On the difficulties of wearing boots when endowed with ‘curvy’ calves…

Good morning, you freakish fowls of non-nature, bred to have XL-sized legs, all the better for, um. Perhaps this is something you should discuss with your Gold’n Plump representative….

Let’s talk boots, shall we? The leaves are falling and the wind is blowing and I am pulling on the boots every day. From fall until spring I pretty much live in boots. I try to keep it to ‘fashion’ boots – you know, leather (or some synthetic pretending to be leather), with a zipper, heel… the whole shebang. I will admit, thought, that sometime in January I will likely give in and live in Uggs for a month. I hate it when my feet are cold. I also hate falling over because all of our sidewalks are covered with eight feet of snow and ice. Living in Minneapolis forces one to become a practical sort.

Of course, as any girl with larger-than-’normal- calves knows, buying boots can be a difficult proposition. Until the last few years, the only place I knew for sure that carried extended calf boots was J Crew – and not only are their extended calf sizes not ALL that extended, they are ruinously expensive!

Here’s my current favorite boot. I have them in black and brown.

For reference, the widest part of my calf is around 17.75″ and the widest part of the boots I’m wearing is closer to 20″. For FURTHER reference, the ‘regular’ sized JCrew boots have 15″ listed as the width of their shank and 16″ for their extended calf boots.

These boots – my requisite one pair of borderline-lady of the night boots in black, has a shank width of 17.5″. We’ve a bit of negative ease going on here, ladies…

As you can see, they look fine, although I’ve certainly worn boots TOO tight before, and not only are they difficult to zip up, but there’s also the unflattering ‘muffin top’ look. On my legs. Egad.

A look that I’m completely in love with, but haven’t had any real luck finding the right boot is the over the knee boots. Here’s the one pair I have.

See? Not great. Not only is the fit above the knee unflattering, but I really don’t like the lack of a heel on these boots. It just feels odd and makes me feel like my feet are teeny looking while the boots draw attention to the heavier part of my legs above the knee. I yearn for very structured over-the-knee boots with lots of wiggle room towards the top for the proper wearing of  with jeans, rather than leggings…

Other boots in my tall boot collection… my favorite boots again, this time in black.

Tough leather boots from Target. These had a very wide shank, so I can get ‘em on, although there’s a bit of muffin top going on and they’re meant to have a LOT of extra leg room!

Wellie-wannabees… The yearning for a proper pair of super high Hunters with enough shank room is something that plagues me from time to time…

And just making it into the taller boot category is a pair of military boots. They’re over the ankle, but barely…


My top four tips to finding, selecting and wearing tall boots…

First… find ones that fit. Due to the popularity and demand, this is much easier than it used to be. For those with solidly ‘large’ calves like me, head to the same shops where there are ‘womens’ size clothing. Most of my boots are from Avenue, but I also check out Lane Bryant and Torrid. If you have a Nordstrom (or even better, Nordstrom rack) near you, they are excellent for larger sized shoes and occasionally boots. I don’t really like shopping online for boots because of sizing and comfort issues, but Woman Within and Jessica London are also sources to look in to. It’s also worth it to check out the shoe discount places like Zappos and DSW, although I’ve never really found anything at DSW.

Second… accept lower quality. For now. Honestly, I’ve not had luck with finding ‘nice’ leather boots – they’re all the el’cheapo synthetic kind. Icky, but at least they’re available!!

Third… roomy styles. The tougher motorcycle type boots are usually more roomy, as are rain boots and Uggs. I usually look for buckles are elastic insets as well. My taste veers more towards a classic, smooth leather riding boot, but that style is very difficult to find!

Fourth… put them on in the morning! My calves SWELL throughout the day! I’ve found for the more fitted boots that they are super easy to zip up in the a.m., but if I try to change into them later in the day (like to go out at night) I might have some trouble. I’ve totally used needle-nosed pliers to yank up difficult zips – just be careful to not zipper skin and to not leave the house with calf-muffin top!

What are YOUR tips??

