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, November 27, 2016

Sam Edelman Paloma

The first couple of years that over-the-knee boots turned up in celeb photos, I thought they were a showy flash-in-the-pan. But they've shown staying power, and I've slowly warmed up to the idea -- especially with styles out now that don't flare out at the top to make thin-limbed people look like wannabe pirates.

In fact, I've become convinced that some of the best boots for skinny calves out there are now OTK styles -- if you pick the right ones.

Like many of you, I'm sure, I fell in love (or at least deeply in like) with an unaffordable Stuart Weitzman over-the-knee riding boot. In my case it was the soft suede Lowland style, with its narrow calf measurements, tall-enough-not-to-slip-under-my-knee shaft height and adjustable tie at the top to accommodate my thighs, which are not as skinny as my calves but still a fair bit smaller than average.

The Sam Edelman boots I'm wearing in these photos, the Paloma, are of course a much less luxe version of Weitzman Lowland -- for a small fraction of the price (January 2018 update: this style appears sold out most everywhere, so your best bet may be ebay at this point). They're not made of real suede, but a soft suede-look fabric. But to my eye they win big points for style, versatility and fit.

The circumferences are kind of hard to measure, as this boot is so soft, but the Paloma is around 9 inches at the ankle (yea! slim...) and around 12 at midcalf, though I believe it could accommodate a somewhat larger calf too. It's not skintight on my leg, but the lack of the wide swath of stretch goring most of the original OTK styles had is a worthy tradeoff, I think, and the Paloma is snug enough to provide that sleek "boots as leggings" look even on a thin limb.

The top circumference is truly adjustable due to a toggle closure that you can tighten to your calf's content :)

<<<Here's a closer look at that handy closure.

I love the 23" (in shoe size 7.5) shaft height, as I want an OTK boot to stay OTK and not become an "on-the-knee" boot. Under or over, yes, but not right on the knee. And with the Paloma's shaft height, I can't imagine that happening to anyone who is not extremely tall.

Caveat: There's not much grip on these soles, so I wouldn't wear them out in freezing rain. But the soft ultrasuede would probably deter you from that anyway.

Sizing: I am between a shoe size 7.5 and 8 and chose the 7.5 in this boot, with good results. I'd say it fits true to size.

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

See also:

The streamlined style above by Public Desire will set you back only $56. Unfortunately the source, ASOS, tends not to list boot circumference. But the fit looks decent, per video clip featuring what I would call "healthy slender" model legs.

photo c Amazon
Though I haven't yet tried them on, the Sam Edelman Peyton (above) and Dolce Vita Neely
(below) are also reportedly good OTK bets for thin calves, with the Neely listed at an inch taller in the shaft than these Edelman styles -- a plus for the superstatuesque :) And finally -- a little wiggle room looks great, I think, on this model wearing tie-top over-the-knee boots from Anthropologie
photo c Nordstrom

I love the fact that all the boots in this post are so affordable. So if they turn out to be too trendy for the long haul, we don't have to feel too guilty for overspending.


  1. Stumbled upon your blog. My goodness. Thanks a bunch. Through your awesome content and detailed analyses of slim boots, I was able to find one for her. So glad I found this and have forwarded your blog for her to follow as well.

  2. So glad it helped, Andy! Happy holidays!!

  3. Love your blog!! I too have very thin calves at around 11.5 inches at the widest part. I recently purchased the Solemani Womens Asal OTK boots and love them! I never thought I could find a pair of OTK boots that fit like a glove, until I found out about Solemani boots on your blog!


    1. Thanks Krystal! Solemani is the most reliable provider of very-thin-calf boots. They found a niche for sure! So happy you're happy with your boots :)

  4. I waited too long initially and they sold out everywhere in black, but now they're back on Nordstrom Rack for $100! Just ordered I'm so excited :)

    1. Hi Priya! (waving)
      Good to hear from you! Gotta love those clearance sites! Hope these fit you.

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  6. Ugh they are so cute but they just don't fit my leg quite right, even with the toggles, they kind of slouch down more than I want. :( let us know if you stumble upon anything with a little stretch, I will like that helps keep things in place for me lol