Search Results for: label/DUO Boots

What I Wore: Back in the Saddle

duo boots santana wide calf review vintage coach bucket bag brown duo wide calf boot review wide calf boots curvy blogger reviewDress: Old Navy | Bag: Coach via eBay (similar) | Bracelet: Rebecca Minkoff | Sunglasses: Ray-Ban | Boots: Santana c/o DUO Boots | Cast Cover: c/o CastCoverz

Well hey there everyone! Thanks for your positive vibes regarding the cast, while I’m still in a cast at least now it’s a short one and I regained use of my elbow! It’s okay, I’d rather be safe with the arm than sorry (again!). Thanks to CastCoverz who sent me a few covers to work now and when I’m in a brace (check out the other fun ones on Instagram); the goal was to have this one for the 4th of July but since I was still in a long cast at that point it’s now a great choice to better blend with denim and navy outfits! And this dress, well I wrote about the black print one here but liked it so much (and it went so low on sale) I got a second one!

And the boots… oh the boots! Anyone who has read this blog for a few months knows I’m a mega DUO Boots fangirl. I bought my first pair of wide calf boots from them back in 2007 and have always been impressed with their fit, quality, and stellar customer service. So when they approached me to do a collaboration I was psyched! I chose the Santana boot, which is an updated version of my old DUO Bern boots (now discontinued, and my pair is now my trusty music festival boots). The Santana is more sophisticated with a distressed finish and stacked wood heel. While I’m wearing them now with a dress, they’ll look great this fall and winter over skinny jeans or cords, and would also look great with tights and a dress or skirt. If you’re unsure of size, do contact them. I had a great phone call with DUO where we discussed the size of not just my calves but shins to ensure a great fit. While I love DUO for wide calf boots, their boot shafts are sized by centimeter, so it’s a great place to find quality boots for those with narrow calves or average legs!

Review – DUO Boots

In my last post about DUO boots, I discussed my previous experiences with this company that offers wide calf boots in sizes up to 50 centimeters in diameter. I mentioned how DUO Boots chatted with me via email offering their suggestions on the best boots to fit my need (a low-heel tall black boot with classic styling that could work over skinny jeans as well as with dresses and skirts), and my body (petite, wide calves as well as large shins and ankles). DUO suggested the Catalonia, a classic riding-style boot that is known for being generous in the ankle. With DUO Boot’s free international shipping I decided to get myself a pair.

The Duo Catalonia Boot

The boots were backordered, but DUO let me know that before I even placed my order. They kept me posted via email on their status and arrived two days before I expected them. I had them delivered to my office so I would ensure a person would be there to sign for them (DUO is based out of the UK and you need a signature for delivery).

I got them… and they didn’t fit. While I ordered a size 39 UK/8US (same size as my Bern boots and most of the shoes in my closet), my feet were positively swimming in them. I also went down a few centimeters from my Bern boots because I knew they stretched, and well I went down too far – could hardly zip the left boot. I emailed DUO asking what I could do – the last time I had to exchange with them I had to pay $40, deal with customs at the post office, and it wasn’t worth the hassle.

Well DUO has updated their return policy – they sent me a link to fill out a return. My card was charged $20, I repackaged the boots in the heavy shipping bag they came in, and DHL came to my office and did the rest. While the $20 return fee sucks, it’s not that dramatic compared to so many other US-based online retailers in return for international shipping, front-door service, and stellar customer service.

And in less than two weeks my new boots arrived. This time, they fit great. The only thing was the boots did a weird pirate-sort of thing at the top (see above). This happens because my calf is so much wider than my knee, and I am on the short side. I had noticed this in the original pair, and before exchanging researched to see if a cobbler could actually taper the boot to not bow out so much. They could, and so I took my new Catalonia boots to my cobbler.

My cobbler refused to taper the boot shaft, saying it would ruin the boot. “Legs don’t curve that way.” The thing is, my legs curve that way. So I went to another cobbler who didn’t bat an eye at my request, asked me to put on the boots, even suggested I put them over my jeans to ensure there’s room for that, got on his knees and measured. The Catalonia has a back seam so the alteration is virtually invisible.  Two weeks and $45 later I had boots that curved with me (see above). Was so impressed with the price and ease, I am taking an old pair of “pirate boots” in to be cleaned up and tapered.

And now the review of the actual boots:
The DUO Catalonia is a pretty classic-styled riding boot with a low heel, rounted toe, and pull tabs at the top of the shaft. I don’t believe my pictures do the leather justice for it is very soft and supple – the boots look expensive. There isn’t a single bit of blatant hardware on them which I love – the zippers and pulls are black, the elastic gussets are black, the wood heel is stained black.

DUO rarely shows a photo the inner view of their boots, because that is where they hide the zipper and gussets. Like my Duo Bern boots, the Catalonia has a sturdy metal zipper and two horizontal gussets 6.5” long; these gussets will stretch with the leg so you don’t always have a bit gap of elastic showing (see above).

The foot itself runs HUGE – I am a 7.5 wide or 8 medium and I was swimming in an 8. Even with a size smaller, my foot still has a lot of room and I can comfortably wear really thick socks. The ankle area will slouch on many – this is not a stiff leather boot and it is roomy in the ankle – this is not a boot for someone who wants a sleek, fitted style. The boot is unlined, but the leather inside is soft and brushed. DUO boots aren’t known for their cushy insole, but I just buy a pair from Target to make them more wearable all day.

The boot is tall – if I was a half inch shorter they would probably dig into the back of my knee when walking or sitting. Do keep this in mind if you are petite (I am 5’3” and find most petite pants to be a hair short if not in complete flats).

I have worn these boots a LOT in the past week – almost every day. They are very comfortable, and look great slipped over jeans and leggings. I also wore them with my gray White House Black Market dress and it looked cute; you can also see here when I wore them with a pencil skirt. The leather has stretched slightly – just enough that they have molded to my leg and foot. They cost me $250, a price I find extremely reasonable for such quality, style, and fit.

DUO Boots is known around the blogosphere for making wide calf boots, but they make boots of any size – if you have very narrow calves this is also a great place to shop. Before dropping dough, I recommend you contact them by email – they reply usually within 48 hours and can give you specific advice on boots to ensure you get a style that will fit you best. And for those in the US who were turned off by the old shipping and return policy – consider giving DUO another try, you’ll be pretty pleased with the change.

Note: I did not receive any compensation from DUO for this post; DUO didn’t know I was writing this nor do I even think they knew I was a blogger when I placed my order.

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What I Wore: Mom Style

wardrobe oxygen what I wore weekend style gap ann taylor wardrobe oxygen what i wore duo boots

wardrobe oxygen what i wore ann taylor cashmere poncho

Poncho: Ann Taylor | Tee: J. Crew Factory (similar) | Jeans: Gap | Boots: c/o DUO Boots | Bag: c/o Fossil (similar) | Bracelet: CC Skye (similar)

It’s starting to feel like fall, so I HAD to whip out this poncho from Ann Taylor and my tall boots! While I’ll miss summer, I do enjoy fall fashion and it’s been great to sleep with the windows open and add an extra quilt to the bed!

This poncho was a splurge, but as I said in this post, it’s a classic that will look great for many years. I knew I’d wear it in a casual manner like this for errands and weekend “Mom Style,” but also think it would look elegant in the office over blouses and trousers. I was excited to see these boots match this bag from Fossil; I haven’t featured it on the blog since this post but am really feeling brown leather this season.  The bag is big enough to carry everything I need for a weekend on the go!

