There’s no more essential wardrobe staple than a pair of well made leather boots: that combination of durable and beautiful can’t be found anywhere else.
Curiously, though, a lot of women’s boots aren’t really built to last all that long. Flimsy leathers, chintzy hardware, and most importantly: women’s boots usually can’t be resoled.
That’s because they’re rarely made with Goodyear welt construction, a method of attaching the leather upper to the sole that allows for as many resoles as you like. If you walk your women’s boots down to the heel pad, those boots are usually done for — unless you buy a pair with a Goodyear welt. (Or a less common form of resoleable construction like stitchdown or Blake rapid, but those are practically unheard of on women’s boots.)
What Makes a Great Women’s Boot?
Why aren’t more women’s boots made to last? Frankly, it’s probably because of comfort: many boot brands have told us that women are more likely to return Goodyear welted boots because they’re more stiff than the common cemented construction, which attaches the uppers to the soles with an adhesive and makes for a more flexible shoe.
But wait, aren’t women, well, expected to withstand uncomfortable footwear more than men are?
“When it comes with a heel, we’re expecting it. I think less so when it comes in boot form,” says Julie, our resident women’s boot expert. “Also, I think the expectation is that every season, women do a complete overhaul of their wardrobes, so when we’re buying shoes the durability probably comes less into that decision.”
If you’re after a great boot, look for a Goodyear welt and full grain leather — that means the upper is tough enough to last a long time and look great as it ages.
While they’re rare, Julie has picked up many Goodyear welted boots over the years. So she thought it was high time to make an article about it.
1. Best Overall: Thursday Captain Boot
- Full grain leather
- 12+ leathers to choose from
- Versatile boot, easy to wear with a dress or jeans
- 1” heel
The first up is Julie’s most worn boot, the Captain from Thursday Boot Company. It’s the ideal first Goodyear welted boot for anybody because they’re extraordinarily inexpensive, come in a dozen leathers to choose from, and Julie finds them more comfortable than any of the other options on this list. This is because they come with a shock absorbing Poron insole that provides an easier break in than your typical vegetable tanned leather insoles.
A lot of Thursday’s women’s boots aren’t Goodyear welted (their famous Chelseas are a well known exception) but the Captain is fully resoleable, and although it’s a lace up service boot, it’s not chunky or masculine. The brand is well known for combining the traditional elements of boots that make them durable, which also include full grain leather and a steel shank for stability, but modernizing the pattern to make a sleek, fashionable piece of footwear.
“What I like about these is you can make them more or less girly,” says Julie. “You can wear them with a pair of jeans or a dress, it’s a super versatile boot.”
The range of available leathers is unusually wide as well: everything from weatherproof suede to the brand’s Rugged and Resilient leathers, which are extra durable, albeit a bit stiffer on the break in — be warned!
Thursday Women’s Boot Sizing
- Size up half a size
“Compared to the guy’s version, this boot is slimmer, and the sizing’s the opposite: guys should size down, but I sized up,” says Julie. “I got the 8.5, while my usual size is 8.”
They’re pretty tough boots and the price can’t be beaten at $190 dollars.
2. Best American-Made Women’s Boots: Red Wing Heritage
- Classic American boot company
- Slimmer versions of their work boots
- Women’s boots have many exclusive leathers not available on
Next is Red Wing Heritage’s Women’s Chelsea, because no list of great boots can leave out the most iconic American brand in the game.
“I tried to get interested in other Red Wing boots but, although Alee at Vintage Featherr is a fan of the Clara, personally none of their boots really vibed until I came across their 6-inch Chelsea,” says Julie. “This has a classic narrow silhouette and it’s super easy to slip on, which I love because I’m always running late.”
The Chelsea boot is a perennial favorite of men and women alike because it’s so easy to slip on and off, and Red Wing’s rendition — unlike their men’s Classic Chelsea — has a slim silhouette that’s not at all ostentatious or work boot-y.
“It’s a great addition to my rotation of boots,” says Julie. “For me it can work as a rain boot, a fashion boot, and because of the more narrow toe it can be a little bit more formal, which I like.”
Red Wing Women’s Boot Sizing
- Size up half a size
As with the Thursday boot, Julie wears an 8.5 in Red Wing and an 8 in most of her other shoes.
This boot is available in Black Boundary, Pecan, and Indigo — all leathers you won’t find on the
But for you, dear female reader, cool leathers on a ton of Goodyear welted women’s boots are one click away:
3. Best Knee High Women’s Boots: Frye Harness
- Wide range of tall boots in different styles
- Get an American made boot if you’re after Goodyear Welt
Frye is another brand Julie has a lot of experience with: they make her oldest pair of boots. Frye has been around for over 150 years and are well-known for their tall boots and Western heritage.
