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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.

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

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?


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 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?

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):

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.

Ask Allie: Wide Width Metallic Shoes

I have wide feet and I am in a wedding this summer. The bride said we can wear any shoes we want as long as they’re metallic. My friend found a great pair at DSW but I can’t find any dressy metallic shoes in a 9 wide! Help!

While I can wear regular width in closed toe shoes, I find I am better off with wide strappy heels or sandals. So I feel your pain, but also know that there ARE options out there. Your best bet is to get out of the stores and get to your computer; web-based shops can have more sizes because they’re not restricted by the size of their stock room. Below are places to find wide-width shoes that have free shipping and returns, so you can try at home without buyer’s remorse.

I’ll admit selection is more limited when looking for wider width shoes. I try to look less for trendy styles and instead focus on classic looks that will be chic now and years from now. Especially as a bridesmaid, you don’t need a statement shoe but one that will be comfortable enough to survive several hours on your feet. Choose smartly, and this shoe will be a popular one in your closet with everything from denim to holiday frocks.  You’ll be amazed how versatile a metallic shoe can be!


Nordstrom is my favorite footwear retailer. Not so huge of a selection that you get overwhelmed, but large enough to find something for every personal style. Nordstrom offers free shipping and free returns with no expiration date, and now is price matching if you find an item for less at another retailer.  At Nordstrom from the primary navigation click shoes, then go down to Specialty Sizes. You can then choose your specific need. I went to All Wide Shoes and then used the size navigation to only choose size 9 and then the color navigation to only choose metallic.

wide width metallic heels

1.  Naturalizer ‘Darzy’ (Gold) | 2.  Stuart Weitzman ‘Nudist’ (platinum snakeskin, gold satin, silver satin) | 3.  VANELi ‘Milbie’ (silver) | 4.  Kay Unger ‘Basque’ (gold, iridescent, silver) | 5.  Stuart Weitzman ‘Reversal’ (silver, gold)


Zappos is a great destination for wide width shoes with style. They offer quick and free shipping and free returns within 365 days of purchase. To narrow down their extensive selection, I chose Women’s Shoes, entered 9, then W and WW and then chose the color (I picked all the metallic – silver, gold, bronze, pewter and metallic). After this, I chose the Occasions of Wedding, Dress, Prom & Homecoming, and Evening & Cocktail.

wide width metallic shoes

1.  Touch Ups ‘Dakota’ (silver) | 2. VANELi ‘Marza’ (gunmetal, gold) | 3.  Touch Ups ‘Geri’ (silver)| 4.  VANELi ‘Modesta’ (Platino/gold, silver)| 5.  Touch Ups ‘Taryn’ (silver, gold)| 6.  Touch Ups ‘Melanie’ (gold, silver) is an underrated online store. They have hundreds of brands, free shipping, and free returns within 60 days of purchase. From the main navigation, I went to Women, then Wide Shoes. From there I narrowed down by size and width, then chose Dress, then the colors. As a heads up, the color boxes don’t have words, but if you hover over them the URL will state the color. Also higher up in the sidebar it will show which colors were chosen so if you accidentally choose off-white when you wanted silver, you can click X to easily remove it.

wide width dressy shoes

1.  Dyeables ‘Palace’ (silver) | 2.  Touch Ups ‘Monaco’ (gold, silver) | 3.  Touch Ups ‘Abby’ (gold, silver) | 4.  Touch Ups ‘Dot’ (silver) | 5.  Touch Ups ‘Jazz’ (silver, gold, pewter)

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What I Wore: Date Night

wardrobe oxygen what I wore leopard talbots dobbin dress wide calf boots wardrobe oxygen what I wore dobbin clothing ponte dress wide calf boots wardrobe oxygen wide calf boot fashion blog wardrobe oxygen what I wore dobbin clothing ponte dress
Dress: Belle Stretch Ponte Twist Dress c/o Dobbin Clothing | Jacket: c/o Talbots (similar) | Bag: Rebecca Minkoff (similar) | Boots: Ros Hommerson ‘Maryland’ | Lipstick: Revlon ColorBurst Balm Stain in Romantic

This outfit makes me realize my closet is really heading in the right direction for my lifestyle, my personal style, and my desire to have more style with fewer pieces.  Dobbin Clothing sent me this dress in 2012 (see it on me in January 2013) and it remains the most versatile dress in my closet.  Worn to a wedding, a funeral, many times to work, and several date nights I love how I can dress it up or down with a switch of accessories.  The boots I purchased almost a decade ago; while some winters I don’t wear them as much and some years I adore them.  This is one of those love years; I’ve been wearing them weekly with skirts and dresses but also over skinny jeans (as seen here).   This bag was super trendy when I purchased it in 2013 (first seen here) and while many bloggers have moved on from the Mini M.A.C. to other bags, I continue to love it because it encompasses everything I love (leather, leopard, calfhair, tough silver hardware) with a perfect size and great craftmanship.  I’ve removed the strap to carry it like a clutch, and the length makes it a good shoulder or crossbody bag.  The coat only joined the wardrobe this past fall, but I wear so often.  Back in my sorority days it was considered a faux pas to “double letter” and wear your Greek letters on more than one garment at a time; I guess I “double leoparded” with this look but I don’t care.  I love me some leopard, it’s who I am.