Shop the post:

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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My Must-Have Shoes for Fall and Winter

In the warmer months I get creative with my shoes. Yellow wedge sandals? Why not? Silver Birkenstocks? An unexpected staple! But come fall and winter, my shoe collection gets far simpler and more utilitarian. This is my current cold weather shoe wardrobe for 2014/2015:

 

must have shoes fall winter

1. Sneakers. Now that I’m walking almost every morning, my sneakers have become some of my favorite shoes. These aren’t the exact ones I have but a similar style and price to my discontinued and nicely discounted New Balances via 6pm. New Balance fits my chubby feet and short toes.

2. Brown Riding Boots. Pictured are the DUO Santanas, the very boots I have (seen here and here). As a petite woman, I love how these boots are a bit shorter, elongating my leg and ending at a comfortable height. As a woman with large calves, shins, and ankles I love how these boots fit comfortably (you order DUO boots by the centimeter so they’re a great choice for narrow, average, or wide calves and the customer reviews help you narrow down the styles best for your specific leg shape). I wear these over skinny jeans or with tights and skirts or dresses.

3. Black Heeled Booties. For many years I have worn the Cole Haan Air Talia bootie (discontinued, very similar and cheaper option) and while I still have and love (in fact just got back from the cobbler for a reheeling), the round toe looked weird with fuller trousers. I just picked up the ‘Coolen’ from Jessica Simpson and love the pointed toe, sleek heel, and the wider top that is more comfortable with my thicker ankles and shins. I wear under jeans and trousers, but also over skinny jeans and with tights and dresses.

4. Statement Heels. Last winter I picked up a pair of silver pumps from Nine West (no longer available, similar concept) and was surprised by how much wear I got with them. They add some fun to dark jeans, jazz up an LBD, and look cool peeking out of black trousers for an evening out. The closed toe is more comfortable on frigid nights but the pointed toe, high heel, and silver color makes them dressy enough for most affairs on my social calendar.

5. Wedges. A wedge is far easier to wear for long periods of time; these are my go-to when I know I’ll be on my feet but still want a bit of lift. The booties I have are the Nine West ‘Lottie’ which are discontinued (and not as tall as the one pictured), but this one from Anne Klein is similar in style. I wear with black tights and dresses, but have also worn under fuller trousers where the wedge isn’t as prominently on display.

6. Leopard Pumps. I have more than one pair of leopard pumps, but the ones featured are the Nine West ‘Ugogirl’ which are my newest leopard purchase and my current fave. A leopard shoe is extremely versatile and adds interest to an outfit of neutrals (which I often wear in the winter; hello black with more black and maybe a splash of denim). I like that these have a chunkier heel giving me more support, but a pointed toe which elongates my short frame.

7. Stylish Waterproof Boots. SOREL sent me these boots in September (review here) and they’re a great option for folks like me who have all her pants hemmed for heels. These can tuck under trousers or be laced up over skinny jeans and the grippy sole makes me feel more secure on slick DC sidewalks.

8. Casual Winter Boots. I picked these Treton boots up last winter on clearance at 6pm and they’re one of the best winter purchases I have made. Lined with shearling, the boots are super cozy and comfy. The wide opening makes them easy to slip on over thick socks and when still half-asleep letting Cindy out in the morning. I keep these at the backdoor to go to the compost and let out Cindy; slip leggings inside them and my track or snow pants over them for snow shoveling or sledding, and often slip them over skinny jeans to walk Cindy or a quick run to the grocery store or Starbucks. Previously I had a pair of duck boots (RIP), and even earlier (and likely somewhere in my attic or at the bottom of my office closet) I wore Tims.  Winter happens and function trumps fashion when it comes to weather.

9. Classic Black Pumps. I wear these almost year-round with skirts, dresses, and trousers. Come the coldest months I switch out to booties, but these still hold a place in my closet for the occasional client meeting or day wedding.  My personal favorites are MICHAEL Michael Kors ‘Flex’ and Nine West ‘Flax’.

10. Tall Black Boots I actually have two pairs; a black flat riding boot I bought two years ago from DUO Boots (very similar, same retailer), and a sleeker heeled boot with an almond toe that I got at Wide Widths almost a decade ago (same style, same retailer).  I wear riding boots over jeggings, leggings, skinny jeans several days a week come winter.  I use a protective spray on them so they keep me dry and salt doesn’t eat away the finish.  Tall boots are warmer than trousers alone; I usually add warmth with a pair of knee-high wool or cashmere socks (and sometimes a sock liner for extra tootsie insulation).  Heeled boots are worn with tights to make dresses bearable past Thanksgiving.

11. Slippers with a Rubber Sole. My shearling mocs from Lands’ End are what I put on as soon as I get home from work, have at the side of my bed when I go to sleep, and the first thing I put on when I wake. I like having a rubber sole so I can step out to the recycling bin or mailbox but also to not slip and slide on our hardwood floors and stairs. To keep down utility bills, I wear a cap and these slippers all winter long when indoors and these are uber comfortable.

What are your must-have shoes for fall and winter?

Spring Wardrobe Additions

Now that the cast is off and the swelling has gone down, I can finally get into the spring fashion spirit! Here’s a few things I have recently purchased and like very much:

1. Well all know my adoration for stripes; when I saw this shirt at J. Crew Factory was only $21 I had to try it. I love the fit, the shape, the fabric, everything. It’s tempting to get it in gray as well!

2. I don’t ever shop Walmart, but I was on vacation in a small town where it was the only place to go to get a pair of shorts for Emerson. While there, I found these shorts by Faded Glory for $12.94 and I must say they’re pretty great. Good length that is comfortable yet not dowdy, a bit of stretch so they’re flexible but also keep their shape, and a nice non-dorky wash. Totally got rid of the cheesy neon skinny belt and will likely do an at-home distressing on them, but not too shabby. As with any shorts, I went a size up for a better fit.

3. I don’t own this EXACT shirt from Boden, but unfortunately the one I got is no longer on the site. This shirt featured is the Eliza Top, and I own the Eliza, but in a cerulean and navy stripe (yep MORE stripes!). I absolutely positively LOVE this shirt; I love silk but hate washing it (this shirt is machine washable); I like ¾ and bracelet-length sleeves now to protect my scar but stay breezy (this shirt has it), and I love a top that is casual like a tee but can dress up for work (wearing it right now with a pair of trousers and pumps, looks great tucked into a pencil skirt, and this weekend wore with boyfriend jeans). The Eliza Top from Boden is a regular in their collection and a great addition to many wardrobes!

4. I now own five pairs of Nine West’s Flax pump (black, natural, silver, peacock print, red and black spotted haircalf). I know that seems a bit insane, but it’s a pretty perfect shoe. Single sole, pointed toe, walkable heel height, and a nice price. I’ve been wanting a “nude” leather pointed toe pump for over a year, but find each pair is too pale, too dark, too pink, too something for me. The Flax’s Natural Leather is a pretty perfect shade for me, and I love having a shoe that looks great with both pants and skirts.

5. Another silky shirt with an in-between sleeve length! This is the Sophie Blouse from Dobbin Clothing, and while it has the same basics I like from the Boden Eliza Top, it gives a completely different effect thanks to the details. Slightly crinkled silk, gold buttons down the front, and blousy sleeves. The color makes it work with black, brown, ivory, and denim quite nicely. I often wear this blouse untucked with dark wash narrow jeans, but also wear to work tucked into ivory tropical wool trousers.

6. I mentioned my desire for delicate gold this spring, and I am still loving my Rebecca Minkoff cuff; I also picked up this dangly but not too jingly bracelet from Nordstrom for $24; it doesn’t look cheapy, it’s stretchy and doesn’t get in the way when I type.

7. This Panama hat is only $17 from J. Crew Factory. Runs a bit wide, but I like that because I can twist up my hair and tuck it in the brim to keep my neck cool (or hide bad hair).

8. Me and my Lifetherapy bracelets – it’s an addiction! I love turquoise, I have a few bracelets from the company in blue (see here) so it brightens up my current collection, and this one has an Aquarius symbol! I like that these bracelets are just one long cord; I’ve been known to also wear them as a long necklace with tanks in the summer!