 

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46 Comments
  • Maria
    July 1, 2013

    You have a great collection of boots! I love the black knee high ones, so sexy :) Would love to add some of these to my own collection :)
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  • C
    October 25, 2011

    A bit late on the comment, but I just got those Target leather boots and had to comment. My calves are the only muscular part of me and so I share the boot-fitting issues. But on the Target boots, I followed Internet advice and put a warm hair-dryer to the tops — I heated up the top inch or so of the shaft, then put them on and stuffed a thick sock in between my calf and the top of the boot (for stretch), and wore them till the boots cooled off. It really did give me a few more millimeters of room there. The leather softened and stretched slightly. I may end up taking them to a cobbler to be properly stretched, but in the meantime they’re now wearable.

  • Laura
    October 17, 2011

    I just had to share my find, having read this post a few weeks ago.

    I went into DSW looking for, but not expecting to find boots to fit my 17 + inch calves, and found two pair of boots.

    Tip 1, you may have to go a size up.
    Tip 2 (from the store manager) with synthetic leather boots with zippers, try zipping them up first, then pulling them onto your leg.

    Okay, so to the boots, first a synthetic leather, more classic style, available in grey, brown, and black, these are knee high for me (I’m only 5’3).
    http://www.dsw.com/shoe/bare+traps+rynona+wide+calf+boot?prodId=227692&category=cat20173

    And a trendier, faux suede also available in grey, black, and brown.
    http://www.dsw.com/shoe/coconuts+wendi+boot?prodId=226230&category=cat20173

  • lisa
    October 4, 2011

    UK based company DUO do some fabulous boots. you buy by calf size as well as shoe size. Excellent quality too..

  • Bonnie
    October 3, 2011

    Also, the over-the-knee boots you have look like the could easily (and not too expensively) be altered with an insert (depending on the seams). Get those boots to a cobbler! I bet they could be made to fit your calves perfectly!

  • Bonnie
    October 3, 2011

    If you get a boot that fits your foot well, but the calf isn’t wide enough (and has to bunch down, take the boots to your local cobbler. Any shoe repair-person should be able to put in a leather insert that extends the width of the calf. If you go this route, obviously, you’ll want a boot leather that can be matched (so no crazy pressed leather designs or a boot that would otherwise highlight the insert).

  • Stephanie
    October 3, 2011

    What a relief to read about other women with similar calf issues! My calves are 16.5″ (hard-earned after years of dance, I’d never trade them for anything!), and it is super hard to find knee-high boots of good quality. My dear mom, bless her heart, has gifted me several pairs of wide-calf boots over the years… the problem is that I’m quite harsh with my footwear, and as such the boots never last more than a year or so, even after having the bottoms re-soled! Thanks for all of these links, I’ll definitely be looking into them!

  • Barb
    October 3, 2011

    Thanks to whomever suggested WideWidths.com — awesome site. Very excited to see that they list specific circumference for each size & width. A little overwhelmed to have multiple options that have a good chance of fitting. I’m fine with paying $250 for a good pair of boots.

  • sarajane
    October 3, 2011

    A little late to the boot party: I’ve had good luck with Eddie Bauer boots – don’t know if they are selling wide calves this year or not. I just got a catalog yesterday called Simply Be (they are online, too) and they had a lot of wide shaft boots. Mind you, they are a UK company and in the catalog, they proclaimed wide withs, but the measurements were in mm’s. Didn’t get up off the sofa to run the conversion.

  • LInda Slater
    October 2, 2011

    Well, I finally got myself a pair of boots that fitted my calves by having them made to size. That may sound extravagant but they were still the same price as a top range boot back here in sunny Australia. When we went on our “Europe” trip in 2009, I knew that there were boot makers in Hungary – ver good bootmakers no less. It’s history of horse riding is the reason behind that. So when in Budapest I did it! We were in a big hurry on the day, and I bought from the first bootmaker we went into, so the boots are a bit riding-boot-masculine , but I’ve had lots of positive comments from my friends. The do on line orders – just check the internet!

  • Shaye
    October 1, 2011

    As, life with the calves of a Brazilian soccer player…

    I have an 18″ calf, and just yesterday, I finally found a pair of boots I can tuck my “skinny” jeans into. Cowboy boots! Because they’re cut so far down in the front and the back, they hug the curve of my calf nicely, and even have a little room. And they’re real leather! And I found them at a vintage shop! For larger sizes, try looking for men’s boots. Because they’re cowboy boots, they likely will still have a slight heel. Sometimes you can find them in less embellished and square-toe styles if the prairie look really isn’t your thing.

