Search Results for: label/wide calf boots

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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Wide Calf Boot Resources

wide calf boot online shopping resource

One of the biggest keywords that bring people to Wardrobe Oxygen is wide calf boots. As a curvy cusp to plus sized petite woman with athletic legs, I’ve never been able to walk into a shoe store and find boots to fit my wide calves. But over time I’ve found some spectacular online resources to buy stylish wide calf boots to fit and flatter my figure!

Posts on Wide Calf Boots:

Outfit Posts featuring Wide Calf Boots:

DUO Boots Santana Boot in Brown Leather:

DUO Boots Catalonia Riding Boot in Black Leather (no longer available – similar):

Ros Hommerson Maryland Heeled Boot in Black Leather (I had this boot tailored by a cobbler to narrow at the top of the shaft):

Fitzwell Bit Wide Calf Boot in Black Tumbled Leather:

DUO Bern Boots in Tan Leather (no longer available – similar):

Wide Calf Boots – My Favorite Retailers

Leaves are starting to turn, it’s cool enough to sleep with the windows open, and everyone is guzzling Pumpkin Spice lattes from Starbucks… Fall is officially here! Pack up those cotton voile sundresses and straw fedoras, this is the weather for pashminas looped at the throat and tall boots pulled over your skinny jeans.

If you have wide calves, you can still rock tall boots. I have extremely large calves and thick shins and ankles from walking on my toes as a kid and have four pairs of stylish and comfortable boots in my closet. Below are some of my favorite resources for finding fashionable wide calf boots.

Duo Boots
This brand will forever be my favorite for wide calf boots. DUO is based in the UK, which can be a bit concerning for my fellow US-based folk, but I think they are worth the trouble. Current trends and classic styles, high quality leather, well-crafted boots, and a repair shop.  You can read about my experiences shopping with DUO here:

DUO carries boots and shoes in a variety of widths, so it is also a great resource for those with very slim calves, and wide or narrow feet. They have a ton of customer reviews which have helped me in the past make a boot decision.

I highly recommend contacting DUO before placing an order – their customer service is stellar. They reply to emails quickly, know their product, and if you provide measurements and additional details they can help you find the right pair for you, eliminating the need for returns and exchanges.

Note: DUO is currently offering free shipping to the states!

Wide Widths
Wide Widths carries some of the most popular brands of boots for those of us with wide calves. You can find anything from uber-trendy styles to classic silhouettes, and they organize their collection by heel height, style, brand, and width of calf. They even have rain boots!

I have the Ros Hommeson “Maryland” from Wide Widths and find them sleek, stylish, and classic. Again, this is a company with stellar customer service who looks forward to helping you find the perfect boot.

One Stop Plus
Most plus-size online retailers have a selection of wide-calf boots, but One Stop Plus has one of the largest. At the time of this post, One Stop Plus had 169 different styles of wide calf boots available.

The selection is extremely varied – you can find uber trendy styles, budget-friendly styles, as well as very expensive boots that will give you years of wear. Read the descriptions – not all the boots are wide calf, some are just available with wide foot width.  Also check out the customer reviews which can help you narrow down to the styles best for you.

 
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Other retailers carry wide calf boots and I have shopped from them, but the three above I have found to have the largest selection and are brands I have purchased from in the past.

Keep in mind, many brands carry what they call a wide-calf boot, but that doesn’t mean it will fit your calves. A standard-size tall boot is usually 14-16” in circumference, sometimes a wide calf boot is only an inch bigger. Some brands even consider 16″ to be wide calf.  Before shopping, measure your calf at its widest point while your foot is flexed. A boot will stretch with wear, but I don’t recommend purchasing smaller than your calf for it may not stretch enough and can cause serious pain when trying to stretch them out (been there, done that, have the zipper-shaped bruises to prove it).

Cobbler can stretch boots, but depending on the style and fabric, may only be able to stretch the shaft an inch. Cobblers can also alter boots for a better fit, shortening the shaft, tapering the top of the boot, and even inserting stretchy panels. If you find a boot that is near perfect, it may be worth it to have them adjusted by a cobbler to make them perfect.

Once you have the boots of your dreams, care for them so they look great and last a long time. A well-maintained pair of classic tall boots can give you a lifetime of style. Polish regularly and after each time they are worn in snow, rain, or slush. Use boot trees (or even a rolled-up old magazine) to keep them upright, preventing creases in the leather. If they get wet, stuff with newspaper and give them a lot of ventilation and indirect heat so they dry without cracking or losing their shape. Take them to the cobbler at the beginning of each season to be reheeled and resoled.

And finally… one does not need a pair of tall boots to be stylish. The past seasons have had boots of all heights come in vogue; a bootie or slouchy ankle boot can be just as chic and may be more flattering to your figure. We don’t all look good in every trend, so if you keep trying and they just don’t look right… that’s okay. Make your own trend, one that works with your body and personal style!