Saturday night Karl took me to Republic for my birthday.  Karl is the master of getting somewhere at the right time; we only had one quarter in the car and that’s all we needed for the meter until meters weren’t needed any longer.  We decided to sit at the bar and arrived just as another couple got up to leave.  We had an amazing bartender who totally geeked out on mixology and we learned so much from here about cocktails and oysters.  Soon after settling in the place got packed so we’re glad we got there when we did.  We felt like we were on vacation; we usually find a place that has oysters when we travel so we continued the vaca-feel by getting two burgers to go, heading home, putting on bathrobes and watching a movie and enjoying our favorite “room service” dinner.  Couldn’t think of a better way to ring in my 40th!

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:

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!
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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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.


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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Fashion Undressed | Eyes Wide Open: The Reality of a Fashion Spread

alison santighian for wardrobe oxygen

Growing up, I devoured Seventeen, Young Miss/YM, and dabbled in the occasional Vogue. I trusted them to show me – a middle schooler in southeastern Pennsylvania, where, even 45 minutes outside of Philadelphia, we still had 2 days off of school for the Unionville Community Fair and its Harvest Queen Pageant – what was “in,” and what was Fashion, with a capital “F.”

In high school, I doted on magazines showing stars like Khrystyne Haje from “Head of the Class” in breezy poses and ensembles I just had to copy for the new school year. (It wasn’t until later in high school that I relished my dad’s college football jersey, painting jeans, and old green tweed jacket.)

80s teenager magazines ym teen seventeen

Before the advent of Lucky Magazine’s built-in “must have” sticky flags, I circled skirts with a pen, and I dog-eared pages I wanted to copy. “The editors must know what they’re doing,” I must’ve thought, “picking this star Just Like Me and showing what she wears every day.”

What I didn’t know then – and, frankly, naively only figured out recently – is that those layouts are not only carefully constructed and styled (but they look so natural!), but that the pieces included, down to the tiniest bauble, are arranged via corporate relationships between publisher, editors, and manufacturers and designers. Most of the time, stylists and photo shoot producers get the clothes the day of the shoot, and, well, they have to make the best of it.

When a veteran producer and stylist friend hands me a major German magazine she saved for me because she knows of my interest in German and in fashion, turns to the piece she styled, sniffs in disgust, and says, “The clothes were so ugly, but I had to make the best of it. This is the best I could do,” the relationship between the “trends” and reality is shattered. True story.

Devil Wears Prada

Pull back the curtain a little farther, and there’s even more of a business angle to the trends we see showing with apparent serendipity on runways and then in stores. Those plaid blanket scarves that were everywhere last year (love them, by the way, and did before they were a trend)? Somewhere in the world, there was a textile manufacturer – or set of them – that decided plaid would be the way to go for Fall 2015. There are certainly designers and clothing companies with the sway – financial or otherwise – to work with textile producers ahead of the game and have them design and offer exactly what they envision. But the reality is that there’s a massive textile market months before designers start their creative process for the upcoming runway season. Creative teams have those textiles at the show available to them. The influence that market has on the next runway designs is immense, if quiet.

To think that a fashion editor considers only the art and beauty (and practicality, if you look at those “best of” articles) in selecting what they include in their aspirational print is short sighted. Magazine pages may have that “ADVERTISEMENT” stamp on them to clarify the paid sponsors just like your favorite blogger shows “#sponsored” or “C/O” under a photo, but the business behind the fashion is always that: a business. From selecting the materials from which they’re constructed to pitching the designs themselves for inclusion in the next big glossy spread, there is a strategic exchange to raise the end game: sales.

Alison SantighianBy day, Alison Santighian is a contractor for the federal government, using her super powers to serve our country, but by night (after bedtime for her “Beans” now 7 and almost 5), she pines after the “it” factor. Alison and “H” (better known as #besthusbandever) don’t believe badass has an expiration date, so they hit concerts, shows, restaurants, and openings across the globe. Alison also writes for Glass Magazine, adding a business woman’s eye to fashion week reviews and style features. Follow her on Twitter.

What I Wore: Weekend State of Mind

Wardrobe Oxygen What I Wore Weekend Mom Style featuring Ramones Tee and NYDJ Wardrobe Oxygen What I Wore Weekend Look featuring NYDJ Wardrobe Oxygen What I Wore NYDJ Ponte Jacket and Hayden Jeans
Jacket: c/o NYDJ | Tee: had forever (similar) | Jeans: NYDJ | Boots: DUO (similar) | Bag: Rebecca Minkoff (similar) | Sunglasses: Ray-Ban | Cuff: had forever (similar)

When the weekend comes, I don’t have time to plan out outfits.  I have created a weekend uniform: jeans, a knit top, and a topper. It’s easy to choose sweater coats and cardigans in the fall, but a stretchy jacket like this ponte number from NYDJ is just as comfortable but more refined. This is the type of piece that can work for the office with trousers as well as dress down with a tee shirt for the weekend. With a lot of stretch that can help me chase after a kindergartener on the playground, and a big cup of caffeine to give me energy to go all day, I’m ready for any given Saturday or Sunday!

