Leather boots are made for walkin'. And workin'. And they're hopefully made to last a long, long time. To help along these lines, it's good to remember that good care goes a long way in making that long time last even longer.
My dad grew up in the mountains of Idaho and Montana and spent his teen and early adult years riding horses and guiding pack trips into the Bob Marshall Wilderness. Western wear spoke his language and aesthetic, so, naturally, cowboy boots have been his footwear of choice throughout his life. Interestingly, I only remember him having a total of three pairs of cowboy boots, in succession, throughout my entire childhood and beyond. Being blessed with very long, very narrow feet, he had to seek out boot makers for specially-made, perfectly-fitting boots. As you can imagine, handmade boots cost a pretty penny more than a pair off the shelf, therefore the three pairs. And therefore the great care he took with these boots, despite wearing them every single day.
Taking a page from his book, here are items of note for those of us who want simple footwear, kept well.
+ Buy the best you can. If they fit well and are made well, they'll wear well. Consider this: a pair of $300 boots, worn for ten years, will cost $2.50 per month. When speaking of quality, remember, bad gets worse over time; good gets better.
+ Buy classic. Because classic never goes out of style. The boots Dad wore when I was three could easily have been the boots he wore when I was thirty.
+ Polish and protect. Boot polishing was part of Dad's routine. It was an evening thing, there at the kitchen table with the small tin of polish and the horsehair brush. Somehow, it was comforting and wholesome to watch such care being taken with an ordinary thing. If you have suede or nubuck, you don't even have to polish, just protect with a water-repellant spray.
+ Know a cobbler. When Dad's boots became down-in-the-heel, or the soles wore thin, they were sent off to a cobbler. The beautiful thing about quality is, it can be repaired instead of being tossed. Sometimes, we may even be our own cobbler, with a bit of shoe glue and some drying time. A new lease on life does any body (shoe?) good.
+ Start here. Don't toss what may be in your closet and run right out to purchase a new wardrobe of handmade shoes. But do begin to educate yourself about the brands that make well. Note them for when you're in the market to replace what needs replacing. In the mean time, a tin of polish and a horsehair brush will take you and your shoes down the road a little longer.
Do what you can with what you have.