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Ask Allie – Wide Calf Boots for Petite Women?

Hey Allie,

I have been liking the equestrian boot with tucked in jeans look, but I don’t know if I can pull it off. All equestrian boots I see online look really tall and I’m only 5’2”, and let’s say the not so slim side. I was hoping you could recommend something that may work for me. Do they make equestrian liked boots that aren’t super tall?

Thanks,
Elvira

Hi Elvira:

As a fellow petite woman, I understand your issue. I remember a few years ago, found a fantastic pair of tall black boots that actually fit my calves, but had to stop wearing them because they dug into the back of my knees, causing major welts and sores. If the lower half of my legs were only an inch shorter, I would have been able to wear them. I have seen this happen far too many times – if I can find a boot that fits the width of my legs, it doesn’t fit the length.

However, there are some great options out there.

First thing, measure your leg. Most boots describe how tall and wide the shaft is. Then you can immediately cross off certain styles or brands for being too tall or narrow in the calf. You will find not all brands or styles are the same, and some styles do run a bit shorter. Usually a shaft height of 14” or so works best for petite women. Sometimes that which is called “mid calf” will be the right height for your leg.

As for width, there are many chic riding boots out there with elastic gussets. Elastic will help your leg feel comfortable in a tall boot and make it easier to slip on. The Riding Chelesa boot from Frye has a 15” tall shaft that may work for your height (most riding boots are 16”) and elastic gussets that are kind to a wider calf while still looking stylish.

Also if you find the boots of your dreams but they are a tad snug, you can get them stretched. Cobblers can add up to an additional two inches in a boot shaft without sacrificing style or quality. This process ranges in price depending on what part of the country you are in, but I have never heard of it costing more than $50 (usually closer to $20).

I have forever been a fan of Zappos – they have such an extensive selection, free shipping and returns and amazing customer service. I never hesitate to call them for additional information on an item I find on their site. Zappos carries great brands known for wider calves like Fitzwell and Ros Hommerson, and had plenty of equestrian-inspired boots. Today when searching “Wide Calf Boot” I found over 103 styles.

DUO Boots is a UK-based company that specializes in wide-calf boots. You can search their site by calf and shoe size, and then read very detailed descriptions and customer reviews on different styles. I have the Bern which is a similar style to the Frye Harness boot, which comes mid-calf. Just by looking at the images on this site, you can see that some styles are taller, others are shorter. They carry very classic styles that will be on trend for years to come. If you are unsure, DUO’s customer service is quite amazing, they respond to emails with speed and much detail and can help you find a style that will fit your body and personal style. The only downside of DUO is that they are a UK-based company which means shipping and returns are QUITE the bear.

Wide Widths is a fantastic site, one I have shopped from for ages. Their site is nicely organized by heel heights as well as style of boot. When looking at riding boots, I found many elegant styles with a 14” tall shaft. As that WideWidths.com is a US-based company, there aren’t as crazy of shipping costs. I have deal with their customer service by phone as well as by email and find them incredibly informative, helpful, and understanding with returns.

Hope this helps!


Readers, where is your place to go for wide calf petite boots?

A Wide Calf Boot Update

So as you know from many previous posts on here, I have wide calves and have dealt with many companies trying to find tall boots that fit and flatter my larger-than-average legs. Many of you have suggested having a cobbler stretch traditionally-sized boots, but to give you some perspective, the last boots I ordered that fit had a 45 cm calf… that’s around an 18″ shaft for Americans. Most regular boots are 14-15″ and a wide calf boot in stores like J. Crew and Ann Taylor is usually around a 16-17″ shaft. I know many many of you readers have the same issue – the “wide calf” boots available aren’t wide enough or the selection plentiful enough.

Well since my last review of specialty bootmaker Duo and plus size retailer Silhouettes, I have been doing some more boot shopping, searching for the Holy Grail of Wide-Calf Boots, and I wanted to share my experiences with you.

wide calf bootsSilhouettes
After the great experience with my brown suede boots from Silhouettes, I decided to try a few more styles. End of the season sales made their average selection suddenly look delicious. I ordered a classic camel tall leather boot with wood heel, and a slouchy black leather tall boot (see below left). As that I usually wear a 7.5, I ordered an 8 and WW for both pairs. Boots are often better fitting if a half-size larger than usual, and my brown suede boots from there were 8WW.