Boot Scootin’

Shirt: Gap | Skirt: c/o Soft Surroundings | Boots: DUO | Bracelets: c/o lifetherapy, c/o Soft Surroundings, made by fellow Inforooster | Sunglasses: Ray-Ban

Another day that started with rain. Too hot for tall boots and skinny jeans, so I decided to whip out my festie boots. I bought these from DUO Boots in 2007 and I still adore them, though now they have become more of bum around boots. They have gone to a few Bonnaroos, parties in the parking lot at several concerts at Merriweather, went with me to Forecastle fest and are often the boots I slip on when going out in the yard to hang laundry or play with Emerson. Not really typical work footwear, but it’s Friday and they’re pretty well hidden under this skirt and will keep my feet dry as I stomp through puddles!

Maybe it’s the weather, maybe it’s the crazy holiday season and crazy beginning of 2013 but I am craving a vacation right about now and yesterday I got a fabulous care package from Lifetherapy with some products from their “Vacation” line.  This morning’s shower was with the Vacation body wash and then I used the Vacation lotion and added the matching Pulse Point Oil Roll-on Perfume to my wrists and behind my ears. It’s a warm but feminine blend that smells a bit like vanilla, a bit like sandalwood, a bit like coconut, and makes me want to sip a fruity drink while under the shade of a palm tree on a beach.  It’s one of those fragrances that works when you get hot and sweaty – some fragrances smell too strong or too wrong in the heat of summer, but this one just seems to get more… mature and right.  I liked it when I put it on but it felt a bit too girly for me (I usually wear Burberry London perfume and Neutrogena Body Oil for moisturizer), but by time I got to the office I was quite the fan, and I love the travel-friendly perfume oil bottle!

Can I just say I wish Ray-Ban made more of the fun versions of their aviators in the 62mm size for us big-headed folks?  I want the fun green lenses, but they’re only in the normal-headed size.  However, I did find the all-black ones on eBay for a sweet price and just got my email yesterday that they have shipped out.  Can’t wait for them to arrive!  This is my biggest tip for designer sunglasses – if you know the model number, the size and details check eBay to see if you can find them for less.  There may be some sketchy folks on there, but there’s also a lot of companies that sell overstock or old styles on there for really good prices and some people who are just selling things they no longer want that are in almost-new condition.

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Lazy Tux

Blazer: The Limited (similar) | Tee: Old Navy | Ascot: Belonged to my Dad | Silk Bracelet: c/o lifetherapy | Boots: DUO (similar) | Jeans: NYDJ | Lipstick: Revlon Matte in “Really Red”

I prefer rain to blustery cold days, especially in April. April showers bring May flowers, right? It rained all night and was still gloomy and wet when I left for work so I wore boots to be on the safe side.

Still playing with this hair, today is Day 2, I curled large sections with a standard curling iron, angling away from the face. Finger combed, then added Jonathan Silky Dirt for a piecey/Mandana from Rachel Zoe Project sort of look. The bangs are still wrong, I need to make an appointment with my stylist to fix this cut, but I just have not had the time. Even this weekend is booked solid but I need to figure it out before I go on a 2am hacking spree with my cuticle scissors!

Hope you all have a fantastic weekend, thank you so much for all your support, emails, comments, and tweets this past week. I blog because I love it, and because I love all of you. I love connecting with you, knowing my writing benefits you, and making new friends through technology. I seriously adore all of you and am so incredibly grateful to have you in my life!

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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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Wardrobe Staple: The Not So Little Black Dress

I believe in the power of the not so little black dress. While the LBD is famous, the NSLBD is one that can get far more wear and is far more versatile. From the boardroom to the ballroom, a black dress in a versatile fabric and cut can work for most anything life throws your way, and is a smart wardrobe staple for any woman.

Dobbin Clothing recently sent me their Simone Dress and as soon as I put it on I realized what a perfect NSLBD it is. The stretch wool fabric has a subtle sheen and a refined finish that looks elegant and classic. The asymmetrical neckline provides allure and interest without being so unique people would think, “Oh there she is in that black dress again.” The seaming and waistband flatter curves and also add interest without stealing the spotlight.

Dress: c/o Dobbin Clothing | Bracelet: Ann Taylor (similar) | Watch: Citizen c/o WatchCo | Bag: c/o Fossil | Shoes: Ivanka Trump

For this look I styled the Dobbin Clothing Simone Dress for work. The dress is classic, and doesn’t require a bunch of accessories to look polished. I added a wrist of bracelets and a watch for a bit of shine and my own personality, but otherwise let the dress do the talking. This dress looks great on its own; the interesting neckline would also look quite lovely under a blazer.

Dress: c/o Dobbin Clothing | Tights: Spanx | Boots: Ros Hommerson | Bag: Rebecca Minkoff (similar) | Scarf: c/o Nepali by TDM | Watch: c/o Fossil | Bracelet: c/o Lulu Avenue

The Simone Dress would also be perfect for an afternoon with friends, having lunch and going shopping. The stretch wool resists wrinkles so it would hold up through a long day or business travel.  The length is perfect for boots as well as pumps; I added a scarf for color and to show how you can hide the neckline of the dress and give it a different life. Using accessories like scarves are great when on travel to make a small wardrobe look larger and more varied.

