February 23 2010
I’ve always loved the way cowboy boots, with their slanting heels, are totally practical yet very feminine, and they have never been bettered as weekend accessories to their natural partners – any jeans or a full, swingy skirt.
Time to dust off my pair from a designer who believes that they should be part of real life rather than just a fashion item. Penelope Chilvers makes many of her subtly decorated boots in Britain, with leather soles, stitched welts and classic, handmade details and some, like her swashbuckling tasselled riding boots with a little brogued scallop at the top, can be made to measure at her studio, hidden away in west London beyond Ladbroke Grove. Many come in organic leather and all are designed to be friends for life – they feel a bit tough at first, but soften into cocooning comfort as you wear them.
They are not the world’s most ornate styles, but that makes them more versatile – they are sophisticated enough to lend just a little kick of country even to urban neutrals, and slouchy enough, with just a degree of uptilted toe, to look well-worn before they are.
I go for classic, blend-in tan cowboy boots, which cope with British cold and damp as well as summer dust, but they also come in subtly metallic finishes if you want to be bolder. An ankle-boot style (pictured) is £385, calf-length £440, and I guarantee you’ll be wearing them long after the fashion caravan has moved on to pastures new.