Girl TalkBoots Are the WorstJulia Gazdag

It’s December, and since I live in a city in the Northern Hemisphere that has a climate, that means the conditions outside are increasingly snowman friendly. Thus, in order to protect my delicate lady legs from the bitter cold, I went in search of a pair of warm, pretty, standard winter boots.

That was back in early November. Now, a month later, I lay in a shriveled heap of failed hopes and abandoned dreams, waving my white flag in the fetal position. Because apparently there is a one-size fits all policy when it comes to boots, and I’m over it by a whole inch.

F*ck you, boot makers of everywhere. Isn’t it enough that my tiny feet mean I fall over a lot, now they also mean I couldn’t possibly zip up anything on my calves that isn’t 3 sizes too big? Who decided 16″ was the average calf circumference? If I can fit into a size 6 dress, then I can fit into a pair of boots. And even if I was four sizes bigger, whether because I was a foot taller (dreams!) or because I was just bigger, I shouldn’t be denied boots.

You know who had calves like mine? My grandmother. My grandmother had “big” calves. She also could never find boots to fit her. So as far as I’m concerned, bootmakers, you hate my grandmother. What’s up with that?

My choices now are shopping online, after spending over a month going from store to store, failing zip after zip. Because of one measley inch and the inflexibility of bootmakers everywhere, I am left out in the cold, peering in through the windows of stores at all the happy girls who were born with skinny-calf-genes and don’t jog. There they sit, warmed by the glow of their footwear choices, trying on everything their little hearts desire, while I let the last match burn down to my fingers and quietly die in my summer flats.

Image via Shutterstock

  • Samantha Warren

    If you can find a pair that almost fits, most materials will stretch. Get a spray bottle and some 70% rubbing alcohol. Put the boot on until it won’t zip anymore, then spray the inside and outside until they are damp. They should be loosened up enough to let them zip all the way (maybe with a little struggling and more spraying, but they should eventually go). You may have to do this trick for a bit, but eventually they will stretch enough to go on without trouble. I had to use this for a new pair of boots I bought recently and it worked like a charm.

  • Kirsten Zoe Hyer

    Oh AMEN. I am of stout Northern European ancestry which means, wide hips and wide calves. I’ve been loosing a lot of weight recently too and it doesn’t matter. Because the weight is in my hips! My calves are pure muscle! Stout Finnish and Latvian American muscle. Oi! I walk through the lines of boots at TJ Maxx and they all LAUGH AT ME.

  • Amanda Louise Renteria

    I completely understand!

  • Michela Carlson

    I have a pair of (company name: Jump) wedge boots and for knee high boots with leather upper, these are the only tall boots I’ve ever found to fit my big calves. (I can even wear them with the jeans stuffed inside them.) Boot makers fail for the skinny calf girls too as I have friends that complain that they have to much room in most boots. I agree that boots should be made differently depending on show size and calf size. So everybody can be happy!

  • Melanie Schmitz

    After only being able to find one measly (and cheaply made) pair at a Charlotte Russe two years ago, I gave up. I’m a cyclist, so even though I’m in good shape and all, my calves are, apparently, disgustingly huuuuge (according to bootmakers worldwide). This year I gave into my nerdy hipster side and started wearing a pair of ankle boots with a zip and side tassle. So cute and I don’t have to worry about leg-suffocation.

    Preach it.

  • Rachel Adshead

    I have thicker calves too, so i usually go for slouchy boots or lace up boots which always fit really well :). I never go for the stupid skinny zip up ones. go for the slouch! or the lace up.

  • Charlie Etain

    i settled for walking boots… i’m gonna try and make them a new ‘thing’ also i have theories they will be less slippy in snow and ice..

  • Peach E. Keena

    Shop at the plus size stores for boots. Places like Torrid & Lane Bryant sell boots with wider calves. I’ve always shopped there for shoes because they tend to have a cuter selection of larger shoe sizes.

  • Hanna Renae Scott

    oh god do i EVER feel your pain…I buy my boots from a plus-size website (I am a size 6!!!) because I have large calves. They’re comfy and made well and still really stylish and I have room for thick socks and jeans to be tucked in. If you can get past the concept of buying something plus-size (which, who cares really?) it’s a good option!

    • Julia Gazdag

      Couldn’t care less about the plus size label — I hate that I can’t see a design I like and just WEAR it.

  • Ashley Petrylak

    I’ve never purchased from here, but have heard amazing things. DUO ( is a UK based ocmpany that sells high quality boots made to measure for your calf circumference! They are pricey, but I think they could be worth it considering how much time us “non standard calf sizes” spend looking for boots that fit!

  • Carra D

    Im on the other side of this… All I want is a fitted boot and everything is big around my calf plus it doesn’t help I have a size 11 shoe =/

  • Jessica Robin

    Same. I also have proportionately small feet as compared to my calves. I haven’t given up hope yet. My aunt found me some stretch suede boots and I also found a cute pair of 17″ timberlands with an elastic panel. We will prevail.

  • Carra D

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  • Jennifer Saurage

    Amen. And I flatly REFUSE to wear boots with spandex faux leather around the calf that every Kohls & JCPenney sell! Ugly!

  • Jessica Sato

    I will never have a healthy relationship with boots. They gawk at me when I walk by and we both know why.

  • Makea King

    I have 16in calves and I could never find any knee high boots. I finally found a pair of black leather Naturalizer extended calf boots at DSW and I also purchased my first pair of FRYE boots this year. I took to the shoe repair place at the mall and they stretched out the calf of each boot for 2 days and it only cost me $15. Now they even fit over jeans.

  • Jennifer Olesky

    OMG! this is me! I just so happen to have short legs… which equals thicker calves! I can NEVER fit into boots that zip up! I have really ended up with just slip on Ugg style boots for comfort or slip on ankle style, alas none of them satisfy my tall boot fix!

  • Sarah Rose Gies

    Agreed. I finally impulse-bought a pair of Bear Traps from QVC. Yes they are “Wide Calf”, but they fit great and I don’t feel like my leg is going to explode, so, bonus.

  • Eileen Hogan

    Try searching “extra wide calf” that gave me some options, albeit not as cute.

  • Steffane M. Wells

    Boots are the worst! Try having a 13 inch calf!! Impossible!!! Utterly Impossible! It’s just as hard to find narrow calf boots as it is to find wide calf widths!! I swear, I have to spend a bazillion dollars on a pair just so I don’t look like I am a four year old playing dress up in mom
    s closet!

    • Charlotte Doolaege

      I have the exact same problem, I too have very narrow calves and it always looks like the wind could blow me out of my boots any second.

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