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, January 29, 2017

Cole Haan Tilley II

So sorry for my relatively long absence! But I'm back with some good news. Today I bring you some great Cole Haan narrow calf boots -- the Tilley II. This style has top and circumference measurements very similar to the Cole Haan Adler boot I reviewed here two years ago, but the Tilley's ankle is about an inch smaller around, making it (for those of us with bony ankles as well as thin calves) not exactly fitted, but arguably more flattering than the Adler in that sometimes deal-breaking area.

Both boots have a stretchy back side that may or may not be your thing, but overall I think the Tilley II's look is nice and sleek.

Measurements for the Tilley, size 8: The opening up top is 14" around. The midcalf circumference is 13 inches. And the ankle circumference is 10.5 inches. As for shaft height, in size 8 this boot is about 15.75" tall -- so fairly petite friendly, unless you're very short or have proportionally quite short legs.

The stretch section has a subtle diamond pattern to it and -- nice touch -- a strip of leather running up the back of the boot.

Unlike the Adler, the Tilley isn't a pull-on style; it features a full inside zip. 

The footbed is lightly padded. The sole, while not the slipperiest I've tried, isn't super grippy. So keep that in mind if you wear on slick surfaces.

Caveat on foot fit: To me, the 8 feels more like a true 7.5. If you are between half sizes, my advice would be to go with the larger of your two normal sizes. And even if you're not between sizes but plan to wear very thick socks under these narrow calf boots, consider going up a half-size size anyway.

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

In brown & black.
Find it at:
Amazon -- for 50% off as of late January 2017! Yes!


  1. Hi! - I've really enjoyed your blog and have relied heavily on it for several purchases: the Mullin Spice Clarks are my favorite shoe I've ever worn. I didn't see a place to contact you otherwise, so I'm leaving this here - have you ever reviewed Timberland's Savin Hill Tall boots? They aren't a classic equestrian style, but I've always been curious about them, and they appear to have the adjustments to go down to a small calf measurement. Thanks for a great blog! - Kat

    1. Great suggestion, Kat -- I too have seen that boot mentioned for thin calves, but what's deterred me I think is the on-leg video clip on Zappos, where it looks a little roomy in circumference. Have you checked that video out? I guess there's a chance they didn't tighten it as much as they could have for that particular model. Hmm...