Boot envy. It’s something I’ve experienced since I was 10 and unable to wear the go-go boots of the late ’60s that all my classmates were wearing. The problem: my wide calves. In order not to feel left out of the fashion crowd, my parents combed all of Brooklyn, N.Y., for a substitute. I finally settled on a pair of ankle booties in soft gold suede. While they weren’t my dream boots, they were the next best thing.
Today, the footwear industry has stepped up to the plate with a broader offering of trend-right, wide-calf boots. And while many brick-and-mortar stores still don’t stock wide-calf styles, the Internet offers lots of options.
Before starting the search, there are a few guidelines to follow in order to achieve the best fit. First, the size of one’s calf has little to do with the width of one’s foot. Simply because one’s calf measures from 16 to 23 inches — the standard for a wide-calf boot — doesn’t mean their foot is also wide. For example, as women increasingly work out, calf muscles tend to increase in size and require a wider-calf boot.
When shopping online, it’s critical to read the small print for each boot. Just because a brand lists its boots as wide-calf doesn’t mean they measure at least 16 inches at the calf. So it’s worth a call to customer service for the actual boot specs before placing an order. Case in point: Many brands list their boots as wide-calf since they feature goring in the shaft area that allows them to expand. But this expansion is typically only an inch or two.
And don’t think boots designed for wider calves have to be pricier. Comfort brands such as LifeStride have a selection at under $100, available at Lifestride.com, while QVC.com features boots by Earth Origins at $98.40.
For those who want a custom fit, check out Wideshaftboot.com. The site not only offers a broad selection of wide-calf boots from brands such as Ros Hommerson, Etienne Aigner and Naturalizer, it can also customize these looks by adding extra leather to the shaft to fit fuller calves for only $4o.
To help with the measuring process, the site offers step-by-step instructions, including a video, on how to accurately measure the calf area. According to David Soleiman, owner of Wideshaftboot.com, customers should try their boots on at home before placing a custom wide-calf order to make sure the fit of the foot is correct. They can then be returned to the e-tailer to be adjusted to a specific calf measurement.
Click through the slideshow below to explore the styles.