If there is one question I consistently get, particularly from women, it is: "what are the best socks to wear with my cowboy boots?"
Well ladies, it's taken me some time, but I have found the ONE! Like finding the perfect boots, or even the ideal boot maker, finding the right boot sock can feel like a difficult task, particularly if you are picky like I am. In the past, I have vacillated between socks that were too thick, and therefore too hot versus thin socks that just didn't have enough padding. After a while, I found myself just wearing simple and sometimes even mismatched athletic socks! Sound familiar? Ultimately, I resorted to the train of thought that boot socks just don't make a difference, so why bother? Boy was I wrong!
It wasn't until I ran into Mia Melendez last year in Santa Ynez at Buck Brannaman's Pro-Am that I came across her new creation, an entirely new style of sock, one that she claimed would end my everlasting search for the perfect boot sock. Of course, I was skeptical but I loved Mia and thought I would give it a shot. What I soon discovered was pure magic - I wore those first pair of socks for the next two days! To my surprise, they had sufficient padding without being too hot for the Santa Ynez heat, but even more importantly, they kept swelling down - something I didn't even think a boot sock could resolve in the first place! The rest was history..
Soon after becoming her #1 fan, I decided I just couldn't keep this secret to myself! It had to be shared with you, the women of Paul Bond Boots. So feast your eyes upon Mia's new Strydh Boot Socks, the one boot accessory you must have!
1. Arch Compression Band
2. Ankle Flex Darting
3. Toe & Footbed Padding
4. Achilles Shield
5. Lateral Mesh Ventilation
6. Tibial Compression
Blog Bonus: Interview with the founder and designer of Strydh, Mia Melendez!
What inspired you to design these socks?
After many years working in equestrian retail, and fitting boots, I saw the need for a specialized protective boot sock. There was nothing on the market that addressed all the issues in one sock. I wanted to create a comfortable breathable sock with support and protection in the heel and foot against chaffing and blisters.
What is your favorite feature?
I would have to say the best feature of this sock is the heel and Achilles protection. No worries of rubs or blisters from your new or worn in boots. You can enjoy riding your horse or wearing your new favorite dress boots in comfort.
What’s next? I know you mentioned new color.
I will be adding a black sock soon with all the same great features. There are also plans for some fun colors and new designs in the future.
Would you ever consider a men’s line?
Yes. I feel there is also a need for a men's sock that is protective and durable. So this is something I will be working on as well in the near future.
While leather selection and style is important, there are three key decisions you must understand before ordering a pair of custom cowboy boots.
The first is the heel height, our heels start at 1.25 inches (roper style) and go all the way up to 2.5 inches.
Having been in this business for a while, I have a pretty good pulse on what people are looking for. For instance, those seeking comfort and a stable base tend to lean towards our Number 1 Heel which as you can see above is 1.25 inches. This is often referred to as a roper or block heel. The biggest difference between this and a standard western heel is that it doesn’t have that underslung look. However, because we are a custom company, we can take that short heel and make it slightly underslung so you get the best of both worlds – extreme comfort with a western flair.
People often ask what our most popular heel is, and the answer is our 2X heel (1.5"). It provides a happy medium – not too tall, but not too short, comfortable yet underslung. Keep in mind, especially those looking for some extra height, because of how we build our boots, in a way that distributes your weight evenly, the taller heels are comfortable as well, they just may take a bit of getting used to.
Now to the good stuff - how to measure your heel height. As shown below, start at the base of the heel and measure up to wear the side seam begins. As you can see, this heel is the ever popular 2X or 1.5".
The second decision is the toe shape, here at Paul Bond Boots, we offer a variety of rounds, squares, and snips. Some people assume that cowboy boots only come in super pointy options, but again because we are custom company – we can accommodate any toe you are looking for. It is all a matter of preference and once we see your measurements, we can certainly offer some suggestions based on what will be the most comfortable and eye appealing based on the size and shape of your foot.
