Monday, January 26, 2009

Boots - Part 1, Texas Style

What's a cowgirl to do with only an hour to spare in downtown Fort Worth, Texas? Visit Leddy's Ranch in Sundance Square. The shop, located on the corner of Houston and W. 3rd Street, is where wannabe cowgirls (like me) go when they crave a fancy outfit. Yes, you will find suitable riding gear here but most of the items are over the top and much too nice to ride on the trail or get anywhere near a sweaty horse.

I learned about Leddy's Ranch from a waitress at nearby Reata, an upscale yet rustic cowboy restaurant that serves "calf fries" as an appetizer. I asked my server where I could find a shirt like hers - a fitted black vintage western-style shirt embroidered with yellow roses of Texas on the front and back yolks and mother of pearl snap buttons.

Oy, the selection! I found many options of vintage shirts (like Scully's), as well as gorgeous western jewelry, belts, bedazzled cowgirl leather purses and wallets. I became dizzy when I spied the selection of boots on the other side of the room. Not just any old boots but the most beautiful cowboy boots unlike any I've ever seen before. Sure, there are Luchesses, which are some of the finest factory boots in the world. But the boots from their private line stopped me in my tracks.

Leddy's Ranch is a satellite location of the original family store, M.L. Leddy, located a few miles away at the Fort Worth Stockyards. The family has been making custom boots and saddles for over 75 years. I was professional fitted by Ty, a tall, dapper and slender man. He would have made a believeable, "Slim" with a guitar strapped to his back on his way to the Grand Ole Opry.

Ty explained that a proper fit for boots, unlike a regular shoe, should allow the back of one's heel to slip up and away from the boot. All this time I had mistakenly believed that kind of movement would surely cause blisters but he assured me it wouldn't. He also said that it's a myth that leather boots or shoes need to "break in" over several wearings. While most people believe that leather will stretch from the heat of the foot as you wear them in, in reality if the boots aren't comfortable the first time that you try them on, they won't improve over time.

After he determined my proper boot size, Saundra, a retired banker from Ohio (herself donning a stunning pair of low-heeled glistening boots made from stingray skin) helped me narrow down my choices. I gravitated to the pairs that sported colorful detailed leather inlay. I pity men whose pants cover up the most intricately designed parts, the shaft. I snagged a 3 pairs of boots made from retired lasts, the wooden form used to shape the foot of the boot. I haven't seen anything like them since.

Because they are so comfortable, I find many opportunities to wear them. Whether casual with jeans or with a suit, they have gone to concerts, the board room, dinner out, the hardware store... Otherwise they are prominently displaced on the top closet shelf waiting for their next outing.

Check out more on the art of beautiful boots at

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