With scrawny 11.9-inch calves, I've been on a mission for years (decades!) to find the very best, most beautiful slim calf boots. There have been successes, but for whatever reason, what remain most elusive are the perfect riding boots for thin calves. Heels and wedges are challenging to find with a narrow shaft, but equestrian inspired? The toughest of all. In this blog I'll review riding boots with calf circumferences published, or reported anecdotally, at under 14 inches around. If your legs are like mine, maybe you'll find your dream boot here :)

Please note: Except where otherwise stated in the captions, all photos & text are copyright this "Howdy Slim" blog and cannot be used elsewhere without permission.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Donald Pliner Boxer

boots for thin legs
sweatery tights almost fill the gap
One of the best tips on boots for thin legs that I got through my Boots for Skinny Calves page was from a fellow skinnylegs called Anj. She came through again, hugely, with a forum tip on this boot, the beauteous Donald Pliner Boxer, available in croc (my fave) or black or brown suede. (Outrageously low price alert: The brown has at times plunged to $90 in some sizes! This fluctuates, of course, depending on the season, so you'll need to decide whether cost trumps the wait factor or vice versa.)

(Fall 2016 update: When I contacted the Pliner folks to confirm the shaft on non-patterned brown and black versions will be as narrow as my croc pattern ones, they said it's the same. Yea! Bur the bummer news is that as of right now, this terrific boot seems to be sold out everywhere except for ebay. Maybe Pliner will bring it back in the months ahead? We can hope...)

just enough room for skinny cords
The croco-look boots are the same rich espresso color & texture as my vintage croc bag that is, at long last, coming apart at one side. They seem quite well made, so I'm confident they won't meet that fate anytime soon!

Their midcalf measurement is an incredible 12.25 inches (at the point where my calves are their widest -- 11 1/2 inches up the shaft) and they're a modest 13.5 inches at the top opening in size 8. The ankle in size 8 is 10 inches around, which is about an inch bigger than my ideal, but it's so hard to find boots for thin legs -- let's face it, boots with 13 inch circumference or smaller require some serious searching for my shoe size or larger -- that fit as well as the Boxer that I really can't complain.

The front half of these boots is a pretty croc-embossed leather, and the back half is a substantial feeling stretch panel. But they've taken the trouble to add a couple of croc details on the stretch half that I really love -- an arching bit at the heel and a long strip up the back.

The foot to me feels true to size, maybe a little roomy in the heel but not enough to cause problems. The toebox feels great. Definitely a chic pair of slim calf riding boots that you won't see coming and going.

Beauty: *****/5
Value: *****/5
Calf slimness: *****/5

Note: The long, lean Pliner Nellie (above) has a pretty buckle embellishment and has won over numerous thin calf wearers. Very few left as of March 2016, but heavily discounted -- and worth checking ebay for too...it's a good one. 

Kudos & kisses to Donald Pliner for offering multiple skinny styles! Keep 'em coming!


  1. Hi, congrats for the blog! It has been really helpful for me... I have a question, I don´t live in US (I´m not able to try them or return them easily)..but I was wondering what is your usually shoe size in wegdes/ high heels/flats perhaps on Nine West? I´m usually a 6.5M in that brand and I wanted to order this boots but I can´t decide wethear I should order a 6.5M or a 7M..

    Thanks a lot!!

  2. HI there -- I am usually in 8 in most brands, but sometimes the 7.5 fits me better. The only pair of 9 West I currently have in the closet are chunky high heels in an 8, and they fit well. For Donald Pliner, I got an 8 in the Boxer boot, and it fits nicely; the 7.5 would probably have worked if I only planned to wear thin socks, but it's cold here in Chicago! The Pliner Nellie boot runs a little bigger, so the 7.5 was best for me. Good luck with your search. I wish it wasn't so hard to return internationally.

  3. Hi there,

    Thanks so much for writing this blog! I also have a hard time finding boots that fit my calves and this has been a great resource. Your review of the Pliner "Boxer" boot makes it sound great, plus they're currently on sale! But I am a little nervous to order them because their return policy doesn't cover the cost of shipping. I know it has a panel designed to "give" and that the mid-calf measurement may get wider as the sizes go up. I'm an 8.5 and 13 inches at the widest part of my calf. Do you think this boot will fit me comfortably? Or will it be a super-snug-only-wear-with-tights fit? Or just too snug period? (Which would be a first...I've never found boots that were too snug in the calf before!)

    Thanks very much in advance for your advice!

    1. Gosh, that's a tough one. This is a slip-on boot, no zipper, and you may find it a bit snug over jeans. However, the stretch panel will help. I would not suggest buying anything you can't budget for return, as you just never know. Given the low sale price, I think I would just consider the potential return fee a "cost of doing business." I suspect you will end up liking these a lot, though. Good luck!

  4. Hi Mary,

    I just wanted to let you know that I ended up ordering the Boxer boots and they arrived today! They are really attractive and actually fit me very well! The only problem is that they are slightly too high for my taste. Every time I sit down or bend my knee, I can feel the back part of the boot dig in to my leg. Otherwise these boots are beautiful and fit nicely around my ankles and calves, but I think they may have to go back! Thanks for your great advice though.

    1. Aw, too bad about the height. Glad they fit otherwise though! Thanks for the feedback!

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