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, October 4, 2014

Tory Burch Grace

It's funny -- I just wrote in my Stuart Weitzman review about the sense of grace that the best equestrian-style boots can confer on us. Then I came across a boot that is actually named Grace, courtesy of Tory Burch.

And indeed there is much that's graceful about these Brazilian-made beauties. Though impressively sturdy -- these feel like they could withstand a Hamptons nor'easter with just a coat or two of waterproofing spray -- they also shout luxury via some impeccable topstitching and a small, elegant buckle detail.

The leather itself is smooth to the touch and gleaming, rivaling Tory's preternaturally glowy complexion. (Does anyone else wonder how she manages that stress-free aura, with 3 teens at home? Is it love for her work, or does she subsist on spinach, salmon & pumpkin seeds? ;)

Finally, the Grace classily eschews the label's sometimes logo-heavy tendencies in favor of just a soft logo-patterned lining (and of course the world's cutest box -- it's the little things, right? 

But back to the big things. The unfortunate flipside to all this design magic is that, in all honesty, I can't call these stunners boots for skinny legs. At midcalf they are 14 inches; at the top opening 15.5. The ankle, at 11.25 inches, is pretty darned roomy on me, though due to the sturdy leather it actually doesn't slouch as much as some softer styles with a smaller ankle circumference.

Bottom line, these boots look pretty sweet from the front and back, especially over pants. But from the side, especially over just tights (as in the top photo), they make me appear rather like a kid trying out mom's shoe collection, which isn't necessarily the most sophisticated look. 

If you decide to try the Grace despite its measurements, a couple warnings. First, these are true knee-high riding boots, with a shaft height (16.75 inches in size 7 1/2) that is perfect for average-height or taller boot lovers but might be uncomfortably high for petites. (Keep in mind when considering these pix that I'm 5'4".)  Second, the foot is comfortable, with a nice rounded toe, but a bit roomy -- so if you're between half sizes, I'd recommend going with the smaller of the two.

photo: amazon.com (unfortunately sold out as of Oct 2018; check ebay?)
I was hoping these would take the reins (sorry!) from last year's Tory Burch Christy, but now I'm thinking the new Marlene (left) may be a better fit. That one does feature the iconic "T" logo fairly prominently, but it's embossed in a tilted, playful way that's more appealing (to me, anyway) than the shiny metallic treatments the designer sometimes employs. If anyone gives the Marlene a spin, please post your impressions!

Update: For 2015, Tory Burch has jumped into the stretch game, presumably in an effort to offer slim riding boots that hug even thin legs more snugly than her usual equestrian styles. Please share feedback if you've tried the snappy TB Selden stretch boot.

Update, take 2: For your fall 2018 skinny calf riding boot hunt -- check out a relatively good deal (nearly 40% off retail) on the classic, pretty Tory Burch Sidney, pictured at right and available in two colors. My research suggests this boot has similar measurements to the Grace, so not ultra narrow calf, but I'm guessing less baggy than many comparable luxe riding boots. 

Rating for the Grace boot:
Beauty: *****/5
Value: ***/5
Calf slimness:**/5

Find it at:
Amazon has a few left, in brown or black

or a better bet: try ebay for a deal

(But hey ebay sellers, could you pretty-please stop using my blog photo for your listings? All my photos here are copyright this Howdy Slim blog, and contacting y'all one by one is getting old. Thanks!)


  1. What do you recommend for a girl with 12 inch calves and 8 inch ankles who can't afford to spend very much on a pair of boots?

  2. Hi there - there are some boots featured here that cost well under $200. Try browsing through the blog with an eye to lower- priced options. Also, if you find one you like that's a bit too pricey, keep going back to it to check for sales. Amazon especially does some pretty big reductions

  3. Also - you can sometimes find boots here on eBay, either new or gently used. Clearance sites like lastcall and 6pm have some heavily discounted styles, and Macy's house brand boots (Alfani) can sometimes run narrow in the shaft. Maybe check that out if you live near a Macy's. Best of luck. I think for you that ankle measurement will be important...

  4. Hi! This isn't relevant to the Tory Burch post, but I couldn't find a more general way to contact you. Love this blog. Very helpful. I have 11 inch calves and buying boots has always been the biggest pain.

    Anyway, I was at Nordstrom this weekend and found a boot that fit and thought I'd share it with you in case you wanted to check it out yourself. It's the Rockport Total Motion Tall Stretch Boot. It's so narrow at the calf it even fit me! Plus it comes in some really pretty colors. I bought it in brown suede but online it looks like they also have leather options. Just wanted to share :)

  5. If you're interested in the Marlene, I just ordered the Adelpha Riding Boot from Banana Republic and have high hopes for it based on the 13.5 inch calf circumference mentioned on the site and the multiple comments about how they're too tight around the calf. Fingers crossed they work out! I think they look fairly similar to the Marlene but with a smaller advertised circumference.

    1. WOW, are those Adelpha boots ever similar to the TB Marlene boots. And a smaller price.

  6. Are these boots supposed to be tight at the calf and scrunchy at the ankle? I just got a pair of these for Christmas and I'm debating if I should return them.

  7. I think the fit depends on your calf & ankle proportions. They aren't tight on my calf or bunchy on my ankles (see photos), but everyone's legs are different, so the fit will be too. Your fit doesn't sound ideal...