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Vintage Cowboy Boots 101

27 Aug

As we approach September and college football season (Go Frogs!), we thought it was a good time to give you a do’s and don’ts guide to wearing cowboy boots. We’ve heard a lot of nasty rumors lately about cowboy boots being paired with everything from yoga gear to Nike shorts. While I love the fact that some girls think that their cowboy boots are the most comfortable shoes in their closet, it saddens me that they are losing their rank on the fashion totem pole by being worn with athletic gear. So, read up and then go look in your closet to discover the vast possibilities in your wardrobe that will give new life to your favorite Tony Lamas.

DO: Jeans—the obvious no-brainer choice. Whether they are skinny jeans tucked in to show off  that fancy TCU Horned Frog inlay or tucked out (yes, that is a real term) boot cut jeans that give that pointy toe something to peek out of, jeans are the easiest and most conservative option to pair with your cowboy boots. And for those of you outside of the great state of Texas, don’t be shy about wearing those boots in Washington DC, or Seattle, or NYC. We’ve sold many a pair of boots to Yankees who are not willing to settle for the “fashion” cowboy boots you see in stores these days. What a better souvenir from your visit to the great state of Texas than a pair of authentic TEXAS made cowboy boots?

DO: Dresses/skirts—the uniform of the 15-25 year old. OK, yes, I admit. I am not 25 and I do wear my cowboy boots with dresses. So, the trend may have STARTED with this age group, but like anything else, trends migrate to those older and younger. And as long as you didn’t wear the trend the first time around, it’s OK to wear it the second time around. You will typically see this trend at its finest at any college football game in Texas. I have my suspicions that it has also spread to other states in the South, and will be able to confirm that when my new college freshman daughter reports back about the reactions she got when wearing her garnet and red snakeskin cowboy boots to her first Gamecocks football game. She’ll either fit right in, or they will know she’s from Texas. Either way, I see it as a win/win. So, the trend may have started with this young crowd, but rodeo queens were wearing their elaborate cowboy boots with full riding skirts way before anyone thought to do it with a cute little babydoll dress. Why else would bootmakers put so much time and effort in to fancy inlays and stitching just to have them be covered up by jeans? Some boots were made to be shown off and there’s no better way to do it than with a cute dress or skirt.

DO: Denim cut-offs—the Daisy Duke phenomenon. Ahh yes, Daisy Duke. Introduced to us in the 80s by Catherine Bach, and revived in 2005 by Jessica Simpson, she was tough when she needed to be and a Southern Belle when, well, the rest of the time. Although I’m not a fan of the cowboy boots with cut-offs look, I can see its appeal. It’s hotter than a stolen tamale here in the summer and we do not believe in putting our boots away just because it’s a bit warmish. So, jeans are too hot, skirts/dresses are too fancy, the next best alternative is cut-offs. Probably a trend best reserved for that age group I mentioned above. I’m sure not brave enough to pull it off!

DO: Wedding dresses—seriously. Probably only in Texas, but I’ll welcome any challenge to that assumption, will you see brides and entire wedding parties wearing cowboy boots with their dresses. One of my favorite customers asked us last year to outfit her entire wedding party in cowboy boots. It was a ranch wedding, and I think we hunted for boots for her bridesmaids, groomsmen, parents, cousins, etc for 6 months in order to get her exactly what she wanted. The result was more than we could have ever asked for, and we were proud to be a part of it. So, be bold! If you just can’t make yourself wear boots down the aisle (or, mom has a different opinion about that subject), then fling off those Jimmy Choo’s once the “I dos” are said, and slip in to your comfy boots for the reception. Trust me, by the time the Cotton Eyed Joe comes around, your feet will love you for it.Courtesy of Meegan Weaver Photography

DON’T: Nike shorts/yoga pants/athletic gear. Like I said above, I love that y’all think that your cowboy boots are the most comfortable shoes in your closet and can be thrown on with anything. But please, don’t. They deserve a little respect. I’m still not even a fan of Nike shorts with Sperrys, but I digress. Athletic shoes with athletic gear. Done.

