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.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Donald Pliner Nellie

I've been waiting forever to try these lovely skinny calf riding boots, the Donald Pliner Nellie. And now that I have, I'm smitten. With the beauteous Nellie following on the heels of the superslim Boxer, Pliner may actually be outpacing Aquatalia as my most preferred purveyor of narrow calf riding boots.

My favorite part of the Nellie is probably the ankle. Why? For starters, it's only 9.5 inches around, which makes for a sleeker look than most styles I've tried. And then there's the sweet detail: a trio of small silver buckles that add just enough style to this boot without detracting from its timeless quality.

Another sweet touch is the curving half-zipper for easy(ish) on & off. So cute. 

At midcalf -- or about 11 inches up -- the Nellie measures a nice, skinny 12.75" in my size 7.5. Yea! The top is slightly bigger than advertised, at 14", but combined with the small ankle and midcalf measurements, the overall look is reasonably fitted.

The back of this boot is an unobtrusive stretch fabric, while the front is a smooth, fairly luxurious feeling leather -- not too shiny, not too matte. Definitely a dress-up-or-down style. The toe has just a bit of point to its almond shape.

My one caveat involves the shaft height. I am 5'4" tall with longish legs for my height, and the front of the Nellie hits the bottom of my kneecap. (You can see this best in the top photo, with the barely-there stockings.) The back is a bit shorter. The boot is pliable enough that this shaft height is not uncomfortable, but ideally the shaft would be a half-inch to an inch shorter. On the other hand, I suspect taller women will applaud that extra inch, which may afford them a true "knee high" boot for the first time ever. I would say if you're 5'2" or under, think twice about this one unless you're open to an over-the-knee look.

Oh, and a word on sizing: I take between a 7.5 & 8 shoe and went with the 7.5 on this. Good call, as it does run just a bit roomy in the foot. 

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

In black.
Find it at: Amazon
(wow! at or around 100 bucks as of early August '15 -- and as of early 2017, this elegant boot is pretty well represented on ebay - happy hunting!)


  1. I'm so happy I found your blog and that you posted about these boots. I hate thick ankles on boots. So I was happy to find these. My calves are 13.5 and just below the knee is 11.5 and these will be fine with slim pants tucked in or a dress as long. The tops are still a little wide, but not a deal breaker. They come up a bit high but not I can live with it --I'm 5'6, barely. best of all, I found them on E-Bay for $150 and it's mid-November 2015! Love them. They look very expensive and tasteful. Comfortable and I took my ususal size 8. (I'm between 8 - 8.5) Thanks for you blog! :-)

    1. Yes, I think this is a great one for about your height & up. (They were flattering on me but a little tall for comfort, as I'm 2 inches shorter than you.) So glad you were able to grab a pair of these sleek, sophisticated boots on ebay....which generally ends up being the last-resort shopping spot for these rare thin-calf (and yes, thin ANKLE too in this case) styles. Enjoy!!