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+ 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 the Scrawny Leg on the web. Unfortunately, many recommendations run toward the fiscally impractical (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.
Stretchy leather/faux leather, suede, and fabric boots generally have a smaller circumference, relying on their give to accommodate a range of sizes, which is helpful for legs on both ends of the spectrum. I've owned four pair of stretch boots and found them cute, comfy, and versatile.
The Pliner Nellie
This one is over 50 percent off retail as of mid November 2014. And it's 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 (last year's)
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! Last year's Gabi riding style (pictured at the top of this page) was a winner for me in terms of calf circumference. And now there's the Gabi 2!
Not sure how I feel about the metal accent around the heel, but I definitely trust this brand to deliver a skinny calf.
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.
I loved the Chanel-like quilting on this pretty boot -- and of course its slimness. A very elegant choice, and weatherproof, too -- perfect for our nasty Chicago winters.
Tighten to your heart's content with these styles. The extra minute it takes to tie them up is worth it for a custom fit. If you pick a style like the Fryes (shown below) that also features a narrow calf circumference, you shouldn't even have to tighten 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 around or you might get some gapping.
Fun fact: The Melissa, below, is reportedly what Jennifer Lawrence wore in the "Hunger Games" movie.
This budget-friendly Breckelles style will set you back a mere 27 bucks. It's synthetic, of course, but if you're on a shoestring budget, this could be a winner.
Buckle: 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 that are everywhere this year. 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. And 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...
ECCO Sullivan Buckle
Out of the buckle styles I have tried, this one is probably the best-designed for adding an extra punch per buckle, rendering it perfect for skinny calves. Why? The extra leather folds easily into the inside of the boot, so nobody's the wiser. This gleaming ECCO style features a generous (but not clunky looking) toebox and a snug heel, for maximum comfort.
also worth a look...
Sesto Meucci 81207F
Not Rated Shasta
Naughty Monkey Risk It
ECCO Saunter GTX
Miz Mooz Kelsey
Arturo Chiang Celeen
& (the supercute) Eric Michael Shannon
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 two labels that do well with this.
The first, Skinnycalf Boots, is a brand-new line that is based in New York City but has its products manufactured in Italy for a high-end, high-quality result. Their 2015 line includes a wedge style with warm shearling lining, a classic equestrian style, and this heeled style that I find super sexy but not "trying too hard"—a great office-to-on-the-town option that is saved from over-formality by the soft pebbled leather and slouch-preventing stretch band. (Yes, I know I said "non-stretch" in the heading, but this band is such a small part of the boot that I think it qualifies).
The second brand I want to mention that pretty reliably offers nonstretch but slim styles is La Canadienne. Stylish and waterproof, these boots have earned quite a following among thin-calved ladies. "A great fit for chicken legs!" cheers one reviewer, with others seconding her impression. As with Skinnycalf, most styles will break the $300 mark, but for a good fit it might be well worth a try.
In addition to the sleek Sandra, look for the Paige, Galaxy, May, Stefanie and Passion styles.
Having road-tested these, 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). See pix below of the Sandra on my 12-inch legs...
The La Canadienne Sandra on me...Click thumbnail to view full-size
How snug must they be?
~ Not so snug that you can't fit tights, jeans, whatever you plan to wear under them. Add at least 1/2" to your calf measurement for this purpose.
~ Snugger with very sleek boots, especially high heeled. Less so with slouchy styles. "Tougher" styles like motorcycle or combat can go either way.
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. Wtih 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.
Budget-friendly Stretch Boots
On a shoestring budget for footwear? The BCBG Jericho is going for under $100 in some sizes!
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 at the opening, so keep in mind what you'll wear with these. See pix below for how it looks on my 12" calf.
The BCBGeneration Jericho on me...Click thumbnail to view full-size
More slim boots! (Some only on ebay at this point...)
Stuart Weitzman Halftime, Madden Reggo, ZiGiny Knowing, DV Tison, Miz Mooz Oakley, Minnetonka 3-Layer Fringe, ara Frances, Modern Vintage Diana & Olympia, Frye Carson, Frye Sabrina Inside Zip, Coclico Seaghan (high end, very limited sizes), Mia Bold, Nine West Elspet, Steve Madden Candence (with a 13-in. circumference, per the co.), Paul Green October, Coclico Otto, KORS Porter, Isola Claris, Aquatalia Deliver
Yes, this page is for knee-high styles. But read this account of how 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 midcalf look.
Even as is, the 5050 -- a streamlined riding boot celebrating it's 20th birthday this year -- 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 to 14 inches, but if they fit Kate Moss, Angelina Jolie, and this style vlogger, it's a safe bet they'll work for most of us. The price is rough for all uf us without Jolie-level income, but (silver lining) you can save 20% by signing up for Amazon's shoe-related email like I did.
p.s. I 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.
Cult classics usually last just a couple of seasons, but not this one, which shows no signs of slowing down for 2015!
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 -- that's the style, and it's cute. But with many rain boots measuring 15 inches or more around, if your calves are very thin -- say, 11 to 12 inches around -- the flap factor can be extreme. Basically you want about 1 to 2 inches of space around your calves for a cute rain boot fit. I've been pleasantly surprised with the thin calf wellies available. An excellent choice...
Six great colors, 13.5 inch circumference
The Kamik Heidi on me...Click thumbnail to view full-size
Just in time for September rains, I grabbed the Kamik Heidi in glossy black. (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.) My tape measure says these are more like 14 inches around than the advertised 13.5, but a wellie looks cuter with a little breathing room. And the extra couple inches around my just-under-12" calves distributes fine; it's only really noticeable when I'm sitting down (photo 3). There are pull tabs at the back, but they're quite tiny--there for style only?--so I probably wouldn't recommend this boot for calves much over 13. I'm gonna miss my decade-old green Hunters, but they were always ginormous on the legs, giving me a noisy gait that was just 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.
also check out...
Bogs Alex II
Ralph Lauren Rossalyn II (14.5 around, but some reviewers complain of too-skinny calf!)
the very luxe Aquatalia Wasabee
& from Kamik the Kelly (fleece lined), Annabel (houndstooth), Cynthia (floral), and 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 you can too, and the company now offers free shipping worldwide. The only drawback is the price: not a month's mortgage, but a bit splurge-ish at $250 to $400 a pair.
About $400 USD will also get you a nice-looking custom pair from Canadian company Poppy Barley. I've seen very few reviews/stories about this brand, but you may find it worth exploring.
Kors Arley, Aquatalia Orso , Enzo Angiolini Zareh; Vaneli Rian & Vimy styles,To Boot Avery; BCBG Erinn (with back laces for extra tightening); Aquatalia Unity, Star, Umpa, Under & Diane styles, Ara Tilly; Stuart Weitzman Grounded; Frye Chelsea Riding; Joan & David Zadarah
Note: Some of these may be ebay-only at this point. Happy hunting!
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. Worth a look on ebay and etsy, maybe? Happy hunting :)
If all else fails...
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 -- if a bit pricey.
Your ideal non-adjustable boot would have what calf circumference?
What type of boot are you looking for?
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 (no need to buy wellies or snowboots) with the addition of a $10-$20 fleece boot liner.
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 around and share the info here.