The camel ones were HUGE, I mean HUGE! I didn’t even have to unzip them to get them on. The foot was also far too large, as that these boots were not just wide in the calf but in the foot too. Very confusing as that they were the same brand as the brown suede ones I already owned. The leather was very stiff and if it was stamped with the “Real Leather” logo, I would wonder if these were a synthetic fabric. The toe was rounder than expected – not as classic of a look as I would have desired. I wished that Silhouettes offered the size of the boot shaft like Wide-Widths and Duo.

wide calf bootsAs for the black ones, well I almost kept them. The leather was buttery soft and had a rocker look to them with the cuff, the slouchiness and the glossy finish. The toe was a bit snub and round (a longer, pointier, squarer or platform toe would have enhanced the rocker look and made them look more expensive), but in general an attractive boot that looked more expensive than its pricetag.

However yet again, they didn’t fit correctly. The left leg was a teensy bit big – nothing I couldn’t deal with. however the right leg – I was SWIMMING in it. I really fought over whether to keep and see if a cobbler could alter to fit, or return. After factoring in the slouchy/gathered leather of the style, I decided it would probably be too expensive to alter and returned them as well.

I must say, the return policy for Silhouettes is pretty good- 30 days and you can try them out before you return them – no need to pussy-foot around your carpeted rooms not really getting a feel for the footwear. My card was credited the amount in less than a month, no hassles at all. Silhouettes also offers a toll-free assistance line and email address – something I will take advantage of this fall when I return to my quest to find tall boots. Possibly they would have been able to advise me on which size to choose to get a custom fit.

eBay/Silhouettes
Loved my brown slouchy suede boots from Silhouettes, I headed to eBay to see if I could find the same boots in a different color. As I have mentioned before, there are many sellers offering new and gently used wide-calf boots. I found one who had my brown boots in purple. Purple, how fun! Nice splash of color with my predominately black winter wardrobe, and one of my favorite hues. Ordered the same size and width as my brown boots…

They arrived quickly, pristine in the original box. Same quality of suede, same exact style number.

They didn’t fit. First, they were way too snug on my feet. Second, I couldn’t zip them over my ankle bone. What the heck? I put them up against my brown boots to compare. Same stamps inside, same shape, same cut but the purple boots were shorter, slimmer, all over a smaller boot. Honestly, they looked like a size 7 regular-width calf. My lesson? Ask the seller where they got the merchandise. Maybe these were irregulars that Silhouettes discarded…

wide calf bootsRoaman’s
A fellow blogger tipped me off that Roaman’s offers a decent selection of wide-calf boots, and their descriptions of sizes and circumferences pretty detailed. I decided to order the Plus-calf Leather Boot by Step Up Comfort (see below left). I desired a taller heel and more modern style, but the price was great (sale) and I found an awesome coupon online that made these boots a DEAL with free shipping. Again, I ordered 8, but this time went with M as that the description said these boots would really stretch to fit.

wide calf bootsThe shoes arrived quickly… and didn’t look at all like the picture. No where in the description, or in the zoomed image of the boots did the site explain that the black leather had a weird glaze on it to make them look old, gray and as though someone spilled milk on them and let it dry. Dull, crackle finish, and the boot was slightly taller in the front than in the back. This may be for comfort, but I felt as though it made it look more like a pirate, than a work boot.

Went to put them on… and these were too small! Yet again, couldn’t zip them up over the ankle bone. However my friend ordered the same boots and they did fit her perfectly. Hers also had the weird milky glaze, but she also got the coupon and sale price and felt they would be fine enough and the low heel perfect for tromping around the city.
Roaman’s also has a great exchange/return policy – 90 days, satisfaction guaranteed. They had a UPS pre-paid label enclosed so I was able to easily drop off the box at my nearby UPS Store. They too credited my card very quickly and there were no hassles.

wide calf bootsDuo
I had had great success with Duo before, but was trying to find a cheaper alternative. After all my return and shipping costs from these previous vendors, I realize I should have stuck with a company I knew and trusted. On top of that, Duo was also having a sale on a large portion of their selection, and many sale boots were exactly what I was looking for!

I chose the “Toledo” in black (below left), which had a mid-height heel and a classic look. I went back to my previous order’s email confirmation and typed in my shoe and calf widths and processed my order. The boots arrived two weeks later from across the pond, and they didn’t fit. Like TOTALLY didn’t fit, couldn’t even get my foot in the boot! I look at the order form and realize that stupid me mixed up the sizes – I ordered my foot size (39) for the calf and calf size for the foot! Lesson learned? Double and triple check your order if you are purchasing from an overseas company or one who doesn’t provide size numbers you are familiar with!

wide calf bootsI contacted Duo and told them my issue. Less than 24 hours, I received an email from them and we began an email dialog on which boot would be the best choice for my shape. The customer service representative informed me that the “Toledo” would probably be a bad choice for my shape as that I have large ankles and shins as well as calves, and that style is for “more delicate of legs” (the site did mention this style was best for petite legs and I though that meant short legs and though it was a perfect choice). She asked me which other styles in my size I liked and I sent her the names. From them, she described the boots in more detail, and how they would fit and look on my body. She reminded me that Duo is always available by email or phone to offer advice on the proper boot for any person’s body. Lesson learned? Ask before ordering!

