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, January 11, 2015

Vaneli Vesper

Happy New Year! Any resolutions? I normally don't mess much with those, but in 2014 I deeply regretted not finding us any narrow calf riding boots that deserve a 5-out-of-5-stars rating for shaft slimness. (Not for lack of trying!)

So it gives me extra pleasure to bring you, right out of the box for 2015, the super skinny Vaneli Vesper.

A quick note on how I rate all these boots: The "beauty" and "value" ratings are complete subjective, of course, with "value" being particularly tricky given the dramatic price bouncing many of these products do online over the months, for those that don't sell out quickly. The "calf slimness" rating, on the other hand, is actually an objective, numbers-based thing. To me, it's not just about the top measurement, 'cause who wants a baggy boot through the calf that tightens weirdly up top? Conversely, a boot that hugs the widest part of your leg -- the midcalf, for most of us -- is wonderful, but not if it turns all baggy and creased at the ankle or flares at the opening. The best method I could come up with when I started this blog was to total the three key measurements -- top, midcalf & ankle -- and set some standards for 5, 4, 3 etc. stars for overall slimness. It's not a perfect system, but along with the photos it should give you a pretty good sense of how these boots all compare.

To get those 5 stars for slimness, a boot has to come in at 36.5 inches or smaller, total, for my shoe size, which is 7.5-8. And with a 13" top measurement, 12" at midcalf and 10" at the ankle, the Vesper sails easily under that line, with a total figure of 35 even. In fact, that ties the 2013 version of the Kors Arley for the skinniest boot I've written about here so far, with the Vesper & Arley just barely nudging out the 35.25"-total 2013 Solemani Gabi.

If you're opposed to stretch material in a riding boot, stop reading now, as the Vesper's entire shaft is made of what appears to be a decent-quality but non-leather woven material of some sort. The texture is sort of medium-soft but durable feeling, IMO not too rubbery or plastic-like. The uppers are leather, with a pair of cute and (yea!) functional criss-cross buckles at the ankle.

The shaft height is just a hair under 16" in size 7.5, and there's a useful half zip at the inside ankle (see top two pix).

The heel is a manageable 1 5/8 inches, the footbed is lightly padded, and the subtle lug sole adds a few style points without looking too industrial.

Not so subtle -- happily for those of us in four-season areas -- are the treads on the sole....fairly serious for a boot this cute.

One could could argue that the Vesper, and last year's version the Vimy, are knockoffs of Aquatalia styles like the Urope, but if you don't have nearly $600 sitting around for a pair of riding boots, I'd recommend giving it some attention.

Beauty: ****/5
Value: ****/5
Calf slimness: *****/5  :-) !

Find it at:

September 2018 update: In a similar vein for fall 2018 is the Kallena boot (pictured at left) by a brand that is new to me, Aquadiva. Like the Vesper and Urope, it's got a slim (reportedly 13.5" in circumference), woven-looking textured shaft, plus the Kallena is waterproof for those inevitable fall storms.


  1. Have you had an opportunity to try the Cole Haan Kenmare? Just got these from Amazon for $179 and they are very slim in the calf! Many reviews complained of being too skinny but they fit really fell on my very thin calves. Definitely one of the best I have tried!

  2. Sorry I've missed those -- thanks for the lead! I didn't see sz 7, 7.5 & 8 at Amazon, but it looks like Macy's & DSW have the Kenmare in those common sizes for $200. Will move it up on my prospects list ... what's your calf circumference, if you don't mind sharing?

  3. They are 12.5 inches. I am 5'9" so I can take the height of some of the slim calf boots. Have also gotten the Ivanka Trump Onna and the Donald Pliner Boxer this fall and winter. Great prices on all! Love your blog and have found it most helpful!
    Would love to have a pair of Stuart Weitzman tall boots but cannot justify the cost on a teacher's salary!

  4. Yes - the Weitzmans don't go on sale much, do they? Sometimes eBay will have a pair in new or like-new condition (eg, just a mark on the sole) for a decent price. But I love the boots you've acquired! Wear in good health :)

  5. Our Solemani boots are coming soon, we'll be happy if you can review them.
    contact us through our facebook.

  6. I'm so sad, got the Vaneli Gedeon in size 7.5 today in the mail on a really good sale. They fit really well in the calf, but they're just a little too tall! :( probably 0.5 inch shorter would have been fine, it ended up on the lower one third of my knee, which is not comfortable. I think it's because the top of the boot is taller in the front than in the back. So sad, they are very pretty and well made.