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.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Blondo Vallera

Canadian brand Blondo is a pioneer in waterproof leather boots, having produced these for about 30 years now in increasingly stylish designs. While they don't generally offer as many boots for narrow calves as compatriots La Canadienne, they do come through sometimes, and at rather gentler prices. The Vallera may be the label's best current offering for peg leg types.

A midcalf circumference of  13.5" keeps this one from flopping around slim gams. Up top, the Vallera widens to 15", and the ankle is 1075" around. Overall another "good but not great" pick in terms of measurements.

So what do I love about this boot? The "butterscotch" color I ordered is a misnomer; it's really a rich, slightly burnished looking nutmeg shade (not ombre like it appears in these photos! that's just the way the sun is hitting today...) that in my opinion is more versatile, reminding me somewhat of the very popular adjustable-calf Mullen Spice boot in the equally misnamed "tan" that I ogled this fall at a Clarks store.

The soft leather lining doesn't hurt, and the pretty textured sole is helpful for the ice all over our sidewalks here that simply will not go away (ugh!). As are the aforementioned "water proofed" leather and "sealed seams" touted on the label.

As for the hardware, it's equestrian in spirit, a bit antique looking, and to me timeless, despite a blog post I read somewhere about any sort of buckle making boots look trendy. Done right, I think they add rather than detract from a classic style. Cared for properly, the Vallera should look as "right" 20 years from now as it does today, or would have 20 years ago.

As you might have guessed, I have a love-hate relationship with stretch panels on boots. I love that their existence makes it economically viable for manufacturers to create styles with a "base circumference" that works okay for small calves, even if we don't use/need the stretch function, because these can generally stretch to fit average legs, too. But I'm less enamored of how prominent the panels can be when not done thoughtfully.

On the Vallera, the goring is hidden so prettily that I feel it actually adds to the boot's design, flattering a thin calf with the illusion of a bit more curve.

A note on sizing: A few reviewers complained of trouble getting their foot into this one, but I had no problem at all with that. I am in between a 7.5 and an 8 and got the 8, which was the right length and fine, though comfortably snug, in the toe area.

With just a suggestion of point through the toe, I would say this isn't a style that makes your feet look shorter, so if yours are longer than average, you might want to think twice.

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

In black and two shades of brown.
Find it at:

***spring 2016 update***
photo: zappos.com

Happily, Zappos appears to have on offer another pair of Blondo slim calf boots in waterproof leather -- the Elenor (at right) -- that look pretty darned fitted on slim-looking legs in the video clip. The published circumference on those is 13.5" in size 8, so depending on whether that's a top or midcalf measurement, I'm guessing they'd fit me about the same as the Vallera, possibly a bit snugger. Nice option for the rainy season...


  1. I bought the Mullen Spice and fell in love with it. I ordered brown and black. True to size in a 9. I've yet to take measurements so far.

  2. Oh, do tell us what those measurements are, if you get around to it! How small does the top opening get with buckle on smallest setting? At the store I only had time to eyeball the boot and felt it might need an extra hole punch for my legs. Did you need to do that? I really loved the burnished brown color, and the boot seemed comfy too.