DON’T: Dress pants. Thankfully, we haven’t seen this yet, so we are gonna kill that rat before it ever gets in the dog food.

DON’T: Cocktail dresses. Unless the specified dress of the party is “Western Chic”, “Cowgirl Cocktail”, or “Texas Classy”, I don’t care how blingy your boots are or how much money you spent on them, take this opportunity to hightail it to Neiman’s and buy yourself that fabulous pair of Manolo’s you have had your eyes on. After all, a girl can’t live on cowboy boots alone.

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The Greatest Thing to Happen to Texas since….

13 Mar

We have been traveling the world, also know as Texas, searching for some incredibly unique finds in preparation for our show this weekend. We will be joining over 50 vintage dealers from all over the metroplex, dealers from online shops, and from other parts of the country in the Dallas Vintage Jewelry Show in Grapevine, March 16-17. Other vintage shops from DFW will be there as well, such as Zola’s, Vintage Martini, and Dolly Python.

The show itself is the first of its kind in Texas. One of the promoters is quoted as saying you can find everything “from Mad Men to Downton Abbey”. This sounds like a perfect excuse to duck out of work early on Friday and head over to Grapevine! Doors open at 3pm, but if you’re like me you can get in an hour earlier for $20 and beat the crowds. Not to mention, secure some of the best deals for yourself.

When our store does shows like this throughout the year, the first question is always what to take. We’ve hit the vintage lottery so much in the last few months that it’d be hard to not take everything! The 80’s Carolina Herrera dresses, the silk Malcolm Starr, our lot of vintage skin bags…who can choose? And our plethora of vintage cowboy boots, they get lonely without enough attention. But don’t fret! We won’t empty the store. You’ll still have plenty to play with in our store this weekend. We know that Easter is right around the corner, and scoring that one of kind, would hurl yourself over a pew if you had a twin at service that morning, Easter dress is top priority. No Easter is complete without a great vintage hat to match.

Pastels mean Spring, and while we hope that was the last cold front of the year, Spring is coming! Whether you come to the store in Fort Worth, or the show in Grapevine, we hope to see you this weekend, with some sunshine and good weather to keep us all in a better mood.

We have the pleasure of meeting some really cool people in the shop from time to time. On Friday we met a couple in town from Austin, escaping the SXSW craze. It was their first time to Fort Worth, so we got to chatting with them of course. He is an inventor, and vintage lover, and she is an adorable young lady who makes everything vintage look good. He is the creator of Vintage Vanities, a small, but soon to be large, company that hand makes pocket sized mirrors. He cuts the glass, crafts a copper material around the edges so they are smooth and never rough, and places a unique image in the other side. His images, he’s chosen carefully, hand picking each to his own taste. Some of the images include the graffiti artist Banksy, Duchamp’s Mona Lisa, Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, and many other classic images of vintage beauties like Bridget Bardot. Not to mention this pretty awesome David Bowie! Love the hair dude. He also has a line of 19th century images that would make you laugh, or blush, but are great to say the least. These we’ll have to let you discover yourself. His mirrors are carried in stores all over Austin, and are quickly catching on all over. When creativity and small business come together and meet success, that always makes us smile! Happy soggy Monday, vintage lovers!

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Vintage-Vanities/142526999094400

16 Jan

In honor of the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo opening this weekend, we figured we’d give you a leg up, (hahahha, I crack myself up), on your “boot” knowledge. Boots are in high demand these days, although if you’ve lived in Texas as long as I have, I don’t believe they are ever NOT in demand. However, being one that likes to go against the grain, I didn’t actually own a pair of boots until I turned 27. The first pair I bought were Justins, brown and pink, of course. I had to get the helpful knowledge of the sales lady on how to know if they “fit” right. Something most people don’t know right off hand, a cowboy boot is supposed to be tight around the arch and loose in the heel. There is a certain sound to a perfect fit, and when you hear it you know it. It’s a softly forced “CLOP”, or at least that’s how I’d describe it. This sound is usually followed with an “ahhh” by the wearer.  Everytime I hear it in the store, I know that’s the one.

