John Wayne Boots: What Kind of Boots Does He Wear?

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by  Jon Wadsworth | Last Updated: 

Buying a quality pair of boots, especially the kind of cowboy boot John Wayne wore, can be a bit on the expensive side.

That’s not to say that with a little research, you can’t find the right boots at the right price, in fact one example I’m fond of is the Cartwright boot by Tecovas. You can even buy these over four installments to make life easier.

The Duke, as Wayne was affectionately known, bought his from Lucchese, but many other retailers sell great boots that offer similar styles at great prices. I’m a big fan of the western look, hopefully you’re here because you are too, we can’t all look like John Wayne, but we can dress like him.

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John Wayne not only walked the walk, but also talked the talk and spent most of his 50-year career wearing cowboy boots in some of the best westerns ever made. Let’s look at the type of boots Wayne wore in more detail, shall we?

What Kind of Boots Did John Wayne Wear?

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Remembered as one of the most recognizable film stars of all time, John Wayne starred in some of the most iconic westerns ever produced. Becoming famous at just the right time, John Wayne hit the screens when America, and to be honest, the world, was desperate for a hero. Dressed in down-to-earth cowboy attire, as honest as he was heroic, Wayne ticked every box.

From as early as 1926, Wayne had a bit-part in The Great K & A Train Robbery, in which the future star wasn’t even added to the list of credits (but a horse named Tony was: neigh sayers (sorry) can google it). Ten years later, Wayne was becoming a well-known actor, his signature walk, look, and persona shining through.

As Wayne’s star rose, epics such as Stagecoach, Chisum, and True Grit, cemented his place as a western icon, and his appearance became as important a part of his persona as his movies. His unique walk drew the eyes to his unusual gait, and his custom-made John Wayne boots really stood out. You can find similar boots to the ones Wayne wore at Ariat, the Herdsman boot is a great looking boot at a great price.

John Wayne Boot Styles

John Wayne asked for his boots to be made with a square toe at the front rather than the more traditional pointed toe. Over time, the square-toed cowboy boot became forever linked to the John Wayne look. If you’d like to look at a genuine pair of boots worn by the Duke himself, these boots sold for over $13,000 at auction and epitomized the style John Wayne favored.

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Courtesy of HeritageAuction

Over the years, Wayne was often spotted wearing the same boots in several movies, and the above boots were believed to have been worn by him in both True Grit and Rooster Cogburn. A good pair of cowboy boots can last for years if looked after, and John Wayne boots were of high quality, hand-made by Lucchese.

Lucchese has been making boots in San Antonio since 1883 and had built a steady reputation already as an excellent bootmaker. Their business was further boosted by the massive rise in western movies in the late 1930s and early 1940s. Suddenly, everyone in showbusiness needed a pair of quality boots, including John Wayne.

What Materials are Used to Make John Wayne Boots?

Pricing is always a consideration, some cowboy boots can cost as much as $3000, and you can find quality John Wayne-style boots online for a reasonable price. 

The choice of materials used affects the cost, with cowhide leather being the most common, as well as being the most cost-effective. You could also go down the Ostrich leather route, it’s a popular choice, and the rumors that wearers like to stick their heads in the sand are vastly exaggerated. 

Goat leather is also used extensively; it’s cheap, breathable, and easily dyed so that it can be produced in many colors. Some folk think it’s a baaad idea to use goatskin, but I’m a big fan of it. One of my all time favorites, the Cartwright, is available from Tecovas at a great price, and oozes western appeal, they look as good on the ranch as they do taking your partner out for a meal.

Another fan favorite is snakeskin; the patterns are incredible and unique to each snake; if you have got the confidence to pull snakeskin boots off, the world is your oyster. If snakes give you the shivers, you could go for a more understated look with lizardskin, the Nolan boot by Tecovas is a stunning boot with outstanding reviews.

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Different Types of Boots Available

While John Wayne became associated with a square-toed cowboy boot, there are several types of boots to choose from, ranging from the standard cowboy boot, ropers, and stockman boots. Finding the right boot may take some trial and error, especially in regards to toe shape, you should aim for comfort over style, but you should be able to cover both by looking around.

A classic western or cowboy boot perfectly fits the John Wayne persona, durable, reliable, and great for stomping and riding around the wild west. With a deeper heel, cowboy boots help keep feet in the stirrups and offer excellent protection for your calves. An added bonus if you do spend time in the saddle is that if you do fall off, your foot will slide right out. 

This minimizes the risk of you being dragged along by your horse, and let’s be honest, looks cooler than riding in Nikeys. A strong toe box like these square-toed boots from Tecovas protects you from having your foot stampeded by an enraged pony if you’re not quite the frontiersman you’d hoped.

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Roper boots are slightly more specialized in that they are ideally used in rodeo, the heel is broader, and the toe of the boot is more rounded. Roper boots look more like standard boots with a high shaft to protect the wearers’ legs. The Stockton Roper Boot by Tecovas is an excellent example of a reasonably priced roper.

