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Home » The Vine

The Vine: October 5, 2012

Submitted by on October 5, 2012 – 12:22 PM40 Comments

I have been looking for black riding boots for a while now. You might be thinking, "That shouldn't be hard!" but in fact, it is, because of two distinct reasons:

1. I'm on a budget — my price range caps out at $130. And that's pushing it. I would love to find something for about $100.
2. I have wide calves. Not out of control, but I need a 16" circumference. That precludes any store shopping. 

So those are the necessities. The only other preference I have is a low heel — flat or an inch at the most. I have these boots in the tan color, and I love them, but they don't have the black in my size (10). I have scoured DSW and Zappos to no avail. 

Pull on, motorcycle, zip, shiny, matte, that stuff doesn't matter. Just low heel, inexpensive, and able to fit my big ol' calves. Can anyone help?



This may be an impossible mission, but I'm not giving up until I Ask the Readers. See, I fell in love with a coat a few years ago, but it was $350 and I decided that I could surely find something else that would look just as pretty at half the cost (I know, right? I was an idiot).

It's a DKNY wool belted trench in Loden. I never found another coat that came close, and I still dream about it many years later. I ran into it again (literally ran, making girl-in-love sounds) at Burlington Coat Factory a couple of years ago (now only $100! but not my size). I contacted Burlington Coat Factory AND the manufacturer, and it was on for a bit, but I can't find a size 6 or 8 anywhere. I saw it again at Burlington Coat Factory last month and almost bought it because it is The Perfect Coat, but it was a size 4 and I'd need to wear it with only a tank top and STILL wouldn't be able to move my arms at all. I contacted DKNY AGAIN, but they're ignoring me now. 

My husband and best friend would LOVE it if I'd stop obsessing. Can anyone find one for me? Please?? Here's a link to the Overstock page ("Out of Stock," always, alas).


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  • Tara says:

    Not to be that guy, because I did see your budget and I know these are over, but I bought these two years ago and I LOVE THEM. They don't show the least bit of wear even after two New York winters and they pull on and off like a dream.

    (If you absolutely must stand firm at $130, have you searched Zappos specifically for wide calf boots? Because they do have a bunch.)

  • Laura K. says: is Zappos's online outlet store. As with many outlet stores, results are hit-or-miss, but the hits are nice. This seems like a hit:

  • Sarah D. Bunting says:

    I've seen @Tara's boots, and they are hawt…and in my experience, which is sadly extensive, you have to invest some money in boots, or you'll just be looking for the same pair in a year's time. (Or spending the difference in Band-Aids/moleskin.) Campers are not cheap, but the pair I spent $265 on in 2005 is still going and they fit properly from the get.

    It's a classic style that you'll wear all the time, and in a size 10, trust me, what seems like a bargain…ain't. Consider upping your budget (or trying expensive ones from Zappos, sending 'em back, and setting an eBay search for the style to see if you can get them cheaper; this is how I scored $400 Fryes for $85).

  • N/a says:

    Another website I am on was just recently talking about boots, and calf dimensions. Someone there mentioned that boots with a zipper on the side, a shoe repair store can insert panels of leather or material for <$20? Not something I've done, but thought I would share the info.

  • Ellen says:

    Try Dover Saddlery, who have loads of both leather and "faux leather" riding boots in a range of prices and styles –

    And I can't say enough good things about Sierra Trading Post. I've bought tons of shoes from them, including boots, and they've always been ridiculously affordable (eg, a $200 pair of Harley-Davidson motorcycle boots for $73) –

  • Teri says:

    I know the shaft circumference on these (,default,pd.html?variantSizeClass=&variantColor=JJ0GVA3_1&cgid=3227282&prefn1=catalog-id&prefv1=ninewest-catalog&prefn2=heelHeight&prefv2=Low ) SAYS 15.5", but I also have gigantor calves and have a pair from Nine West (not these) that seems a little larger in circumference than the stated size. If I recall correctly, it's pretty easy to google around for promo codes too, so you may be able to get free shipping or a further discount for the site. Good luck!!

  • Margie says:

    I'm also cursed with wide calves, and a couple of years ago found a website that caters exclusively to women with wide calves:

    Most of the boots are closer to $200 than $100, but they do carry Naturalizers, which should be in your price and size range, and look like they're currently on sale, too.