Dress: c/o Dobbin Clothing | Bracelets: Ann Taylor (similar) | Bag: Aldo (similar) | Earrings: vintage (similar) | Shoes: Nine West

I did say boardroom to ballroom, didn’t I? This dress is elegant enough to dress up perfectly for a gala. Adding sparkly accessories, the Simone Dress becomes black tie. I also can’t resist an opportunity to pull out the wedding jewelry; the tiara made me feel very Holly Golightly and doesn’t look too insane paired with such an elegant dress.

With a dress like this from Dobbin Clothing, you can get a great dress now for the holidays, but know you can wear it later too. Pair with a cardigan or blazer this winter, with nude peeptoes and pearls for a spring wedding, with tan sandals and a wood necklace for a summer Date Night.

Dobbin Clothing on Wardrobe Oxygen
Top row:  1 | 2 | 3 | 4       Bottom row: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4

I’ve been a fan of Dobbin Clothing for over a year; while there’s posts above with me wearing Dobbin Clothing, I also wear this line on a regular basis off the blog. Sophisticated silhouettes, wardrobe staples that dress up and down with ease, high quality fabrics and construction, and made in the USA. While my other Dobbin dresses are made from ponte knit (and you know how much I love ponte), the Simone in wool is just as comfortable and figure flattering and I am impressed by the cotton used for their trousers. Dresses I got from Dobbin a year ago and have washed a dozen times still look brand new. Not just that, Jess and Catherine are awesome people who care about their product, and their customers.

Dobbin Clothing is offering 30% off their entire shop until Midnight tonight with the code THANKS30. They’d like to thank us for being customers, and I’d like to thank them for great clothes and this great discount!

While this post was sponsored by Dobbin Clothing, they left the text, images, what item/s I featured, and even the topic completely up to me.  I chose to feature this dress because I really do believe in it, and I chose to partner with Dobbin Clothing because I really do believe in them.

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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.


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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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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My Head is Too Big to be Hipster: A Warby Parker Review

Once I got new glasses, I wanted more. A pair of red frames to channel my inner Sally Jesse Raphael, a funky blue or green pair to jazz up all-black ensembles, a funky shape to show personality at the office. I had heard a lot of great things about Warby Parker and decided to try a pair of frames from them.

Me in my new glasses – Lafont’s Issy & La collection, the frame is called “Gloss”

Warby Parker Eyewear’s mission is to offer reasonably-priced fashionable frames. On top of that, for every pair of Warby Parkers sold, a new pair is given to someone in need. Warby Parker is also proud to be a carbon-neutral company.

Warby Parker has a try-on program where you can pick five frames and try them on at home. They will ship the glasses to you for free and offer free return postage; I decided to take advantage of this program and see if I could find a new pair of signature prescription frames.

The Warby Parker site is very easy to navigate; click on your gender and then whether you desire optical or sunglass frames. From there you can choose material, color, frame shape, and width. From experience, I know my face is pretty wide, so I stuck to the medium and wide styles of frames. Since I already have a pair of tortoiseshell frames, I stuck to more unusual colors.

The glasses arrived quickly in a sturdy shipping box, and then a lovely navy linen box. Each pair of glasses was in its own compartment, wrapped in plastic and labeled with its name. Each pair of Warby Parker frames has the brand and style name inside on the temple. I found the quality to be stellar, especially for the price. These frames rival the more expensive designer styles I tried at my nearby glasses shop. The return process is simple – peel off the self-adhesive UPS label and drop it in a nearby UPS drop box. I couldn’t be more impressed with Warby Parker and their process… except that my face is too big for them.

Maybe I should have tried men’s frames, but I felt that almost every pair I tried (except for the Bensen, and they just weren’t a style I was looking for) was just a hair too small for my face. I often have this issue not just with glasses, but sunglasses as well. In fact, when I got my new glasses, they were the only ones I liked after trying on about 20 pairs – each other pair seemed just a bit too small for my face shape, even some of the men’s frames I tried.

So if you have a normal to small-sized noggin, I encourage you to try Warby Parker. The Warby Parker at-home program is completely free so you have nothing to risk; if you find a pair you like you can feel good that not only will you look great, but your purchase will also be doing good. As for me, I will have to look elsewhere, my head is just too big to be hipster.

Note: Warby Parker has no idea I am doing this review and I was not compensated in any way for it.  I just decided to try the brand and share my experience with you!