  • laura
    September 30, 2011

    if you like zappos, check out 6pm.com! It’s the Zappos clearance site, basically.

    I’m a large-calf lady, too, and I’m eager to try some of the Fitzwell boots later this season (i.e. when my budget aligns with my boot desires…)

  • STL Mom
    September 30, 2011

    You can search on Zappos.com by shaft circumference.
    When I order from Zappos, I use the photos and reviews to figure out which boots are most likely to fit, then I order three different pairs. I keep the pair that fits the best and return the rest.
    I haven’t used Zappos much for shoes, but I like it for boots.

  • Alessa
    September 30, 2011

    I also have rather “muscular” calves, and my favorite boots are lace-ups! The ones I have have both laces and a zipper, so you can adjust them to your preferred width and then not bother with the lacing anymore and just use the zipper. I also love the look of the laces…
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  • Miranda
    September 30, 2011

    Silhouettes.com has wide calf leather boots at their site (they may still be on sale) starting at a size 7, though I’ve never bought from them.
    My DD is trying to find some boots for her short 5W foot–it’s proving to be as hard as finding a wide calf…

  • Ginny
    September 29, 2011

    Alas, I’m also a sturdy calf girl and finding boots is challenging. I recently came across this site, which makes custom sized boots — extremely intriguing! Has anyone tried this company? http://www.bootsforbroads.com/collections/all Patty, the Yvette style might satisfy your penchant for an over-the-knee boot :D
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  • Cindy
    September 29, 2011

    I love boots! I have had luck at Eddie Bauer! I bought 2 pair, 2 years ago. Great style and quality. I haven’t looked this year to see if they are still available. Their wide calves are generous. Last year I bought excellent, traditional riding boots from zappos. When I get home, I will check name brand. They go to my knee and plenty of room. They were a little under $200 but worth the$$$.
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  • artful aardvark/snug bug fan
    September 29, 2011

    Lovely collection! My favorite are the gorgeous, black dressy ones, second from top.

    I’ve always had problems finding boots.

    For starters I’m a size 10 and have wide-ish feet. To add insult to injury, my calves are 16.5. (Regardless of how much I weigh. Even when I’m stick thin, I still have meaty calves.) Fortunately, I live in a mild climate and don’t put a lot of wear on my boots.

    My secret is I just try on every boot available whenever I’m at a discount retailer. Every now and then I find one that fits, and when I do, I snap it up—regardless of the season. Because I know it will be a long time before I find another.

    For nice-casual I have some sexy leather knee-high boots from Two Lips (no longer available) that I found at Nordstrom rack for $30 about 6 years ago.

    For a tough-girl look, I have some Harley Davidson boots very similar to these http://www.harleydavidsonboot.com/hadalaalbo1.html (I have an older model, so mine don’t look exactly like these but they work on the same principle.) The Harley’s are leather (exterior only) but not super great quality. They are made in China. The lacing at the back means the boot can extend quite a bit in calf area. There is a zipper too, so you only have to mess with the laces once.

    My dream is to someday have custom made boots in a buttery leather that snugly but comfortably follow the line of my leg.

  • Chelsea S.
    September 29, 2011

    Boots are so hard! And so freaking cute! It’s like torture. I recently was in Vegas with my mom and tried on at least 2 dozen pairs, none of which fit. I ended up ordering the Type Z Soha boot when I got home… which almost fits my 17.25″ calves (size 9.5). I’m planning to take them to a cobbler to see if I can get ‘em stretched a bit… they’re pretty dang cute! Flat leather riding style, which is my favorite too, and so hard to find!

    Just checked out Torrid… they have a great selection! Maybe I’ll check out the store in the next couple of weeks to see if I can try ‘em on :)

    Much appreciated post as boots!
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  • Mamarox
    September 29, 2011

    Regarding the target biker boots, I ♥ mine! I took them to the shoe repair guy in Hopkins and had them stretch the tops for me, took a couple of days (only one stretcher) and Cost less than $15. totaly worth it.

  • Deb
    September 29, 2011

    I’m wearing my new red boots from Womanwithin today and I love them! I have way more boots than shoes in my closet. Surprisingly, I’ve actually found several comfortable, cute and cheap boots at Walmart! I look for the ones with the elastic gusset at the top, they usually stretch enough for my 17.5″ calves (size 8 feet).

