Cute Boots for Skinny Calves
Handpicked Styles for Thin Legs
Like many women, I love shoes—and boots in particular. I'm always on the hunt for the perfect pair. What makes the quest challenging is that although I run a few times a week and try to build some muscle, my calves remain chicken-leg scrawny. Their circumference at the widest point is a bit shy of 12 inches. Most knee-high boots, by contrast, are sized at 14 or more inches around. So they flop around on me in a way that's appropriate for, say, a fun pair of wellies, but not for styles meant to be snug.
Several years of online research tell me I'm not the only woman with this problem. There is a small but determined sisterhood of scrawny legged women on the web. Unfortunately, many recommendations run toward the fiscally impractical, like four-figure Chanel, Prada, or Jimmy Choo boots. I can't spend a month's mortgage on boots, and if you can't either, you've come to the right place.
I've done the legwork and found an array of styles to fit slim calves on a non-millionaire's budget—though, unfortunately, truly modest pricing in a slim shaft boot is extremely hard to find, as mid-priced to upscale labels (for whatever reason) cater much more to thin-legged shoppers.
Boots Made of Stretchy Material
Stretchy leather or faux leather, suede, and fabric boots generally have a smaller circumference. They rely on their give to accommodate a range of sizes, which is helpful for legs on both ends of the spectrum. I've owned four pairs of stretch boots and found them cute, comfy, and versatile.
The Pliner Nellie
This one is great for taller boot lovers, as it's got a higher than average shaft for a knee-high boot. If you're petite in stature, you might find it too tall.
The Solemani Gabi
Solemani is one of only two brands I know of that have produced a specifically labeled "slim calf collection" of boots, aside from custom bootmakers. May they inspire others to do the same! Their Gabi riding style (pictured above) was a winner for me in terms of calf circumference. And now there's the Gabi 2!
The Aquatalia Oralie
While not specifically "slim calf," Aquatalia boots tend to run quite narrow, and every year this brand offers a few styles with a small base circumference and some stretch to accommodate average-sized legs as well.
In love with Aquatalia—arguably the most consistent slim-cutting bootmaker out there—but can't stomach the cost? Most of this brand's styles are weatherproof (check the description to be sure), so much like a stylish down coat, a classic leather riding boot could function as your fall/winter one-and-only shoe. No need to buy wellies or snow boots, all you need to buy is a $10–$20 fleece boot liner.
Lace-Up Riding Boots
Tighten to your heart's content with lace-up styles. The extra minute it takes to tie them up is worth it for a custom fit, although some of them have zippers on this inside for a speedy custom fit. Make sure to check that the lace-up boot also features a narrow calf circumference, and you shouldn't even have to tighten them all that much. Lacing can only go so far if the circumference is large, so if your gams are quite thin, avoid styles over 15 inches around, or you might get some gapping.
The Mullen Spice
Like lace-ups, these are adjustable for a custom fit. The buckles also add a bit of edge that can be very appealing. Some of these also have quite narrow calf circumferences to begin with.
Buckles enhance so many styles, from classic riding boots to trendier moto styles. I'm happy to see brands known for comfort and durability (e.g., Clarks) offering thin calf styles.
Can 100+ rabid fans be wrong? Probably not. To me, the brown was prettier in person than it looks online. I would need another hole punched in the strap to fit my 11.9-inch calves, but the cobbler could do easily do that. This is a very adjustable boot...
The La Canadienne SandraClick thumbnail to view full-size
Non-Stretch, But Slim
Not everyone wants a wide swath of their boot shaft dedicated to stretch fabric, no matter how stylish the overall shape. The problem is, it's very hard to find non-stretch designs that hug our skinny gams, but I have found a label that does this well.
La Canadienne makes stylish and waterproof boots that have earned quite a following among thin-calved ladies. "A great fit for chicken legs!" cheers one reviewer, with others seconding her impression. Most styles will break the $300 mark, but for a good fit, it might be well worth a try.
Having road-tested the , I can vouch for their versatile, comfy beauty. The calf in my size was a bit bigger than listed (so am assuming the listing is for a smaller shoe size than my 8). La Canadienne Sandra
In addition to the sleek Sandra, look for the Paige, Galaxy, May, Stefanie, and Passion styles.
How Snug Should They Be?
- Not so snug that you can't fit tights, jeans, whatever you plan to wear under them.
- At least 1/2 inch larger than your calf circumference to allow for jeans or tights.
- Very snug if they are sleek and especially high heeled boots.
- Not especially snug for slouchy styles.
- For "tougher" styles like motorcycle or combat boots, you can go either way.
