OK, a quick primer on cowboy boots.
First off, there is no such thing as a single, definitive "cowboy boot." They're actually work boots, by design, and they're customized for cowboy-type work. Many of their most distinctive design features actually are functional.
The distinctive stitching on the shaft (leg) serves to reinforce the leather and keep it from sagging excessively. The toe bug identifies the flex point and reinforces it in the same way as the shaft. This is often a highly decorative element...more rows of stitching usually means higher quality. Additionally, the shaft is not usually seen, so it lends a canvas for a bit of flair...be it an outlandish color, or stitched pattern. I've seen some with a beautifully inlaid Texas Lone Star. It's the cowboy boot equivalent of the lining of a suit jacket.
Many of the other elements relate to riding, for example the pointed toe, which helps the foot slip into the stirrup on your saddle.
The high heel keeps the foot from slipping all the way through the stirrup.
The steel shank offers support for the foot, while in the stirrup. Great support, by the way...cowboy boots are actually *recommended* by the American Podiatric Society, as being healthy for your feet.
The tall shaft protects the legs from abrasion by brush/branches.
Even the fact that it is a slip on boot is a feature...if the foot is caught in the stirrup, you have a chance to slip off the boot, rather than being dragged along. There are some lace-on cowboy boots, called Packers, but they're far less common. Beautiful, though.
Other designs, like the roper boot, modify these design elements. The shaft is shorter, the toe more rounded (but still somewhat pointy), the heel shorter, and the stitching minimal. They're the boot equivalent to sneakers, because while roping you actually get out of the saddle and run. They're customized for that function. It's harder to run in high heels, and while roping you don't need the tall shaft for protection.
Most working cowboys that I know wear either a roper boot, or a Red Wing/Wolverine pull on wellington, as everyday boots. They're cheap, still sufficiently functional, and still give the right appearance. They keep a pair of "good boots" for after work, or for going to church.
A few years later they'll often get another pair, and demote their original ones.
P.S. If you're wanting the "cowboy look" you also need to choose your jeans properly, and buy them with an inseam at least 2" longer (preferably 4") than your measured inseam. It gives the proper stack on the boots, and also serves another function. Pants/jeans, while in the saddle, ride up. This keeps the shaft from showing.
Wow thanks for the info Chuck , wish you posted this a couple of weeks ago , as l liked the look of the wolverene boots but could not order a pair without drama , so l googled brown boots , brown dress boots , with very little in the way of options that grabbed me , if only l knew to google packer boots , the choices are endless and you are right they are beautiful , l will have to settle for the military boots l got until they wear out .
Happy travels Chuck .
You can have *more* than one pair of boots.
In fact, most recommend at least two, that you change every other day. Lets them dry out after wearing, and extends their life significantly.
Thanks for the info guys...
I looked at some Redheads today. Anyone have any thoughts on them??