9. Seriously, the Converse Shorelines are my jam! I’ve missed having casual tennis shoes for spring and summer, and these are so easy to slip on, no heel blisters, and no looking as though I’m wearing shoeboxes on my already chubby feet.

10. Linen always looks like such a mess on me.  Well this spring I’ve given up being crisp, and have embraced the casual wrinkled-ness of linen.  My J.Jill white linen big shirt is great knotted over distressed jeans, and these pants (the Julie fit from LOFT) I love with a simple cotton knit sweater, silk blouse, or with a denim shirt.  

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Outfit posts have been few and far between because it was slow and difficult getting dressed with the arm, and honestly pretty depressing. I gained weight and lost muscle being so sedentary during my time on disability, and just putting on a tee shirt could leave me in tears. And then, much of my wardrobe didn’t work with the cast, only having one arm to put myself together after using the bathroom, the stiff swollen arm and all that jazz. But I feel SO much better, have much more flexibility and less swelling and am feeling like myself again. So stay tuned, for actual posts of me wearing these new pieces!

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What I Wore: Bandana Badass

Tee: Leith | Jacket: ASOS (similar) | Bandana: Vision Street Wear (similar) | Jeans: Gap | Shoes: Vince Camuto

The bandana is back this season, and it gives me an opportunity to pull out some oldies but goodies like this one from Vision Street Wear. It’s always fun to take something old from the wardrobe and give it a new life with new trends.

Though my cast is off, my arm is still healing and my hand isn’t strong enough to perform many daily tasks.  Clothing is still best when it’s a bit loose, but I’m liking jackets because they cover the still healing scar and provide some protection.  Adding the jacket and the bandana make me feel less like an invalid and more like a badass!

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Duo Boots – Dealing with an Exchange, Return, or Repair

I have a bit of a love affair with DUO, a boot company located in the UK. It started several years ago with my first pair of boots from them – the “Bern”, a pair of classic boots that are similar to the famous Frye “Harness” boot. I had always wanted a pair of Fryes, but my wide calves (and wide shins) made it impossible. With a bit of Internet searching, I came across DUO and took a chance (you can read about my first experience with them here). So glad I did!

Wearing my DUO “Bern” boots earlier this year

A couple years later I decided to use an annual bonus to buy another pair of DUO boots. Unfortunately, they didn’t fit properly due to improper measurement on my part and my mistake of not utilizing their fabulous customer service for advice. I went to exchange the boots and it ended up costing me $40 in shipping. The replacement boots came to my office while I was on maternity leave; by time I was able to try on the boots my body had changed drastically and the boots didn’t fit. I chose to sell the boots on eBay rather than deal with another costly return across the pond.

I must admit that experience in 2008/2009 left a bad taste in my mouth. It wasn’t the fault of DUO, but it just seemed too expensive to purchase boots from an overseas company. However this past winter I desperately wanted a pair of black riding boots. Learning from my last DUO order, I decided to email them and ask their opinion. I not only measured my calf, but also my shin and my ankle and even took pictures of my legs. I informed DUO of what I desired, how the “Bern” boots fit, and the issues I had with other boots. They suggested the Catalonia (read about my experience here and here).

Wearing my DUO Catalonia boots

Since then, I have been a happy camper with my DUO “Catalonia” boots. Quality leather, classic style, great fit. I did get them altered at my cobbler to taper at the top, but that was due to my leg height, not the boot itself. However after a month or so of wear the left zipper broke. I was devastated – I just dropped a couple hundred on these boots and then additional fees for alterations. Would they repair the boots since I had them altered? I emailed DUO and they asked me to mail the boots to assess the situation.

I no longer had the boot box, so I just stuck them in a square box. I was going to send Priority Mail, but the woman at the post office said it would be cheaper if I used a regular box (I just covered the box with craft paper). The cost was a bit over $25, the weight low enough that I only needed to fill out the short customs form.

DUO contacted me once they received the boots. They apologized for the zipper breaking and asked that since I had them altered, did I want a new pair or have the current pair fixed? They had already sent the boots to their repair person, but were waiting for my reply. Oh, and they asked how much I had to pay for shipping. I told them the exact amount, didn’t have to show a receipt or do anything and in a couple of days that amount was back on my credit card. Less than two weeks later, my boots arrived looking like new, in a brand new boot box.

So for those who are hesitating on buying from DUO because they are in the UK or you fear the shipping fees for repairs or exchanges, not to worry. If the exchange or return is due to DUO, they will cover the cost. As always, DUO is quick with the emails and will work with you to find the best boot for your wide calves (or narrow calves!). If you take advantage of their customer service you will be less likely to need a return or exchange. And if by chance there is an issue… I can attest to the fact that DUO will do everything they can to remedy the situation!

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Worth The Money – My Love Affair with Duo Boots

As I mentioned in a previous post, I would soon be providing you with a review of my newest boots from Duo – a company that specializes in all sizes of calf boots. I had purchased from them in the past and was highly impressed with the customer service and the quality of the product (as I type this I am wearing my Bern boots from them!).

Last season I decided with a work bonus to splurge on another pair of boots made for my wide calves. I wanted a sleek and classic tall black leather pair that would look great with dresses and skirts. As with my order of the Berns, I entered my foot size (39) and my calf size (45 – yeah, I am so past the point of department store’s ideas of what an extended calf boot should be) and the style that seemed to fit my personal style.

Less than two week later, a gorgeous pink-wrapped box was waiting for me at the post office (do note that orders to the US require signature – if you are not home it will go to your local post office. And from the post office you must be there with ID to sign – not your mom, your roommate, your husband. I have learned now to send the boots to my job where a receptionist is always available to sign). I opened it to find glossy, elegant, fabulous boots… that wouldn’t zip up past my ankle bone. What the heck? I held the boots closed and could see that they would fit around my calf bone, but just not from ankle bone to that point. I contacted Duo by email and received a response in less than 48 hours.

The super helpful customer service agent was sorry the boots did not work, and suggested some styles that may be more flattering and fit better on my petite yet chunky legs. I had asked about two styles in my original email, she openly admitted one style would not fit my frame, the second would probably be good, but a third and different style (the Ravenna) is one of the most popular styles for women built like me.

At the time, I decided to return the ill-fitting boots and wait until fall to get a pair. By then, they hay have other styles I like better, trends, may change, my calves may shrink overnight…

A few weeks ago, I received the email that Duo was having free international shipping and I saw that as a sign and ordered the Ravenna boots.

They arrived to my office… they were gorgeous, a classic look, well made. They zipped up past my ankle bone, but not much farther. Holding the leather closed, I could see that they would be plenty roomy in the calf muscle, but the rest of the leg was at least a full inch too thick. Frustrated, I send another email to Duo. Not even two hours later I receive a response:

Thank you for your email. I have had a look at your blog and seen how pleased you were with your Bern boots, so I’m very sorry that you have had these sizing problems since.

We have had feedback in previous seasons about needing more styles with more room in the lower calf area and mid-August we changed to our new 2008-2009 range. I have been trying on boots this afternoon to gauge the fit and there are 3 styles that I would recommend.

The Macerata boots are a straight cut riding style in gorgeous quality leather which do not taper in too much at the ankle and might be a good fit for you in your calf size as they are generous all the way up the leg.

The Potenza boots in black are more of a western style but they are coming up larger in the lower leg according to the feedback that we have had over the past month or so.

Finally, the most generous boots that we have in the lower leg are the Imperia boots as there is lots of room above the ankle in these; even with the 1940s detailing they are still classic with a small heel and very wearable.

