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, May 3, 2015

Aquatalia Gina

Here in Chicagoland, our April showers were delayed a month or so by some unseasonably cold weather. So picking up a pair of cozy Aquatalia boots for skinny calves to face the May showers with seems somehow more appropriate than shopping all those summery espadrilles the shops have been showing.

A bonus to this way of thinking is that if you're vigilant, you can find an incredible boot deal this time of year, as I did when I scored this boot -- the lovely Aquatalia Gina, made in Italy -- for around 200 clams in late April. If you know this label, you'll recognize that as the outrageous bargain it was. Unfortunately, at press time the price had bumped back up significantly, but as the mercury rises I feel pretty confident that it will go down again sooner or later, so if you like the look of this style, put it on your watch list.

Slim-legged shoppers should be pleased with the measurements. Up top this boot is 14 inches, at midcalf it's 13, and the ankle is a bit roomy (as you can see from the pix) at 11". The shaft height in size 7.5 is about 15.7 inches.

The chain detail adds some style without looking too trendy or cheesy, I think -- aided perhaps by the fact that its finish is soft & fairly matte, not bold & brassy. I like the front-of-foot "yoke" (if that's the correct term) that it attaches to quite a lot....a classy equestrian touch. Overall, this is an office-ready pair of slim leg boots that transitions easily to nighttime too.

The cushy houndstooth fabric (microfiber?) lining is probably too warm for summer days, but ideal for the rest of the year. The sole is lightly textured to prevent slips and slides.The padded footbed is a nice touch, though not surprising at Aquatalia prices.

Skinnycalf foes of stretch panels will appreciate the near absence of goring on this boot. There's just one little panel up top (pictured at right), 5/8" wide x 2.5" long. Stretch doesn't get much subtler than this.

This is one of the pointier Aquatalia toes I have tried over the years, but not pointy enough to nudge the Gina into Western territory. The style manages to elongate the leg but not the foot -- quite a trick, and further proof that the Italians really do know how to prettify the female foot, no matter what shape they choose to work with.

Beauty: ****/5
Value: **/5 at retail, ****/5 at the price I got!
Calf slimness: ****/5

In brown leather, black leather & black suede.
Find it at: ???
As of January 2018, even ebay's turning up nada :(

Try instead:

6pm has a precious few left of the Aquatalia Giada (right) and provides a helpful video clip. Great discount, plus a more more traditional toe shape for this brand.


  1. Hi!

    Thanks for doing all these detailed reviews--they are so helpful!

    I was wondering if you might be able to recommend a few styles that have slim ankles.

    I have slimmer calves, but larger than yours--I'm 13" right below my knee, 14" at the fullest part, but 8" at my ankle. I don't really mind when boots are larger but I hate that slouchy look at the ankles; I like riding boots because of the structured sleek look! I find that sometimes when boots are too slim at the top they actually sag more at the ankle because they get pushed down....

    Thank you for your reviews!

    1. Hi there. I too have scrawny ankles. Considering how many boots I've reviewed here, it's amazing how infrequently I find one with an ankle circumference under 10 inches in my shoe size (7.5-8). I had to go back over a year in this blog to find a couple for you: the Sesto Meucci Boyle (with a lacing ankle you can tighten) and -- if you're not too short -- the Donald Pliner Nellie. Both of these are almost extinct, but check -- you may get lucky & find one in your size. Also, look up the Solemani Gabi 2. I only tried their Gabi 1, but its ankle was slim enough that I felt it actually made my feet look bigger (solve one problem & create another, sometimes!). Finally, you may find skinnier ankles with stretch-shaft non-riding styles like wedges or heeled boots, as equestrian inspired styles are often straighter by design, not nipped in at the ankle. Good luck with your search!

    2. Hmm, rethinking my Solemani tip in light of your 14" calf circ. Even with their stretch fabric, I doubt they'd be comfy on your legs. Do check out my reviews here on the Boyle & the Nellie though.

    3. Thank you! I will check them out! My current pair of riding boots is the Tahari Bentley boot, which looks almost the same as the Michael Kors Hamilton boot. I'll have to post up the measurements when I get the chance. The Tahari pops up on ebay once in awhile (got it from DSW), but the Michael Kors Hamilton is still in stores.

    4. Kors boots can sometimes have real narrow ankles. The original Kors Arley (with stretch back) had a small ankle when I tried it. I think I like the Hamilton's overall look slightly better, though. I haven't tried any Tahari boots but will have to do do! Thanks for the tips.

  2. Hi!
    Thank you for this great blog!!
    Just a question, which boot in your opinion is more worth it/ nicer?
    The aquatalia oralie or Gina?
    I'm debating between the two.

    1. Hi Elizabeth! Are the prices similar right now? If so, I'd probably pick the Gina for its all-leather look (i.e., lack of stretch panels). But if you're seeing the Oralie much cheaper, I'd go for that one. (I do like the quilted heel on the Oralie .... sigh, this is a tough choice!) They're both pretty, classy boots. Whatever you decide, report back on the fit if you can -- and enjoy your new boots!

  3. Hi Mary,

    Thanks so much for your reply!
    I saw the Gina for such a good deal on Amazon, 240$ shipping and duties included, to canada!! I love aquatalia's, and this was great deal. The oralies I saw new on eBay for a similar price. I ordered the Gina in the end, thought it looked super classy and timeless, also I think it would be an easier fix for the shoemaker, if I decide to take it in.
    I am size 9 with a 13" calf, so I really have a hard time finding boots.
    Many aquatalia's are on a great sale on Amazon now!
    Also, the geox Felicity, has an adjustable lace back, and is now $227 CAD on the Sears website (Canada)! I found the ankle to be a tad slouchy on me though.
    Thanks again for this much needed blog!

    1. Ooh, I love the back lacing option! Haven't tried any Geox yet but will look into the Felicity. Ah yes, the old slouchy ankle - way too common, even with reasonably narrow calf boots. Thank you so so much for sharing your tips!

  4. Hi Mary,

    Just received my Aquatalia Gina boots today ( fast shipping!)!! They fit like a dream!! Size 9, 14,75" calf circumference. They're still a tad loose on my leg, but still look very good, super high quality leather and boots!
    Thanks again, it's really because of your blog that made my decision much easier and confident.
    You're really doing a great job reporting about boots for us with skinny calves:)
    I'm so tempted to get the Oralie as well, it's a great deal too! ( because of how they look on your pictures!)
    Aquatalias are absolutely worth it at super sale prices!

    All the best!

  5. I'm thrilled you like the Gina! That 14.75" measurement is for top of shaft, right? The midcalf should be under 14" in size 9, I think - I hope so anyway! Yes, this is a high-quality brand, arguably not worth the $600+ they seem to be setting some of their boots at nowadays, but a real find at sale pricing when you can find it! There's nothing like Italian leather :-) Thanks for reporting back, and happy holidays!