Stockman boots have a pronounced V-shape at the top, offering you more comfort and ease of movement. Ariat boots are a great example of the V-shape design. Stockman boots like these from Ariat are ideal for those who won’t be in a saddle all day and are great for general use. A shallower heel won’t add much to your height, but Stockman boots are perfect for casual wear.

What Boots did John Wayne Wear in Stagecoach?

John Wayne didn’t start wearing Lucchese boots until at least 1951, so the cowboy boots he wore while filming Stagecoach in 1939 can’t be known for sure. In the days before movie memorabilia, it’s a chilling thought to wonder how many items of worth were simply thrown away. Shots of Wayne in his boots show them to at least be black cowboy boots, but the exact design is unknown.

What Boots did John Wayne Wear in True Grit and Rooster Cogburn?

John Wayne wore a pair of brown, square-toed Lucchese boots while filming both movies involving the character Rooster Cogburn. Given that a sturdy pair of John Wayne boots can last for over a decade if cared for, and assuming that he may have stored his boots for use in movies, it’s no surprise that it looks as if the Duke wore the same pair of Lucchese boots in both the 1969 movie True Grit as well as the 195 Rooster Cogburn movie. 

Are John Wayne Boots Comfortable?

Just like with any other type of footwear, finding the right fit can make or break a pair of John Wayne boots; regardless of style, brand, or look, your primary goal is to find the perfect fit. Once you have your ideal size, you can then look for a style that best suits your personality or wardrobe. 

Tecovas have an excellent range of both men’s and women’s cowboy boots at an affordable price. Just remember to find a pair that fits like a glove over a pair that makes you look like a country and western singer. Cowboy boots only look fantastic on your feet if you’re not crawling around in agony, John Wayne boots are good, and blisters are nasty.   

Did John Wayne Only Wear Cowboy Boots?

Despite being in an insane amount of western-themed movies, John Wayne also branched out into other genres. Invariably the themes were similar, with Wayne being the hero of the film, often misunderstood and usually outnumbered by enemies. War hero, sea captain, police officer, and firefighter, Wayne has tried his hand at them all.

Obviously, the scenarios Wayne would find himself in meant that his costume would have to match the theme, so he didn’t always wear cowboy boots. Cowboy clothing is so intertwined with John Wayne because, for every movie where he is dressed in a suit, there are 15 other movies where he’s a swaggering western hero.

Out of the limelight, Wayne owned a ranch in Arizona, a sprawling 50,000-acre ranch at which Wayne spent a great deal of time. The 26 Bar Ranch was also the backdrop to many of Wayne’s movies, including Red River and Stagecoach. While on his ranch, John Wayne boots would have been the ideal footwear for hitting the trails or keeping his herd of cattle on the move.

Conclusion

Before movies made being a super-spy look cool, the cowboy stole the show, and usually, the girl. John Wayne was the king of cowboy movies, making his style instantly recognizable.

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Even today, suppliers like Tecovas and Ariat keep the classic western modern and affordable. If you’re still unsure which boot is best, why not check out our BootSpy YouTube channel for the latest reviews and guides? The right cowboy boot could be right around the next corner, desperate to make you look awesome, and taller; saddle up, cowpeople!

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FAQs

What Size Boot was John Wayne?

Surprisingly, for a strapping 6 foot 4 inches tall man-mountain, John Wayne had relatively small feet, wearing a size 8.5 boot. Other reports state that he wore a US size 11 boot and may have worn that size despite it being too large to make his feet look more prominent.

What Kind of Boot does Clint Eastwood Wear?

Another icon of cinematography, and another giant of the western genre, is Clint Eastwood. The “Man With No Name” may have had an easily forged signature, but he also had great cowboy boots. Eastwood wore tan-colored harness boots and, typical of the no-nonsense Eastwood, had no markings on them whatsoever.

Who Owns Lucchese Boots?

Established in 1883 by Italian immigrants, Lucchese is famed for its superb craftmanship and a stellar list of celebrities who have worn their boots. Family-owned until 1970, Lucchese was bought out by Blue Bell Overall Company, the owners of the Wrangler brand. In 1998 Blue Bell Corp. sold Lucchese to Arena Brands, a large company in the Western Apparel arena.

What is the Oldest Cowboy Boot Company?

Given that Lucchese has been making boots since 1883, supplying the US Cavalry in the area for several years, there can’t be an even older bootmaker, can there? Well, the Olathe Boot Company beats Lucchese by eight years, having made boots since 1875. 

C. H. Hyer, of Olathe, Kansas, has been making boots since 1875, making cowboy boots for everyone from US Presidents down to cowboys and even outlaws. One of the companies genuinely innovative features was a measuring system for getting the right fit for boots, allowing customers to order their boots through the mail rather than having to be fitted individually.

What this meant was that the Olathe Boot Company could craft perfectly-fitting boots quickly and without the customer being present. The chart was so popular and helpful that a version of it is still used today, over 146 years later.

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