If you still have concerns about the sizing, if you can provide me with the measurement of the lower calf area that is causing the problem as well as your upper calf measurement I would be happy to go and measure any other styles that you might be interested in.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Um, how often do you encounter such personalized, caring and detailed customer service from a company? The letter was longer, and mentioned that she visited my blog, saw the Bern boots on me and agreed they were a good fit, looked up the size of the Berns that I kept to ensure I re-ordered the right calf size, and even offered free shipping on the next pair that I ordered.

This is why I return to Duo. I am so impressed with their dedication to their clients, the quality of their product, the variety of styles, and that they seem to really care about me, and not just my money.

I haven’t chosen a replacement pair, but do know when I do… you will all get a full review of them!

Vendor Review – Duo

I am always on the look for a pair of boots that fit my large calves, yet still have great style. Like plus-sized clothing, this combination is hard to find. Seems that all boots for larger calves are boring styles or totally tacky and/or dated.

A reader told me about Duo, a UK-based company that prides themselves on having an extensive selection of boots for almost every size calf. I headed over to their site and was utterly amazed at the selection. Yes, like other companies they have the standard tall boot in black and brown and a few selections I wouldn’t get caught dead wearing, but so many choices that were current and stylish, I had a hard time choosing which style to try.

I ended up choosing the Bern in caramel brown (photo from site), which I felt most closely replicated the classic Frye Harness boot that I covet but can’t pull up over my ankle. With the ability to size the boot shaft in centimeters, I was able to get a more custom fit than with inches. Converted into American fundage, the boots ended up being $238 with shipping – not cheap but equivalent to high-quality brands in the states that do not cater to my leg shape (and cheaper than Frye!). If these boots were as great as I had read, the price will be nothing for years and years of happy wear.

The boots arrived in less than two weeks, but were sent registered post and required a signature from me (not the husband) to pick up. Since the post office is open only when I am at work, it took a bit longer to get my purchase. No worries, better than leaving them out in the rain on my front porch.

Do note – the return policy is only ten days from receiving and the shoes need to be in mint condition if you do plan to send back. Be sure to wear them on carpeting to try them out at first.

The packaging is excellent – heavy plastic shipping bag that can easily be reused for returns. The box was sturdy and the boots carefully wrapped and protected. And the leather… these are GORGEOUS boots. The color was called Caramel Brown, but the shade is more of a tan – almost the same color as my legs (photo taken by moi). At first I feared this color would look strange and not match anything, but I think the lighter color was actually more flattering with large calves – not drawing attention to the size of the leg but the style of the boot. Like the Frye Harness boot, these boots look cool out of the box, and will look awesome in a couple years after some wear and tear.

The shaft is fleece-lined, and the footbed is leather. The stitching is well-done and high quality. The zipper is sturdy and has an elegant zipper pull. There are elasticized gussets at the back of the shaft for flexibility – if I had recalled this feature, I could have gone a centimeter or two smaller (one should already go a centimeter or two smaller than your measurement as that leather does stretch over time). However, I wanted a casual look and the looser fit seems to work.

Friday night I wore the boots around the house for movies and pizza and unlike previous “wide-calf” boots, these didn’t dig into my legs, leaving track marks from the zippers cutting into flesh. Not only that, they were comfy on the feet – good support and decent cushioning. I gave the boots the true test the rest of the weekend – wore them to tailgate for my college homecoming football game (five hours on my feet on concrete) and then Sunday at a luncheon and then a general-admission concert (five more hours standing on concrete). After all that, my feet felt great, my calves were happy and the boots still looked beautiful. The only problem was that the insole/footbed had pulled up a bit and the adhesive stuck to itself, making it lump under my heel. I was planning on replacing the insoles with more supportive ones anyway, so I just unstuck, put back in place and was fine. This happens often with me and boots – I will not judge the quality on this one teeny snafu.

Final verdict? I am a Duo fan and plan on shopping from them again in the future. The international shopping, high ticket price and the strict return policy may seem daunting but the quality and fit make it all worthwhile!

Don’t Buy the Boots

Don’t buy the boots if they are made of that weird suede that has a white tinge. You know what I mean, that cheapy suede that’s thin, strangely dyed, and shows you got them for only $50.

Don’t buy the boots if they are so loose you don’t have to use the zipper.

Don’t buy the boots if they are suffocating your calves or leave red indentations on any part of your leg.

Don’t buy the boots if you don’t love all the details. Just because they’re cheap/comfy/fit your legs doesn’t mean you should wear 85 buckles, fringe, embroidery, strangely-shaped heels, appliqué, a funky color or anything else that isn’t quite right.

Don’t buy the boots if they don’t go with your closet. Cowboy boots for a woman who prefers Helmut Lang, biker boots for she who loves classic elegance, brown for a wardrobe of all black… you get the idea.

Don’t buy the boots because a magazine said you must have a pair of boots to be stylish.

Don’t buy the boots just because Olivia, Lauren, Katie, Blake, or even Kendi owns them.

Don’t buy the boots if you feel as though you’re in costume when you wear them.

Don’t buy the boots if you can’t think of three ensembles already in your closet that will work with them.

Don’t buy the boots just because they match your purse.

Don’t buy the boots if you have any hesitation.

You don’t need a pair of boots to look cool, stylish, trendy, fashionable, or fabulous. A pair of ill-fitting, poorly-crafted, or inappropriate boots will only make you look awkward, unstylish, and possibly tacky. I say this as a woman who has owned purple suede kitten-heel boots just because they fit her calves but not her personal style. As one who has purchased the pleather boots with the too-thick heel and the too-square toe just because they had a good fit and price. And as a woman who notices the attire of other women on the street and too many times sees a gorgeous woman in a lovely ensemble ruined by a pair of boots.

You don’t need the boots. Buy the boots if they are perfect, if you love them, and if they make you look and feel amazing. Otherwise, take pride in knowing yourself to not fall for every “must-have” trend.


There’s nothing more chic than knowing when to say no.

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Saturday – New boots and scarf

Jacket - Ann Taylor (similar)
Tee – J. Crew (similar)
Scarf – c/o Lolly
JeansNYDJ
Boots - Fitzwell
Bag – Sabina (similar)
Sunglasses – Marc by Marc Jacobs

Saturday afternoon we went to help a dear friend celebrate his birthday. Relaxed get together at his house, so it was a great chance to break in my new boots.And check these babies out – just $53 for soft leather and a classic style that fits my wide calves!  I like them so much, I wish I bought them in brown as well.  Heads up – I usually wear an 8 but bought them in an 8.5 since they didn’t have wide widths available at this price – the foot seems to run a bit narrow and I really did need that extra half of a size to make them comfortable.  The leather however is soft and they have already molded nicely to my feet!

And the first picture… I just couldn’t help myself with such a crazy range of beverages in my possession!

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Reader Question: Summer Boots

Hi Allie -
Do you think boots are appropriate for summer (like tan ones for summer) for casual wear, with skirts or shift dresses, or is it better to save them for cooler weather?

Thanks, Amy

Hey there Amy!

I think it depends on where you are living and the trends of that area. I personally love a more casual boot with a fitted top and denim skirt for a barbecue or happy hour, and think floaty little dresses or shifts seem grounded with a sturdy boot. However I know that where I am (Washington DC) it is too humid and hot past June to sport anything but the strappiest of sandals and one would not only feel uncomfortable in knee-high leather, but look uncomfortable as well.

I wouldn’t buy boots for the purpose of summer wear, for you may find they are just too warm and awkward-looking to wear in 95-degree sunshine. However if you already own a pair, I am all for trying out new things and seeing how it feels and looks. I know I will most likely be wearing my casual tan mid-calf boots with skirts and dresses at least through the beginning of the summer season!

tall black bootsUgg bootsThe thing is when summer hits, your glossy black knee-high heeled boots will just look wrong, no matter how hard you try. Just as your wool pencil skirt doesn’t work in summer even though it is the same silhouette as your twill one, boots of glossy or patent leather or ones with very sleek styling (pointed toe, kitten or stiletto heel) will feel out of place. Also, a chic tall boot can look quite tartish when not paired with the heavier fabrics and stronger silhouettes of winter.

