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Mastering Cowboy Boots with Suits: A Modern Man’s Guide

Last updated: January 24, 2024

By: Miles HenryFact Checked

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Are you considering pairing your favorite cowboy boots with a suit? It’s a style puzzle many face, yet it’s a combination that exudes sophistication and flair. As someone who often wears cowboy boots with suits and slacks, I understand the fineness of this fashion blend. This style, embraced by professionals, wedding guests, and even U.S. presidents, marries formal elegance with Western boldness.

In this article, I’ll share insights from my personal experience, guiding you through the essentials of matching cowboy boots with suits. From selecting the right boot material to the perfect pant length, we’ll cover the key elements that make this combination work.

Whether you’re a cowboy boot aficionado or new to this trend, you’ll find practical tips to confidently embrace this distinctive style. Let’s dive into the world of cowboy boots and suits and unlock the secrets to mastering this unique fashion statement.

US Navy 051221-N-2532P-030 Executive Director of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, Duke Blackwood, right, explains the history of a pair of boots and cowboy hat worn by President Ronald Reagan

President Reagan was famous for pairing cowboy boots with his suits.

Practical Style Guide: Pairing Cowboy Boots with Suits

Understanding the Suit Style

  • Classic Business Suits: For traditional business suits in navy, black, or grey, opt for cowboy boots in darker shades like black or dark brown. This creates a sophisticated look that’s not too flashy.
  • Casual Suits: Lighter-colored suits, such as beige or light grey, pair well with lighter brown or tan cowboy boots. This combination is perfect for less formal events or smart-casual settings.

Color Coordination

  • Matching Tones: Coordinate the color of your boots with your suit. Dark boots with dark suits, and lighter boots with lighter suits.
  • Contrasting Accents: For a bolder statement, contrast your boot color with your suit, but ensure it complements the overall outfit.

Patterns and Materials

  • Solid vs. Patterned Suits: Solid suits are a safe choice and pair well with most cowboy boots. For patterned suits, choose boots in a solid color to avoid clashing.
  • Material Considerations: Leather cowboy boots are a classic choice. For a more textured look, consider suede boots, but keep in mind the formality of the occasion.
Cowboy Boots Made by Tony Lama for President George H. W. Bush - NARA - 7850225 (page 3)

President H.W. Bush’s Tony Lama Cowboy Boots.

Choosing the Right Cowboy Boots

Boot Styles for Formal Wear

  • Sleek and Simple: Choose boots with minimal embellishments for a more formal look. Avoid overly ornate designs.
  • Toe Shape: A pointed or slightly rounded toe tends to be more formal and pairs well with suits.

Material and Design

  • Leather Choices: High-quality leather boots in black or brown are versatile and suitable for most formal occasions.
  • Exotic Materials: For a distinctive look, consider exotic materials like alligator or ostrich, but be mindful of the event’s formality.

What to Avoid

  • Overly Casual Styles: Avoid boots that are too rugged or appear worn out, as they can detract from the formality of the suit.
  • Loud Colors and Patterns: While unique, bright colors or bold patterns can be distracting and may not always complement formal attire.

By following these guidelines, you can create a harmonious and stylish look that perfectly blends the distinctiveness of cowboy boots with the elegance of a suit. Remember, the key is to balance personal style with the appropriateness of the occasion.

Picture of various suits.
Suits in various styles, colors, and fabrics.

Suit Selection and Styling: Complementing Cowboy Boots

When selecting a suit to pair with cowboy boots, the key is to maintain a balance between the traditional elegance of the suit and the rugged charm of the boots. Here are some tips to help you choose the right suit in terms of color, cut, and fabric:

Suit Colors

  • Neutral Tones: Stick to classic colors like black, navy, or charcoal. These colors are versatile and pair well with most cowboy boot styles and colors.
  • Earth Tones: For a more rustic look, consider earthy tones like browns or olive greens. These colors complement the natural hues of leather boots.
  • Lighter Shades: For less formal or summer events, lighter shades like beige, light grey, or even pastels can work well with lighter-colored boots.

Suit Cuts

  • Classic Fit: A traditional, classic fit suit works well with cowboy boots, providing a balanced look that’s not too trendy.
  • Slim Fit: A slim-fit suit can also pair nicely, offering a more modern silhouette. Ensure the trousers are tailored to sit just right on the boots without bunching up.
  • Avoid Overly Trendy Cuts: Extremely skinny or overly relaxed fits might clash with the classic style of cowboy boots.

Suit Fabrics

  • Wool: A staple in suit fabrics, wool suits offer versatility and elegance. They work well for both formal and semi-formal occasions.
  • Cotton or Linen: Ideal for warmer weather or casual settings, these lighter fabrics can create a relaxed yet stylish look with cowboy boots.
  • Tweed or Herringbone: For a more textured look, especially in fall and winter, these fabrics can add depth to your outfit and pair nicely with the ruggedness of cowboy boots.