The Frye Taylor
Above are my 11.9-inch calves in 13-inch-circumference Frye Taylor boots. So this is what an inch (almost on the dot) of space looks like over skinny cords. With skinny jeans, they'd be a bit tighter. Wearing a dress or skirt, it will be a bit looser, but the one inch of space does look good with any of these options. I personally wouldn't go with less than a half-inch of space, which for me would be a 12.5-inch boot circumference.
The BCBGeneration JerichoClick thumbnail to view full-size
Budget-Friendly Stretch Boots
This simple, budget-friendly style is 13.75 inches at the midcalf measurement, which makes for a nice fit, but in my size (8) it was over 15 inches at the opening. So keep in mind what you'll wear with these.
Skinny Calf Rain Boots
So here's the deal with wellies—these boots aren't supposed to be fitted. They're supposed to flap around on your legs and it's cute. But with many rain boots measuring 15 inches or more around, if your calves are very thin, the flap factor can be extreme. Basically, you want about one to two inches of space around your calves for a cute rain boot fit. I've been pleasantly surprised with the thin calf wellies available.
The Kamik HeidiClick thumbnail to view full-size
Just in time for September rains, I grabbed the in glossy black. I have to admit the teal appealed, but I figured the black is a bit more versatile. The gray would be perfect too if it weren't sold out in my size—funny how a matte gray rain boot seems kinda sad but when glossy it's chic. Kamik Heidi
My tape measure says these are more like 14 inches around than the advertised 13.5 inches, but a wellie looks cuter with a little breathing room. And the extra couple inches around my just-under-12-inch calves distributes fine; it's only really noticeable when I'm sitting down.
There are pull tabs at the back, but they're quite tiny, so I probably wouldn't recommend this boot for calves much over 13 inches. I'm gonna miss my decade-old green Hunters, but they were always ginormous on my legs, giving me a noisy gait that was a little too noticeable at soccer games! Plus, I personally find the slightly shorter shaft on the Heidi more flattering than the tall Hunters, which never really worked with skirts.
Kamik Brand Rain Boots
Kamik brand makes some lovely waterproof smaller circumference rain boots. Look for these online.
- Kelly: Fleece-lined for winter months.
- Annabel: A houndstooth print.
- Cynthia: A floral print.
- Naomi: Cool solids.
UK-based DUO is well known in the scrawny-calf community for offering boots you can customize by calf size. Choose from more than a dozen boot styles in 21 calf sizes, most offered from 30 centimeters (about 11.8 inches) up to 50. DUO's stores are in Britain, but the company now offers free shipping worldwide. The only drawback is the price. It's not a month's mortgage, but a bit splurge-ish at $250 to $400 a pair.
About $400 USD will also get you a beautiful custom pair from the Canadian company Poppy Barley. I've seen very few reviews and stories about this brand, but you may find it worth exploring.
I was intrigued by a tip from one skinny-calf sister who says she always buys vintage boots, and they fit great. I'm kind of assuming you'd need to seek out styles from the 1970s or earlier for a significantly narrower fit than we find in today's marketplace. It's definitely worth a look on eBay and Etsy. Happy hunting :)
3-in-1 Thigh-High to Mid-Calf?
The ultra-slim, sleek celeb cult classic Stuart Weitzman 5050 can be folded from its over-the-knee style to create a knee-high or even mid-calf look.
Even as is, the 5050 streamlined riding boot is classy enough to convert even an over-the-knee-allergic boot lover like me. (Think prosecco with Clooney, not jello shots with Kid Rock.)
I've seen the circumference listed anywhere from 12–14 inches, but if they fit Kate Moss, Angelina Jolie, it's a safe bet they'll work for most of us. The price is rough for all of us without Jolie-level income, but (silver lining) you can find savings online at different retailers.
I called and asked Stuart Weitzman about folding down the 5050, and a very courteous customer service rep said it can be done but might not be as aesthetically pleasing as going with the shorter, but otherwise identical Mezzamezza boot, which he said "measures in at about 12 inches" around the calf.
What If I Can't Find Any Boots That Fit Perfect?
Found your perfect pair of boots, but they're too floppy? Contact a cobbler about narrowing the calves. I haven't done this personally, but I know it's possible, but it may be a bit pricey.
