How to wear Western boots
• Wear with skinny jeans and a casual top for relaxed look. Pair a black-and-white pair with white jeans and tuxedo-style jacket.
• If you're feeling brave, try multicolored boots, but it's not an easy look to pull off. Neither is wearing them with skirts, unless you are blessed with tanned, toned legs.
• Look for plain ankle boots with a Cuban heel or V-shaped top.
You don't have to be a cowgirl, equestrian or country music singer to don the season's hottest trend in women's footwear. Western-inspired boots come in many styles to suit many tastes. Shoppers can choose from ankle-height booties to midcalf cowboy boots to riding boots that rise to the knee.
"Women are pairing them with dresses, skinny jeans (and) skirts, while teens are also wearing them to prom," said Deana Davis, sales associate at the Hamilton Place Dillard's. "It's just a huge look that's been around for awhile but has gotten really big this year."
Chattanooga-based artist Kem Alexander said she wears her boots year-round for both practical and fashionable reasons.
"I work with concrete and metal, and (boots) really protect my feet," she said. "When I'm in my fashion mode, I wear them with long skirts."
North Georgia resident Cindy Pinion said a Roper style made by Justin Boot Co. is her favorite. She wears custom-made ruffled socks with the boots.
"They look great with shorts, a short skirt, leather pants and jeans," she said. "I wear them with casual or fancy clothes. I like the boots because they are very comfortable, look stylish on your feet, and they go with just about any outfit."
For some, like Signal Mountain resident Phyllis Mescon, equestrian boots are crossover dressing. She's worn them since she was 7 years old competing in horse shows. Although she uses "actual" riding boots for riding, she has a favorite pair of equestrian boots purchased from J. Crew about fours years ago that she wears strictly for fashion.
The style is "sophisticated, timeless and elegant," she said. "I just love the look."
Because there are so many styles available, the secret is knowing what type of boot to wear with different fashions, Davis said.
"If you want to wear a short boot, for example, it looks better with flared-leg pants or a knee-length dress," she said.
Celebrity stylists Emily Current and Meritt Elliott recommend buying a cowboy boot that hits at midcalf.
"The lower the shaft of the boot, the better it's going to look on your leg," the duo told the People magazine website Stylenews.peoplestylewatch.com. "Make the cowboy boot the only Western-inspired piece in your outfit. To keep it feminine, pair the boots with a dress or flippy skirt."
Several designers feature Western-inspired boots in their fall collections, including Frye, Lucky Brand, BCBG and Gianni. Even Uggs has come out with an equestrian style lined in its signature sheepskin. Dillard's manager Bill Graves said the boot was introduced last year and sold out almost immediately. He expects it to be just as popular this year.
But fashionable Western boots go beyond basic black or brown.
"Dillard's has snakeskin, studs, rhinestone, glitter ... Many of our customers want anything that sparkles," Davis said.
Feature writer Karen Nazor Hill covers fashion, design, home and gardening, pets, entertainment, human interest features and more. She also is an occasional news reporter and the Town Talk columnist. She previously worked for the Catholic newspaper Tennessee Register and was a reporter at the Chattanooga Free Press from 1985 to 1999, when the newspaper merged with the Chattanooga Times. She won a Society of Professional Journalists Golden Press third-place award in feature writing for ...