Additional Styling Tips

  • Pant Length: Ensure the length of your suit pants is tailored to accommodate the height of your cowboy boots. The hem should gently rest on the top of the boots without too much break.
  • Accessories: Choose accessories like belts and ties that complement both the suit and the boots. A leather belt that matches the color of your boots can tie the look together.
  • Confidence is Key: The most important aspect of pulling off this look is confidence. Wear your cowboy boots and suit combo with pride and a sense of personal style.

By considering these factors, you can create a cohesive and stylish ensemble that perfectly marries the sophistication of a suit with the distinctive character of cowboy boots.

Picture of accessories you can use to enhance your suit and cowboy boot look.
Belt and tie to accessorize your look.

Accessorizing Your Look: Enhancing the Cowboy Boots and Suit Combination

Accessorizing is crucial in tying together your cowboy boots and suit ensemble. The right accessories can elevate your outfit, adding a touch of personality while maintaining a harmonious balance. Here are some suggestions:

1. Belts

  • Match Your Boots: Choose a belt that matches the color and texture of your cowboy boots. This creates a cohesive look and draws the ensemble together.
  • Keep It Simple: Opt for a belt with a simple, elegant buckle. Overly large or ornate buckles can distract from the overall sophistication of the suit.

2. Ties

  • Complementary Colors: Select a tie that complements the colors in your suit and boots. It doesn’t have to be a perfect match but should harmonize with the outfit’s color palette.
  • Pattern Play: If your suit and boots are solid colors, consider a tie with a subtle pattern to add visual interest. Conversely, with a patterned suit, a solid tie is a safer choice.

3. Pocket Squares

  • Accent Piece: A pocket square can be a great way to add a pop of color or pattern. It should complement your tie but doesn’t need to match it exactly.
  • Fold with Care: Choose a fold that is neat and not too flamboyant. The classic straight fold or a simple puff can add elegance without overpowering the look.

4. Cufflinks

  • Subtle Elegance: If your suit has French cuffs, select cufflinks that are understated yet stylish. They should match the metal of your watch or other jewelry.
  • Personal Touch: Cufflinks can be a way to express your personality or interests in a subtle manner.

5. Watches

  • Complement the Style: Choose a watch that matches the formality of the occasion. A sleek, classic watch design works well for formal events, while a more rugged or vintage-style watch can suit less formal occasions.

6. Maintaining Balance

  • Avoid Over-Accessorizing: Too many accessories can overwhelm the outfit. Stick to a few key pieces that complement each other.
  • Harmony in Details: Ensure that all accessories are in harmony with the overall style and color scheme of your outfit.
  • Reflect Your Personal Style: While it’s important to maintain balance, your accessories should also reflect your personal style and add a unique touch to your ensemble.

Remember, the goal of accessorizing is to enhance your cowboy boots and suit combination, not to compete with it. Each accessory should contribute to a polished and cohesive look.

Ronald Reagan and Ralph Hall

President Reagan sporting cowboy boots with slacks.

The Appeal of Cowboy Boots in Formal Wear

  • Fashion Evolution: Transition from Western wear to a formal fashion staple.
  • Cultural Significance: A blend of individuality and heritage.

The Rising Trend in Formal Settings

  • Celebrity Influence: Popularized by fashion influencers and celebrities.
  • Unique Blend: Combines ruggedness with sophistication.
  • Fashion Industry Adoption: High-end brands incorporating cowboy boots in formal lines.

Personal Style and Individuality

  • More Than Footwear: A statement of personal style and narrative.
  • Design Diversity: Intricate designs, bold colors, and classic finishes.
  • Confidence and Distinction: Symbolizes a confident, stand-out fashion choice.

In Formal Settings

  • Conversation Starter: Adds an element of intrigue and personal backstory.
  • Reflecting Roots: A subtle nod to one’s cultural or personal history.
  • Value of Individuality: Aligns with the trend of personalization in fashion.

The Allure of Cowboy Boots in Formal Wear

  • Tradition Meets Modernity: Merges classic and contemporary styles.
  • Versatility: Suitable for various formal occasions.
  • Continued Evolution: Expectation of more innovative styling in the future.

Top Picks for Dress Cowboy Boots

When choosing cowboy boots for formal occasions, you want to strike the perfect balance between style, comfort, and durability. Here are some top picks that meet these criteria, each offering its unique flair to your formal wear.

Lucchese Classics Handmade Dress Boot These boots epitomize sleek, timeless design with minimal stitching, perfect for formal settings. Crafted from premium leather, they offer a comfortable fit that conforms to your foot over time, while their renowned durability makes them a lasting investment.

