Untitled Document Can I get a yeehaw ... for cowboy boots?

CB’s are the perfect, cool ensemble-maker, able to amp up winter garb – and even warm-weather clothes, including bland sundresses, denim minis, prairie skirts, shorts. And we do mean cool, so long as the boots are made for walking. Literally.

"A good, sturdy all-leather boot will absorb wetness as opposed to a synthetic material, which is made with gobs of glue that heat up and clog ventilation," says Howard Shaffer, owner of Otabo Inc., a custom fit shoe manufacturer.

In other words: Go cheap and your feet will get revenge. Nab a quality pair and you’ll think you died and went out with Johnny Knoxville.

"Cowboy boots are one of the most comfortable shoes out there," says Todd Rauchwerger, owner of J.W. Cooper, a Western apparel store whose sales of supremely handcrafted boots shot up 25 percent over the holidays. "When people find out just how much, there’s no going back."

But it’s not just the comfy-cozy factor that’s been lassoing ‘em in.

"The trend is like a roller coaster," he says. A coaster that gathers speed when boot-centric movies like Dukes of Hazzard, Walk the Line and Brokeback Mountain come out.

"The more you wear them, the better they look," says Maggie Gallant, a lifestyle expert. "When you get a pair that you’ve worn in, they become totally you, a signature item."

"This is an article of clothing that has a sense of humor to it," says Gallant. "Unlike a no-mess-around shoe, like a Manolo Blahnik stiletto, the casual cowboy boot expresses a different side to your personality ... That you don’t have to be fancy to have style."

© 2006, The Miami Herald.

Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.