I’ll be honest: It’s taken me a life-time to feel comfortable in my own skin, to grow towards a healthy body image. Sometimes, I have setbacks like when I see an *awesome* pair of Steve Madden boots that fit my foot just fine but are 3 inches (!) too small in circumference for my calf. During live chat with a sales rep at the company, I asked about boots to fit my “athletic” calves and she referred me to a series of ankle boots. Really?
In a similar vein, boot sites always indicate how tall the boot is, using the term “shaft”; however, few sites bother to mention the calf width, known as “shaft circumference”. So, be on-guard.
Measuring Your Calves
Speaking of calf sizes, the way to measure your calves is to use a tape measure around the widest part of your calf, usually about 14″ to 15″ inches above the bottom of the bare foot. Of course, if there is a portion of your calf that is wider than the top-of-the-shaft measurement, then order using the larger of the two measurements. Measure both calves since one might be larger than the other. For petites (5’3″ and shorter), WideWidths.com recommends the following:
“Measure the circumference of your calf at its widest point instead of at the top of the shaft and order a style that is at least one inch larger than your measurement because if you are petitie, your calf begins to get wider at a lower point in the boot than on someone who is taller.”
A Market for Wide-Calf Boots
Adam Glassman, creative director for Oprah Magazine, consoles me with the reminder that calves are “hereditary”. OK, now what? Well, turns out I’m not the only woman facing this issue; there’s actually a market for “wide-calf boots” (14+ inches). Check out the following companies: Ros Hommerson, Blondo, Naturalizer, David Tate, Rockport. You can even get customized boots from Ayla. See a few styles featured on Oprah.
Having identified these leading companies who cater to an important niche, I still must admit that few of the wide-calf styles I’ve seen really excite me. They look pedestrian, if you’ll pardon the pun. The obvious point is that more mainstream designers need to realize that athletic calves are more prevalent than they’re acknowledging. Design bigger boots, Steve Madden.
Still, dig enough and I’m bound to find something that interests. Thanks, EMU Australia.
Emu Australia Toowoombah Knee-High Boot
Strategies for Resizing Boots
If you find a pair of boots that are too snug in the calves, there are ways: either stretching the shafts (up to 2 inches, I’ve heard) or swapping zippers for elastic (probably not worth doing to a pair of $600 boots).
Nordstrom stretches boots for free when you purchase from them, and if you’re not happy with the new fit, they’ll take them back, no questions asked. Aldo does it, too. Many shoe repair stores also stretch boots for about $20-30. Inquire about the zipper-to-elastic thing as another option. If you plan on stocking your closet with high-shaft boots, then you might consider investing in a pair of your own boot-stretchers that can range from $17 to $270. I’m guessing you get what you pay for.
Mallory Boot Stretcher, $270
So, as Bono says, “Get On Your Boots!”