Your Guide to the Various Styles of Western Footwear

Your Guide to the Various Styles of Western Footwear

Western-style footwear is a classic staple in many people’s closets that will never go out of style. Whether one is wearing them for work purposes or as a fashion statement, the style and functionality options are endless. Although the variations in western footwear may just seem like a bunch of design options for you to choose from, every cut, layer, and feature serves a purpose.


Western riding boots are the most classic and arguably one of the most popular styles of footwear; they are also designed specifically for horseback riding, as well as optimal ease while riding or sitting in a saddle. The heels are slightly higher than average and cut on an angle to prevent the boots from slipping out of the stirrups. The soles are smooth to prevent the rider’s foot from getting caught in the saddle in case of a fall. The shaft is also taller in style to protect the rider’s legs from getting pinched or snagged in the saddle, as well as to protect the rider from elements such as branches, thorns and things of that nature.


Western work boots are probably considered the most protective of styles, as they are designed for high traffic. They are manufactured with functionality rather than aesthetics in mind in order to protect the wearer from elements such as mud, ice, or any other conditions that nature or a work environment has to offer. Some of the features of western work boots include the following:

  • Focuses on protection and durability
  • Shorter heels for ease and comfort
  • Treaded or rubber soles for traction
  • Usually made of cowhide or other inexpensive material
  • Shock absorbency


There are no inhibitions when it comes to designing a western fashion boot. The heels can be high or low, designs can be extravagant or subtle, and the shaft can be just beyond the ankle or knee-high. Usually, the flashier designs are reserved for western fashion boots. The toes seem to be pointier and the shaft, taller than average. These boots are not recommended for everyday wear, and they are especially not designed for working or horseback riding. However, if you plan to go out for a night on the town or dancing, these are the boots for you!

  • Flashy
  • Heavy on the hardware
  • More frills such as fringe or embroidery


Having the lowest heel of all western style boots, these boots are a fairly new concept. Ropers are designed for rodeo cowboys. The low heel provides ease for jumping on and off of saddles during competition and following the taut rope leading to calves once they are roped. Hence the name, ropers. Also, for comfortability, most ropers have a rounded toe, lower heel, and a shorter shaft than most other styles of western boots. One downside to ropers is that many of them are lace-up boots.

Although lace-up boots provide more comfort as the rider can adjust the tightness to their liking, the laces can pose a danger by getting caught on the saddle, increasing the chances of the rider being dragged on the ground and injured if they were to be thrown off of the horse.


Cowboy boots are the most common of all western style boots. The average boot height for a cowboy boot is twelve inches. The heel is a reasonable height for both walking as well as riding, averaging around an inch and a half. These boots are for all-around wear whether riding, walking, dancing, or relaxing. The everyday wear of cowboy boots provides the most versatility of all of the boots as it can suit several different occasions and purposes. The style ranges from a classic and subtle design, to something with more of a flare. I would say that if you are unsure about what style boots to add to your collection, start with the cowboy boots.

Whatever form of western style footwear that you decide on, you will not be disappointed. With the endless options to choose from, they can be very addictive. Once you purchase one pair, you’ll almost be sure to follow up with another one. Whether you are purchasing your boots for work purposes, to spruce up an outfit, or a night on the town, there is a pair for every occasion.

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