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, October 4, 2015

Franco Sarto Maleni

A disappointing try-on in this blog's early days put me off Franco Sarto boots for a while, but I'm glad the pretty Maleni pulled me back on board.  In the modestly priced category, these are some of the best riding boots for narrow calves I've found in a while. If you're open to stretch panels, that is.

What does the Maleni get right? First, its measurements: In a shoe size 7.5, the top circumference is 13.5 inches; at the middle of the calf it's an even 13"; and the ankle circumference is a not-too-shabby 10.25. The overall effect is sleek, lean, and I would say work appropriate for many.

The gently curving cut of the stretch panels on the outer calves is a nice touch. Finally, I appreciate FS's pairing of a brown zipper with the goldtone zipper pull, rather than a shiny gold zipper that might cheapen the look.

The stretch fabric is more of a silky type, as with the the Kors Arley boot, than the rigid, tough-as-nails variety we've seen on some styles. Whether that's a plus or not depends on your personal preferences and, perhaps, how cold & rugged your local environment is.

Interestingly, the sole is partly covered in felt -- something I haven't seen before, and I'm  not sure what, if any, difference that will make on slippery surfaces. The footbed is lightly padded, and the foot fits true to size, though if you're between half-sizes & plan to wear thick winter socks underneath, I'd recommend choosing the larger. (The toebox feels just a tiny bit narrow to me, but that may be because one of my little toes has been sore from a boatload of autumn runs & walks lately.)

Probably the most important tip on fit is that the front of the shaft is quite tall, at about 18 inches in a size 7.5. You'll see from these photos that that's almost verging on too tall for my 5'4" frame, though I think it's fine, even flattering. If you're shorter, this style might not work out, as nobody seems to want an "on the knee" boot. (Over or under, great, but not "on.")

The back of the shaft, by contrast, should work for most heights, as it's a reasonable 16" tall in size 7.5.

Crucial question I haven't been able to answer yet: Is the shaft leather or synthetic? Amazon says manmade, while both Nordies and Zappos say a combo of leather & manmade. A "sniff test" was inconclusive on the pair I was sent. The only thing both my husband and I noticed was that this is very lightweight for a tall leather boot, which could spell synthetic. So far I haven't been able to track down contact info for the Franco Sarto brand, but I'll keep at it and update here if I find out. (Update: I spoke with a brand rep who didn't know the answer but promised to get back to me. Days later I got an email saying "The Maleni boot is available in both synthetic and leather materials." Sheesh -- not exactly enlightening...)

Beauty: ***/5
Value: *****/5 if leather, ***/5 if not
Calf slimness: ****/5

In black & brown.
Find it at:
(limited sizes as of January 2018)

1 comment:

  1. Note to Pyper - thanks so much for checking out the blog! Unfortunately I don't offer a marketplace here for buying/selling boots -- ebay, poshmark, threadflip are all good spots for that purpose. Best wishes-Mary