The third question you need to ask yourself is, how tall do you want your tops to be? As you can see here, this is how we obtain the height measurement – from where the heel begins all the way up the side seem to the top of the boot.
The standard height is 12” but Paul Bond has always been known for our tall intricate tops. The sky is the limit here, we have produced shorties under 10 inches and have even gone as tall as 22 inches! Personally, my one rule of thumb in choosing a height is to never have the boot end at the widest part of your calf. You either want to go a little shorter or a little taller. This achieve two goals – it elongates your legs while giving the boot a more proportionate look and feel.
So now that we have covered the basics and three decisions you must consider before ordering custom cowboy boots, I encourage you to browse our site for inspiration and then pick up the phone and call us, we are here to guide you every step of the way from measurements and leather selections to the items I discussed today.
Sometimes all it takes is just hearing someone's voice to know how very special and unique they are. I had an encounter like this during my first year at Paul Bond Boots while I was exploring the question, why us? Why do people love Paul Bond and what does Paul Bond mean to them. It was at this point that I came across a man by the name of Kent Clark. He was the proud owner of over 50 pairs of Paul Bond Boots and was sweet enough to chat with me for a bit about his life and his love of custom cowboy boots. Mr. Clark was a tried and true collector of our boots, and one who never deviated outside of our custom catalog styles. I distinctly remember getting off the phone with Mr. Clark, and thinking to myself, what a great conversation. It was one that stuck with me, so when I heard the news that Mr. Clark had recently passed away, I was very saddened.
However, shortly after, his son, Kurt, sent me an email with his father's obituary along with several photos. To commemorate his father, the family pulled out some of his favorite boots to celebrate his life. Seeing these photos made my heart sing, as they did for everyone at the shop who saw them! We can't describe how happy it makes us to see someone who enjoys their boots as much as Mr. Clark did. So while we are sad to see him leave this world, we know, he is up there in heaven in his good ole' cowboy boots having one heck of time! Mr. Clark, please know - you are remembered and forever missed by Paul Bond Boots.
As many of you know, Paul Bond Boots made the trip to Jackson Hole, WY this past year for the Western Design Conference. Upon arrival, we set up our booth quickly as we were eager to head to the town square before the true hustle and bustle began. As a first timer in JH, I was blown away by the natural beauty and artisanship that surrounded us. Bobbing and weaving throughout all the little shops and restaurants, we came across a quaint wooden box which read – “Poetry Box, Pick One and Enjoy.” Of course I was intrigued and drew a poem from the box, and surprisingly what came next was an interesting and somewhat confusing poem about cowboy boots. Ironic, huh? It read:
The reason I bring it up now, after so many months, is because for one reason or another, it stuck with me. I think primarily because I didn’t quite understand what it meant. Was it about a person who grew to love their boots over time? Was it as simple as breaking in a new pair of cowboy boots? Or was it even about boots at all?
After a quick first read, I thought to myself, well that was depressing… the poor guy bought an ill-fitting pair of boots! But after diving a little deeper, I realized it wasn’t depressing at all. To me, this poem is about a man, who grew and changed over his lifetime. Somewhere along the way he purchased a pair of cowboy boots but for some reason, they never felt quite right. In my mind, it wasn’t until he was ready to wear them that he realized their precious nature. In the end not only had the soles of his boots softened, but so had the soul of the man.
*Kim, if you are reading this - I would love to know the thoughts and sentiments behind the writing.
This got me to thinking, if you look back through time, the history of cowboy boots is quite rich with influences from all the over the world. While styles have certainly come and gone, one thing has remained true - the people who wear them are in a league of their own. Those special cowboys and cowgirls are often referred to in literature as the salt of the earth, and I can personally attest to their pure spirits and strong hearts. Some might even say they have soft souls just as the poem implies. People who wear cowboy boots, particularly custom cowboy boots, tend to have a passion for old world craftsmanship and quality materials. When they wear their boots, they wear them with pride because they know the great love and care put into every stitch and every layer. Whether you realize it now or not, I know one thing to be true, cowboy boots are woven into the lining of not only American culture, but the world's culture, and for that, I am grateful to play a role in continuing this fine form of custom craftsmanship.