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Ask Allie: Fashion Advice for a Petite SAHM

Dear Allie,
I am currently rocking the awful “mom” look aka yoga pants and huge t-shirts and I am so over it! Could you direct me to a few classic pieces to start my wardrobe? I am a stay at home mom with two under two, so I need a practical look. I live in Ohio where the weather is always changing. I am very petite (5’ and less than 100 lbs). I also have trouble finding comfortable shoes that look stylish and fit my size 5 feet. Any advice?
– Megan

Dear Megan,
I am so glad you realize that one can be an active mom while maintaining style. I recently wrote an article on about new mom fashion, but will offer some basics that should get you on track without looking like a mom, or like a college student:

Dark Straight Jeans
A dark straight jean is classic, can be worn any season of the year, looks more polished than lighter washes, and doesn’t need a fancy label to look chic. Having a straight leg means this jean should work with most any length or style of top in your wardrobe – simple tanks and tees, longer tunics, blazers and cardigans, blouses tucked in or left untucked. Add a bit of spandex so that you won’t be showing your undergarments or cutting into your stomach when crawling on the floor after your little one.

The Lee Slender Secret 5-pocket Jean is a classic style that is great for women who may have a bit of that baby pooch still left. Oprah recently rated them as a top jean, and reviews state that these jeans in petite are not needing of hemming for those who are 5’ tall. $29.99


Levi’s 512 jean is a straight, classic style that is made for a woman’s shape. Their Perfectly Slimming 512 Jean has the Lycra to keep your body looking smooth, and giving you the flexibility you need to keep up with your children. Again, this jean is rated great for the really petite woman – they run short so you won’t have to spend an arm and a leg on alterations. $40.00

A Versatile Trench
When the weather is chilly one day, hot the next, and rainy the third it’s hard to be prepared. A simple trench or mac in a water-resistant fabric that is lined will keep you looking stylish yet comfortable on those in-between days.

The Sunshower Coat from Lands End is a favorite – it’s a classic style, breathable, and wrinkle-resistant. Lands End is known for their quality and service so you know you will get a great piece that will give you years of wear. Khaki is a safe bet, but a more memorable color like their Wine Grape will look great with neutrals, make your skin glow, and will give you a sunnier outlook on the day, even if the sky is cloudy. $99.50

Macy’s Style&Co brand offers great style for a reasonable price. This double-breasted trench has a shorter length that won’t dwarf your petite frame, and the soft sage color will look great with neutrals, but be a fresh change from beige and black outerwear. $79.00

Solid-colored Seasonally-appropriate Tops
Toss the oversized tees and stiff striped button-downs. It’s easy to be comfortable, get dressed in an instant yet look great if you have an arsenal of flattering, well-fitting knits in your size and colors you adore. Wash on the gentle cycle, line dry and these pieces can give you years of great wear. Look for pieces with 5% spandex or more – they will be more likely to keep their shape, not need to be ironed, and maintain their color longer than 100% cotton tops. For winter, I love merino wool because it acts like a knit in keeping its shape and flattering the figure, and can also be washed on the gentle cycle.

Ann Taylor LOFT is a fave of many petite women thanks to their extensive collection, reasonable prices, and truly petite sizing. Their Petite Twisted Boatneck Tee is a fashionable version of the comfy tee shirt. The neckline adds drama to a casual day look, and would fantastic under a cardigan or casual twill blazer. Great colors like Balsam Green and Ocean Depths will complement dark denim, khaki, white, gray, and black. $19.50

I love Nordstrom’s Caslon line – great wardrobe basics of great quality. The petite Caslon Ballet Neck Tee is a feminine and flattering twist on a simple knit top – the ¾ sleeves make it wearable almost year-round and a scoop neck is lovely on most every woman’s figure. $24.00

A Casual Blazer
A great way to jazz up simple tees and jeans is with a casual blazer. If it’s unlined and has a bit of stretch, it’s as comfortable as a hoodie but with far more polish.


Ann Taylor LOFT’s Petite Urban Twill Blazer is a great choice. The grosgrain trim gives it a unique, higher-end look, and in navy it would go with most any color tank or tee in your closet. $69.99

The striped blazer from Banana Republic would look amazing with neutral tanks, tees, and bottoms. It would also look quite chic with a pop of color underneath – try candy pink, blood orange, or apple green. The standup collar elongates the frame, making you look taller. $149.99

A Trendy Knit
Right now, striped tees are a hot look – this is a great way to add some variety and current fashion to your wardrobe without looking passé in a season. Striped tees look great with a simple denim or twill skirt, under a blazer, with shorts, capris, jeans, and even dressed up with a fuller skirt or with trousers. Add a bit of contrast with a turquoise or coral necklace, or a cardigan in a color like leaf green, tangerine, or yellow.

This black and cream striped boatneck from Lauren by Ralph Lauren isn’t your ordinary tee shirt – the silver buttons and boatneck make it a refined piece that would look great with jeans, and also with a white twill skirt for spring outings. $59.50


I own the Striped Sailor Tee from Ann Taylor and adore it – the scoopneck is flattering, the knit heavy and durable, the epaulets give a bit more style and panache. It comes in three colors. $38.00

A Not-so Little Black Dress
I have a black wrap dress from Old Navy that I bought years ago on clearance. I wear it with leggings and flats around the house, with heels for a wedding or funeral, with tall boots to work. It’s so versatile, and the matte jersey is a fabric that stretches, gives, washes easily, and looks timeless and seasonless.

