A sturdy, comfortable pair of no-frills entry level boots.
With a strong resurgence in the influence of western clothing on the everyday wardrobe, the question of how to test the waters regarding cowboy boots has become one that is regularly asked. The stereotypical cowboy boot is considered to be quite expressive; covered in decorative patterned stitching, tall at the heel and covering a good portion of the wearer’s shins. While this image is thought of positively by some – myself included – there are many who want to try something a little more restrained before going all out on a pair of western boots, which is where the roper style comes in handy.
My recommendations for people who want to try a look often steer toward buying vintage items first, as it’s a cost effective way to try a style that you mightn’t want to continue wearing, especially when you’re still building a wardrobe. This works for clothing, and it works for watches. However, I found that it doesn’t really work so well for shoes in general, and western boots have been perhaps the strongest example. I found that many old western boots, especially the cheaper options, simply aren’t comfortable enough to wear for walking around.
When looking for a brand that offered a decent quality product, respectable styling and excellent comfort at a price point suitable for proverbially dipping my toes into the style, Ariat’s Heritage Roper boot stood out. Easy to obtain, even in Australia, it checked all of my boxes. Visually, the heel isn’t too tall, the toe shape is round and the decorative stitching is fairly sparse; enough to give me a sense of whether I’d like more. The ready availability of wider fits makes these boots a great option; being a UK 8.5E in dress shoes, Ariat’s 9W size fit me perfectly.
There are two colours available for these; black and a distressed brown. I went for the black ones.
Ariat’s proprietary ATS rubber sole instantly sold me on these boots when I first pulled them on. The sole is cushioned extremely well, and I’ve found myself remarking several times that wearing the boots is like walking on a cloud. Grip on wet surfaces is no issue. The heel stack comes in at a slightly higher stance than a dress shoe, though it feels no different to wear in a height sense. Construction appears to be Blake stitched, though there is certainly some cementing happening too. At the price point of the Ropers, it’s to be expected.
The leather upper seems to be made of a corrected grain, though it’s a thick and sturdy one. I don’t expect these boots to take on much of a patina like a higher grade of hide would, though once again, this is an entry level boot. They present well enough for casual wear or with the more relaxed end of tailored clothing, such as tweeds, winter flannels and textured shirts.
I’ve found the boots to be very capable when it comes to styling. They go with just about every pair of trousers I own, and some of the more textured suits. My favourite pairings have been with heavy white jeans or brown tweed work pants, often paired with a western belt from Midwest Trader. The two pieces are enough to give an outfit a touch of western flavour, without venturing into the realm of cowboy cosplayer or workwear stolen valour.
It’s hard to fault these boots as an entry level product. I found that I quickly felt a yearning for something more distinctively western styled, but the Ropers helped me explore the style with minimal risk all around; if I was to wear these and decide a western boot wasn’t for me, the silhouette of these boots is easy to wear in a myriad of ways and I would still have gotten plenty of use from them. The low price point is a further incentive; attractively priced at retail and dipping further during retailer sales, the Heritage Ropers are easy on the eyes, easy on the feet and easy on the wallet.