  • Mary Danielson
    September 29, 2011

    Oh, boots. Even when I was a spry teenager, my calves couldn’t fit into most of them, thanks to hours spent in the dance studio. Two years ago, I did luck into finding a brand that makes really lovely, high quality boots in bigger calf sizes. Frye, of all companies, is actually really great about it! They have quite a few styles that have 16″+ circumferences. My favorites are the Dorado Riding boots – I have them in black and spice brown…and am eying the pretty new red they just released. They may be more expensive, but it’s worth it to finally own cute boots w/o a muffin leg.
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  • Karaboo
    September 29, 2011

    Btw, I meant circumference, not diameter…duh!

  • Karaboo
    September 29, 2011

    it is great sering everyone’s comments on this topic. My calves are very solid, (is that the word we’re using?)around 19 or 20 diameter. Even Avenue don’t fit me. But, I have had god luck with Lane bryant and Torrid this year and last. Thank goodness, because I lived in them last year. Also, I’ve really enjoyed the able boots w/same collar tights or leggings look a an alternative. I would really like to find done wide calf wellies, though.

  • Barb
    September 29, 2011

    ps I always wear boots with wool socks. If I’m wearing tights, the socks just go on over top.

    If you’re feeling DIY, my tip for handstitching leather is to get little rubber grippers to help pull the needle through (found with quilting supplies. Looks like teeny tiny stuck-jar-lid gripper). Thimble useful for pushing.

  • Elizabeth
    September 29, 2011

    I haven’t owned boots since forever because of the calf never fitting. I never use to think my calves were really even that large, but when I tried boots on last fall, nothing fit! I finally found some beautiful adjustable ones at Cole Hann last year. They were riding boot style, and partial fabric/ leather. They had buckles that you could adjust.
    I’m glad I found the web site on here to Duo though, I may try them.

  • MNR_T
    September 29, 2011

    Patty, thought I would NEVER find boots, but am singing the praises of widewidths.com Actual leather, worth re-soling (they lasted that long!) Last year, bought a super pair of wwide leather David Austen boots from zappos, and they are beautiful, too. The shoe guy in downtown St Paul {Anjolen, I think) will add gussets — tho your sewing skills probably make that unnecessary. Love your blog! mnr.

  • Barb
    September 29, 2011

    Here’s the good & the bad of Duo Boots:
    They do let you select calf size. However…when they cut them, they don’t adjust the ankle in proportion to the calf. So what I received was a boot that technically fit my calf but barely zipped past my ankle. Think mutton-leg sleeves.
    And the soles turned out to be traction-less hard rubber.

    I’ve had good luck finding boots at Avenue, but am lukewarm about them since don’t like fake leather, but at least it’s less obviously fake than what Lane Bryant offered last year.
    Good to hear that Woman Within has actual leather this year — I’ll need to take a look.

    If you find a boot that almost fits the calves, and is awesome enough to be worth the extra effort and/or cost, adding a gusset of leather or elastic is an option.

    • Patty The Snug Bug
      September 29, 2011

      I’d heard that about Duo, I’m glad someone with experience chimed in with the facts!!

      That’s totally what I was saying about the get-ready-for-fake leather, re. Avenue. Hopefully, we’ll start seeing more variety in the good stuff in the next few years. Compared to 5 years ago, it’s amazing the variety out there now.

      And great tip on the gusset! I hadn’t thought of that. Hello Anthropologie boots, you will be mine…
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      • Alana
        September 29, 2011

        I think a lot of it comes down to the style with Duo. I have 2 pairs and both haverubber no-slip soles. I have whopping cankles (ya know if we’re letting all our secrets out here) and I ordered the 48cm (19in) calf size – the first pair were a heeled pair that fit well and were really comfy. The following year I ordered a flat pair which had a good gripy sole but these ones definitely had less width at the ankle so it took about a week of stretching them to get them on. I must say both pairs have lasted really well though.
        Just my 2 cents :)
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    • Shaye
      October 1, 2011

      Actually, that is good to know about Duo – I have an enormous calf and a slim ankle! (There are a few of us out there…)

      Thanks for the tip! (Now if only I had $400 to spend on boots.)

