When in Texas, you've got to get a great pair of boots. I think that's a rule posted at the border of the Republic. Thus, I made a visit to Allen's Boots on South Congress Ave. while in Austin. I found it online in my pre-visit research, and then was confirmed by the pedi-cab driver who said that yes, it's a great boot shop, but no she wouldn't take me there because it was too far and all uphill for her to pedal over there.
When I walked in I was overwhelmed - although that may be an understatement. First, the smell of leather hit me when I walked in the door. Then I was met with rows and rows and rows of boots. I've made a couple visits to DSW and such shoe stores, but wow! They were arranged by size, so that made things a bit easier. 'Til I realized there were a couple hundred pairs of boots in my size. So I tried on a whole bunch of boots. There were three things I considered in my boot try-on, and I can't say which one was the simpler factor: design, fit, and price.
A thing about the style: cowboy boots are pointy so that they can easily get their foot into the horse saddle stirrups. They are heeled so the cowboy's foot doesn't slip all the way through that saddle stirrup. I don't know how important that is to my suburban, horse-free life, but it was good to know.
I pulled out short boots, high boots, solid color boots, decorative boots. They were made from all kinds of hides or skins - leather, as you would expect, and snakeskin, but also crocodile belly, ostrich body and ostrich leg. Ostrich? Who knew? And they were in every color - brown, black, red, yellow, purple, green and turquoise! Of course, turquoise, being southwest. And then there were designs - flowers in stitching and other colored leathers, swirly stitching, bling!, lace trellises - absolutely beautiful.
Some of them fit great, some were way too tight. Some fit, but felt a little tight. I learned that when you try on new leather boots, they will be tight. Across the top of the foot, maybe around the back of the feel. The two salesladies said that the leather stretches as it wears, from the warmth and movement of your foot. It should not however, be tight on your toes - that might not stretch and then you'll have some ill-fitting (expensive) boots. The ostrich, however, wasn't expected to be as stretchy, so they should fit right.
And now - let's talk about the wide range of cost. There were some boots at about $150. That's the lowest ticket price I saw, if there were lesser priced boots, they must've not been in my size. I tried on one pair - they were turquise and beautiful and the most softest, comfortablest pair of shoes ever, on the inside and outside. I don't know what they fed that cow. They were over $500. It almost seemed that the price was related to how likely one would be to come across the animal owning the hide and want to pet it. A cow. A crocodile. A snake. An ostrich. You're up to about $1300. Yes. $1300. The decimal is in the right place. They went higher too, but I just couldn't bring myself to reach up to that shelf. But they were pretty, no doubt, they were pretty.
There was some careful balancing of these three criteria to finally select the perfect pair of Texas boots.
Afterwards, the evening was cool and breezy and I considered walking back to my hotel, since I imagined it would now be all downhill and it really wasn't that far. I didn't have walking shoes on, but hey! These boots...