The story of my boots

Is like this: I have always wanted cowboy boots ever since I saw my first pair on the feet of indigenous stockmen in the Northern Territory of Australia. Those boots were beaten up and weathered like you wouldn’t believe and I’d never seen such cool boots in my entire life. Want!

They were plain though. My fancy western boot lust didn’t develop until I saw my first rodeo. It wasn’t any of the performers who were wearing them but two women in the audience had on full cowgirl regalia and shiny, shiny boots. I am magpie. Shiny fills my heart with lust.

Over the years, I have tried on many pairs of fancy western boots and they have never been quite right. Not shiny enough. Not shiny in the ways I want them to be. Too high-heeled. Too pointy. Too pink. Too hurty on the feet. Or perfect and way out of my price range.

A few years back I heard that you could get cowboy boots handmade special to fit your feet and that you could have whatever design you wanted. I cannot tell you the joy in my heart when I learned of this possibility. Oh, bliss! Oh, joy! The family coat of arms on my very own boots! Want!

Then last year Penguin sent me and Scott to San Antonio for the TLA conference.1 San Antonio just happens to be the home of Little’s Boots, one of the best makers of western boots in all of the US of A. Clearly, it was time for me to have the boots my little heart pined for.

So, I set up an appointment and early last April I went in for my fitting, clutching a printout of the Larbalestier coat of arms. In Old French my surname means the crossbower, ie the one who uses a crossbow. “L” is the, “arbalest” is crossbow, and “ier” is er. Hence the great big crossbow on the coat of arms. I have no idea what the thistles are for. Because we are a prickly lot?

At the appointment I was asked a zillion questions. What kind of design did I want? I waved the printout of the crossbow. You want just that? In what colours? You don’t want any other design elements? Oh, I said. Look around the shop, they told me. I did. My eyes bugged out. I made many design decisions. Scott kept vetoing my more shiny desires.2 After about an hour the design was settled.

Then they started asking me about what kind of heel and toe I wanted. What ears? How high up my calf did I want the boots to go? What did I want the top of the boots to look like? Straight or with a little v? What kind of leather did I want? Some were out of the question—you don’t use crocodile or alligator or eel for fancy boots. So my choice was between calf and kangaroo. I tried on many different boots to make my decision. Walked around the shop feeling like a rodeo queen.3

After almost two hours of exhausting decision making, Dave Little started measuring my foot. I had not realised how many dimensions feet and calves have. This also took some time and involved Dave mocking my socks more than somewhat. (They’re cut to fit left and right feet and thus are way more comfortable than normal socks. They are also labelled with a little R and L, leaving Dave to suppose that we Australians are left and right impaired.)

Finally, we gave them a deposit of half the total. A very big total. These boots are not only the most expensive boots I have ever owned, they are the most expensive item of clothing I have ever owned. Six months later, Dave promised, my boots would arrive. And then, because he’s such a lovely bloke, he gave us a lift back to the hotel because we were running late for our next TLA appointment. Texas hospitality is no lie.

Dave was four months off on the arrival time. But the boots are even better than I imagined. They are the most comfortable footwear I’ve ever known. All other footwear are devices of torture in comparison. I may never take these boots off again. In fact, if it weren’t for Scott’s objections,4 I’d’ve slept in them last night.

I love my boots.

Now all I need is a Vivienne Westwood ballgown and my life will be complete . . .

  1. Which was the best fun ever! []
  2. Yes, the boots I wound up with are way more tasteful than they would have been had I been alone. []
  3. Justine, they name is camp. []
  4. He feared for his shins. []


  1. Maria on #

    Glad you liked Texas, Justine. Come back any time. :o)

    Love your family crest. Muy cool.

  2. Liset on #


  3. Kaleb on #

    Well I’ve lived in Texas all my life so almost everybody where I was from wore boots. I wore boots almost all the time until I was 11 and realized you can’t wear boots in the city without getting funny stares from the other kids 😉

  4. sara z on #

    My foot issues are many and complex. Custom-made boots sound like something I definitely need in my life. I want to know just how big this big total was.

  5. claire on #

    did you get kangaroo or calf?

  6. ariel cooke on #

    Stunningly fabulous! I think you should put the awesome family crest on your book jackets near the author photo. At first glance I thought it was the Hanged Man from the Tarot deck who usually symbolizes spiritual surrender to the universe (I guess because he is hanging upside down?). Which is also an interesting idea.

  7. Justine on #

    Kaleb: Scott, who grew up in Texas, has zero interest in cowboy boots. They are not the novelty to him that they are to me.

  8. KT Horning on #

    Justine, your new boots are fabulous! When can we see a photo of you wearing them?

  9. Raelyn on #

    *Woo!* Congrats on the awesome boots. It’s just so much fun to FINALLY have a pair that makes ya happy, yes? 😀 I know the feeling… although mine just so happen to be more mukluk than cowboy 😉

  10. chris. on #

    Wow, those are some *awesome* boots. And i’m not usually a fan of cowboy boots! But these are really, really gorgeous. Excellent job on the design!

  11. eek on #


    I wanted cowboy boots Sooooooo much when I was in high school, and my mother was appalled – she wanted me to want chic she-she riding boots. After many, many fights in department store shoe departments, she finally relented and bought me a pair of cowboy boots one Christmas (I think becuase my daddy told her too :} ) Sooo…I totally get your lust-filled heart’s desire for the perfect boots. Wonderful joy that they are finally yours and exactly as you wanted!

    Now, I am a little curious how they would have turned out without Scott holding you back from the edge of the abyss of overly-shiny-ness…


  12. Robert on #

    They are not thistles – the shield is powdered with ermine (, and in the medieval french context was usually a signifier of some association with the crown, or the court, or at least of a fairly high rank.

  13. capt. cockatiel on #

    Ooh, the are so JOKES! Awesome. (:

  14. Moose-la on #

    boots boots boots boots,i nevr thought much about booties but your experience has made me curious…maybe its time for me to find som….

  15. sir tessa on #

    ah! i’m glad to see they landed safety and are more magnificent than even you made them out to be.

  16. Danielle on #

    Those are pretty. I want them. (And I never ever say that about any clothes.)

    The silver part looks kind of shiny. I want shiny cowboy boots.

  17. limeywesty on #

    I love shiny things too.
    Especially your boots.
    They are the most awesome pair of boots I have ever seen.
    Including Jack Heath’s, and his boots are pretty awesome too.
    But in a less exciting and shiny way.

  18. emily beth on #

    i love your boots. they are AMAZING. can i have them?

  19. serafina zane on #

    pretty shoes! shiny shoes! black and red and silver shoes! yay!

    also, i wish i had a family crest. that’s pretty crazy.

  20. kim on #

    we watched a movie called braveheart and were were studing motif and one of the motifs was a thistle, it means that you are tough and never give up

Comments are closed.