    Check out the "how to find the right size" page before you buy anything, though.

  • Sarah says: has a pair of black cowboy boots that look like they fit all of Chris's requirements, plus they're on sale. Not a huge selection, but they specialize in larger-calf sizes (though shoe sizes are only 7-11).

  • Loree says:

    Silhouettes (website is temporarily down for maintenance as I'm writing this) has a fairly good selection of wide and extra-wide calf boots, and they also list the calf measurements. I can't fit the top end of their range, so I can't say anything about quality, but the prices are pretty reasonable from what I recall.

  • WendyD says:

    I searched for that combination of boot price and shaft *snicker* for years. Boots advertised as "Wide Calf" wouldn't even start to zip up on me. I tried many many pairs from Zappos at various prices with no success.

    I finally realized I was going to have to spend $$ to get something that fits.
    I looked at for years and saved. Then last year I had a trip to the UK that allowed me to go to their flagship store and it was like Christmas! They measured me and brought out stacks of boots I could wear. They were not cheap, probably around $250 (I was paying in British Pounds), but they're gorgeous and worth it:

    They now have free shipping to the US and a great measuring guide. I would totally order from them again.

  • Cait says:

    I have owned and loved Naturalizer wide shaft boots for over two years. I have the predecessor to these and my calves (which go between 16 and 18 inches depending on how much I'm running) fit perfectly. It's a bit above your budget but the fit and quality are way better than any I've seen under Frye prices.

  • Nanc in Ashland says:

    No boot advice but for the fellow trench coat lover (are we long-lost sisters?!), talk to a tailor/seamstress about what it might cost to alter a larger size down to fit. Trench coats have pretty classic construction but if it's lined, it's definitely worth having a professional do the alterations. You might spend $50 or more on the alteration but it's worth it. I actually had my "good" winter wool coat custom-made 15 years ago for $250 because I'm 5'10" tall and it's hard to find something in women's tall sizes that looks good and is well made and has reasonable pockets. The coat still looks fabulous!

  • Holly H. says:

    About the coat — omg, have I BEEN THERE! I would like to think that at this point in my life, I've gotten better about doing the gut-check "how despondent and obsessive will I be if I don't get this and then miss out on it?" thing. But it still happens. I can tell you about things I am still mad about not having gotten 10 or 15 years ago. I can tell you about the eBay alerts I have set up in a seemingly-vain attempt to catch this one thing I want in case someone out there who has one decides to offload it. (You have to cover a lot of bases in eBay alerts to try to anticipate how someone might list it.)

    Anyway… speaking of eBay! Go to (Canada, obviously). Put "dkny wool trench" in the search box. Look for the listings for "New Womens DKNY Wool Blend Trench Belted Coat" in "forest green". I was comparing them to the Overstock image, and what was sold by DKNY as "loden" may be labelled differently; I think it's the same color, though. (I wouldn't have described the Overstock page's coat as "loden".)

    Two drawbacks: sadly, it's more expensive than the Overstock ones, but it's not full price, either. So at this point it's a "how much are you willing to pay?" thing. Second: there's size 8s and 10s up there… in Petite.

    You might want to do some research on what exactly DKNY means by "petite". I know that for some brands, petite sizes are merely shorter in the hem and sleeve than regular. The listings, at least for the 8P and 10P ones, give exact measurements as well, which could help you decide if it's do-able. Those listings also show that the seller will take returns, so you could get one and try it out and decide in person if you can make it work (can you tailor the sleeves to make them longer, etc.).

    Good luck!

  • SarahBeth says:

    Don't laugh, but Payless has wide width boots. I have the exact problem as you – with large calves. I just bought 2 pairs from there for $60 – granted, they're slouchy and suade leather, but they may have something on their web site or in their stores close to what you're looking for.

    Good luck! :)

  • Cat_slave says:

    @Chris My partner once bought a pair of hand made boots where the maker was able to stretch them at the top by spraying them with something and inserting something stretching into the shaft overnight. Maybe a shoe repair shop could do the same?

  • Erica says:

    Hi – coat lady here. Holly H., that is totally my coat hanging out on eBay in Petite sizes. Now I can obsess about even more probably-not-quite-right sizes of The Dream Coat. ARGH! But thank you.

    Nanc, I'd definitely buy a larger size and have it altered down if I could ever find one. I even briefly contemplated buying the size 4 and getting a seamstress to add fabric somewhere.

