Can You Wear Cowboy Boots with a Suit? Your Guide to Formal Western Boots

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by  William Barton | Last Updated: 

A lot of people make the mistake of thinking cowboy boots can only be worn with jeans

But pairing a set of cowboy boots with a suit is a power-play. 

At a former job, I went to a meeting and one of the presenters was wearing a pair of cowboy boots with his suit, and he basically owned that room. 

So yes, you can definitely wear cowboy boots with a suit. I’m also going to show you five ways to do it right and a few important things to avoid when bringing that bit of Texas flair to your formalwear. 

5 Amazing Ways to Wear Cowboy Boots with a Suit

Get the Accessories Going

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A lot of guys wear cowboy boots with suits to weddings. Honestly, I kind of think of it like when dudes wear Scottish kilts or when service members wear their military regalia as formal-wear. 

It’s a bit outside of the standard-wear, but it’s a representation of your culture and a welcome addition to the party when you do it right. 

In the image above, you can see all the accessories that help the cowboy boots fit in: bolo tie, cowboy hat, and the nice belt with a show buckle. Note that the buckle isn’t too big, but it stands out. 

Bringing out all your western accessories is a great way to polish off the cowboy boot look. 

Get Your Colors Right

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If you’re wearing a blue suit, brown cowboy boots are your best choice. 

If you’re wearing black or charcoal, then black cowboy boots are better. 

Tan suit? You can choose either black or brown, but make sure your accessories match the color of the boots. Personally, I’d stick to the blues and greys if you’re thinking about picking up a new suit.

Leather Soles are Your Friend

Leather sole boots are more formal than rubber sole boots. And because cowboy boots are an expression of southwestern culture, rock a pair of boots made in the traditional way. 

My favorite pair of cowboy boots is the Tecovas Cartwright: it’s made in Leon, Mexico—the cowboy boot capital of the world. The smooth full grain leather is soft and creamy, plus it shines up nicely and has that formal leather sole. 

jeans over Tecovas Cartwright boot shaft
Wearing my Tecovas Cartwright

You can add stainless steel toes and heels on the bottom of the sole if you want. Some guys like that “click” when they’re walking. For me, it’s too much work—I like the classic sound of the leather stacked heel thudding down a walkway.

Go Exotic

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Exotic leathers like lizard, snake, alligator, and ostrich are all good choices to pair with a suit. Some guys only wear their exotic leather boots with suits. 

Keep in mind that you don’t need to wear exotic leather boots with your suit, but if you have a pair that can polish up nicely, I say go for it. 

Get the Right Length

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This is more about tailoring your suit pants to your boots. 

If your pants are still unhemmed, wear your boots to the tailor so they can adjust the leg opening and the length of the pants accordingly. 

Usually cowboy boots have amazing designs up the shaft, so you don’t want your pants to run so long that those designs are covered even when you’re sitting. 

Like with any other dress shoe, your suit pants should, at the longest, hit the top of the vamp (aka the “shoe part” at the bottom of the shaft). 

Suit pants shouldn’t “stack,” or roll up at the bottom. If you have a pleat down the middle, this is even more important. 

Your secret weapon in making sure your cowboy boots look great is in ensuring you get the right fit for your trousers. 

Can You Wear Cowboy Boots with Dress Pants?

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For summer weddings, people sometimes opt to ditch the jacket and just wear dress pants and cowboy boots. This is totally fine if the dress code is more casual, but you still want to put some effort into looking nice. 

Of course, you can also wear dress pants with boots in business casual settings as well. And you can just rock them together on a Friday night because you feel like it. 

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One thing I did to hook my wife was that I wore different styles of pants besides jeans. Ladies love guys in a good pair of jeans, but you’ll stand out if you wear something a little different. 

Keep that classic western look with your boots and toss on some wool trousers and see how it looks. 

Follow the same color-matching rules as above (blue and brown; grey and black), and choose more formal western boots by the rules below. You’ll crush it. 

The 3 Golden Rules for Choosing Which Cowboy Boots to Pair with a Suit

  1. Pointed toes and almond-shaped toes are better than square toe boots. This isn’t a strict formality rule, but less bulky equals more dressy. 
  2. Leather soles are more formal than rubber soles. 
  3. Smooth full grain leather and clean exotic leathers are better than roughout and suede. Also, avoid “rugged” leathers like goat and pig. Calf, steer, bison, lizard, ostrich, and alligator are all solid choices. 

3 Things to Avoid When Wearing Cowboy Boots in a Formal Situation

Don’t Tuck Your Trousers into Your Boots

Less is more. What’s great about pairing cowboy boots with a suit is that it’s a subtle way to introduce a bit of that Texas flair into an otherwise straightforward formal outfit. 

If you tuck your suit pants into your cowboy boots, you’re basically saying: hey, look at me! I love cowboy boots!

While that may be true, it’s not about showing off your boots—they’re good looking enough to impress without the extra help. Subtle is best. 

Avoid Looking Like a Caricature

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You can go too far with the whole cowboy look. When you’re pairing your cowboy boots with a suit, you shouldn’t ever be trying to prove you’re a cowboy. 

If you’re not sure how “cowboy” to go, stick with this checklist:

  • Cowboy boots
  • Western belt
  • Cowboy hat
  • Bolo tie

When in doubt, max out with those four items. 

A Canadian Tuxedo Doesn’t Count as a Suit

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Don’t get me wrong: I love the denim on denim look. But if you’re going to an event that calls for a suit, go with a classic wool or linen piece. Canadian tuxedo’s don’t count as formalwear. 

While cowboy boots with a crisp blue pair of jeans can work in a business casual setting, your best bet is to stick with a traditional suit as cowboy boots tend toward the “informal” side. 

Suit Up

Pairing cowboy boots with a suit is a great choice. As long as you pick a nice pair of boots and you get the right fit for your suit, you should have no trouble nailing the formal look while still showing a bit of personality. 

If you’re wondering what pair of boots to get, I have a few recommendations from brands I really like. 

First is the Tecovas Cartwright: this boot is budget-friendly, traditionally made, and it looks awesome. 

And if you want to go a little more high-end, check out the Chisos No.1. The embroidery around the vamp and shaft is incredible, they’re super comfortable (great for the dance floor), and they’ll last a long time. 

Chisos No.1

The boot that started it all. The No. 1 is crafted from Chisos heritage cowhide, they’re super comfortable (great for the dance floor), and they’ll last a long time.

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FAQs

Are cowboy boots formal wear?

Cowboy boots technically aren’t formal wear, but you can still wear them with a suit. Choose smooth full grain leathers that are simple and clean, and get boots with a leather sole. While they’re not black-tie formal, they’ll be great for wedding or business meeting formality.

What should guys not wear with cowboy boots?

Shorts and skinny jeans don’t look great with cowboy boots. The key to rocking a pair of cowboy boots is to keep the shaft of the boot subtle. If your jeans are too tight around the leg opening, the boot will imprint on the jeans and make you look like you don’t fit in them. It’s fine to wear shorts with cowboy boots if you’re doing yard work, but it’s not a stylish look.

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