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, March 21, 2014

Which matters more for narrow calf boots -- the top or the ankle?

I think I've made it pretty clear by now that I feel the sleekness and slimness of a slim calf boot has to do not just with one circumference measurement but with three: the opening, the midcalf, and the ankle. Once in a blue moon, you might find a boot that is small in all three of these, such as the all-but-gone-now Michael Kors Arley. More commonly, it's lucky enough to find one that's small in one or two of the magic three measurements.

My last two reviews got me thinking about what matters more in terms of the overall look on a thin leg: a snug fit at the ankle, like you can get with the Sesto Meucci Boyle boot (above), or up top, as delivered by the same company's Boomer style (below)?  Personally I think a snug ankle lends itself to dressing up a boot, while a roomier one has a more casual vibe. So maybe it depends on when, where & how you're planning on wearing your narrow calf boots.

If we can't have it all, do we choose that great fit up down, down low, or call it a toss-up and look at features such as hardware and other details, quality of materials & price as the tiebreakers?

photo: amazon.com
One last thought: For a truly custom fit from top to bottom, if you're open to laces, check out the much-loved (though not easy to find) Frye Melissa Lace. (as of May 2016, a very rare-for-this-style under $200 & even under $150 in some size/color combos) It may be the ultimate way to adjust at ankle through top, no matter what you're wearing underneath. 

If anyone feels like piping up, I'd love your input! If you have to pick, what's your priority? 


  1. hi- can u recommend some riding boot styles that HAVE a shorter 'height shaft'? i came across yr great blog - and I am looking for a gift for a friend. She doesnt have 'overly skinny' calves (her widest calf point is 14") but definitely she has a problem with too many riding boot styles being too tall for her. Thought if anyone would know- you would! Thanks Much!

    1. Well, most riding boots are 15 to 17 inches tall in the shaft. Maybe she needs more like a 14" shaft? I would suggest looking at the La Canadienne Jenny boot and the ECCO Abelone Tall. The very popular Clarks Mullen Spice ( see http://riding-boots-for-thin-calves.blogspot.com/2014/04/clarks-mullen-spice.html ) is also not super tall, though I think it's closer to 15" than 14" -- depending on the shoe size (shaft height and circumference generally increase with shoe size). Finally, it may now be hard to find this one, but it drew raves when it came out .... the ECCO Hobart Harness -- possibly still available on ebay, or in a stray small or large size at some retailers? Best of luck with your/her search. You are an awesome friend to give the gift of boots!