asked and answered: boots for small calves

hurray, reader mail!  i’ll admit that this one has taken me a while to answer…extensive research was required.  but here we are, at last:

I was wondering if you could recommend some brands or styles of boots that are good for those with really small calves.  All the articles I read mention the problem of boots for people with large ones, but I am really tiny and like boots that hug my legs (hate that swimming feeling and look).  Also looking for fashionable rain boots that are good for small calves.  Any suggestions would be great…  ~ j.v.

excellent question.  not one that personally affects me, but i have plenty of friends that have this issue.  a few rules of thumb:  steer clear of pull-on boots, as they’ll be roomier at the top than one that zips.  and, some sort of buckle closure at the top or anything else designed to cinch the boot is probably a perfect option for you.

the truth is that you have to have a lot of hands-on experience with various brands to come up with really good options in this department.  so, i decided to call in the expert:  morgan wendelborn, style director at shopbop.  here are her words of wisdom:

As far as rainboots go, I actually buy mine a half size up, because they look best when they are a little clunky (plus you can wear a thicker sock!). As long as the rest of your silhouette is fitted or slim:  pair with leggings or skinnies (don’t wear a baggy pant tucked into your boots unless you are making a late night ice cream run!) and a fitted jacket.

If you have slim calves, you should definitely take advantage of the over-the-knee boot! It is really fitted all the way up to the knee and looks great with skinnies and leggings, AND keeps your legs toasty!

i tend to agree with morgan’s take on rain boots – i think a fitted option just wouldn’t look quite right.  but if you must, ugg makes a new waterproof boot with a zip closure ($180) that should stay about as fitted as any rain boot can.  this engineer rain boot from jeffrey campbell ($72) is another great option – i think this will be as close as you’ll get to a snug fit, particularly since it doesn’t go all the way up the calf.

as for the over-the-knee boots, if you’re not sure you can rock the style, keep in mind that most of these boots can be cuffed to allow them to work as standard tall boots as well – and that will keep the top much more snug against your leg.

a few of my favorite picks for you:

  • pour la victoire over-the-knee boot ($465):  i think this is a perfect option for you, as the zipper closure and toggles at the top will keep this one snug whether you wear it over the knee or cuff it.  if you’re really narrow, you should even be able to close the toggles when it’s cuffed, keeping the top snug.
  • twelfth st. by cynthia vincent flat riding boot ($276.50):  that buckle detail should keep this one looking perfect no matter your calf size.  
  • one last little tip:  european brands tend to run more narrow, so look for styles from designers like l’autre chose and coclico for particularly trim cuts.  i love this obama heeled boot (i swear, i picked it before i even saw the name!) – it’s on sale for $378, and should fit you like a glove.

j.v., i hope this helps out – let us know what you end up buying!

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6 comments on “asked and answered: boots for small calves

  1. Dana

    I have this problem too. Skinny legs kept me away from boots for years until I discovered that some styles can be altered. Took a new pair to the shoe repair guy and he took them in. The best styles for this are simple through the calf and have a zipper.

  2. Joe

    I am glad I stopped by to read this post. It is refreshing to read an author who knows the subject matter. I will be adding you to my reader.

  3. kass

    I swear by DUO Boots for custom calf fit boots, large or small. I was never willing to throw down $400-$800 on a pair of boots to fit my skinny legs, then I found DUO.
    Despite the US/UK exchange rate (right now the US$ is pretty strong against the Pound) they are still a great deal. I just got a pair of comfy riding boots that fit perfectly for about US$150. It is the third pair of boots I have bought from them.

  4. eao

    I have small calves and I looove hunter rainboots for kids. they are not super snug, but they are much more fitted than their adult styles. i wear a size 7/7.5 in shoes and can wear a youth size 5 with socks. they are cheaper too!

  5. Kasi

    I have the same problem, i am 5 foot tall and a size double zero but i have 6.5 feet. I just bought some hunter slim calf rain boots, they are not for sale in the US yet but i ordered them from europe on ebay (no one else would ship them here). They are still a lil big on my calf but just big enough to put jeans in, or i put on a legwarmer underneat ( i live in new england, need all the warm i can get!) They are very tall tho, they go right ot my upper calf, but i have to say i liek them and they are very durable! Also i bought a pair of steve madden suede flat boots last year and the calf was way too big so i gently undid the seem on the lining, and then took in the suede about 1.5 inches with my sewing machine (i had to get a heavy duty needle and do it very cafrully) and then re did the lining up by hand, it worked perfect! you can tell a lil bit at the top but it doesn look bad at all.

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