DUO Boots – Fourth Time’s a Charm?

I walked on my toes as a child (and still as an adult when I am tired), and it built up muscles in unusual places. In high school while all my friends were sporting their Doc Marten boots, I had to settle for the shoe for it was the only style that fit. Right after college I found a pair of wide calf boots at a now-defunct store similar to DSW. They were a classic knee-high black leather boot that could actually zip, but by the end of the day I had big red welts down the zipper line and would often end up with bruises on my ankle bones from how tight they were. I didn’t care, it was the first time I could wear boots and I dealt with the pain… until the zipper busted on one boot and the price to repair was more expensive than a new pair.

I tried buying other wide calf boots, but they never fit over my ankles and shins. I took a pair I adored to a cobbler to see if they could stretch them, but they said they couldn’t do it to the extent that my legs needed it. Considering the girth was needed below the calf, it was impossible to put in an elastic gusset and not ruin the actual style of the boot.

Me & my DUO boots at Bonnaroo 2011

As you know, I have a pair of DUO boots and I positively adore them. For the first time in my life, I had a pair of boots that fit over not only my wide calves, but my wide shins and ankles. I wanted a pair of Frye Harness boots, and the Bern boot from DUO was a similar style that comfortably slide over not just my calves, but my entire lower leg. I have worn these boots to DEATH – they have been reheeled twice, the insoles replaced yearly. Each spring I use a leather waterproofing spray on them. I have worn them to work, and also to every music festival and outdoor concert I have attended. And now, they are about ready to kick the bucket (or be reserved ONLY for events like Bonnaroo).

Do note, DUO is based out of the UK, so delivery isn’t all that simple to the US. The boots come through customs, cost about $40 to ship, and require a signature upon delivery. If you’re not there when they are delivered, you and only you can go to the post office (with your driver’s license) to pick up the package. On top of that, if what you purchase isn’t right, you will have to fork over at least $40 to ship the boots back.

I was so pleased with my DUO Bern boots, I decided to order another pair (the Toledo). They took almost three weeks to arrived, came to my house when no one was home, so it took another week before I could get to the post office and claim them. And then they didn’t fit. While they would have most likely fit comfortably around my wide calves, they wouldn’t zip over my ankle bone. I contacted DUO, they offered to do an exchange that if I paid to return them, they would ship the replacement pair for free. I asked them for suggestions and they told me to order the Imperia (no longer available online), which ran wider in the calf (they asked me to send more measurements but I never did).

The boots were backordered, and when they arrived (this time to my office so I knew someone would be there to sign for them), I was on bedrest. I didn’t get the boots until two months later when I was back from maternity leave… and they didn’t fit. By this time, it was too late to return them to DUO. I kept them for a year, thinking with the loss of baby weight my legs would shrink enough for them to fit, but they never did and I ended up selling them on eBay at a loss.

Since then, I have tried other companies for wide calf boots but none seem to fit me in the lower calf/shin/ankle area. If I do find a pair that will zip up, I fear they will bruise me like that pair I had over a decade ago. Many wide calf boots aren’t of the best quality – sub-par suedes, tough leathers, and weird details that just make the boots look cheap. Like my DUO Bern boots, I want a pair of well-crafted classic boots that will look fantastic now, and years from now.

So I have decided to go back to DUO, and this time with proper measurements of all parts of my leg. I know from my Bern boots (and seeing the Toledo, Ravenna and Imperia in person) that the quality can’t be beat – soft gorgeous leather stitched to leather soles; details that are elegant and classic and not at all cheesy. Features you don’t notice are lacking on other wide calf boots until you try DUO – things like metal zippers in place of plastic, hidden elastic gussets behind more leather, soft boot shaft interiors and edges that don’t dig into the skin.

For my next pair of boots, I want a classic riding style. Essentially, I want my DUO Bern boot but knee-high, and possibly with a slightly higher heel. Very simple, very classic, wearable with skinny jeans or a skirt. And this time, I want them in black. I contacted DUO by email with my history of boots with them, and what I desired in a new boot. In less than 24 hours, I received this email in response:

Dear Alison,
Thank you for your email and your interest in our products. I am glad that you are happy with your Bern Boots. It is true that they are a great pair of Boots which have definitely become a classic at DUO.
Now, if you are looking for another pair to fit you as well as these but a bit longer, I would suggest you to have a look at the Catalonia on our website. http://www.duoboots.com/products/boots/detail/calf_fitted_boots/catalonia/1095/colour/38-tan_rustic_leather/

These have also been very popular. However, if you would like to give me your ankle, leg and calf measurements as well as your shoe size, I could advise you with more precision.
I remain at your service.
Best regards,
Virginie Ortuno
Customer Service Advisor
International 0044 1373 468180
0845 070 5588

A model in the DUO Catalonia boot

How fantastic of service is that? The Catalonia from the images, description and reviews sounds like utter perfection for me and my big ankles. However, to be safe I am going to measure my ankle, shins, and calves and send it in to DUO for a more precise recommendation. Now is a great time to shop from DUO because they are having free international shipping (though NOT free returns). Any time someone asks me about DUO, I tell them to take advantage of their great customer service – send them measurements, heck send them photos of your legs. Use the tools available to get the most perfect fit, and most perfect boot for you. While I have contacted DUO in the past, I never sent them measurements. Because of this, I have been burned.

Have you ordered from DUO lately? How was your experience?  By the way I will be sure to have a post once I receive my new boots!

Note: DUO does not know I am writing this post. I am not receiving any compensation for this post or future reviews of this company and their products.

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  • http://fashionbyalicia.blogspot.com/ Fashion By Alicia

    I haven’t ordered from DUO however I have large calves so similar problems. I plan to check them out!!