It's funny how such a little poem can spark such a big thought - thank you Kim!
Alright ladies and gents, it's that time of year again - Valentine's Day! Whether you are single, dating, or married, it is time to show the love. Here at Paul Bond Boots. we feel like there is no better gift than a pair of cowboy boots! After all, they illustrate the ultimate level of creativity and uniqueness. Whether you wear cowboy boots everyday or just every once in a while, cowboy boots are embedded in the lining of American history and culture, therefore making them an ideal and timeless gift!
However, we also know that Valentine's is a time for instant gratification. Your Valentine isn't looking to have a gift 6 months from now, they are looking for their special surprise that day (even if that special someone is yourself!)
In lieu of this simple fact, we are offering 10% off on all our Ready to Wear starting today through February 14th! Below are some of my personal favorites!
*If you can't tell from the images below, I'm really into the exotic cowboy boots right now but trust me, we have countless others - give us a call!
Because I live in the world of custom cowboy boots, I often fail to convey the special nature of bespoke craftsmanship, essentially what makes custom boots preferable to your run of the mill stock boots. If you are not acquainted with this custom art form, all you see is dollar signs! So today I am here to tell you why you should opt for custom despite the higher price tag.
To begin, sizing is everything when it comes to boots. If you have ever worn a pair of uncomfortable cowboy boots, you know as well as I do that there is no worse experience! Therefore, if you are trying to incorporate boots into your wardrobe or even make them a staple, the fit is everything! Very few people realize that what we put on our feet today will affect us in the future. Ill fitting shoes can lead to bunions, hammer toes, corns, and that is just to name a few. They can also effect our posture leading to knee, hip, and back pain. If you think about it, our feet take us from A to Z hopefully throughout our lifetime, making them one of our most important assets as humans. For this reason alone, custom boots are always preferable. In order to ensure the best fit possible we take 6 measurements as well as tracings to construct a wooden replication of your foot. One of the most important measurements is around your ball. When this is done properly, it ensures that your foot is housed comfortably in the boot allowing your weight to be evenly distributed throughout versus front heavy on the ball of your foot - hence leading to foot issues later in life and pain in the immediate future. Did I mention, that I have NEVER measured two identical feet? So even if you find a stock boot that happens to fit you well, it is unlikely that both of your feet are going to feel that same love. So folks, Ill say it again - fit is everything and here at Paul Bond Boots, we guarantee our fit!
Next up is longevity. Bottom line - custom handmade boots last longer than mass manufactured stock boots. Our boots are handcrafted using only the finest materials here in the good ole USA. Every stitch, peg, and nail is custom placed to ensure the longevity of your boot. And guess what, if for some reason you have an issue with your custom boot, we can always fix it, because WE made it. We know the inner and outer working of every aspect of our custom made boots and with that knowledge, we are able to diagnose a problem where someone oversees either can't or is unwilling to do so. So if you think about it, you could by one $400 pair of cowboy boots every year or so for the next 10 to 15 years, or you could purchase one custom boot starting at $900 that could last you up to 20 years!
Notice that I left design for last. I did this because I am well aware of all the cool and exciting options out there, especially when it comes to mass manufactured boots. Some people are not willing to pay a little extra to get the exact look they desire. However, I think once you are convinced of the importance of fit and longevity, the ability to custom design your cowboy boots is just an added bonus! Once you get into the details of custom design, you will see just how creative you can get. On the surface, you can pick the exact heel, toe, and height that is most flattering to your foot and calf.
Note to all women: If I have learned one thing, regardless of whether you have a small or a large calf, the size, shape, and height of the tops can make all the difference in how the boot looks and feels on your leg. Let me help you pick out the perfect combination!