Boots have definitely changed over the years, and once again we can look back to our ancestors, the immigrants to America, for the styles we know and love today. It was the German and English immigrants in the 1800’s that were responsible for bringing over the European styles and adopting them into the making of the original cowboy boots. While now we wear them for style, they were first made for function. The heel of the boot was made to fit and help a rider stay in his or her stirrups. Most boots were made from a straight wooden form, forcing the wearer to break them in to his or her left and right foot. Cowboys were known for standing in water troughs and then letting the boots dry on their feet in order to attain the perfect fit. It wasn’t until 1815 that the unique Wellington-style boot was introduced, in that it produced a left foot and a right foot, and a piece by piece construction that is similar to today’s style. Boot makers like Hyer and Justin first got their start repairing boots for working cowboys.

Much like today, boots gained popularity through movies and movie stars donning the fancy footwear. During World War II though, boots wear made under certain restrictions that were placed on boot makers because of shortages and rations. Boots wear made in either brown or black, and couldn’t have more than 8-10 inch tops. This is where the name for shorter boots, “Pee -Wees”, came from originally. Basically, nothing fancy was allowed. Even Toebugs were outlawed. Now at this point you may be asking yourself, what is a toebug? And please, don’t Google. The internet is a scary place to wander. A Toebug, in cowboy boots terms is the stitching on the toe part of the boot as demonstrated by this picture here.

Thank you www.dimlights.com for the demonstration.

Back to the toebug situation: Leave it to a woman to never settle for bland. Enid Justin, founding owner of Nocona boots, was the first to challenge the law and say that stitching on the toe was essential to the boot for strength and flexibility, and therefore mandatory in functionality. Good job Enid. Stylish women everywhere salute you!


“Pee Wee” boots were also popular with the ladies in the 40’s because the boot showed more of the calf, and had a certain sex appeal to them. But it wasn’t until after World War II that the industry started making up for lost time with some of the most outrageous and fun styles in its history. This includes our fabulous pair made for the bicentennial in 1976 seen here.Fast Forward to the 1980’s and John Travolta in a little movie called “Urban Cowboy”. I dare say, this sparked a BOOM in the boot and western wear business. Again, leave it to the celebrities.
So back to John Travolta, and the time when he was a “sex symbol”. I know, hard to remember, but it happened. So between the time the movie came out and 1982, this boot BOOM soon faded to a BUST. Boot makers found themselves stuck with unsold “fashionable” boots. I think we’ve seen this first-hand, with what is known as “old-new stock”. Every once in awhile we come across a pair of vintage boots that have never been worn, and have been collecting dust in a warehouse somewhere until someone decides to sell them wholesale just to clean out their inventory. We like that. Someone’s loss is always someone else’s gain. We are the Queens of closet-cleaner-outers.

You may be asking yourself at this point, how does she know all of this?!?!  Working at  the store and for Kalen I’ve learned QUITE a lot more than I ever bargained for as far of boots go. The rest of my knowledge comes from a handsome little gem of a book called “Cowboy Boots: The Art & Sole” by Jennifer June…and of course my best friend Google. We have two great books in the store that even if you just peruse for the pictures, they are both quite amazing.

So that leads us to today and the epic question of pointy toe or round, high top or shorty, colorful or neutral, and leather or exotic skin. Whatever your preference, always remember, boots are not like heels ladies! You need to make sure above all, they fit, and they ARE comfortable. Vintage boots are always the best because someone else has done the work of breaking them in for you. And as any fashionista knows,breaking in shoes…hardest WORK EVER!