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.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Joie Baldwin

I am a megafan of flowy, girly tops from the Joie clothing label, but until recently I didn't dare hope that they'd also make some of the best boots for slim calves that feature a true equestrian look. The Baldwin has a gently curved top and a trio of studded straps that bring this closer to a real riding look than most.

Unfortunately, the easy, roomy fit that I love in Joie tops is not as loveable in a boot, if your legs (like mine) go beyond slim into the realm of skinny. In size 7.5, the Baldwin measures 11" around the ankle, 14" at midcalf, and most problematically, 15.5" at the opening. Too much room for me, especially up top.

If only it was an inch smaller around, top to bottom, this could be a real contender. I like the strap detail a lot, the pretty gold hardware, and even the cute little braided zipper pull on this boot's half-zip. The foot shape is flattering, too. (If between sizes, I'd suggest ordering the larger, due to the snug-feeling foot.)

In short, the Baldwin has style in spades -- but not quite the skinny cut some of us need. 

photo: doversaddlery.com
But also .... seeing such equestrian inspired boots made me wonder what it might be like to wear true slim calf riding boots -- that is, a pair made for actually riding horses -- as a fashion boot. Upon investigation, I gathered that many of these could require significant break-in and/or are prohibitively pricey. Not so for this Ovation boot, though, which sells for well under $200, reportedly demands no break-in, is an awesomely skinny 12 5/8" around if you choose "slim" using (oddly enough) the "color" menu, and nicely covers its stretch panels with leather. At 17-18" tall, this would fit (in terms of height) much like the Donald Pliner Nellie, or maybe just a tad shorter....good for average height or taller, but probably not suited to those 5'2" or under who are planning on street wear, not actual riding.

What do you think: Is a bona fide riding boot "too literal" for fashion purposes? Or would you feel free to rock it on city streets, or at least at a grassy music fest?

Rating for the Joie Baldwin:
Beauty: ****/5
Value: ***/5
Calf slimness: **/5

Find it at:
As of October 2015, ebay appears to be the last hideout for this one!

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