Boots Instead of Shoes Research

I received an email from a graduate student who is studying psychology at a university in Houston, Texas. His question was, “what do you think it means if a guy wears boots all the time instead of dress shoes?” He explained that he is doing research for his doctorate which was looking at choices of clothing that people make. He said that my website came up first, second, or third, on several entries with similar questions on search engines.

What do I think it means if a guy wears boots all the time instead of dress shoes?

Okay, I will avoid providing flippant or sarcastic answers and be serious for a moment.

First, honestly — I do not see anything wrong with the practice of choosing to wear boots exclusively as male footwear. I know there are some men who have expressed serious concerns about a perceived fashion faux pas or a perceived violation of unstated business dress codes, such as professional men wearing boots with suits or business casual attire to work in an office. My opinion? That’s their problem, not mine. I have long outgrown allowing unstated social concerns dictate what I choose to wear on my feet.

Second, I think if a guy wears boots all the time instead of dress shoes, then it indicates that he appreciates boots! Period. Many quality boots have great design and appearance and are far more attractive than dorky dress shoes.

Continuing — some guys don’t want to bother with making sure their socks look right with the clothes and shoes they are wearing. Boots have a great benefit that no one can see your socks, so you can wear comfortable socks with a lot of cushion built into them and the color of the socks does not matter. (More on socks with boots here.)

In a follow-up email, the researcher asked, “do you think wearing boots all the time is making some kind of statement, and if so, what statement do you think you are making?”

Okay, I will respond — yes, I think a man who wears boots every day is indeed making a statement. The statement he is making is that he is secure, confident, and doesn’t give a shit about men’s silly fashion crap. I believe that men (be they gay or straight) who worry about fashion and let that concern control their choices of what to wear (or not wear, when it comes to boots), are insecure. They feel that they must conform to social norms so they can better “fit in.” They want to illustrate that they are among the most stylish. Well, for me, a secure masculine man, that’s all b/s. They can have their designer footwear, and I’ll wear my boots. To each his own.

The researcher is straight, and indicated that he holds some social stereotype beliefs about gay people when he responded with his next question, “I thought you were gay. Aren’t all gay men concerned with style and fashion?”

To that, I replied, “Hell no. All gay men are different, just like straight men are. In my opinion, there are differences in what I call ‘levels of concern.’ For example, I do not wear plaid shorts with a wild striped shirt and Birkenstock sandals with white socks. I do have some sense of style. But I reject what I think is being ‘overly fashion-conscious’ where some men spend hours shopping for “just the right clothes” and obsess over how clothing all comes together, including the shoes and accessories like neckties. (Personally, I haven’t gone shopping for clothes in years. I am fortunate that I can wear wash-and-wear business casual clothes that do not require replacement often.)

Me? I’m a guy. A regular guy. I put on clothes that are clean, well-maintained (no holes, for example), and go together without much of a fuss. For example, today I wore a broadcloth collared green shirt with a pair of tan khakis and brown wingtip cowboy boots to work. Yesterday I wore a pair of navy slacks, shined black motorcycle boots, and a blue collared shirt. Last weekend when the weather was cool and damp, I wore a pair of leather jeans, black motorcycle boots, and a black t-shirt. I care about how I look, but don’t obsess about it.

I also educated him about how I choose which boots to wear each day. I explained that if the weather is decent, I ride my Harley to commute to work. In that case, I wear motorcycle boots — both for the requirement for sturdy footwear to have on my feet while operating my motorcycle — but also that are clean, shined, and are presentable in an office setting. If it is raining and I commute by driving my truck, then I often choose cowboy boots since I do not require the traction and support that motorcycle boots provide.

Then I probably blew his mind when I closed that reply with, “and when I get home, I change boots when I change clothes to my ‘non-office’ wear which is (this time of year) usually denim jeans. In fact, I may change boots two, three, or four times a day depending on where I am going, how I will get there, and what I am doing.”

I closed with an analogy, giving the example of other men who arrive home from work, change clothes, put on jeans and sneakers. It’s the same thing. I prefer boots, so I choose different boots to wear instead of sneakers. It’s all good.

I received one final question, “what do you wear when you go to the gym or play sports with your friends?”

That was easy for me to answer, “I do not go to a gym and do not play sports, so this question is not applicable.” With that, I blew another assumption that he had. While a lot of men pay for a gym membership and play sports, I do not. I exercise, but on my own terms. My favorite form of exercise is walking. I walk 2 – 4 miles four or five times each week before my work day begins. I pull on a pair of hiking boots that are darned comfortable to walk in. When I return home, I change from comfy walking clothes, shower, and put on my “go-to-work” clothes, including boots suitable for the office.

Well, this was an interesting exercise. Thanks for reading what I think about men who wear boots “all the time.”

Life is short: wear boots and stop obsessing!

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