This is one of their many Harness-style boots, and not all of them are Goodyear welted. If that’s your priority, shop Frye’s American-made boots — that link will take you to a dedicated page for their USA-made boots, but you can usually tell which ones are USA-made because they’re naturally pricier than the others.
Other nice, tall, resoleable options from Frye include the Campus 14L, which has a roomier toe and stacked heel, and the Billy stitch pull-on for a more Western-style boot. Sometimes they have other lace-up options like the Sabrina and the Chelseas that are made in the USA, but they’re not always available. Indeed, Frye’s selection has been particularly vulnerable to supply chain delays of late, so we apologize in advance if your favorite style and size aren’t available!
Frye’s Women’s Boot Sizing
Once again, as appears to always be the case for these boots, Julie sized up: an 8.5 instead of her usual sneaker-size 8s.
4. Most Ethical Women’s Boot Brand: Adelante
- Made to order, fully customizable
- They send you a personalized video of your boots getting made
- Great value; boots run $265-$375 for knee highs
Adelante is another brand that Julie actually visited in Guatemala this past summer. The company is run by two great American guys, Pete and Mike, and they have a unique process for made-to-order boots: you pick a model and a leather, the craftspeople leap into action to make your resoleable boots, they turn up at your door a couple of weeks alter, and with it comes a video of your very own boots being made. Talk about personalized!
“It’s a really cool approach where every boot is made to order,” says Julie. “And then when you do put that order in they make a cute little film of the craftspeople who are behind your particular pair of boots, so every order feels super personalized and really custom to you.”
Pete and Mike are really dedicated to the social good side of their project. Veterans of international relations and government careers, they founded Adelante with the goal of improving the economy and bootmaking industry of Pastores, Guatemala, crafting a business model in line with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals and even allowing their employees to dictate their salary. As a result, they’re paid twice the average rate, have a choice of public or private health insurance, and they’re formally employed — a status 90 percent of local shoemakers don’t enjoy.
Adelante Women’s Boot Sizing
Order half a size up! If your sneakers are 8, get an 8.5.
The boots are terrific. For Goodyear welted one I’d recommend the Granada for a classic bootie, the Elena for a lace-up, the Condesa for a tall riding boot, and the Merida or Catalina for Chelsea options.
5. Best Value Women’s Boots: John Doe Shoes
- Somewhat long wait for shipping
- Variety of models and leathers
- Under $200
Julie doesn’t own these, but Stridewise has published reviews of their
Three models are available: ankle boots, jodhpurs, and lace up service boots. There’s nothing knee high just yet, but the real kicker comes in the leather selection: suedes, calfskins, waxed roughout, even horsehide if that’s your thing — and you’ll usually pay under $200.
The prices are low because you have to wait a couple of weeks for them to be made and because they don’t spend any money on marketing or web design. That’s why their site is a little dated looking and hard to navigate, but if you click the link below you’ll go to the right place. Just remember to click the pull down menu of leather options to see what’s really on offer!
6. Best Riding Boots: Ariat
- Western-style boots
- Often on sale
If you’re a girl looking for a pair of boots that can take a beating, there’s a decent chance you’re Southern or you’re a horseback rider — Julie’s specialty — so we wanted to close out this list with Ariat, a company known for its Western boots and they’ve got some cowgirl boots as well that hand nailed, resoleable, and very cute.
More good news: Ariat regularly has sales, so keep an eye out or consider signing up for their newsletter if you want to be the first to snap up a good deal.
7. Best Luxury Women’s Boots: Carmina Shoemaker
- Fashionable Goodyear welted boots
- Wide variety of styles and leathers
Carmina is another brand that Julie had the luxury of visiting on one of Nick’s factory trips on the Spanish island of Mallorca. Renowned for their impeccable calfskin and refined lasting techniques, Carmina offers a range of high end Goodyear welted women’s boots for the discriminating woman with a little more to spend.
They offer unique designs for a women’s boot: it’s Goodyear welted, but dressy and sleek. Believe it or not, Carmina’s shoemaking family actually predates the Goodyear welt, beginning in the town of Incas in 1866 by great-grandson of Carmina’s founder, Matias Pujadas.