Once you get past the basic choices, you can move onto leather combinations, color, inlay and stitching. While I may be biased, trust me when I say, there is nothing more fun than making the trip to Nogales, Arizona to play with all the possibilities of custom cowboy boots. Come see us and experience the legend of Paul Bond Boots - we can't wait to meet you!
*If you are a custom boot owner, we would love to hear what led you to custom boots and what has kept you in them over the years - let us know in the comment section!
After our first year at the Dallas Safari Club Convention, I can safely say we will definitely be back next year. Not only were we in awe of the cool people we met, but also the vendors were incredible! Coming from all over the globe, the categories ranged from safaris and land leases to precious jewelry and off road vehicles. However, of course our favorites fell into the western realm and even more importantly, the products that we loved most were all hand made with love and care here in the USA just like Paul Bond Boots. Here are a few of our favorites:
Over the past year we have met Ritch Rand and his lovely wife Neta several times on the road. Each time, I am so impressed with their variety of work and passion for what they do. Having been in business for over 30 years, they have certainly mastered the technique of hat making. While I have yet to decide on the exact hat I want, trust me, a Rand custom hat is in my near future!
Up until this past weekend I was not familiar with the Montana Watch Company. Luckily for me, I have finally been enlightened to the wonders of old world timepiece craftsmanship. Not only is their work beautifully made, but it also pays homage to the designs of early American watchmakers. If you are the market for something truly unique, this is the place to go. Personally, I am eyeing this beauty!
P.S. Ask for Melanie, she is a sweetheart!
Unlike some of the other vendors, I have been familiar with Clint Orms for a good while as we both share the good ole' hometown of Wichita Falls, Texas. To put it simply, his belt buckles are pure masterpieces. The intricacy of his designs and level of craftsmanship makes all of Clint's pieces timeless - certainly something to pass on through the generations.
Speaking of Wichita Falls, come see us this May for Boots, Buckles and Bourbon! More details coming soon.
While Western Grace did not set up this year, we were able to meet the lovely up and coming designer Jesse Smith. She makes beautiful pieces, many with hand tooled leather accents. Here she is below (right) with one of our all time favorite customers, both in their Paul Bonds!
The moral of this blog post is essentially to celebrate other artisans, who like Paul Bond Boots, aim to keep the world of bespoke craftsmanship alive in the U.S. Another takeaway would include this simple fact - if you did not attend this year, please come out next year, you won't regret it!
There is so much thought that goes into designing custom cowboy boots, but lately, I have had several questions around the concept of ostrich boots. People often ask, what is the difference between full quill, half quill, and smooth ostrich? What is an ostrich leg boot? How do you take care of your ostrich boots? How do they feel on, do they stretch? Well today, I want to go into all of that!
For starters, let's define the differences in the hide. As you can see below, an ostrich hide provides several areas to create an excellent boot. For instance, the crown is used for a true full quill ostrich boot. This is where the quills are the most pronounced, while the smooth areas of the hide are used for smooth ostrich boots. Another option is to use part of the belly and part of the smooth area to create a half quill look. All three are very popular, it is merely a matter of preference and price point. As you can imagine, price goes from high to low based on the amount of quills. Therefore full quill is the most expensive, while smooth is the least expensive.
Full Quill Vamps
Smooth Vamps and Half Quill Tops
While we are discussing the ostrich hide, let's talk ostrich leg boots. This is a popular trend that creates a very unique looking cowboy boot. What is interesting about this type of boot is the amount of intricacy and talent it takes to craft one. You must assemble the legs together in way that is both appealing to the eye, as well as matches it's mate - it is quite the challenge but has a beautiful end result! These boots can take as many as 15 - 20 ostrich legs with approximately a 13" height restriction due to the size of the ostrich leg itself. This boot below combines both ostrich leg tops and hornback alligator vamps. Pretty cool right?!
