Boots are special by dint of numerical minority: most people don't wear them, so we tend to notice them. As well, they present a larger palette for expression and are often expressive far beyond mere size. Yet the statements most boots make concern their wearers: the bella donna in an intoxicating pair of thigh-high Cavallis will probably have you wondering what other influences she might be able to exert on you.
But there is no archetypical wearer, no marble goddess eternally posing in an ur-Cavalli-thigh-high to which all subsequent thigh highs can pray for inspiration. (And yes, we do think that is a shame...)
Cowboy boots, on the other hand, speak to origins and a certain history in a way that few other boots do. Wellington wearers aren't trying to channel Napoleon's nemesis, nor are those in postilions likely to be anywhere near a coach – whereas the very point of a cowboy boot is to recall the men of the prairie. They are the Grecian urns of the American West, but instead of wine, their 10-inch, stitched and inlaid and tanned leather tops are portage for the overflowing, canteen-stained aura of "selfless, honest, independent, and self-reliant" loners.
And when you put them on, those are the waters in which you choose to dip your feet.
The problem, as with most cult relics, is that they are poorly understood. So Luxist spoke to custom boot maker Lisa Sorrell of Sorrell's Custom Boots – whose average boot runs $6,000 – to learn more about how the West was worn. One of the first things she told us: "I tell my customers that cowboy boots are a way for men to wear high heels and bright colors."
Poorly understood, indeed...
Gallery: Lisa Sorrell's Custom Boots