Though the looks so far for these warmer months have been more polished and feminine than in the past, if you wish to pair tall boots with your summer wardrobe you will need to go casual. Think the Frye Harness boot, a distressed cowboy-inspired style, an enginner or biker boot, or even something a bit shorter and more rugged. This does not mean UGGs – these boots are not stylish, not chic and cause the wearer to lose any fashion credibility.

Kate BeckinsaleTall Boots in SummerThese pictures show how tall boots can give a bit of a city or rocker vibe. Note that the boots are not shiny, they are sturdy and solid to balance out the small garments on top.

This look isn’t for everyone, but if you have a little rockstar hidden inside you, a pair of engineer boots can look great with a denim skirt and tee, or with a vintage dress.

Tan boots with skirtCameron Diazboots and dress at CoachellaThese images show boots being worn in a more casual/bohemian manner. Again, note the boots are not made of glossy leather, have little decoration and low to no heel. The heaviness of the look compliments the simple silhouettes on top. Again this look isn’t for everyone, but if you are drawn to more eclectic styles or have a vintage-inspired wardrobe, a flat boot in tan or a light brown could really work with your summer dresses and skirts.

Related Posts:
Free International Shipping at Duo Boots
A Wide Calf Boot Update
Wardrobe Hints for Warm Climates
It’s All About the Boots
Vendor Review – Duo Boots

It’s All About the Boots

Tall boots have been in style for years, but this season they seem to be a must-have, be they paired with tiny dresses, pencil skirts, or pulled up over skinny jeans. Daily I check the stats of this blog and what keywords are used on Google and other search engines to arrive at Wardrobe Oxygen. Half the time, the question on the search engine user’s mind is “Where can I find boots for wide calves?”

I wrote a detailed review of Duo boots here. Duo is known for having one of the most extensive lists of calf sizes and their quality cannot be beat. In this post, I wrote about many companies including my experience with Wide Widths, a company that has a collection of several brands of wide-calf boots. And here, I also mentioned wide-calf boots.

Well this weekend I had two more experiences I wished to share with you.

wide calf boot tall suede SilhouettesFirst, I received a pair of tall boots from Silhouettes. Silhouettes is a company that sells clothing for women in sizes 12W and up, and shoes as well that have wide calves and wide widths. They seem to have a few of their own styles, and also offer a few brands that are known for selling quality wide-width tall boots (Naturalizer, David Tate, Ros Hommerson). Many of Silhouette’s style of boots are far more budget-friendly than Duo or Wide Widths, but I was wondering about the quality. Often times cheaper brands are such because they scrimp – the seams are not as strong, the fit is strange, the heel is flimsy, the fabric is obviously man-made and why is it that cheaper brands add so many details and flourishes? Don’t they know that cheesy gold-tone buckle and the purple zipper details make the item look obviously cheap?

The boots I received are not currently available on Silhouette’s site, they are a suede boot with man-made lining; the heel is also suede-covered. They scrunch a bit up the shaft like their pleated ankle boot, but are tall like their microsuede boot. The color I received is a gray-tinged chocolate brown. Though I usually wear a 7.5, these boots are an 8W (it often is a good idea to go up a half a size for boots). The heel is about 1″ (you can see them being worn here).

These boots are quite comfortable. Though I couldn’t pick my calf size a la Wide Widths or Duo, these boots fit my monstrous (we’re talking wide calf styles from J. Crew and Ann Taylor just don’t cut it) calves. No zipper marks embedded into my legs after wearing, no pinched toes and no leg pouring out of the top as though my calves are stuffed sausage. I wore these boots shopping and to dinner (about four hours) without any pain or issues. I did purchase a pair of comfort insoles to slip in, as these boots have no support or cushioning (very flexible yet thin sole), but that is pretty common in lower-priced shoes and fashion boots. The suede looks just as expensive as higher-end boots and didn’t scuff too easily. The man-made lining is a bit spongy which helped the boots stay up and not cut into the skin, but did cause my leg to get a touch sweaty. The zipper is sturdy, same color as the boot so not too obvious. I like that the boot is free of adornment so it compliments your outfit and doesn’t draw attention to the width of your leg or the price of the footwear.

wide calf boot tall leather SilhouettesSilhouettes has a great return policy for the boots, though they only give 90 days for returns, your return during that time period is 100% guaranteed. This means you can actually wear the boots and see if they are comfortable and sturdy. No tip toeing on your carpet, these shoes can prove their worth. If they are like this pair I received, I doubt they will be heading back to the returns department. These are not boots you will own for decades, but if you are looking for stylish wide-calf boots at a very reasonable price, Silhouettes is a great place to check out.

As for my second experience… eBay! We all know eBay as a place to find a great vintage piece, a designer purse at a good price and a goldmine for finding random things you didn’t know you even wanted or needed. Well there is a great selection of wide-calf boots as well. Naturalizer has a boot called the Kiersten that is sold most everywhere. It is a classic tall boot in brown or black leather and when I searched for this boot on eBay, I found dozens in my size, most never worn with the tags still attached. These boots are found around $99 on most sites, but saw these same boots for $35 at eBay. If you know your calf size or have experienced a certain brand of boot, it is worth your time to check out eBay for quality leather boots at a great price.

As I learn about more wide calf boot companies and experience their product and service, I will be sure to report back here. Seeing so much traffic for just my blog on this subject, I hope more companies see this need and adjust their calf widths to be as varied as their shoe widths (also consider smaller calf widths, Dear Companies – there are many slender-legged women out there also wishing to wear tall boot but cannot find a good fit).

Boots shown: Microsuede Boot (on sale for $59), Emily’s Closet Platform Boot (on sale for $89); both available at Silhouettes.

Tall Boots for Wide Calves

Boots are hot this season. Pulled over skinny jeans, matched with wool and denim skirts, paired with gauchos, it seems that a pair of tall boots is a necessity for any woman’s wardrobe.

What do you do when your calves aren’t slim? A childhood of playing soccer, a more zaftig figure than most models, a tall woman with proportional appendages, whatever the reason, purchasing boots when you have larger legs can be very frustrating.

Most knee-high boots in stores have a 14” or 15” circumference of the widest part of the boot shaft. Before you go shopping, take a tape measure to the widest part of your calf. You can buy boots that are a half-inch smaller than your measurement because leather stretches and many styles have elastic gussets.

Many chain brands like Naturalizer, Eddie Bauer, Ann Taylor Loft and J. Crew offer extended-calf variations of their popular styles. Do check the size, for many brands consider larger calves to only be a half to full inch larger. This may be all you need for comfort, or you may require more space.

Wide Widths may not be the most elegant name of a website, but the collection on this site is amazing. They explain the sizes of the boots and give you hints when you should go up or down a size. The customer service is excellent – if you have to call for assistance or for exchange/return approval, you will speak to a very knowledgeable and passionate salesperson who will offer alternatives based on your style, lifestyle and size.

Wide Calf Boots has a lot of the same styles as Wide Widths, but a few new styles, such as cowboy boots. They separate their boots by style and like Wide Widths, they have a link to wide width shoes too.

Torrid is a brand that sells trendy clothing in larger sizes. They have a great selection of reasonably priced boots as well. Though the boots may be faux leather, they are well made, stylish and look more expensive than their ticket price. This is a great site to visit if you are looking for a more funky/trendy style of boot. They do not have extra-large calf sizes, but their standard size is larger than many of the “extended-calf” sizes found at the stores above.

