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, March 1, 2015

Steve Madden Avilla

After showcasing two higher-end labels in a row -- Frye & Skinnycalf -- I thought it was time for another budget-sensitive pick a la the Onna and Contigua.

Yes ladies, you can count on me for at least the occasional narrow(ish)-calf boot option in real leather for under $100!

What drew me to the Avilla were reviewer complaints about a too-tight calf, which almost always turn up a viable choice for us pegleg types. I also appreciate its merging of riding & moto styles (is that what the "engineer boot" term implies?) for a younger, edgier take on the classic look we all appreciate.

Personally I would prefer silver hardware to the Avilla's gold, and probably no hardware at all at the heel -- hope that fad dies soon -- but the truth is that at about $85 as of late February, this is a trendier boot more concerned with looking current now than grabbing a permanent, "reserved for classics" spot in the closet.

Circumference measurements? In a size 8, the opening is 14.75 inches around. Midcalf measures 13". And the ankle is 10.5. All totaled, these stats earn a 4 out of 5 on my calf slimness scale, though for some reason this style looks somewhat wider than that on my calves over thin tights, as you can see in the photo at right.

This was the first boot in this particular soft, almost suedelike leather that I've tried -- not sure if it qualifies as "nubuck" or not -- and it's pretty cool. I also wish other brands would take a cue from Steve Madden here and line their boots with cozy fleece, as featured in the Avilla.

Petites take note: The 15" shaft should work well as a knee-high boot on most shorter-than-average legs. It may seem a bit too short on the statuesque or particularly long-limbed.

In terms of slip prevention, the sole is a no-nonsense rubber crepe (shown close up at right).

I agree with other reviewers who have advised that this one runs on the small side. If you're between half sizes, go with the larger. 

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

Find it at:
As of October 2016, I'm only seeing this one on Ebay


  1. Just got these in the mail and they're great, such a find at the current prices! :)

  2. Oh good, glad you like! The leather texture on these is kind of cool, don't you think?

  3. Yes I love it, mix between leather and suede