The Petite Gemma Wrap dress from Banana Republic is a great choice – ¾ sleeves work year round, and a true wrap style means you can cinch the waist for a more custom fit. $98.00


Merona for Target has really come a long way in the past year – the quality has improved immensely, and the style is quite on-trend yet classic. The Merona Petite Faux Wrap Knit Dress is a great choice – the empire waist hides any post-baby pooch, and makes it dress up or down with ease. $20.98

It often impossible to find size 5 footwear in stores, however the selection is pretty impressive online. Sites like Nordstrom and Zappos have a great selection of smaller sizes that are still stylish and comfortable. I recommend investing in:

  • A sandal with a low wedge heel (more comfortable than heels, able to wear with shorts or with a dress).  The “Amber” wedge-heel sandals from Munro is a great summer choice – uber comfortable, thin elegant straps, will look great with skirts and dresses of all lengths, as well as shorts, trousers, and cropped pants. Munro is known for comfort and quality – these shoes should be wearable even for a day of sightseeing or a trip to Disney World. $179.95
  • A pair of ankle boots you can slip on with jeans and a sweater (low heel, brown or black depending on your wardrobe – more versatile than flats as that they can dress up and also be waterproofed for rainy days).  The “Wisteria” by Merrell has a wedge heel which is comfortable when standing or walking for a long period of time, but can still be paired with casual trousers. They get great reviews for comfort. $140.00
  • A pair of tall riding boots (wear with dresses, over jeans and you will be amazed how they will transform wardrobe basics into something stylish – waterproof them for more versatility).  These riding boots from La Canadiene are so classic – waterproof Italian leather, moisture-wicking lining, memory foam insole, low heel, elegant styling. These are boots you buy now and will still be wearing a decade from now. $256.00
  • A pair of simple black leather pumps for those times when you do need to dress up (they work with pants, dresses, and even with your dark jeans for a Date Night or drinks with your girl friends).  The Nuncio pump from Nine West is a classic pump that will look elegant year-round and years from now. 2.5” heel, elongated toe, and available in narrow and wide widths. $69.95

For additional petite inspiration, check out:

Ask Allie: Issues with the SAHM Capsule Wardrobes

I have had many mothers contact me regarding my SAHM capsule posts (winter capsule, summer capsule). Some are appreciative, some find my suggestions ridiculous, and some desire more information and assistance. I’d like to answer most of your questions here:

How Do I Shop with a Nursing Baby?
I went back to work six weeks after Emerson was born. Luckily my job let me transition back to full time at the office, having me work two days at home the first week, three the next, and so on. However, I was still working at least 40 hours a week and Emerson was consuming only breast milk. This meant when I wasn’t at work pumping, I was at home with a baby latched to my chest. I remember I went to Target ONCE in the first three months of Emerson’s life and it was a traumatic experience. I couldn’t even imagine going to the mall to shop for myself, let alone have the time to do so.

Online shopping. I looked at the clothes I already had and said… hrm this 12 doesn’t fit any more, but it’s only a tad too small so I likely am now a 14 in this brand. However, this 12 won’t even slide over my butt so I am guessing I am a 16 in this brand, but probably a petite since the 12s are just the right length with my 2” heels. I then went online and looked for retailers who had friendly return policies and free or near-free shipping.

Lands’ End. Talbots. Nordstrom. These three stores are the reason I survived the first year of Emerson’s life without resorting to Crocs and maternity pants. I stuck to a lot of dresses in stretchy fabrics like ponte because they were more forgiving and comfortable. Wrap styles which let me wear normal clothing but easily slip the bodice to the side for nursing. I found a pair of shoes from Sofft that I liked… and I bought them in three different colors and pretty much only wore those all summer long. I didn’t try to create a fabulous, cohesive and chic wardrobe, I just bought basics that worked. Then as Emerson slept more, started solids, my body started normalizing… then I started to create a new working wardrobe with this new body and new life.

You have so much going on in your life right now, the last thing you should worry about is creating a perfect wardrobe or hone your personal style. Keep what you buy simple – simple colors, simple silhouettes, simple pieces that flatter, work with your needs, and pretty much get the job done. The rest will come in due time.

Your Choices are Too Expensive!
When I make my capsules, I use Polyvore. To keep the collages clean and easy to get inspiration from them, I work with clothing in Polyvore that is not on a model, and is on a white background. Check out the online boutiques of your favorite budget-friendly retailer and you will likely see those garments on a mannequin or model.

Do not take my capsules as gospel, but more as inspiration. I may show a $200 designer sundress, but look at it and realize WHY I used it – it’s cotton, it has a print, it is below the knee, it has straps wide enough to cover a traditional bra, it has a defined waistband. Such a dress can be found at your nearby Goodwill, at a big box retailer, your neighborhood department store, and most any online retailer. Always shop within your means – great style can be achieved at any income level.

You Don’t Feature Plus Sizes!
Again, my capsule wardrobes are made in Polyvore, and I have to work with what is available. Again, I ask you to check out your favorite online plus size retailers and you will see the clothes are usually featured on a model or mannequin. Also, as a woman who is cusp sized, I know that what works on a 5’8” size 20 woman with a large bust and long slim legs won’t necessarily work on a 5’6” size 26 woman with small breast and larger hips. I try to choose pieces that will work on a broad range of sizes and shapes of women, but we females are snowflakes and no two of us are built the same. Please use these capsules as inspiration, not gospel. And subscribe to the blog, I regularly provide shopping suggestions specifically for plus sized women!