Some Skinny Calf Boot Options
Ralph Lauren Rossalyn II
ECCO Saunter GTX
Sesto Meucci 81207F
Enzo Angiolini Zareh
Eric Michael Shannon
Minnetonka 3-Layer Fringe
Steve Madden Candence
Miz Mooz Kelsey
Stuart Weitzman Grounded
Frye Chelsea Riding
Miz Mooz Oakley
Stuart Weitzman Halftime
Arturo Chiang Celeen
Frye Sabrina Inside Zip
Modern Vintage Diana & Olympia
To Boot Avery
Naughty Monkey Risk It
Bogs Alex II
Joan & David Zadarah
Nine West Elspet
Under & Diane Styles
Not Rated Shast
Vaneli Rian & Vimy Styles
Paul Green October
Your Ideal Non-Adjustable Boot Would Have What Calf Circumference?
What Type of Boot Are You Looking For?
I'd love to hear about your dream boot—whether you own it or are still in coveting mode. Special thanks if you find a cute one around 14 inches! Please share your finds here.
Questions & Answers
My calf circumference is 11" at a stretch. Stuart Weitzman seems to be my only option for a minimum of a $500 boot. Are you aware of any other vendors that make a boot with a more narrow shaft?
If you want a truly fitted calf, you may have to consider lace-up styles, where the full-back or side of the boot laces up for a custom fit. (I'm talking about true functional laces, not just decorative.) Bed Stu and Sofft are two brands that have offered that type of boot before and may still. The Sofft Sharnell, in particular, has answered many thin calf prayers :) Sometimes La Canadienne, Cole Haan, and even Frye have narrow-ish circumference boots, as well as Aquatalia. (But Aquatalia is in the same price range as Weitzman.) The knee-high version of the Vagabond Amina boot is worth a look as well. (I've got pumps by that label that I love.)Helpful 22
My calf measures 14” -- but I need a rounded toe and want (boots) to look nice with skirts and jeans. I’ve bought and sent back no less than 1/2 dozen pairs in the last few years. Any suggestions?
A 14" calf is actually within normal range, so not my area of expertise, I'm afraid. A nice boot I saw recently that might fit your needs, though, is the Gentle Souls Ella. It's quite pretty and could be dressed up or down.Helpful 3
What boot would you recommend for 13.5 calf, narrow ankle and foot with a bunion?
Bunion would require more of a roomy, rounded foot than almond shaped right? Check out the Sofft Sharnell, a favorite for many. Its latest iteration is the Sharnell II, but that looks identical (or close to it) to the original Sharnell. Frye boots, too, sometimes feature a rounder foot shape.Helpful 12
Where can I find a narrow-calf high heel boot with a circumference of 13-14 in.?
A 14-inch circumference is easier to find than a 13-inch one. Some suggestions in your circumference range are the Lamari by Bandolino, the Rochelle by Solemani, the Elena by Linea Paolo, and the Parker Moc by Frye. If you've got big bucks to spend, Stuart Weitzman and Aquatalia always carry narrow-calf high-heeled boots. The Aquatalia Rumba was made famous by its high-profile, slim-legged fan Kate Middleton and is still floating around in limited size and color combinations, now under the name "Rhumba 2."Helpful 7
What about those of us with skinny calves AND narrow feet? Stuart Weitzman works but doesn't make waterproof boots. And it's impossible to find rain boots.
I've found Michael Kors boots to run narrow sometimes in the foot, but perhaps not *extremely* narrow, if that's what you need. Maybe try on an MK pair next time you're out shopping, just to see.
Stuart Weitzman always has at least a couple of narrow calf styles on offer, and if you find that brand works well for your foot width, my suggestion would be to choose leather, not suede, Weitzmans and give them a good massage all over, before first wear, with something like a Frye Conditioning Cream or Dr. Martens Wonder Balsam. I've used both of these successfully, many times, to make smooth leather boots & shoes more water resistant. Essentially these treatments help raindrops bead on the leather, buying me enough time to get indoors and wipe it dry, minimizing further damage.
I remember asking a Weitzman store clerk about this at one point, and she suggested just using a drugstore brand waterproofing spray. That could work too. I just prefer the feel and, by far, the smell of the Frye cream & DM balsam. The sprays tend to provoke my chemical sensitivities, though airing the boots outside post-spraying can help. (Not that I'd want to leave Weitzmans outside for long, lest they walk away with the wrong owner!)
For rain boots, I'm partial to Kate Spade brand, and I've more or less given up on full-length rain boots unless they lace up for calf adjustability. My Kate Spade rain boots are somewhere between ankle & midcalf height on me and don't look too sloppy despite the extra circumference space. I also love my UGG brand duck-style rain shoes, which eliminate the skinny calf issue entirely. Not sure if either of these brands would be narrow enough in the foot for you, though.
For a very affordable option, you could try the Kamik Ellie rain boot. I've not tried this firsthand but have seen reviews claiming a snug calf fit -- probably slimmer than Hunters, at least.Helpful 6