Silhouettes is also a company that sells plus-size clothing, and larger-calf boots. They carry a variety of brand names and styles. Be warned – if you order from them you will be inundated with catalogs from them and every other plus size clothing brand in your mailbox for the rest of eternity (or until you call and beg them to be taken off their mailing list)

Looking for biker boots, harness boots or riding boots to fit your calf size? Check out Friedson Bros. Their prices aren’t cheap, but the quality is impeccable and they will custom make your boots to fit you perfectly. The price may make you balk, but a well-made boot should last you for decades if you care for them properly. Friedson Bros. offers a measuring chart to fill out to ensure the boot has the correct fit.

Once you have a pair of boots that you love and love your calves, how do you know they are a good fit?

  • They should not gape at the top. Legs should not be swimming in the shaft.
  • They should not dig into the leg. There is nothing more unflattering than your knee pouring out of the top of the boot like a split sausage casing.
  • They should not dig into the back of the knee. Sit down in your boots. Do they hit so high that they cut into the back of the knee? If so, return them and find a shorter style.
  • Where on the calf do they hit? Like skirts, if your boot hits at the widest part of the calf, it will make your legs look even bigger. There is no point in investing in tall boots when they do not look good on your figure.

And how should you store your boots?

  • Either store them back in their box or standing straight up. Use packing paper to stuff the shafts and maintain good shape
  • Use proper leather cleaners and protectors for your boots. Caring for these boots properly will have them last for years.
  • Invest in non-skid pads for the soles. Tall boots are popular because they can keep your legs warm in the colder months. You won’t be warm if you slip and fall on the ice and snow.

Returning My Boots

I have big calves. Yes, I am not a twig in weight, but I have always had very muscular, large legs. As a child I walked on my toes, resulting in big ankles and bigger calves. I used to be able to press more than the guys on my football team back in high school. Yeah, they’re big. Too big for the wider calf boots from J. Crew or Naturalizer.

So I Googled large calves boots and came up with a few cheesy sites, but a few helpful message boards. Seems like most of the big legged women of the world are in England and New Zealand. Well I was able to find some US companies and ordered a pair of black leather knee-high boots.

There is a reason why they don’t make large calved boots. They just don’t look very good. Or maybe it’s these boots. I got them, they fit perfectly. I thought they looked a bit weird though. Maybe too much leather on the leg? the heel maybe a bit too low? The toe seems a bit like a hoof more than a nice piece of footwear.

I kept them in the closet. Maybe they would be more appealling in a month when the weather was colder.

Today was a month. It’s about 55 degrees out – perfect knee high boot weather. I put on my zebra print courdoroy skirt, a black cowl neck merino sweater and the boots.

Still look stupid.

I tried standing on my toes. Looked much better – I think it’s the foot part of the boot. It’s too rounded, too flat. Too dated and matronly.

The boots were mailed back today, I switched to pumps, an electric blue silk/ramie square neck cap sleeve shell and dark denim blazer.

And then looking at the site for a link to the ugly boots I found these for only $49. Fun colors, but will these look just as lameola once on? Could I really carry off wine or purple suede boots?

I have the brown and the black in my “shopping bag.” Haven’t completed the order yet…. maybe I’ll buy them with my next paycheck???

Ask Allie: Best Boots for Plantar Fasciitis

I’ve been searching your web site for info on boots – how to find a good pair that doesn’t hurt when worn all day, for example. We will be moving to northern Michigan (think: SNOW) to retire in a few years, and by that time I would like to have a good pair of boots. But if I’m going to spend extra money for good quality boots, I just want a pair that I will want to wear a lot. What brands do you recommend for problem feet? I have plantar fasciitis and large feet with large big toes, medium width.

When shopping online it’s hard to know what will work before it arrives on your doorstop. That’s why, for unknown brands and styles I stick to companies that have free shipping and liberal return policies:

  • Zappos – Free shipping, and you have 365 days to decide to return (and returns are also free). To try from Zappos, it’s important to wear socks and try them on a clean carpeted floor; they do not take back worn shoes. I’ve been known to order a pair and have them sent to my office and wear them around the workplace which is clean and carpeted. If they go home, there’s a chance that they will get dirty, dog hair, or never gotten around to being returned.
  • Planet Shoes – A great site for eco-friendly, vegan, and USA-made footwear, Planet Shoes has free shipping and free returns on unworn merchandise if sent back within 90 days of purchase.
  • NordstromNordstrom has a stellar shoe department, free shipping, and free returns. While it’s unethical to return clothes you happily wore, it’s nice that with Nordstrom if you get a pair of shoes you think are comfortable but then say wear sightseeing and end up with pain, you can still return them.
  • Online Shoes – While returns cost $7.95, exchanges are free at Online Shoes and they have categories for footwear such as orthotic-friendly and up to 4X wide shoes and healthy-feet brands like Rockport, Dansko, Cobb Hill, and Sofft. It’s a great site if you’re more familiar with a brand and its fit but wish to try a new style in their collection as they have selection and also customer reviews.
  • The Walking CompanyThe Walking Company’s return policy kind of sucks, but if you have a store nearby (and there’s one in Ann Arbor which you mentioned in your email), you can return in stores for free. The Walking Company breaks down book categories by style and brand like other retailers, but also by comfort level with a specific category just for plantar fasciitis.

If you have plantar fasciitis, you want to find a shoe with good arch support, plenty of cushioning, and a shock-absorbing heel. This can be achieved with a shoe brand and style that provides this, or a shoe that has room for an insert to achieve these goals. Brands like Aravon, Dansko, ECCO, Naot, and Orthaheel are highly rated by those with plantar fasciitis, while brands like David Tate, Munro, Cougar, and Cobb Hill are known for being orthotic-friendly and are more likely to have a roomy toebox for your toes. Searching online, these are tall boots I found that are a classic style, well-rated brand, and would work for plantar fasciitis.

keen tyretread boot

KEEN Tyretreat Boot

With KEEN’s metatomical footbed design, this boot cradles the foot, has excellent arch support, a shock-absorbing polyurethane midsole, and still room for orthotics. Reviews say these are as comfortable as a pair of sneakers and roomy in the toes. Made with waterproofed leather, this classic style comes in black, brown, and tan; there’s also a waterproof version in black and tan that has seam-sealed construction and a moisture wicking lining which would be even better for a snowy climate.

naot viento boot

Naot Viento Boot

This is a classic leather riding boot with simple styling that will be fashionable for seasons to come. What makes this and other Naot boots special is the anatomically shaped cork and latex footbed that molds to your unique foot shape with wear. The footbed also features arch support for pronation control, a heel cup for added stability, hallux support to prevent foot slippage, and an elevated footbed center to release pressure in the joints located in the central area of the foot. Naot claims that wearing this boot, you’ll gain better posture, balance and body alignment. Available in black and brown leather, while this boot isn’t waterproofed, some waterproofing spray and regular maintenance can protect them from occasional splashes and interaction with salt.

Cobb Hill Britney Boot

Cobb Hill Britney Boot

Cobb Hill, a New Balance Company, sent me some of their shoes to try earlier this year and I was highly impressed by the comfort and support of their shoes. The Britney has a stability shank embedded into the midsole which supports the arch and helps create a smoother gait; the TR outsole provides traction control while absorbing shock and maintaining stability. Though the Britney does sport some ankle straps and hardware, the look is still classic enough to withstand footwear trends. As with the Viento, I recommend prepping this boot with a waterproofing spray.

naya abira boot

Naya Abira Boot

The Abira is a classic riding boot in buttery leather with a cushioned footbed that massages the foot with every step and a rubber outsole that delivers long-lasting durability on a variety of surfaces. The foot is roomy enough to fit an orthotic, and the style can dress up or down quite nicely. Naya is a brand known for quality and comfort but can often be found on discount sites like 6pm; when researching this post I found the boot almost 50% off in tan on 6pm.

