Buy those boots

By | Category: Travel tips & opinions


The cowboy boots are standing on a shelf at the Boot Barn off I-65, just north of Nashville. They are dove grey with a subtle stitch pattern of curling vines, and they cost US$160, a fortune for you right now. Everything about them feels luxurious and long-lasting, from the cushioned footbed, to the thick rubber heels, to the heavy leather pull-straps.

When you return home, you wear them out to dinner with your new boyfriend, who pronounces them ‘totally badass’. A year later, you wear them out to Utah to meet his parents for the first time, returning home with the toes covered in red desert dust. Every time you see your boyfriend’s father after that, he asks you where your boots are. A year later, your boyfriend gets a fellowship in Australia, and you pack the boots off to Sydney in his suitcase before following a month later. Boyfriend, boots and you traverse the Sydney Harbour Bridge, circle Uluru, and trek through fields of curious marsupials on Kangaroo Island.

You aren’t wearing your boots the night you decide to get married (you and your boyfriend, not you and the boots), but you had them on under your bias-cut silk wedding dress when you wed on a North Carolina goat farm six months later. Less than two years after that, your now-husband takes a job in Hong Kong. There’s a photo of you on your first day in your new city, standing at the edge of Victoria Harbour before the splendid and terrifying skyline, wearing your (now-resoled) boots. When US$160 carries you through that much life, it’s the definition of money well spent.

1. English brogues
Joseph Cheaney & Sons has been making classic men’s shoes since 1886. Its five-eyelet wingcap Oxfords are the definition of timeless good taste, while the Imperial Sandringham wingtips have the same oak-bark leather soles British bankers and barristers have been wearing for nearly a century and a half.

2. Greek sandals
What better captures the warm weather, devil-may-care spirit of the Mediterranean than a pair of classic leather sandals? At Melissinos Art in Athens, sandals are oiled, shaved, and fitted to your feet on the spot. Just what you need for many years of sure- footed island-hopping.

3. Chinese slippers
Cheap, satin slippers are ubiquitous in China: you can buy them at any street market. But if you want lasting luxury, the designer Mary Ching offers a collection of slippers with a twist, in materials like cashmere, silk and suede, with embellishments from mink and mother-of-pearl to Swarovski crystal.

4. Australian riding boots
Founded in 1932 by the legendary bushman Reginald Murray Williams, RM Williams makes boots rough enough for ranch use
and sleek enough to wear under a suit. Look for them in ostrich, kangaroo and crocodile, as well as the classic leather.


Extract taken from You Only Live Once (£22.99;  available in bookstores and on The eBook is available via the iBookstore and Amazon Kindle.) Lonely Planet’s latest title presents experiences which last an hour, a day, a week, a month and even a year, so whether you’re looking for a life change or simply want to add some more excitement to their daily lives, there’s something for everyone. 

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