  • attica says:

    Simply has a boot selection that includes wide calf versions, well within your price range.

  • Deanna says:

    @Margie, I clicked on WideWidths and it was like my screen opened to show a choir of angels singing directly to my 17" leg-guns. Bless you, dear.

  • Linda says:

    I have narrow calves…anyone have experience with finding good boots with narrow calves? I will definitely keep an eye out for wider widths too in case I can contribute to Chris' search! I have been looking for brown riding boots (or just plainish ones) but my little stick legs look ridiculous in everything so far.

  • Holly H. says:

    Erica — did the exact measurements they gave help? Would it work to get the 10P and have it altered down a bit?

  • Hellcat13 says:

    As the best friend in question, for the record, I knew she was a damn fool not to get the coat then! I was not at my persuasive best, I guess. I FAILED in my BFF duties.

  • Margie says:

    @Deana — hee! That was my reaction when I first found it. I haven't been able to wear anything taller than ankle-high since I was 12 (which is a long damn time, as I'm closing in on 50 now), but I am now the proud owner of a pair of gorgeous, low-heel, classic black leather riding boots that fit. Best $200 I ever spent.

  • Nanc in Ashland says:

    Erica, it might be worth asking for the cost of a custom made coat. A tailor/seamstress gets the good fabric at good prices and it may turn out to be in your budget. Never hurts to ask! And keep us posted on the hunt.

  • alison says:

    I'm going to agree with everyone who has said that boots are a place to spend money – they will last for years and make it well worth it.

    As a person who actually rides horses in her boots, I can attest that Dover Saddlery, as mentioned above, is a great option and some brands also end up on Sierra Trading Post as well.

    I personally am lusting after a pair of Dublin's Zenith boot. I know a number of people at the barn with the Dublin Tall River boot who all love them and the boots have worn super well.

  • Liz C. says:

    This are probably more on the clunky/crunchy end of boot styles, but these Keen boots elastic have at 15.7" calf with elastic, are not too far out of your price range, and will probably last awhile.

  • Wehaf says:

    Chris – if it helps, (which recently acquired has 25% off (qualifying) boot purchases of $100 or more until 10/10/12, with code FALLBOOT. So maybe you can expand your price range a bit.

  • Jamie says:

    Duo Boots are amazing!!!!

    I have 6 pairs of them and I love every single one. They also wear incredibly well and will last forever. They are worth the extra money. And I have only ordered 2 pairs straight from the company and payed full price. For the others, I check ebay for Duo Boots (both the US and British versions of ebay) and you can usually find a few people who are selling them. I've never paid more that $80 for them on Ebay and most of them have only ever been worn once or twice.

    They also do narrow calves.

  • Tori says:

    @Linda: We had an actress with narrow calves, and she used to just bite the bullet and take her boots to a cobbler to get taken in.

    Which of course made all us thick-calved stage managers' minds boggle at the idea of too tiny calves, but there you have it.

    I've been wanting to get boots with wide calves myself, and this is really helping me out too! Yay Nation!

  • Katharine says:

    About the boots — zillionthing the idea that unfortunately, cheap boots are cheap. (Although expensive brands used/on eBay/at the discount outlet are inexpensive.) Those who suggested above that you try on boots well above your price range, and then see if they can be ordered — that is what I would do.

    Good boots which are all leather CAN also be stretched. They can be stretched a lot, in fact. I am myself a Fluevog aficionado, with 16" calves. For a long time I thought the 'Vog boot was out of the question — I'd go to the store, I'd try on boots, they'd stop at the base of my calf muscle. (Fluevogs have a shaft circ of maybe 14" on a good day. Was it the Earl of Montague that was 12" at best?) Then I actually talked to the staff. I have two pairs of Fluevog boots which have been stretched over two inches in the calf.

    (@Linda, have you tried Fluevogs?)

    Key things to look out for: zippered and laced boots are difficult to stretch, and many cobblers will refuse. Under the pressure of the machine, zippers can rip out, grommets pull right out of the leather. (If the zippers are only those ankle access ones, and you don't need ankle stretching, however, that is okay; mine have ankle zips, the ones that got stretched 2+ inches.) The boots MUST be leather, inside and out — no polyester linings, no Thinsulate. Watch for details that might look funny if they are a bit over. One pair of boots I had stretched (the Fluevog Adrian) has a buckle/strap detail across the top. Because of the stretch, it sits slightly off on the front of my leg, which I hadn't thought of. It's only slight, but it bugs me a bit.