They manage to pull off elegant, stylish Goodyear welted boots that come in a lot of different colors and styles. The brand is best known for their Chelsea boots (our review of the men’s version here) and there’s no shortage of Chelsea models, but the jodhpurs and lace ups can definitely fit in the wardrobe of a fashionable, modern woman who would think “rugged” is the last word she’d want used to describe her look. These are durable as all hell while looking as refined as boots get.
8. Best Winter Boots: Joseph Cheaney & Son’s Florence R
- Fur lined
- Leather has lots of character
- Chunkier boots
- £330 (~$430)
We had to include a boot for extra cold days and we landed on English shoemaker Joseph Cheaney. If you don’t know about Cheaney, they are a very old and well-respected shoe company in the United Kingdom and all of their boots are made in their Northamptonshire factory.
Their women’s line has a considerable range of makes and models, from Chelseas to Balmorals, spanning from the very feminine to the more rugged.
If you’re looking for a super high quality boot for when the temperature dips, look no further than their shearling lined Derby boot, the Florence R. One of the company’s longest standing styles, it comes with a classic, high-ankle silhouette, pebbled finish, and a casual country aesthetic. It’s labeled as “fur lined” but it’s actually shearling, which is sheepskin with wool — and all the lovely, temperature regulating properties that brings.
9. Toughest Women’s Boots: Nick’s Becca
- For an “indestructible” feeling on the foot
- Available in Tan and Black
If a male boot fan is reading this, he might be surprised to see Nick’s Handmade Boots on the list: these are seriously heavy duty boots. Nick’s is known for making footwear for firefighters and foresters, in addition to hefty, hefty casual boots — but if that’ the kind of boot you’ve always wished were available for women, you’re in luck.
The Becca boot is available in to shades of Chromexcel, widely considered the most beloved boot leather in America, and they have a sleek shaft that slims the boot somewhat. At the time of writing this is a very new boot and there are no reviews to be found, but the brand is synonymous with quality footwear and if you want some boots that will last you literal decades and as many resoles as you can throw at it, there’s no going past this beast.
Nick’s Women’s Boots Sizing
Note that the sizing is very specific, here. If you’re a size 8, like Julie, you’ll want to size down 1.5 sizes to get a 6.5.
10. Also Consider: Meermin
- European leathers
- Vegetable tanned leather insoles
- Made in China
- Under $300
We’re bordering on information overload here, so we’ll keep this short: Meermin makes quality women’s boots at a low price. Founded by a member of the family that operates Carmina (they’re not very public about that), Meermin brings European style, materials, and sensibilities to a broader market by virtue of their boots being made in China, keeping the costs relatively low.
It’s important to emphasize that this doesn’t mean Meermin’s stuff is low quality, and we’re seeing more high end footwear companies move manufacturing to Asia while retaining their top quality components and design to great results.
The old fashioned materials, like veg tan leather insoles, will mean the soles will be stiff at the outset, but with leather options like Italian suede and French calf from the famous Tannerie D’annonay, Meermin remains a great option for those looking to save some cash.
Honorable Mention: Truman Boot Company (Discontinued!)
- A constant rotation of new leathers
- Nice combination of chunky workboot with feminine touches like 1.75” heel
- $350 – $400, depending on the leather
We won’t waste too much time on this entry because since we filmed the video, Truman Boot Company has sadly discontinued their line of women’s boots, telling us,
This is due to nothing other than some equipment changes on the floor that don’t allow us to easily switch from men’s to women’s lasts. They have been well received and my own personal opinion is that they are one of the best options for women’s Goodyear footwear on the market. We’re hoping some time this year to relaunch them once we have time to do an entire week or two of production with them.
When we followed up a few months later, they just said,
No plans for it at the moment. We are working on getting everything moved over to ready made.
But for posterity, a historical record, and to attempt to push Truman into rebooting their women’s line, we decided to add these Desert Oasis Women’s Boots to this article in their lovely, creamy suede as an honorable mention.
This leans more on this traditional chunky workboot silhouette with a structured toe, but it also has a more distinctly feminine heel than other entries on this list. It’s made in Eugene Oregon and comes with a 1.75” tall heel.
Historically, all of Truman’s women’s boots are this same model with different leathers and the leathers they use change based on the season, availability, and whatever they feel like offering. This boot has been available in various shades of the brand’s famous Rambler leather; check that link out for some vibrant blues and purples.
That’s our exhaustive list — we hope it helps you on your Goodyear welted boot journey.
But there’s one last piece of advice you should have: if there’s a men’s boot you love and you’re frustrated that the brand doesn’t offer a women’s version, see if they offer narrow sizes. Regular
Whichever model you land on, you can expect a boot from this list to last many, many years — and fashion trends to boot!
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