Currently I work on a college campus with a diverse student body (almost 4,000 of the 20,000 students are international students). Diverse bodies generate diverse styles and I loathe not taking the opportunity to judge, I mean silently observe, all fashion statements.
I could take this time to discuss the lackluster interview garb I’ve seen at On Campus Recruiting events, but lately the fashion oddity trumping bland power suits is the cowboy boots epidemic. And I’m not sure how I feel about it.
A few weeks ago I walked along the main strip of Ivy League brick cutting through campus, my eyes wandering from very cute undergraduates (cougar-in-training? It’s surprising how mature those boys look. . .) to the disgraceful amount of clog-wearing-intellects galumphing through campus (and we’re not talking about Chanel clogs, we’re talking about dowdy clogs). Then my eyes caught glimps of a pair of pointed toes, not stilettos, no. Not a pair of sleek flats. It was a pair of black cowboy boots.
In Philadelphia? Was this young collegiate trying to imbue the Urban Cowboy into the lives of Ivy Leauge co-eds?
I craned my neck, following her until I could no longer see her trotting along. I thought about her decision to wear those boots until I reached my destinations, and then like the other audacious looks I see on campus I soon forgot about them. About a week later a fashionable friend publically wondered on Facebook if she should purchase a pair of cowboy boots during her upcoming trip to Dallas. I immediately chimed in, saying no; cowboy boots in Philadelphia would be kitschy. The other reactions she received, which were aplenty, were mixed. Most told her to go for the bold.
Last week in NYC’s Penn Station I saw a woman in black cowboy boots hurtling herself and her luggage towards a moving train. She had on dark wash bootcut jeans, rolled about four inches to show a fashionably tattered hem, and a long black t-shirt that advantageously fit her every curve. The outfit was effortless and completely befitting for her scramble to the train. The cowboy boots she wore were not the emphasis of her outfit, the simplicity of her ensemble shined brighter than the kitsch.
After seeing the woman in Penn Station I took my friend aside and confessed that after much debate she can pull these boots off, by puttin’ em on. She, like the train chaser, has a breezy and classy approach to dressing that will tame the corny label that many of us apply to such a costume-y item of footwear. It is possible for a woman to make a stylish statement without looking like Daisy Duke or Jessica Simpson. . .or Jessica Simpson as Daisy Duke.
So, after considerable debate I have decided to make public my support for integrating cowboy boots into one’s wardrobe. However, there are stipulations accompanying my appreciation. Like neon or animal prints, these boots pack a punch and should not be the main focus. They need to be tempered down to avoid making a theme. Here are some things to consider before putting on cowboy boots:
1) Avoid listening to any music from the southern region as it may cloud your judgment when getting dressed.
2) Definitely restrain yourself from pulling out your favorite license plate sized belt buckle.
3) Stay away from plaid button down shirts, gingham, pigtails, and any denim that has a hint of the ol’ west. I should not have to tell you to leave the bandana tied around Fido’s neck.
4) If you feel like a cowboy when you have them on, immediately remove the boots and take a cold shower. You have been tainted and will need to wait approximately one year before attempting the cowboy boot look again.
I’m glad that I was able to publically flesh out this cowboy boot debacle for myself. Hopefully from this we’ve all come away better purveyors of footwear. If I ever decide to invest in cowboy boots (there are so many things higher on my list; pink booties and cropped flat boots) they will be black, worn with black leggings and a loose sweater dress or structured jacket. But for now I will ride off into the sunset in my cropped flat boots and skinny jeans.