    Stretching costs me about $25.

    Anyway, if that helps, you may be able to cut out the "can't shop in person" restriction, which might let you pick up that pair of Fryes (which should also be of a nice, stretchable quality) at TJ Maxx or Winners or whatever your local outlet place is, or at your local consignment shop if you do that kind of thing.

  • Chesh says:

    Try not to put too much stock in the stated measurements on a boot online. They're very rarely 100% accurate. If you see something you really like and the description says that it has a totally standard 15" calf, it can't hurt to order it from a website with free returns. If they almost fit, you can try going up a half-size and adding an insole–calf circumference does frequently increase with foot size. And if they do fit, you can always send them back and buy a permanent pair from somewhere cheaper. A 16" shaft circumference on boots is actually pretty normal! I don't think you need to resign yourself to DUO yet.

    It is true that if you're looking in the sub-$100 range, you'll probably find smaller circumferences with anything bigger marked "plus size" so they can cut costs by using less material/justify selling their mis-sized factory seconds for full price, but you know… don't look in the sub-$100 range. Find something you like and then Google it until you find it on Amazon or eBay for way less. Once you buy $200 boots for $80, it really drives it home that these things are made in China or India and probably don't cost the manufacturer more than $40, and you will never pay full price for shoes again.

  • Chesh says:

    Oh, I can come up with specific suggestions, too! Naughty Monkey and Miz Mooz boots usually come with 16"-or-bigger shafts as a matter of course–I've tried multiple pairs in each brand, and they're pretty consistent. Madden Girl (but not necessarily Steve Madden) seems to run big all over, but if you're looking for leather, you might not have any luck there.

  • Maryse42 says:

    @Linda: I've been obsessing over Fluevogs for a while now. Many of the boot reviews on their website complain of narrow calves. Might be worth checking out.

  • Laura says:

    @Maryse42 @Linda: My chicken legs and I (just measured my calf circumference at 13.5" and that's with jeans on) get along great with Fluevog's Mini Sugar.

    One caveat: I firmly believe that Fluevogs are like tattoos in that once you start, you'll never stop. I've bought 2 pairs inside of a year and have at least 2 more in my sights!

  • Jules says:

    Erica, isn't it this one from ebay, (in a size 8 regular — so possibly even in your size)?

  • Erica says:

    Jules, YES! It didn't come up in my searches because the seller won't ship to Canada. I'm keeping an eye on it for bids anyway, just in case I can wrangle it. In the meantime, I did order the 10 Petite that had a Buy It Now price. Maybe it'll be perfect!? Can't wait to find out.

  • Amy says:

    I suggest checking eBay for the coat – use the search terms dkny trench. And you can set it up so eBay searches this item for you and emails you when it finds hits (you can even tell the auto search to narrow it down to specific sizes, even).

  • Maria says:

    You might email the eBay seller ask that if the coat doesn't sell, you would like him/her to reconsider shipping to Canada. Maybe for a service fee they would be willing to do that rather than have to do another auction on it.

  • Jennifer says:

    Coming a bit late to the party here, but I had to weigh in about cheap versus quality boots. Last year I had suddenly had enough of shopping for stuff I liked, wearing it a few times and then having it fall apart/lose shape/pill its way into the landfill.

    So, I went on a rampage against poor quality, starting with footwear. Most shoes and boots these days (ever formerly good brands) are made very poorly. They're glued rather than stitched, they're made of lower quality materials, they're made to be disposable. I got the Munro Alitas as my basic boot and so far I love the (the same boots Tara linked). They're really well made, and I confirmed with a cobbler that they can be resoled when the time comes. $100 MSRP boots will probably be glued together, not sewn (and I'm talking about the whole boot being glued).

    If you can possibly swing a more expensive boot now, you'll save money in the long run and your feet will be more comfortable – because, oh, the other problem with cheap boots is that they have no support.

    I also became a Fluevog convert last year – Earl of Warwick Coventry in black and brown, because after I got the nice, classic Munros, I decided to choose my next two pairs purely on their level of badassery :)

    If anyone is interested in learning more about the cheap clothing industry, Overdressed by Elizabeth Cline is a great read.

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