as the Zara ones.  I'm worried about the heel height on the Zara ones since you say you've had problems in the past with wearing heels that are too high.  Have you looked somewhere like Boot Barn?  I know you're not looking for authentic cowboy boots but they have a variety of styles.

  • JAileen replied 5 years ago

    The Zaras are very dramatic and cool. But don’t get boots that aren’t comfortable.

    I have several pairs of western boots.

    The Ariats are unbelievably comfy, with 1.5 inch heel. If you weren’t against a higher shaft I’d definitely recommend them.

  • Angie replied 5 years ago

    I don't think either pair are right, but I LOVE the vibe for you. I vote try the Helmut Lang. 

  • Greyscale replied 5 years ago

    First, thank you all for validating my sense that the Frye boots didn’t quite do it. Back they go.

    Diana, the Zara boots are strange to walk in, because the sole is curved. But not uncomfortable, and my feet are pretty strong from Irish dance (similar to ballet) so the height isn’t necessarily painful. They’re supportive in the right places. Still it’s hard to know what they’ll be like since I don’t want to damage the sole while trying them on around the house.

    The Zara boots were actually too small in the instep so I returned them but I’m considering ordering the next size up to try. I do look on eBay and Poshmark often, and I’ve been stopping by thrift stores too. I’m sure I’ll find something.

  • UmmLila (Lisa) replied 5 years ago

    I like the Zara ones if you can make them work. In the expensive range, I was very taken with the silver R13 pair.

  • LaPed replied 5 years ago

    I agree with Angie (and you!) that neither of these pairs is quite right. Of your Finds, my eye is definitely drawn to the Helmut Lang pair first and the R13 second. Expensive tastes. ;) Might be worth stalking.

  • CocoLion replied 5 years ago

    I vote no on the Zaras.  The heel is too high.

    Have you looked at Topshop for style at a low price?

    There doesn't seem to be much in the in-between price point.

    What about these from a European on line store:
    I think those are just about perfect for you but expensive.

    If you wear them all the time they are worth it.

  • Aida replied 5 years ago

    Ooh I like the ones Angie and CocoLion suggested. I don't think of either the Zara nor the Frye as "cowboy boots" and wonder if you'll still be reaching for "cowboy boots" if you keep one. Too bad the purple pair isn't available in black!

  • Greyscale replied 5 years ago

    The really perfect ones were the black version of the R13 boots but they sold out instantly and of course they were out of my price range. They are exactly right.

    I often can't wear chelsea boots because my very high instep is hard to get into them and the pressure from the shoe on my instep hurts. (The bones on the top of my foot meet in a big bump on my instep.) Else I'd agree that the Helmut Lang boots, and the Saint Laurent ones CocoLion linked to, are also almost perfect.

    And Aida, the purple ones did come in black at some point - there's a pair on Poshmark but it was just marked as "not for sale" before I could snap them up. 

    I guess I'll keep looking! No rush I suppose - I have plenty of shoes - but none of them are quite right with all my new jeans.

  • replied 5 years ago

    I think a classic cowboy boot would be great. My favourite style is the purple ones. I like the curly, classic stitching, and think it would work well juxtaposed against your edgy style.

  • Jaime replied 5 years ago

    The Zara ones look too high. I guess they are copies of the Celine ones, that also look too high - not that I wouldn't try them if given a chance! Keep your eye out at Crossroads etc. The R13 shape, which is perfection, is also quite classic. I have also heard of cutting down a taller pair if you find the right ones.

  • cindysmith replied 5 years ago

    I love the Zara pair, but agree that the heel could be an issue. Not just the height, but also the shape/angle of it. It looks like it just BARELY keeps the center of the heel (on your foot) directly above the heel of the boot; and even then, it is above the very edge of the back of the shoe's heel.

    The Helmet Lang ones are divine, and would definitely be worth stalking

  • Hadilly replied 5 years ago

    Maybe consider the Acne pistols?

    Longtime lurker here but thought I would contribute.

  • Hadilly replied 5 years ago

    Maybe consider the Acne pistols?

