The 50th Academy of Country Music Awards taking place on Sunday, April 19, is the place to be for the best of country music and the best of Western boots.
For those who want to put their best foot forward, several high-profile Western boot retailers offer their suggestions on finding the perfectly fitting pair.
Gregg Hodgins, manager of Boot Hide Out in Paramus, N.J., emphasized boots should fit snugger through the foot, while the heel should slip up and down slightly. Slippage is a characteristic of brand new boots, he said, noting as the leather soles become more flexible, any slippage should be reduced.
The width of boot should accommodate the width of the foot. Don’t be fooled by a pointy toe, he said, since the foot typically stops at the fullest part of the boot, with more exaggerated toe characters a style rather than fit device.
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Jaylin Ramer, co-owner of Space Cowboys in New York, said her rule of thumb when getting sized, is for toes to hit anywhere from 1 inch to 1 1/2-inches from the tip of the boot, allowing for ample wiggle room.
For those with wider feet, boots are not off limits. Ramer said women’s boots are often available in B and C widths, while men’s in widths from D to EE. For those with a higher instep that find boots hard to slip on, Ramer has a simple solution: put a plastic bag over the foot and watch them slide right on.
To extend the life of a Western boot, particularly when worn on city streets, Ramer suggests having a shoe repair shop add a thin Vibram outsole to protect the leather. Uppers can be kept looking new by applying a conditioner, such as those used on saddles.
For those that may find it difficult to make the move from the comfort of an athletic shoe to a more rigid Western boot, Ramer said a cushioned insole can make the transition easier.
A good pair of Western boots, both Hodgins and Raymer agree, will conform to an individual foot over time, creating a one-of-a-kind fit.