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.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Affordable Luxury for Narrow Calves

Sorry to have skipped April! Slim calf riding boot choices remain scarce, probably for 3 reasons: 1) trendier over-the-knee styles are still dominating runways and lookbooks, with little space left for timeless knee-high boots; 2) many of us by now have learned to wear ankle boots with almost everything & have mostly converted to those, baggy ankles be damned :}; and 3) in terms of the U.S. marketplace at least, well...not sure how else to say this except that American consumers don't seem to be getting slimmer over time. If they were, we'd be seeing more, not fewer, small-circumference boots than when I started this blog 4 years ago.

European countries, though? They still have their share of slim-legged boot lovers. And the boots they produce are generally pretty wonderful. But pricey. It doesn't take many fingers to count how many, say, Italian-made narrow calf boots I've found for under $400 to review here.

I have often recommended ebay as a source for luxury boots, and I still believe it's a fabulous option if you've got the wherewithal to scour many listings, photographed and described somewhat inconsistently from one seller to the next. I've certainly done that, and it's yielded me some boots that I wouldn't give up for twice the price I paid. 

For a more streamlined, consistent experience, though, I recommend taking a look at The Real Real, where I recently scored the secondhand slim calf Prada boots in these photos -- for about $100, shipped.

Prices of course go up -- way up -- from there, but the discounts on this site are truly deep, giving us the opportunity to choose (for the same price) between a new, likely Asia-produced pair of narrowish-calf boots and a recycled pair that genuinely hugs the calves and is much more likely to be made in Europe, or somewhere else with a long tradition in working with leather and suede footwear.

I could use an extra inch of shaft height on my "new" Prada boots. And they'd definitely been around the block a few times before winging their way to me. But $100 for a fun, comfy, mod type Italian-made riding style that -- with a calf circumference of 13.75" and midcalf measurement of, praise be, only 11.5" -- actually fits my scrawny legs? Hard to beat.

The Real Real adds thousands of shoe, clothing, jewelry and home items per day. Items tend to go quickly, but there's always more good stuff flowing in. Best of all, most pieces are returnable within 21 days of being shipped out from TRR, so as long as you're quick about it, you can return a boot that doesn't suit. [Note: The cost was so kind on my clearance-priced, non-returnable Prada boots that I took a gamble on them, and won :) But if that's not your situation, be sure to click "Return Policy" on the specific item page to see if the piece you're eyeing is returnable.]

photo (c) the real real
What's on offer there today?

I like these pretty Ferragamos (only $101.50, 13.5" listed calf circumference) >>

<< this adorable two-toned Prada pair (teeny 12" circumference, down to $87.50 as of late July)

photo (c) the real real

these suede & leather Jimmy Choos (only $126), 12.5" >>

photo (c) the real real

 <<and these second-skin Diors --an impossible-to-find 11" circumference! -- for 75 bucks, if you can believe that. (Late-July update: It's taking all my willpower not to buy these for fall! I can't believe some other skinny-legged person hasn't snapped 'em since I first posted this...)

I am just scratching the surface here. Go ahead, have some fun with eco-friendly, budget-conscious luxury shopping. And be sure to let us all know if you too find something that fits!

P.S. If you're squeamish about buying used footwear, well, that's understandable. After all, we can't wash or dryclean fine leather & suede boots the way we do clothing.  What I do is spray the inside of the my treasures -- being careful not to saturate the insoles and linings so much that they get warped or worse -- with the least offensive-smelling variety of Lysol disinfectant I've been able to find, in a well ventilated area. I try to do this on a sunny day so I can chase that not-so-natural sanitizing process with a natural one by setting my new used footwear outside in the (supposedly cleansing) sunlight for a while after spraying. This second step serves a second purpose of airing the boots/shoes out so they don't reek of Lysol. (As you may have guessed, I'm chemically sensitive.)

Does this system work? Well, I can only speak for myself, but so far I have not acquired any weird or disgusting foot conditions from wearing gently used boots. Knock wood! :-)

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