With all this information, I have decided to suspend my quest for the Holy Grail of Wide Calf Boots until late Summer/early Fall when all shops will be full of their new selections. Right now sizes and styles are slim, and I don’t want to be forced into purchasing that which is okay, and not awesome. However now I know to ask questions, ask questions, ask questions and double-check my order before hitting “Submit!” And of course, when I resume this journey I will be sure to keep you all updated!

Other posts on Wardrobe Oxygen about Wide-Calf Boots:
- It’s All About the Boots – Silhouettes and eBay
- Vendor Review – Duo Boots
- From Allie’s Mailbag – Where to Find Extended Calf Boots
- Tall Boots for Wide Calves

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.

My Favorite Wide Calf Boot Resources

As soon as September comes I start thinking about boots. I can go without sweaters and scarves and pumpkin spice lattes, but I miss my tall boots. For many years, I was jealous of others for they were able to snag great tall boots, and my large calves and shins made it impossible. I purchased my first pair of wide calf boots in 2007 and now I have a pretty great selection. If you’re willing to step outside the shopping mall, there’s a ton of online retailers who offer wide calf, extra-wide calf, and custom sized calf boots made from high quality materials and in trendy as well as classic styles. Here’s a list of my favorite retailers:

Naturalizer
This is not your mother’s Naturalizer. I have been so impressed with their recent collections – stylish shoes, on-trend heels, and fantastic well-crafted boots. Naturalizer’s boot shaft circumference varies with the foot size, but their wide calf boots are two inches wider. As an example, a size 9 boot has a 14 and 7/16” circumference, and the wide shaft version is 16 and 7/16”.

This season Naturalizer has some drool-worthy styles in their boots. Jersey is a classic riding boot, and has an elastic gusset to add a little more comfort for those with wider calves. Available in Banana Bread (warm honey brown) and Black, this is the type of boot that would work over skinny jeans or leggings, with flowing midi skirts, or even a simple shift. I love Britain, a tough boot with a distressed finish and workboot details that would make it perfect with this season’s ‘90s-inspired fashion, or with slim jeans and a slouchy sweater.

DUO Boots
I own two pairs of DUO Boots and find them to be amazing quality, well designed, and comfortable. My first pair is over six years old and I still wear them regularly; I just got my year-old pair back from the cobbler where I had them reheeled and resoled for fall. DUO is a great choice whether you have large or small calves, as they sell the boots by shaft size, measured in centimeters. While DUO is in the UK, they have improved their shipping policies to the US and you don’t have to pay customs and they often have promotions of free shipping to the States. Their customer service is stellar, I highly recommend contacting them prior to an order to be sure the style you desire will fit the height of your leg, the size of your calf, as well as the size of your shins and ankles.

DUO has many classic styles, but updates their collection each season with boots that fit the current fashion trends. I love the Olson in Black, which has a military or even steampunk feel, and would look amazing with dresses as well as a pair of skinny cords and a sweater. Beaumont is very similar to the black riding boots I got from DUO last year, and I find them incredibly comfortable and versatile. And I am loving the croco-embossed leather of Amora, which give a luxe feel to a classic boot; it would look so chic with skinny jeans and a silk shirt, or paired with a simple wrap dress.

Wide Widths
Wide Widths is an online resource for many different brands of wide calf boots. I have found their customer service to be excellent and their prices competitive with other retailers. They have an extensive selection of Ros Hommerson boots, which come in wide and extra wide calf sizes, and are made of quality leather. I bought a pair of Ros Hommerson boots from Wide Widths and find them well made, a classic style, and quite comfortable.

This season, I’m loving the Ros Hommerson Jenny, which is a classic riding boot with boot detail. For those who prefer a deep chocolate brown to the more caramel hues, Jenny comes in a great espresso color that would look amazing with the jewel tones that are on trend for this fall and winter. And there is something so amazingly badass about Ross Hommerson’s Sherlock with it’s slender heel and soft leather shaft that pulls over the knee; I want to wear them with some ponte leggings and a soft cashmere sweater that falls off one shoulder and a ton of kohl liner!

6pm.com
Once I know the fit of a brand, I head to 6pm where I can often find brands like Fitzwell, Naturalizer, and Ros Hommerson for far less. I found a pair of wide calf riding boots there last winter for under $50 and this summer I scored a pair of tall tan boots for less than $40. Sizes and styles are limited, but sometimes you can really score a good deal. On 6pm you can narrow down by shaft width, even by specific shaft circumference.

I’d love to hear from you – where have you found great wide calf boots? What styles and brands have you found to fit and flatter?

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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!

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:

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?

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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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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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.

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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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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