The Ariat Heritage Roper is ideal for those who value simplicity and elegance in their footwear. These boots feature Ariat’s advanced ATS technology, ensuring superior comfort and stability. Their rugged construction and classy appearance make them versatile for semi-formal occasions.

The Doc by Tecovas is a standout with its fine leather and classic cowboy silhouette. Handcrafted for a custom-like fit, these boots are as comfortable as they are stylish. The Goodyear welt construction enhances their durability and allows for easy resoling.

Tecovas.docs edited
Tecovas The Doc

Justin Boots Classic Western These Justin Boots combine the timeless appeal of cowboy boots with a modern touch, perfect for adding a distinguished flair to your formal wear. The Buck Round Toe model is designed to bridge the gap between casual ruggedness and formal elegance.

Dan Post Milwaukee The Dan Post Milwaukee boots combine elegance and refinement, featuring detailed stitching and a tapered toe. The cushioned insole ensures prolonged comfort and the durable leather construction means these boots are ready for frequent wear without losing their sophisticated look.

Each pair of boots in this selection offers a unique blend of style, comfort, and durability, catering to different preferences and styles for formal wear. Whether it’s the classic elegance of the Lucchese Classics or the unique biker-inspired Frye Harness, there’s a pair to suit every formal occasion.

Rules for Pairing Cowboy Boots with Suits and Slacks

When integrating cowboy boots into formal wear, it’s crucial to follow rules to ensure a harmonious and stylish combination. Adhering to these guidelines will help you achieve a sophisticated look that respects formal dress codes and reflects personal style.

The Do’s and Don’ts: Essential Guidelines for a Harmonious Combination

Do:

  1. Match the Formality: Ensure that the style of your cowboy boots matches the formality of your suit or slacks. Opt for cleaner, more polished boot designs for formal events.
  2. Coordinate Colors: Match your boots with the color of your belt and other leather accessories. This creates a cohesive and well-thought-out look.
  3. Consider the Occasion: Tailor your choice to the event. More conservative styles are suitable for business settings, while you can opt for slightly bolder designs for social events.
  4. Pay Attention to Sock Choice: Wear socks appropriate for formal attire – typically in a color that matches your trousers or boots.

Don’t:

  1. Avoid Overly Casual Styles: Steer clear of boots that are too rugged or worn, as they can detract from the formality of your attire.
  2. Skip the Work Boots: Avoid boots clearly designed for work or outdoor activities. They are typically too bulky and lack the elegance required for formal wear.
  3. Refrain from Excessive Embellishments: Boots with too much stitching, sequins, or other flashy elements can clash with the sophistication of a suit or slacks.

Boot Height and Fit: Impacting the Overall Look

Height:

  • The height of cowboy boots can significantly affect the overall look of your outfit. Ideally, choose boots that are tall enough to sit comfortably under the hem of your trousers. This ensures a clean line and prevents the trousers from catching on the boots when you walk.

Fit:

  • Shaft Fit: The boot shaft should fit snugly around your calf, not too tight or loose. This ensures comfort and prevents your trousers from bunching up.
  • Foot Fit: Like any dress shoe, the boot’s fit around your foot is crucial. It should be snug but not uncomfortable, with enough room to wiggle your toes.
  • Heel Slip: A little heel slip is normal in new cowboy boots but should not be excessive. As the boots break in, the slip will reduce.

Overall Look:

  • The boots should complement your attire rather than dominate it. They should blend seamlessly with your outfit, adding a touch of personality without overwhelming the overall aesthetic.
Picture of my Lucchese cowboy boots I wear with a blue suit.
Lucchese Boots I wear with either my blue suit or slacks.

Conclusion

Incorporating cowboy boots into formal wear can be stylish and unique, adding a personal touch to traditional suits and slacks. Whether you’re attending a wedding, a business meeting, or a social event, the right pair of cowboy boots can elevate your outfit.

From the sleek elegance of the Lucchese Classics to the versatile charm of the Justin Boots Men’s Buck Round Toe, each pair offers a distinct style, comfort, and durability. Choosing the perfect boots depends on your personal style and the specific occasion, but with the right pair, you can effortlessly blend the rugged appeal of the West with the sophistication of formal attire.

FAQ

Can you hike in horse-riding boots?

Yes, some bootmakers specifically design multi-purpose boots that you can wear horseback riding and hiking. These multipurpose boots typically have a low heel and soles with traction.

Are cowboy boots waterproof?

Leather cowboy boots are not truly waterproof; they are water-resistant. Excessive moisture on untreated leather boots causes them to dry and crack.
If you anticipate getting your boots wet, treat them with a product to protect the leather.

Can you find a good pair of cowboy boots for under $200?

Yes, you have a wide choice of exceptional cowboy boots for under $200. My favorite boots are Ariat Amos western boots, sold for less than $200.

Below is a YouTube video about Presidents and cowboy boots.

YouTube video