    Longtime lurker here but thought I would contribute.

  • Style Fan replied 5 years ago

    I think this is a great look for you.  Neither pair seems right but there will be others. 

  • Jenni NZ replied 5 years ago

    Have you looked at Ariat or Sancho? We have a cool store in NZ called Rodeo Drive which imports Luchesse and Sancho, I keep looking at the site and loving things but don't buy because not sure it's really my style even though I fall in love!

  • gryffin replied 5 years ago

    Greyscale - I've been on the hunt for the past 2 yrs.  I'm being totally picky they must be all black.  If you are more flexible you might like the ariat darling bootie.  Thought I'd post just in case you missed it.  My regular height cowboy boots are the heritage r toe and I love them, but I'd love short boots, sigh....the hunt continues.....

  • Janet replied 5 years ago

    Greyscale, I get the idea you are looking more for cowboy-INSPIRED rather than literal cowboy boots. Which is why I keep looking at those Helmut Lang (I added them to my FInds) and thinking they’d be so perfect for you. Am I right? I’m keeping an eye out for choices for you when I peruse online for black boots for myself.

  • gryffin replied 5 years ago

    Hadilly - I'm not sure they about greyscale, but I love those boots.  It reminds me of the EF Coax booties.  There is something stompy, flamenco, powerful about them.  Love!! 

  • Hadilly replied 5 years ago

    Thank you for adding a picture. Yes, Pistols are great. Too high for me but super stylely.

  • rachylou replied 5 years ago

    Agree the Frye were too normal and the Zara a no go because of comfort... but the Zara styling was really good.

  • Greyscale replied 5 years ago

    Janet - yes, exactly right. I don't want 'real' cowboy boots because they're too tall for my short calves and they don't fit well under the jeans I currently wear. So, I want something ankle-height, mostly worn under full length jeans or with cropped jeans. They don't have to be super authentic, but my favorite pairs do have the authentic heavy duty sole.

    Hadilly - funny that you say that. I'd wanted Acne Pistol boots for years. And then, just as the cowboy boot idea stuck in my head, I found a pair of Pistols at a consignment store! So now I do own them, and they're wonderful, although not quite the cowboy look I want. So the search continues.

    (The even funnier part is that I found two pairs at the consignment store in one week, a size apart. I bought both, kept the one that fit better after wearing each of them to test them, and sold the other pair online for enough to cover the cost of both. Only time I've managed to do that, but the end result is they were free!)

  • Greyscale replied 5 years ago

    Update: the Zara boots went on sale ($99) and I bought them (one size bigger - the ones shown here were too small). I fell in love with the really dramatic shape. Even if I don't wear them much, I'm so happy to own them.

    The heel is higher than I'd usually wear but the arch position and weight balance are perfect, so they're very wearable. Plus my feet are strong and used to that position from Irish dance. 

    I'm still open to something more like the perfect R13 boots, but in the meantime, these are an exciting addition to my shoe collection.

  • jussie replied 5 years ago

    I love those Zara boots and I think they look great with your style. enjoy wearing them! Even if you don’t wear them for long days on your feet they will be great for lighter walking days. The heel is what makes them so special imho.

  • Suz replied 5 years ago

    Oooh! I love the Zara boots. When Zara footwear works, it works brilliantly. Angie and I and Shevia all had a pair of navy sock booties with pointed toes that lasted us YEARS. Mine were in extremely heavy rotation and I still miss them. I had them re-heeled several times but finally they were just getting too scuffed up to wear. The oxfords in my skirt and flats post are also Zara and they are amazingly comfortable!

  • Jenni NZ replied 5 years ago

    That's great you got them for $99 rather than $170! Love it when that happens!
    To me that means that if you don't wear them quite as much due to heel height, that since you love them it won't feel like such a waste if you only wear them infrequently, for love. Cheers to that!
    PS I'm still curious about the final jeans choice even though I feel bad about not seeing much difference?!
    ETA is it the jeans from the thrift store in your denim skirt post? They look great!

You need to be logged in to comment