I Don’t Have Time to Search for Deals!
Oh my darling, I hear you loud and clear! Since having Emerson, I shop less, and I shop less frugally. I don’t have time to scour the entire Internet for the lowest price on a garment, so I usually just go with the retailer with the best shipping/return policy. Hello Nordstrom, my best friend. Nope, Nordstrom is not the cheapest, but they ship quickly, they have a broad range of prices and sizes, customer reviews, good sales, and free returns.

If you narrow down the stores you shop at, you can become quicker shopping there. I used to find Nordstrom’s site a maze, but now I know how to quickly find what I want, the brands I know that fit, how to shop from lowest to highest price, narrow down by size or color or brand even before surfing.

I also recommend signing up for a site like Ebates which gives you cash back on every online purchase and usually has some of the most popular coupon codes. Once a member, use the search function at the top of the site to type in the name of the store you wish to shop. It will take you to that store’s page on Ebates, where there’s a button to take you directly to the store, as well as any codes. Takes about 20 seconds and you’re in decent shape. It may not be the best price in town, but time is money and as a mom you don’t have a lot of time to waste.

And finally… no need to buy a whole wardrobe all at once.  Buy what you essentially need to get out of the house, and then slowly build up.  Shop when you have the time, the beauty of online shopping is it’s available 24/7.  I have been known to shop at 3am when I can’t get back to sleep after a feeding or nightmare, even on Christmas day when my child is being cared for by family and I can sneak away for an hour with my Smartphone and a glass of wine.  Life first, then shopping.

I Don’t Wear Pants/I Don’t Wear Sleeveless
Again, please don’t use these capsules as gospel, but inspiration.

For the summer capsule, you can easily replace the pants and shorts with some skirts in a variety of colors and lengths. In place of the printed pants, how about a printed cotton lawn skirt that hits between the knees and the calf; instead of white jeans a white linen maxi skirt; in place of the shorts a chino straight skirt that hits around the knees and maybe a denim or chambray fuller wrap skirt that hits at the knees.  All the tops featured can be found in a similar style with sleeves.

For the winter capsule, I’d get a black skirt of ponte or another heavier fabric that is midi length, a dark denim straight or a-line skirt that hits anywhere between the knees and calf, and maybe another ponte midi skirt in charcoal or gray.  The shorter-sleeved tops can easily be found in similar fabrics and silhouettes with a longer sleeve.

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Recent Fashion Purchases – Hits and Misses

I’ve done a bit of shopping the past couple of months. My wardrobe was woefully unprepared for the cold; I don’t know what I was wearing up until February last year because this year I just laugh at my thin cardigans and distressed jeans and crave more wool, more fleece, more layers. In the DC area, it doesn’t really get cold until after Christmas and I did end up spending most of February and March in yoga pants and a caftan and a tres chic full-arm cast, so I think that may be one reason why I had many holes to fill this winter. Below, what I purchased and whether it was worthy of space in my closet:

L.L. Bean Deerfield Rustic Harness Boot

L.L. Bean Deerfield Rustic Harness Boot

I have big calves, thick shins, and what many would not hesitate to call cankles. I know it, I embrace it, and I often say “fugget” and wear what I want even if it emphasizes the situation. One thing that is not the most flattering with my gams is a pair of ankle boots. But a pair of ankle boots is pretty fantastic. Slip them on with skinny jeans or leggings and a sweater coat and you’re weekend ready. As I showed in my post about Chelsea boots, they work with skirts and dresses too. And do you know how long I have longed for a pair of engineer boots? We’re talking over 20 years, folks. So when I saw these boots at L.L. Bean, and saw the reviews stating that they’re too wide in the ankle and opening, I thought I may have a chance. Gaping on the normal individual means won’t cut off the circulation to my feet for me.

Since the reviews said these ran narrow, I purchased a wide. I also went up a half size; I could say it’s because I want to wear thick socks but it’s truthfully because my size was sold out. I’m actually glad I did because an 8.5 wide feels like an 8 medium. The boot is snug on the sides of my foot, but not enough to rub and I think they’ll stretch with wear.

The shoes are well made, as is the majority of L.L. Bean’s merchandise. The hardware isn’t too shiny, the soles not too lug-ish, the leather is heavy but not too stiff and matte but not in a cheap leather sort of way. These are engineer-style boots that will remain in style, become a classic.

And yes, the tops are wide, and have little elastic gussets. Wider than my leg wide. Wide enough that they don’t chafe when I walk and I can easily slip in skinny jeans or heavyweight ponte leggings. They would likely show under straight and bootcut jeans, but would work with fuller leg styles and likely would hide under trousers.

These boots are pretty darn perfect… but they’re just too wonky looking with the legs I have. I think a shoe with a lot of style can help justify me wearing unflattering shoes, but with my legs these boots end up looking like something I’m wearing to work in the garden or to ride a bike – a uniform and not a fashion statement. If I were taller or had slimmer shins I’d keep them because they are lovely.

