These were a recent find, the first of this era Tony Lama I have bought. There is a copyright date of 1984 and "Tony Lama Company, Inc." stitched up the side seam.
Very nice, comfortable boot.
It's really a function of location more than fashion. I'll wear mine in Texas, but not when I travel elsewhere. I love them. They're kind of one of those "if you know what it is, you're okay with it" type things. Most people think they're cheap boots. Most Texans know they're more expensive than almost all dress shoes, which gives them credibility (let's face facts, expensive things get the benefit of the doubt). I'm a native New Yorker that moved to Texas in my mid 20's. They were weird to me initially. I bought a pair to go to this big Texas themed ball and fell in love with them. They're pretty cool and unique to Texas (mostly), which I like.
They're comfortable, durable and different. Also, they can be helpful for the people I talk to in my line of work. Mine can also make it through a metal detector whereas my dress shoes (all Cole Haan) can't make it through.
Downsides: They're miserable to dance in. I have driving a manual with them, and my car is a manual. They fit really well (snug everywhere). If you sit for a long time, my feet swell a tiny bit (normal) and they get really tight. Keep this in mind if you have a long commute.
I also refuse to wear black dress socks after getting out of Catholic school, so it helps cover up my drawer filled with bright Happy Socks in situations where I need to be more formal.
With a suit:
They're certainly a bit less formal than traditional shoes, but still acceptable (in Texas), I certainly wouldn't wear them to a wedding or job interview, but I do wear them to the office (suit every day office).
They're a more dressy/formal than casual loafers, but still casual. I wear them to dinners, dates, nicer bars, etc. Basically, they're perfect if I'm wearing a dress shirt and jeans.
I'd recommend ostrich as a first pair. Gator is a bit too back woods redneck for your only pair. Plain leather is kind of boring and not as cool/formal. Lizard is just weird, and not as verasitile as ostrich. Snake- only acceptable if you carry a 12" knife around the desert man daily and killed the snake yourself.
Also note: Cheap boots look like... well, cheap boots. If you're spending at least $350-400 on them, don't get them. If they have rubber soles, don't get them. If they have a square toe, don't get them. The only acceptable colors, especially with a suit, are brown (darker) and black. My friend has grey from an elephant, which is kind of cool too.
edit: I should mention the above only applies if you live in/around some sort of major city. If you're actually a cowboy or live on 25 acres or something, the rules change.
I've got a pair of [url=http://www.overstock.com/Clothing-Shoes/Ariat-Heritage-Roughstock-Brown-Oiled-Rowdy-Boots/4071521/product.html] THESE ARIATS[/url] in my closest that I haven't worn in two years. Got a pair of Rocky boots that I didn't like so much.
I currently wear Tony Lamas nearly daily (it's either my AE Strands or these boots as my main footwear). I know nothing about them. Bought them at western wear store in LBK after a few beers (haha). Stamped inside is "6197" then size" then "1107" and "MADE IN USA" below.
They could use some care, I spose.
As I'm in law school, and no longer really working outside (as much), they dont get beat down like my older boots did.
I'm guessing that's re: the piece over the lower and over the upper. (not too well versed in shoe stuffs). But yeah....all my boots have had that because I like that.
Also, the back end of the heel sticks out just enough to hold up spurs. My Rockys didnt hold spurs well. My Ariats had a riding heel, so those wore spurs quite well. That said, it's been a few years since I've been out riding. I like to ride for enjoyment. I've never been on a ride for work (horses arent exactly lawyer tools...haha)
I'm from very near El Paso. I want to make it to the factory some time.