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, September 19, 2014

Aquatalia Oralie

I've been speculating about which 2014 Aquatalia boots would most closely follow on the heels (sorry! ;) of last year's wildly popular Orso. And now I think I might have the answer.

The Oralie is a stunning example of boots for skinny legs that I might like even better than the Orso, and I'll tell you why.

While I loved the Orso's super slim shaft, flattering foot shape and overall versatility, the Oralie brings these same assets plus features a quilted heel that I think is more classic and luxe (quilting = Chanel in most fashion-loving minds) than the cute arch pattern on the Orso's heel. It may not seem like an earth-shattering difference, but riding boot shapes are generally so simple that little details can make all the difference.

The ankle, which features a pretty little buckle detail, is perhaps not as skinny as some of us would like, at 10.75 inches, but it doesn't slouch much due to the structure of this style. It's hard to find much smaller in today's marketplace than the circumference of the top opening on this boot, which comes in at 13.75". And the midcalf measurement delivers, too, at 13 inches on the dot in size 7 1/2.

The stretch panels are very much there, so if you object to the use of that device, this is not your dream boot. If you're open to it, these particular panels are nice and sturdy and should weather the changing environment well, as will the waterproof leather this label is known for. Tip: For best results, even waterproof leathers should probably be toweled off at home after exposure to rain, snow, sleet, "wintry mix" (ugh)...whatever it is they've had to content with. They'll last even longer that way.

Speaking of bad weather -- I think you'll like the cozy, cushy microfleece lining on this one, too, in a classic houndstooth pattern, and the major grip factor on the soles.

Someone close to me once said that when you're entering an intimidatingly posh locale -- like the Paris Ritz, which is where he said it -- you just need to "walk in like you own the place." The Oralie is undoubtedly a boot to do that in, and (bonus!) you'll do it without slipping :)

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

Find it at:
Sigh...as of early February 2016, this one appears gone everywhere except ebay

May 2016 update: While the Oralie is nearly extinct this point, three of its sister narrow calf riding boots are alive & well -- and available in some size/color combos at absolutely stunning off-season prices. We're talking knee-high, leather, Italian-made Aquatalia riding boots for under $200, and in some cases even under $150. Yes, it's more fun right now to scout for sandals and such, but seriously -- luxury boot savings are off the hook right now. Check out these boots and the kudos & complaints (depending on wearer calf size) they've garnered from reviewers:

(photo: 6pm )
Nicolette looks uber snug in its accompanying video clip (bonus point to the narrator for cracking up at the cheesy rhyme that ends her script :) - and the leather-shaft version is popping up at a terrific price.

(photo: amazon)
The Odina -- also offered in black and espresso -- is listed at 13.5" around.
(photo: amazon)
The Ohanna  -- described as 14 inches around -- offers the most color options, with black, dark brown & a nice warm, classic brown called "luggage." Its listed circumference is 14 inches.

Word to the wise: If you've been wanting a high-quality narrow calf riding boot forever but are on a budget, see if you can grab one of these at a deep discount, make sure the fit and feel suit you, then stash it box, tissue & all in the closest until Labor Day. While everyone else is spending $400+ at a ritzy department store for their classic Aquatalias, you can pull out the near-identical pair you got for a fraction of that. :)


  1. All these boots are way too expensive

  2. Unfortunately, what I have found over the years is that the thinnest-shaft boots are almost always in luxury or semi-luxury brands, which come at a higher price, for sure, unless you get them on clearance (which usually requires patience -- and some brands, like Aquatalia, don't go on sale very often, so you really have to watch like a hawk for the price drops). It's a bummer, and I don't really get the "why" of this, but it doesn't seem to be changing over time. However, if you live near a Macy's and are on a tight budget, you might want to go in and ask what they have in their house brand, Alfani. Sometimes the Alfani riding styles are very moderately priced and run on the slim side. They will not look like a Weitzman, Aquatalia, Frye, etc., but may do the trick if you're just looking for a simple riding style to wear for a couple/few years. Best of luck, and thanks for stopping by.

  3. ps Another Naturalizer you might want to look at is the Jamison. Similar shape but more subtle buckles & what looks like smoother leather. On Amazon, lists a smaller circumference than the Jersey. Just a thought.

  4. I purchase this boot in a size 7.5, but the opening was closer to 14.5". This boot is so beautiful so it pains me that I have to return them. The wide opening makes this boot gape open at the top with my 12.5" calves. They look fantastic on you!

  5. Sorry our measurements didn't synch up. I do try to measure carefully. Are you using a cloth measuring tape?

  6. I purchased these in 7, my usual size. They may run a little small? if they were any tighter in the footbed I couldn't wear them. I have 12" calves and they are very form fitting through the leg - they are actually a little too tight with jeggings and knee high socks. Not a problem I expected to have! but they are perfect with tights or without the tall socks. Thanks so much for this awesome blog! Very much appreciated.

    1. Traditionally Aquatalias do run a bit small - used to be more extreme a few years ago when I bought my first pair & had to go up a full size. Now, generally you can go up a half size or, if between 2 half sizes, go with the larger. Best tip always is to read personal comments -- like yours; thank you! -- for each style whenever possible. Enjoy those pretty boots :)

  7. Thank you for posting this wonderfully detailed review! I'm contemplating getting these on clearance but my calves are more average-sized -- roughly 14 and 1/2 inches with jeans. Do you happen to know just how stretchy that back panel is? Do you think it has enough give to easily stretch an extra inch?

    1. @Ana, where are they on sale? :D

  8. Hi Ana - I'm 90% sure your calves would fit, as there's a fair amount of stretch to those panels. They'll be snug though. Enjoy!

  9. I love your blog!!! It's the road map for me to buy riding boots