    • Ellen
      October 3, 2011

      That’s interesting. I really, really love my Duo boots and don’t have that problem, but they’re a loosedr mid-calf style (Bern) and I was getting the 43 centimeter calf. I’m glad to know this before I sink a ton of money into knee-highs. If you’re going to try DUO, I’d look at the end of the season when a lot of the boots go on sale – mine were actual leather for $100, although they do have the hard rubber soles.

      I’m not wild about fake leather, but will have to check out Avenue.

      • Clio
        October 3, 2011

        Oh! I love my Duo boots, bought long ago enough that they’ve been reheeled and soled. They’ve held up well, look great and are comfy.

  • Carolyn
    September 29, 2011

    This is so interesting to me because even tho’ I love the look of boots with everything, the fact that my legs feel like they are encased in lead because even wide shaft boots are very tight on my 20″ calves, has totally discouraged me from wearing them!
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  • Mela
    September 29, 2011

    Months ago I came across this website that allows you to buy boots according to calf size: http://www.duoboots.com/products/boots/

    I have never used them, just browsed, so I can’t say anything about the product and service. But it may be worth a look if nothing else.
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  • Chrysilla
    September 29, 2011

    I like big boots and I cannot lie ;-)

    I even have curvy thighs and skinny ankles, so its extra weird. But I have to go with Doc Martens on this. I live in this pair year round: http://www.dmusastore.com/p-2530-1b60.aspx

    These are awesome, b/c you can adjust the laces to the shape of your leg, and then it zips up the side. I might pick up a pair of these someday, same style with wedge, tho its not in my budget right now: http://www.dmusastore.com/p-3833-leanne.aspx

  • LaUra
    September 29, 2011

    I can definitely recommend Women Within for the wide-calf boots, and this year they have more selections than ever in actual leather. They do have multicolors of a riding style, and also a pair with buckles all over the shaft that look like something a Dr. Who companion would wear. They have lots of wide width shoes also, which are very true to size. Elizabeth almost always sizes up because of her wide feet, and the 9.5 ww I bought her last year could have gone down to the size 9W she actually is..
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  • Claire (aka Seemane)
    September 29, 2011

    Patty I feel your boot-purchasing pain (9really I do)!
    I sport 17.5″ calves (I’m a UK RTW dress size 18), even when I was a skinny 21 yo and a UK RTW size 10 I struggled to get any knee-high boots to fit over my calves *sighs*

    I have one word as a solution… DuoBoots! They currently have free worldwide shipping on full-price shoes and boots (for online/phone order only – not for items purchased in their bricks ‘n’ mortar shops).

    Their calf sizes cover narrow + wide calfed gals! They go from 11 3/4″ (30cm) / 12 1/4″ (31cm) up to 19 1/4″ (49cm) or 19 3/4″ (50cm). Quote:”Calf sizes of our boots start at 30cm or 31cm and go up to 49cm or 50 cm in circumference (depending on the style).

    This is the link to their fitting advice page: http://www.duoboots.com/pages/fitting_advice/

    (Oh, BTW I don’t work for them – but I do have a pair of their boots I bought 3-4 years ago, which I’d totally forgotten I owned until I read your post today LOL!)

    P.S. Cheap in price they are NOT – but the quality is v. v. nice IMHO :)
    Claire (aka Seemane) recently posted..‘Sew Simple’ – New Patterns by Simplicity… a short updateMy Profile

  • Sarah
    September 29, 2011

    Duo boots! http://www.duoboots.com/ They’re a British company, but have free worldwide courier shipping. They have the biggest variety of wide calf boots. Very well made and very stylish. I highly recommend them!

  • Michelle
    September 29, 2011

    Check out Duo Boots. They are in the UK but ship very quickly. Boots go by foot and calf size, and their search function in excellent! I love my Duo Boots.
    Michelle recently posted..September, September, SeptemberMy Profile

  • birdmommy
    September 29, 2011

    I completely lucked out when I was visiting relatives in the US a few years ago – I discovered that Madden Girl boots seem to be wide enough in the calf for my ‘solid’ legs. I only bought one pair – I wish I’d bought more, since they’re a tough brand to find in Canada.

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