Myne Heidi Dress Black

Myne ‘Heidi’ Dress

When I was thinking about what I wish I had in my wardrobe this past year and what in my wardrobe got the most wear, one of the pieces was this off the shoulder maxi dress. This is my party dress when it’s cold out; the fabric is like a lightweight sweatshirt so it keeps me warm but the off the shoulder detail (the tank isn’t attached) makes it festive. I wore it to my friend’s birthday the night I broke my arm, I wore it to Karl’s cousin’s holiday get together, and I wore it to my sister’s New Year’s Eve party. I really wanted something similar that wasn’t as long, not as heavy, and more appropriate for warmer months.

Yeah, this dress is a mega mega splurge. I never ever spend this much on a dress, but if it gets as much wear for as long as my maxi has, it could end up saving me money in the long run. And to be honest, since I got it at Nordstrom if I don’t wear it by May, I can return it.

The dress is so, pardon my French, FUCKING BADASS. I got the 12 in Black and I felt like a modern minimalist Grecian goddess in it, if that makes sense. My soft curves made it look way better on me than the model. The skirt has draping that are kind of like pockets but also add volume in the right way and make the dress look at first like a jumpsuit, the gathering on the shoulders creates cool draping, and oh wow when I replaced it with my ASOS metal band belt and added my Miss Sixty booties I was ready to go to a party. Karl even said it was awesome. But the large was a bit too large – I had to hike back the shoulders to not expose my bra and the bodice was a bit too full, making the wrap gape open. So I ordered a 10. Not as voluminous but still badass and now fits in the bodice. This could be dressed up or down with a change of accessories; it comes with a boring skinny belt but I tried it with my metal belt, a large silk scarf tied like a cummerbund, my skinny python belt with a pave buckle, and my vintage wide brown leather belt and they all looked so cool and give different effects. I can see it for a blogger event, for a wedding, for a party.  It’s silk so it could be worn year round.  I haven’t worn it yet, so I’ll keep you posted as to whether it is a keeper, and worth the money.

Random factoid: when looking online to find any reviews of this dress, I found out Kim Kardashian has this same dress in multiple colors.  Didn’t sway my purchase, but does show how it fits on someone who isn’t tall and is curvy and shows why a smaller size was a better choice (less boobage)…

Eileen Fisher Silk Ankle Pants Review

Eileen Fisher Silk Ankle Pants

I don’t know what I was smoking when I ordered these pants. Maybe I was on a Myne Heidi dress high? I was thinking of them with pumps, a silk shirt, my slouchy black merino sweater, come summer with a silk tank and a fabulous necklace.

The pants made my ass look saggy, they were larger than expected in the waist (I ordered a Large and they fit like a 16), the pleats were too strong emphasizing my pooch, and they didn’t look cool or modern but like a thrifted pair of work trousers from 1986.

Glamorous Sweatshirt Dress from Nordstrom in Gray

Glamorous Sweatshirt Tunic Dress

Tunic is the word for this description. On my 5’3” self, this dress hardly covered the good china. This made the kangaroo pocket directly over my tummy and hips, killing any shape to my body and making me look second trimester. Too bad, because if it was 6” longer bringing down the pocket, it could be a super cute piece to wear with leggings now and just a pair of Chucks come spring.

Caslon Sweatshirt Dress review

Caslon Roll Sleeve Sweatshirt Dress

I love Caslon, and Caslon usually loves me. Not with this. The body was shapeless with a band at the bottom that made it look as though my torso was inflated. The neckline was super wide, and the sleeves so incredibly tight I could hardly get the dress on. Also the fabric in this sweatshirt dress was far cheaper looking than the one from Glamorous.

LOFT Crocheted Poncho Review

LOFT Crocheted Poncho

In person it looks exactly as it does on the site. I took cuticle scissors to rip the seams out of the tags and gently remove them because they were visible through the open weave, and once I did this I fell in love. It’s soft, it has cool fringe, it has a slouchy flattering neckline, it’s not too open or too opaque. I’ve worn it twice with a black tank under it, black ponte pants tucked into tall heeled boots and a lot of silver jewelry and know come spring I’ll be pairing it with a white tank and distressed jeans.

LOFT Tunic Blouse Review

LOFT Petite Tunic Blouse

Yeah, was so imagining this top with those Eileen Fisher pants. This was just as frumptastic as the pants. It looked more like a regular blouse, properly fitted in the shoulders and arms in that it would likely work well under a blazer. However at the end of the buttons it is pleated and flares out like a maternity shirt. The combination was not flattering.

LOFT Peppered Wool Trouser review

LOFT Peppered Tweed Wide-Leg Trousers in Julie Fit

I should have believed the reviews that complained about the pleats. The pleats are awful, making these too look like thrifted work pants from 1986. Super unflattering. A shame because the leg width and the fabric is really nice. If they had a clean front, I would have kept them.

Have you made any great or horrible purchases since the holidays? Share your triumphs or warn fellow readers in the comments below!