  • http://twitter.com/natylite78 natylite78

    I’ve always loved your Duo boots! Since the time period that we can wear boots in FL is limited, I don’t feel investing in boots is an advantageous for me. My price range is more in the $100 and under range. However if I were moving to a place with seasons, I would totally order Duo boots!

  • Erin

    Thanks to your blog, I learned of Duo, and now I have a pair of Duo boots that I bought recently on a trip to London (and had them shipped, as the London site is only a fitting room), and I LOVE them. Totally worth the investment, and I plan to buy from them again (probably many times). But I just thought I would add that my Duo boots were almost $300 and I found a very nice pair of black, knee-high leather riding boots with buckle/strap at ankle and top at Nordstrom Rack recently for $100. They are by Enzo Angiolini, and weren’t marketed (as far as I could tell) as wide calf boots, but I have thick ankles and am a 41cm calf in Duo, and these fit perfectly.

  • http://soyeahsoblog.blogspot.com/ April and Maya

    Thanks for this recommendation.  I have size 6.5 feet and “athletic” calves.  I took ballet for 8 years so that may have something to do with my muscle development.  I’ve never been able to find boots that fit my calves and my feet and ankles. 

  • Tara in Texas

    OK, I’m going to get “nosy Nora” here and ask if you had sensory integration issues when you were small?  My youngest son sees a physical therapist (for something else) and when he started walking on his toes, she said it was verrrrry common for kids who have trouble with sensory issues.  Most grow out of it, but it can make certain things harder when kids are young.  Light or sound or taste/texture can all be difficult. 

    Aaaaand, I’ll stop asking about things that don’t matter anymore!

  • http://www.stumbleintostyle.blogspot.com/ EvaNadine

    from your recommendations, i have been considering trying out a pair of DUO boots. the Catalonia is one of the pairs i really like, as well as the Brindisi. the prospect of spending that much money on something you cant try on (that costs that much to send back!) is daunting, but knowing they have such great customer service is very encouraging!
    i think i may have to send them an email to see if the styles i like would work for me…

  • http://cookiesonfriday.blogspot.com/ Nicole

    I was lucky enough to be able to buy my Duo boots in person at their store in Bath. I love, LOVE my boots. I’m so impressed with them and I encourage anyone who asks to check them out. Of course, I would never have heard of them without your blog.

  • Chris

    I have purchased boots online from DUO twice and both purchases were quite successful. The first pair I bought were Malmo in brown nubuck – the cushioned sole on these boots makes them fantasic for days filled with walking. The second pair were Bern in tan – this pair just increased my love of DUO. As I have luckily had no issues with sizing I can not comment on the returns process, however, I have found the delivery between the UK and Australia to be as described on their website. I am definitely one happy DUO customer and am highly likely to be ordering from them again in the future.

  • http://www.wardrobeoxygen.com/ Allie at Wardrobe Oxygen

    I too liked the Brindisi, but I guess they run too narrow in the ankle. Do contact them, take your measurements, and read the online reviews before ordering!

  • http://www.wardrobeoxygen.com/ Allie at Wardrobe Oxygen

    Not that I recall… though I remember thinking I could see people’s auras and could “hear” a TV or radio on even if it was in another room or on mute. Weird things like that. I grew out of hearing things by middle school. Never had a real issue with them though, mainly with the toewalking/pronation which they tried everything to remedy short of cutting tendons and putting me in casts. With all those inserts and ugly orthopedic shoes, maybe that’s why I love shoes now (and can comfortably wear heels!)!

  • Sara

    I have ordered a pair after reading you blog for the last year.  And looking high and low for a new pair for my wide calves.  I have a grear pair from Natulizer but they don’t seem to be selling any great styles this season and so I bit the bullet and bought from DUO.  I can say that they are excellent and would buy from them again.  I love how you can give your measurements and get a custom fit!

  • Rachel

    I received the Catalonia boots in black earlier this week.  I loooove them.  I have big calves (upper and lower) and big ankles.  The leather is soft and the fit is perfect.  I plan on wearing them with casual skirts and tights, leggings, and skinny jeans.  I love the free shipping.  I live in Utah and I got my boots in 6 business days.

  • Jules

    Thank you for the great info on Duo. I have a different issue in that I have very wide, muscular calves but skinny ankles (those and my wrists are my only skinny body parts!) so I emailed Duo with my measurements on Friday and this morning I have three suggested styles. I am definitely going to order one, but I just emailed them again with my foot length to confirm what shoe size I should order. So far the customer service is excellent (and I’m biased towards English companies, being English!). I can’t wait to order a pair and hopefully have the great experience you have had with your Bernard boots.

  • Jules

    Bern boots. Darn autocorrect!

  • http://www.wardrobeoxygen.com/ Allie at Wardrobe Oxygen

    LOL, autocorrect is a blessing AND a curse!

  • Sonia

    I’d love to find a pair of boots that fit well, but I have exactly the OPPOSITE problem you ladies have, I have birdie legs–mid-sized calves with tiny ankles and flat feet.  The result is my boots always look kind of wrinkly at the ankle and I must wear thick socks in order to have the calf look “filled in”!  I will consider buying Duo boots for the opposite reason.

  • http://www.wardrobeoxygen.com/ Allie at Wardrobe Oxygen

    Do read the reviews, many people love DUO because they are perfect for all legs – whether small or large :)

  • wide calf boots lover

    Have you seen Bennetts Boots, there Australian and have the widest calved boots ever made, going up to 23 inches. They also have heaps of great styles. I brough my first pair two years ago and they have lasted beautifully. They cost a bit but you cann see when they arrive there great quality. Just google Bennetts Boots from Australia