Now I wish to hear from you readers; any suggestions for this reader? Do you deal with plantar fasciitis? If so what shoes and boots have you found that are supportive, comfortable, yet still stylish?

Ask Allie: Boots and Heels and Flats

Hi Allie!
I really trust your styling advice, so I’m wondering what your opinion is of casual flat chocolate brown boots in a wardrobe void of brown. Can they be worn as black boots with a black skirt and sheer or opaque tights if no other brown appears in the outfit? Does the rule of brown belt with brown shoes still apply?
Thanks, Katie

In a word, yes.

I don’t wear brown. I believe I own one brown piece in my entire wardrobe, and it’s a v-neck merino sweater that each time I wear I wonder why I still own it. I just don’t like me in brown… but I love brown leather accessories and that includes boots.

Brown boots are a fantastic neutral that can work with any color in your wardrobe. I have a pair of light brown boots that I have worn with a black dress and black opaque tights, have worn come spring with a navy dress and brown belt, have worn with a black turtleneck sweater and skinny dark jeans tucked into the boots. The key is to know that if there isn’t any other brown in your ensemble, that the brown ends up being an accent color – don’t pretend it’s something that it is not.

Brown boots with black and gray

I find that when you are adding brown boots to a non-brown wardrobe, it’s good in winter to stick to pretty monochromatic ensembles – if you wear a black sweater, red skirt, gray tights and brown boots you will look a mess; however if you choose a gray sweater, charcoal skirt and tights with the brown boots, the ensemble looks cohesive and purposeful. Come warmer weather when tights aren’t needed, brown boots look fantastic with vintage-inspired florals and prints, as well as monochromatic ensembles.

As for your belt matching your boots, it’s not necessary but it’s important to have a good eye for detail – this isn’t a black and white situation. While a weathered black belt over a black dress with brown boots may work, a black patent belt probably would not. When I wear brown boots I usually wear a brown belt (even if it’s not the same shade, though I try to have a similar texture/weight of leather), or a belt with a color (usually muted and/or weathered to balance the look of the boots).

Hi! I have a shoe dilemma. I’m a college student, my campus is pretty hill and I walk everywhere. Whenever I wear heels, even though they feel pretty sturdy, my feet end up hurting ten minutes into my journey (especially on the ball and arch of my foot). I bought insoles, but it doesn’t negate the pain. I was thinking about taking the shoes to a cobbler and seeing if the heels could be shortened. You seem to wear heels a lot, what do you do to make them more comfortable?
While we’re on the subject, I also wondered if you had any tips for walking more quietly in heels. I always feel self conscious when my heels make noise in hallways or on the pavement, which may just be psychological, because I’m probably not all that loud.
-Jess

I remember being a student at the University of Maryland, trekking from my off-campus sorority house to the Math building to the English building and then back to the house. I figured I clocked two miles a day just getting to two classes each Tuesday and Thursday. And though I was far more casual in my attire as an undergrad, I still liked to look nice each day, and that often meant wearing heels.

Truly walkable heels are a rarity – many I wear I claim to be comfortable, but few would get me through a day on a college campus. Here’s some suggestions on how to realistically wear heels when you have to do a lot of serious walking:

1. Do your homework. While it is possible to find a pair of amazingly comfortable and supportive shoes at DSW (or Last Call Neiman Marcus as I did with my Miss Sixty booties), you often need to research brands and find retailers who sell them at brick and mortar shops so you can really find a brand that works for you and your feet.

Me in my Sofft heels when pregnant

When I was pregnant, my feel became extremely sensitive – while I could walk in 4” stilettos a few months prior, by the end of second trimester I could hardly deal with a 2” wedge. I did some homework about comfortable yet stylish shoe brands and started hitting the mall. And I fell in love with Sofft. Sofft shoes had style I desired, but tons of cushioning, a heel height I could deal with, and that heel was strategically placed to not have hotspots of pain (often the ball and arch in heels). The very specific design of the shoes meant my swollen tootsies could still look cute but be comfy all day long, even with a walk to the office and back. It’s worth it to find the brand that works best for your feet, and your personal style.

2. Have Attention to Detail. Where is the heel placed, on the very back of the shoe or more in the center of the heel? This detail can determine whether your feet are screaming in pain in an hour or happy campers all day. How wide is the top/base of the heel? Again this affects the comfort – a wider base helps distribute the weight better. How stiff is the sole? A softer (especially rubber) flexible sole will be kinder to feet. You also will want to look for arch support – if your arches aren’t supported you’ll have pain in that part of your foot as well as other locations.

3. Add support. There are different types of insoles out there, and you don’t need to spend an arm and a leg to get proper comfort. The Dr. Scholl’s 16-Hour Insoles can add a nice layer of cushioning to shoes that already have good arch support and I have found they really make a difference. I can even fit them into sleek pumps without an issue. KIWI makes a great insole specifically for women’s boots – I replace the insoles in my boots every fall with a new pair of these – they are more solid of a shape with great arch support and heel cushioning.

4. Quality, not Quantity. A great pair of comfortable heels is rarely cheap. Expect to pay more for true comfort and support. Go for more classic styles that will be stylish for many years; keep them looking great by reheeling and resoling when needed, replacing the insoles, and polishing them. It’s easy to have a great pair of heels be part of your wardrobe for a decade or longer if well maintained.

Also, once you know what brand you love, you can often find them cheaper online. Sites like 6pm often have amazing prices on quality shoe brands, and I have known to find brand new shoes on eBay for a fraction of the retail price.

As for cutting the heels of your current shoes, you will want to find a reputable cobbler who will be honest with you (check sites like Consumers’ Checkbook and Yelp for suggestions). While heels can be cut, they can sometimes affect the structure and shape of the shoe, creating additional discomfort. However, I have a neighbor who does this regularly – taking an inch off shoes she loves to make them more wearable all day (she is a school teacher).

In addition, for walking quietly in heels, I find it is best to take smaller steps and be very conscious of the heel-toe movement. When you walk quickly and with large steps, you end up making more noise. When walking downstairs, put the ball of your foot down first, having the weight there which will prevent the sound of heels. You can also take the shoe to a cobbler and he can put rubber on the bottom of the heels to mute the sound.

A feature of today’s shoe looks I think is rather dreadful (unless worn by skinny long-legged women are the shoes and boots that come up to just below/at ankle and form a strong horizontal line across the leg. Legs are shortened and widened….I don’t get it. Thoughts?
Charlotte

I didn’t get this look for a very long time. Who would want to wear shoes that cut off the leg at one of the slimmest points? And then I bought a pair.

Ankle booties worn by Tyra Banks, Jennifer Lopez, Rachel Bilson, and Jennifer Hudson

You’re right, they are NOT flattering. But there are many other trends that honestly are not too flattering (boxy shift dresses, very short skirts, jeggings on 90% of the population, boatnecks on 75% of the population, fur vests on many figures, I could go on and on…). The reason the bootie has gained popularity is because it is an easily-accessible trend that quickly makes a simple outfit look fashionable.

The thing is, there are ways to make this trend work, and few people look for these details before buying booties.

1. Balance the bulk with a high thin heel. While your front view will still look the same in an ankle bootie, your side view will look far more balanced by counteracting the severe cut of the boot with a delicate heel.

2. Have a detail to distract the eye. A peeptoe, cross straps, studs, cut-outs – have something to keep your foot from looking like a horse’s hoof.

3. Wear matching legwear. Whether it’s a pair of jeggings or opaque tights, if you have your leg the same color as the bootie, you won’t look cut off at the ankles.

4. Accept your body. Not everyone can wear every trend, and one is never stylish if she blindly follows fashion without giving a thought to her figure and lifestyle. If you desperately want a pair of booties, consider instead a caged heel, one that dips down in front, or one that ends below or higher above the ankle bone to allow the curve of the ankle to be visible.