Now that we've covered the anatomy of an ostrich skin, let's move onto to the fit and feel of an ostrich boot. In terms of malleability and long term wear, it doesn't get much better. However, like any boot, particularly exotic cowboy boots, we do recommend cleaning and conditioning them on a regular basis to extend their life. Our favorite line is Bickmore, specifically Bick 1 and Bick 4. While Bick 1 cleans your boots, Bick 4 is important to follow up with in order to condition the leather. If you allow too much dirt into the leather, over time, your leather boots will lose their strength and that's the last thing we want! According to the Bickmore experts, "if (your leather) feels dry or if it’s dirty, it needs to be cleaned and conditioned. We generally recommend applying Bick 4 once a week if the item is used every day."
Every year Paul Bond Boots participates in Black Friday festivities (November 27th). And every year we get a little bit better at handling the chaos! However, this year, we want to take it a step further, and participate in Cyber Monday as well (November 30th)! Additionally, we want to give you a heads up on how to find the perfect sized boots for you.. at this amazing 20% discount!
For starters, men sizes run pretty true to size. For example, if you wear a 10D, most likely our 10Ds will fit you. However, women, if you typically wear an 8D, you are looking anywhere from 1 to 1 1/2 sizes smaller that your standard.
As many of you know, most of our shelf boots were made for other customers and for one reason or another, the boots didn't work out. Now the question is, how can we make these boots work for you?! The answer is quite simple; the best indicator of whether a boot will fit you or not is determined by two things 1) your size and 2) your foot's heel measurement. This is the measurement that allows your foot to make the turn into the boot. Below you will see a diagram illustrating this measurement.
Now down to what you all really want to know - 1) What boots do we have in your size? 2) will they fit you? and 3) how much are they?
The great news is that we have updated our website to break out our shelf boots by size - click here and then go to the "Ready to Wear" tab to check it out! Once a boot catches your eye, give us a call and we can tell you the likelihood of the boots fitting you. Keep in mind, we have the tools to stretch and shrink boots, so that is always an option if you receive the boots and they don't quite work.
Lastly, the boot you choose will have a price attached to it but remember, Black Friday and Cyber Monday is all about the discounts so take an additional 20% off the list price!
Word to the wise: start your search today! We will do our best to place a hold onto your boots until the big day comes along!
Now that we've covered some of the basics of last making - it's time to move on to the rest of your custom cowboy boot! After your last is completed, we will hand cut a custom pattern on manila folder like paper specifically for your boots. Many people believe that you can use the same pattern for multiple people, a "one and done" mentality, however the truth is, the top pattern panels must be re-cut each time in order to fit and balance with your foot and calf measurements. A boot is all about balance and symmetry, and the pattern process is where that idea all begins. For example, below you will see two patterns, for two very different people with very different measurements and specifications.
Once the top's paper pattern is complete, we pull out your leather selections. At this stage it is vital to thoroughly examine the skin for scars, holes, as well as grain and color variations. This process is particularly important with exotic skins such as alligator boots or lizard boots. You want the scales/checks to match up. This may sound simple but it can be difficult as no two skins are exactly the same! After this, we glue the pattern onto the leather with a soft rubber cement glue. We use a rubber cement because it merely holds the pattern in place, and does not effect the leather as it peals off with ease. Additionally, we cut the vamps, lining, front and back stays, as well as pull straps.
From here, we glue down the lining, all the while, our lead artist is hand drawing your chosen custom design on the paper top patterns. Again, this is all about balance and symmetry. It takes time, a keen eye, and lots of practice. For example, a lot of times it is necessary to balance a big inlay design with some top stitching in order to balance the boot out for a more succinct look. Additionally, stitching is a great way to tie in your color way. Below you will see a classic pattern of Paul Bond Boots, the ever popular Tulip design.
After the artwork is complete, the stitching and inlay commences! Additionally the front and back stays are sewn down. It is easy to gloss over this topic but for those curious boot connoisseurs out there, your back and front stay is what enables your boot to stand tall and not bunch up around your ankles. This is a must for all you boot fans out there!
At this point, your boot isn't quite complete, but it is well on its way - stay tuned for more details on the custom boot making process! Comment below if you have any questions or just give us a call!