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, January 16, 2016

Steve Madden Arries

Happy 2016 to my thin-legged friends! I'm finally back to road-testing narrow calf boots after a season of eating that plumped up some parts of the bod but not, of course, my calves :-}

Because, for some of us, holiday bills are still getting sorted out in January, it's a great time to look at a pair of relatively low-cost slim calf boots like the Steve Madden Arries.

I was super excited to try this one based on all the reviews either applauding or slamming its skinny calf circumference -- particularly the writeup from an early-November reviewer who posted a lovely photo.
Unfortunately, on my just-under-12" calves the Arries was a little roomy, especially over tights. But it's cute and budget-friendly enough to merit some pix and details here.

Stats for this boot: 15" circumference up top, 13" circumference at the midcalf point, and 11" circumference at the ankle.

In a long-ago post on a very different boot, the Tory Burch Christy, I waxed rhapsodic about the 15-13-11 approach as a flattering way to gently taper a boot, and I think the look of the Arries supports that, even though (over tights; the cords are much better) it's clearly too wide for my scrawny legs. A case can be made for these dimensions over, say, a 15" opening plunging to 12 inches at midcalf and 9-10 around the ankle -- which runs the risk of a pirate-y sort of flaring...especially in taller-shaft styles. (Re height: The 16" shaft  on this one should work for almost all but the shortest & tallest among us.)

Not a pure riding boot, the Arries employs some trendy moto details that may or may not fit your personal style. I'm a sucker for quilting on a leather boot, so the quilted heel made me smile. Not so awesome (but again, this is a matter of personal taste) is the brassy, shiny gold bit at the bottom of the quilted section.

As befits a moto-ish style, there's plenty of zipper here. The subtle-looking inside full zip (see second big photo above) makes the Arries a snap to get on and off, while the gold back zip is non-functional, so for looks only.

Three caveats: There's not a lot of texture to the rubber sole, so keep that in mind if slipping is a big concern. The foot runs a bit small, so if you're between half sizes, I'd recommend going with the larger. Finally, this isn't the most luxe leather...but you can't really expect that at this price point.


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

In black & cognac.
Find it at:
Amazon -- at or around $100 in many sizes, still, as of October 2016


  1. I am totally convinced that we're the same person, I just saw this post today but I happened to order these boots in Cognac yesterday! So crazy :) Hope I like them!

  2. Too funny! Do report back on how they fit!

  3. I'm so sad, the fit was totally different between the two boots! I'm exchanging them, hopefully the next set is better. Did you go with a 7.5 or 8? I'm between sizes like you, and usually go for 7.5, but the 8 seemed a little roomy in the foot.

  4. Wow, that's strange - did you double check to make sure they didn't send you mismatched sizes? (I haven't had that happen but have heard of it happening to others...). I got the 8 in this boot & felt comfy in the foot, wearing medium weight socks / sweater tights. GL w/ the exchange; let us know...

  5. It actually happened to be once before when I got the Steve Madden Avilla boots! One boot was way tighter. I exchanged it and they were perfect! So weird

  6. Ok, so something with the Madden co. then I think! good to know!