In this series, I ask the contributor to share an image of their favourite outfit—maybe a pair of pants they wore every day, maybe a special party dress—and write about where they were in their life and why this outfit has such significance. Today we welcome Anya. She is a prolific sewist who shares her me-made outfits on her blog Anna ZoeThis is her favourite outfit.

When Elise asked me to write a short post about My Favourite Outfit, I was a little lost. It was really strange, since I love fashion and I sew the majority of my own clothes. After thinking for a while, it finally occurred to me that my favourite outfit is actually a pair of worn out cowboy boots.

My story is going start by sounding very stereotypical: I live in Calgary, Alberta, the cowboy capital of Canada. One of the main attractions in Calgary is the Stampede, an annual 10 day celebration of western culture. Of course, the majority of residents in Calgary own at least one pair of cowboy boots.

But I did not grow up in Calgary or even Canada. I grew up in St. Petersburg, which is known as a cultural capital of Russia and is pretty much as far from the “wild west” as you can get. I did not move to Canada until I was 17 years old and I am a city girl through and through. I would have never thought that a pair of cowboy boots would mean so much to me.

I got these boots in fall of 2010. I was going through a very difficult break up at the time. The kind where you break up, move out, get back together, break up again, get back together…and your essence ends up being completely shattered in the process. My friend, seeing my struggle, convinced me to drive down to her parents’ cabin in Montana for a weekend. I can’t imagine I was good company at all, but bless her heart for sticking by me.

There among endless crying, shopping and wine drinking, I decided that I wanted to go trail riding. I looked up the nearest horse stable, called them and somehow ended up booking myself a spot on a trail ride the very next day. Of course, being the fashionista I am, I couldn’t go on a trail without suitable footwear! First thing the next day I went out to the local western store and bought myself a pair of legit cowboy boots.

When I returned to Calgary, I decided I would not only continue with trail riding, I would actually take riding lessons. I’ve always loved horses, but their size scared me and I could not imagine I could ever feel comfortable riding one. I wore my boots to every single lesson. I wore them non-stop every chance I got. They got scuffed, covered in mud, dirt and manure, they were stepped on and I could smell a faint “horse” smell every time I wore them outside of the stable.

I ended up getting back together with my boyfriend at the time. We broke up again, this time for good. Somehow I managed to re-discover myself again and I refused to take less than what I thought I deserved.

I continued to take lessons and ride. I bought my own horse and I took her riding as much as I could. There is nothing that can compare to the feeling of galloping full speed across the fields, feeling in complete harmony with a huge beast you are riding.

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I wear the boots every chance I get. Every time I put them on, I feel empowered. It is a feeling that no one can take away from me. Of course, I wear my boots to the Calgary Stampede! I even wore them when my flash-mob group was dancing through the Stampede Parade. We were dancing to Michael Jackson’s Thriller dressed as western zombies. I have to chuckle here, because that would only happen in Calgary. My boots carried me through 10 blocks of continuous dancing.

These boots mean so much to me! They walked me through the rough times, helped me find myself and I can always count on their comfort when I need to dance for hours. As I am writing about them I am also realizing that the boots became a sort of symbol of me becoming Canadian and fully integrating into the culture of my new amazing home.

I love every scuff and dirt spot, there is a story to every single one of them. The boots are still going strong and I am hoping that they will carry me through many years to come, because I know that we can get through anything.

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