Review – DUO Boots

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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.

duo boots catalonia

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.

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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.

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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 wide calf boot catalonia

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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  1. Good on you for huffin’ and puffin’ Allie. A lot of clothes need to be altered to fit different curves but I never thought of getting boots altered. I am so pleased to find your blog.. You have great suggestions, and wear great colours too. its still relevant even though its 2 years old. good job

  2. Hi Allie, this is very helpful. I am just wondering . . . when the boots first arrive did customs charge you anything? My boots are arriving on Monday and DHL could not tell me whether I would have to pay anything to customs. The boots were $234. If you can share your experience, I would be grateful. Thanks in advance!

  3. I like boots, and I like the ease of them.  I like the look of boots over jeans with a sweater.  And really, the effort I put to get these boots wasn’t much more than if I drove an hour to a nearby mall.  I believe that it makes more sense to put forth effort to get what you want than settle for something that doesn’t satisfy, often causing you to buy and spend even more.

    I’ll admit, I look better in a pair of pumps than knee-high boots, but it’s just not a practical look for every day, for cold or rainy weather.  I’d love a wardrobe of different tall boots but my figure doesn’t permit that, so I decided to do my research, find a brand and style that is versatile, quality, and will give me years of style and comfort.

    I don’t like the boots on me with skirts and dresses as much as I do as a casual look with jeans and sweaters.  But really that is why I bought them – I wanted an alternative to heeled booties for I look even more off when wearing flats.  I don’t mind huffing and puffing if I end up with a result that will prevent future huffing and puffing. 🙂

  4. I truly am not trying to be snarky, but you write so much about accepting what looks good and what works on one’s body. If you have to huff and puff and order shoes from another continent and take them to multiple tailors, might it be time to admit that knee-high boots won’t work? I love the IDEA of them myself–sleek riding boots, rugged motorcycle boots, et cetera–but, though tall, I am much more torso than legs. This, combined with the, ahem, generous calves from childhood sports and toe-walking that I’ve got, have forced me to face the simple truth that it isn’t a bad thing that most boots don’t fit my legs; knee-high boots just don’t look that great on me and most people with legs like me because they’re so stumpifying. Do you choose to wear them despite this, or do you have some styling tricks that are simply beyond me? I wear them with tights, skinny jeans, same color bottoms as shoe, etc., but most of the time, it seems that so much calf simply ain’t cute. What do you think?

  5. Hi Allie, I’ve been following your blog for a few years now but I’ve always been a lurker and have never posted before. However, I have to share the love for Duo! I live in the UK and on our vacation last year we visited Bath which is where they have their flagship store. It was my best shopping experience ever, if you are ever in the UK you have to go! Adorable assistants who could not do enough for me even with a tired husband and 3 kids in tow. I wore my Duo Berns today and I am constantly being asked where I got them from.

  6. How great that you customized your boots to fit and feel perfect -so worth it for an item you’ll wear a lot. These look fantastic too!

  7. Um, hello! This review is crazy amazing timing for me, since I was just pondering shelling out the dough for this luscious boot TODAY. Now I think I’ll email DUO and see what they recommend. 

    Also, just FYI… I went as far as putting the boots in my cart and proceeding with checkout, only to change my mind. But at one point, the website asked for my email address, which I inputted, and then received an email a bit later offering me 10% off + free return on my first order. I suggest others do this too!

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