Have you been struggling to find boots for large calves? Yesterday I posted a question to my fans on my Facebook Page. I asked them what they wish they had in their wardrobe but couldn’t seem to find. The number one answer I received was boots, in particular boots for large calves. So, take comfort in the fact that you are not alone. But what can you do?
It is with empathy that I write this post because I too suffer greatly from this problem. In fact, the most inspired chapter in my book Style Rx: Dressing the Body You Have to Create the Body You Want was the one on this topic. I am a tall woman at 5’7” with a freakishly small 6 ½ foot and large calves. When I go the shoe store it can be so incredibly embarrassing. The shoe salesman brings me a pair to try on. I start to pull the zipper over my calves and usually at about mid-zip I know it isn’t going to happen. At that point I either give up or really try. Determined, I start pulling on the zipper and notice that the skin on my index finger is starting to become raw from pulling and the fat in my calf is starting to spill out over the top of the boot. I start to sweat because I realize that I am sitting in a public shoe department vs. the privacy of a dressing room and the shoe salesperson, determined to make the sale, is cheering me on like I’m running a marathon, convincing me that I can do it….while maybe handing me some Gatorade to keep me hydrated. I keep pulling and if the zipper does manage to go up, I find I can barely stand. I sit there out of breath, in pain, noticing that I may have gotten the boots on but they look like I just tried to shove 10 lbs. of monkey poop into a 5lb. sack. I eye the other women whose calves aren’t close to being large enough to fill out the shaft of a boot and I feel discouraged. I unzip the boot and as I do my calf looks like a can of Pillsbury dough after it’s been tapped open.
Does that sound at all familiar?
Well, if you can relate, here is what I have learned from my years of fat calves and sore index fingers.
Grab Your Tape Measure
First, grab your tape measure and have with you at all times. You want to look for two measurements— the shaft height and the shaft circumference of a boot. Both measurements are important because depending on the height the boot’s shaft your own calf circumference will be a different size. When you read the shaft height on the description of a boot, with a tape measure, measure that height amount from the heel of your foot up your calf. From that point measure your calf circumference.
Now if the difference is a half of an inch, that amount is negligible. Boots stretch over time and a half of an inch stretch can be increased after one or two wears. Don’t avoid buying a pair of boots for that small of a difference.
Stretching Your Boots
Your other option is stretching. Think it can’t be done? Think again. I have personal experience on this to know that it can be done. I bought this amazing pair of booties about six years ago. There was literally two inches keeping me from getting the boot zipped up. The salesman at the shoe store told me that I could take the boots to my shoemaker and that he could add a panel to the boots to make them fit. Excited, I bought them and brought them to my shoe guy…who basically laughed at me and told me that it wasn’t true. However, he wanted to help me and asked if he could keep my boots a week and stretch them. I came back a week later and, voila, they zipped right up! That’s right, he managed to stretch the closure two whole inches without damaging or affecting the color of the boots. If you have a shoemaker who you think might take the time to patiently stretch your boots a little each day it may be something to consider.
Boots With Wide Shaft Widths
However, for many, these aren’t even close to being an option. So, what do you do? Well, It seems that more and more boot-makers are aware of the fact that there are some women out there who just can’t wear boots because of their calves. Thank God for that! So, who are they? How do you find them?
If you’re looking for a pricier boot, J. Crew is now doing Extended Calf Boots. Most of these styles have a 15 ½” shaft height and a 16” shaft circumference compared to their regular boots that have a 15” shaft circumference. The price of their boots start at around $300.
A less expensive option is Naturalizer boots that have shaft widths starting at 16”. The prices of these boots start at around $120 for tall boots.
You can also search for wide shaft widths on Zappos.com and get plenty of options at all different price points and widths.
If this doesn’t work for you and you want more variety, try WideWidths.com where I’ve seen boots of all price ranges with calf circumferences of up to 24″, the widest, the largest calf sizes available anywhere!!!
If you’re still struggling, another option is to shop at plus size stores like Lane Bryant who sells reasonably priced boots in wide calf circumferences of up to 20”.
Rain Boots for Large Calves
Rain boots are also quite popular right now, in particular Hunter Rain Boots. For some (myself included) the shaft circumference can be really narrow. Few people know that Hunter makes Huntress boots that have a shaft width that is one inch larger than their classic style.