Hey Allie,
I’m about to start interviewing for a new job, so I went out and got a suit. I do have an appropriate pair of black pumps to wear with it, but I know me…I can’t wear heals all the time. What kind of flats would you recommend for suits? Thanks for your help!

While pumps will help you stand taller and look polished, they aren’t always the most comfortable. Luckily there are a ton of styles of flats and near-flats that look professional and quite lovely with suits. What I have found to make the difference between a casual or fun flat and a corporate one is the addition of detail at the vamp. The addition of a buckle, bow, or even a pointed toe makes it go from ballet flat to a full-fledged shoe. This also gives the shoe some weight to look appropriate peeking out from a trouser hem. Here’s some styles under $100 I think would be great for a suit:




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Comfy and Chic Boots for Fall: The Chelsea Boot

I can’t wear more than a 1” heel and need a new shoe for fall. I’m looking for something I can wear with pants and jeans to work and home.

I can’t keep up with trends, can you suggest a shoe for fall and winter that won’t be tacky next year? I don’t have to dress up much at work, I wear a lot of casual pants and sometimes leggings with tunics or dresses.

I have an answer for both of you – the Chelsea boot. A classic short boot that has been chic for years and likely will be for many to come, this boot is quite popular this fall making it easy to find in a variety of colors, styles, and pricepoints. Also known as jodhpur boots or Australian work boots, this style of boot has been around since the Victorian period, so you know it won’t go out of style any time soon.

Chelsea boots are made to be easy to slip on, with their signature elastic gussets on the side and a pull tab on the back. While such boots are obviously styled with trousers and jeans, current trends show Chelsea boots slipped over skinny jeans and leggings or styled with tights and skirts. It’s refreshing when current trends are classic AND comfortable! A few favorites I’ve found on the web:
comfortable stylish low heel shoe for fall winter
1. Trotters ‘Leah’ Chelsea boot is of supple leather with a rubber footbed, making it comfortable and flexible. Available in narrow, medium, and wide widths as well as two classic colors (black and cognac), this is a great choice for the fussy foot who wants chic style. $144.95

2. For you heel-aholics, there’s a Chelsea boot for you too! I’m drawn to the ‘Zane’ from Chinese Laundry with its stacked wood heel and scalloped shape at the elastic. Cognac would look great with distressed denim, and the black and wood combination would look fantastic in winter with a chunky turtleneck, a-line mini and thick tights. $119.95

3. For those who like to make a statement with their feet, the ‘Meow’ from Ganni Veronica is perfect for you! A tan and black leopard print on leather will complement much of your wardrobe and a wood heel keeps it fun and fashionable. $342.77

4. A Chelsea boot doesn’t have to be of glossy leather, and the ‘Aimee’ from Naughty Monkey shows that a slouchy suede Chelsea can be quite chic. Available in black, tan and taupe, this is a bootie that would look best with casual looks, be it boyfriend jeans or wool tights and a dress. $79.95

5. Want to take full advantage of the chunky soles and heels that are back on the scene this season? Then you may like the ‘Alter Ego’ Chelsea from ASOS. While the sole is trendy, the rest of the styling is classic, making it a good choice if you plan to incorporate the chunky shoe into your long-term personal style. $104.74

6. Why keep the Chelsea boot to classic footwear, when it’s such a wearable style? The Chelsea makes for a great pair of rain boots, as evidenced by the ‘Crain’ by Aldo. Available in black and brown rubber, it’s a smarter workweek choice than candy-colored knee-high wellies. $50.00

7. Cole Haan is my go-to for classic and elegant work shoes. Their ‘Draven’ Chelsea boot is no exception with a higher but still wearable heel and classic lines. While it’s available in basic black and brown for work or play, the Maple Sugar Suede would pair beautifully with a cream fisherman’s sweater and distressed skinny jeans. $298.00

8. The ‘Ava’ from Paul Green is one of my favorites because it has a fun spin on the classic Chelsea. With a medallion stamped toe box, the shoe stands out in a crowd but is still conservative enough for the workplace. Available in black, Cuoio (a light cognac), and Truffle (a taupe that would look great with brown, black, or gray). $365.00

9. Can’t go wrong with a classic! The ‘90s are back, so no better time to get your Doc Martens fix with their ‘Flora’ Chelsea boot. A low heel and DM’s well-known quality, these are available in a polished black leather that will only get better with wear and time. $139.95

10. For those who desire little to no heel, the Brogued Chelsea Boot from Boden are a great choice. Available in black, Red (which looks more like Cordovan to me), or Navy, this boot would look great for the office but also adorable with skirts and dresses. $198.00

Ask Allie: Business Casual with Steel Toe Boots

I recently accepted a position at a manufacturing plant. I’ll be in an office, where the dress code is business casual. I was told that I’ll need steel toe shoes while on the manufacturing floor, but a site-wide steel toe shoe mandate will be policy soon. Do you have any advice for keeping it feminine above the ankle while sporting steel toes below?

While there’s a decent selection of steel toe boots online, the style is not varied, or too feminine. However, gone are the days where your only options were black Doc Martens and tan Red Wings. Now retailers like Ariat, Reebok, Sketchers, Justin, Caterpillar, and yes Dr. Marten have styles that can blend pretty well into business casual attire.

business casual steel toe boot justin women
Shop Similar: dress | boots | sweater | necklace | pants | striped top | skirt | yellow dress | bead necklace

Just as with a traditional office setting wardrobe, decide on the color palette before purchasing shoes. Steel toe boots and shoes mainly come in brown or black, so your first pair should match the majority of your existing wardrobe. While lace up construction-style boots are the norm, a cowboy boot with a steel toe may be a good first purchase since it has a slimmer toebox and profile to work with trousers, but also look adorable pulled over jeggings and paired with more casual dresses and skirts. Justin is famous for cowboy boots and has a good selection of steel toe styles with style; I’m partial to the Stampede which has a very slim profile and a classic cowboy look that will be cool even after the work day is through. For these looks I worked with the distressed brown leather, choosing soft colors, natural fabrics and accessories, and fuller bottoms to balance the heavier shoe.

business casual steel toe boot doc marten
Shop similar: sweater | gold necklace | pants | scarf | cream sweater | trousers | tunic | leggings | dress | necklace | boots

Dr. Martens are back en vogue, and not only does this mean your work boots are considered “cool,” but it means there’s a greater selection for you to choose from. I love their Wellington Boot, which is a pull-on style that can slip under trousers, or be worn over tights or skinny jeans. With this collection, I used the boot as an accent color, pairing with neutrals for a more traditional business casual look.

business casual steel toe boot lehigh
Shop similar: dress | boots | tunic | scarf | leggings | top | skirt | blazer | trousers

When it comes to lace-up steel toe boots, they don’t all look like hiking or construction boots. If you prefer a black shoe, this boot from Lehigh is taller than most, giving a grunge rocker vibe that would look great with black tights or leggings and appear as a standard shoe under trousers. For this look, I was channeling the ‘90s by mixing feminine dresses and skirts with the masculine boot, but also a bit of grunge with the black tunic and leggings with a drapey scarf. Your workplace expects sturdy shoes, so don’t be afraid to pair a well-polished boot with a suit for business meetings.

As a rule, skinny pants that can tuck in or wider legs that flow easily over the boot are best; for skirts and dresses have some volume (looser shift style or a fuller skirt) to balance the look. Play up the industrial feel of the boots and take advantage of the return of grunge and ‘90s trends when Doc Martens played a pivotal role.

The important thing to remember is everyone will be wearing such footwear; no one will be able to pair it seamlessly every single time and your colleagues will end up not even noticing your shoes because they’re part of a uniform, just like a lab coat or hard hat. Don’t worry about making them disappear or look like regular footwear, they’re a smart and important part of your industry and something that should be worn with pride!