Hi, Nikki. Lately, I’ve been seeing lots and lots of boots around. I would like to invest in some boots but I don’t know what kind of boots are good. I’m 5’4, and I have big calves. I have tried a lot of different boots but it’s just so hard to look for them! Thank you!
Helen, 21/Toronto, Canada
Helen, you’re not alone in your predicament. When it comes to boots, you have to consider a few more factors than when you’re simply buying a pair of flats. Depending on the season, you’ll also need to make sure there’s enough wiggle room in your boots for thin, thick or trouser socks.
There’s also the issue of shaft width (the shoe opening) that really makes it difficult to buy boots if you have muscular or bigger calves. My fashion motto is “The vain don’t complain,” but I’m not advocating that you force your legs into ill-fitting shoes at the risk of cutting off blood flow to your feet, darling. Nor should you go for a bigger pair just to accommodate your calves. So what’s a girl like you to do? Read on!
Knee-High Boots: Something’s Gotta Give
A lot of boots are made of leather or artificial leather and that’s fine. However, if you’re considering knee-high or mid-calf-length boots, go for a more supple material like suede or nubuck which will mold to the shape of your legs. Some riding boots, for example, feature elastic panels on the sides (called gussets) which allow for some stretch, thus giving your legs and feet extra room. This is important to keep in mind if you’re on your feet for most of the day, whether walking, standing or even running. Look for boots that don’t have fussy straps all over or other distracting details to avoid drawing attention to your legs.
What to wear with it: My rule of thumb when it comes to dressing boots is that the taller the boot, the shorter the bottoms. Thus, with tall boots, your best bets are shorts, a mini skirt (A-line is the best, as I always say), or a sweater dress that’s at least a couple of inches above the knee. You need that extra show of skin to avoid looking shorter. Also, in terms of looking tall, heeled boots are better than flat ones especially if you tuck in slim-fit or skinny jeans or thick leggings for an equestrian look.
Snow Boots: The Chill Factor
When it comes to these babies, obviously the one thing you’ve got to look out for is whether they’re insulated enough to withstand hours of use in winter conditions. With the thick padding and lining, and sometimes thick outsoles, snow boots could make your calves look bigger, Helen. I’d suggest that if you do need to buy snow boots, go for a low-cut or ankle version instead of a knee-high or mid-calf one to avoid emphasizing your problem areas. Look for a pair that’s more simple in design – those that look like lace-up sneakers or have one or two tonal buckles look sleeker.
What to wear with it: Similar to my suggestion for tall boots, match your snow shoes as much as possible with your chosen bottoms. Choose vivid outerwear or tops to keep attention on your upper half. Ground the eye-searing colors with some neutral shades and patterns like argyle or stripes and finish with fleece-lined leggings or slim-fit jeans.
Ankle Boots: More Leg Room
Hear me out on this one, Helen dear. I know you think big calves aren’t attractive but why let that stop you from limiting your shoe choices? When you want your legs to truly breathe, go for some ankle-high heeled boots instead. Yes, they will show off your legs but the trick is to wear tights that match the color of your shoes so your legs look longer! On the shoes themselves, go for richly textured fabrics like suede and velvet, or those with quilted paneling or faux fur trim. Instead of a typical linear shaft opening, an angled one is much better as it mimics the natural curving lines of your calves.
What to wear with it: Your tights don’t have to be the exact shade of your shoes (although that’s ideal); having it one shade darker or lighter should suffice. So for a pair of black suede ankle boots, go for black tights with a slight metallic sheen as opposed to matte. Contrast that with a sweater dress in ruby red, royal purple or emerald green. If your boots have any gold or silver hardware, that makes accessorizing even easier! Slim-fit pants also play well with ankle boots as they can visually create an unbroken line from waist to toe, especially if you’re bottoms and shoes are in tonal colors.
It’s always good to know and regularly check your measurements, and this includes your calves and feet. This way, even if you’re just window-shopping online or in-store, you can quickly find out if the boot measurements are a perfect match. Not to mention there’s no harm in inquiring if the store carries wide shafts.
In case you’re already thinking of your spring and summer shoe shopping, why not check out this guide I wrote on 10 must-have shoes?
Have a happy Christmas and New Year, dear readers! See you in 2014!