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Narrow Calf Boots ~ Riding Boots

Updated on November 17, 2014
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Narrow calf riding boots fit slim calves to a T

For four and a half years I've been geeking out over narrow calf boots--sifting through the fine print on boot sizing and dimensions, publishing results at Cute Boots for Skinny Calves in an attempt to help my slim-calved sisters find their dream tall boots.

How did it start? As a longtime boot fanatic and collector (we all have our vices), I was frustrated at the lack of consolidated info on styles for calf circumferences under 14 inches.The quest for narrow calf riding boots is especially tough, as many riding boots are cut wide for pull-on sans zipper. A 14 to 16 inch circumference works for average calves, but thin legs need 12 to 13.75 inch styles like these 20 fab finds.

(photo: my latest fave is the Sesto Meucci Boyle boot, pictured here on my just-under-12" calves ~ see info below)

From venerated riding labels (Frye, Ariat) to high-end luxury (Weitzman, Elizabeth & James), there's a narrow shaft option for everyone. There have been a ton of promo codes flying around lately, from 20 to 50 percent off (I was trying to keep up with those in my descriptions here, but it's futile), so check each boot's page for one you might be able to plug in.

Glad to see the E & J boot not only restocked at Amazon but on sale too!

FRYE Women's Molly Gore Tall Riding Boot, Black, 11 M US
FRYE Women's Molly Gore Tall Riding Boot, Black, 11 M US

This simple, classic style lists a 13.5-inch calf circumference and won over many many boot lovers this past summer, when it debuted at Nordstrom. But nowadays Amazon has the best color options...

 
Elizabeth and James Women's E-Heidi Boot,Black,6 M US
Elizabeth and James Women's E-Heidi Boot,Black,6 M US

With a 13.5" circumference, this one's a bit more "moto" than most riding styles. Good if you'd like a bit more edge.

 

Can dozens of ecstatic reviewers be wrong? Nah. I checked out this boot personally -- the Aquatalia Orso -- and can confirm it's a dream. I measured it at 13.75 up top, and it stays sleek & slim all the way down through the ankle. Waterproof leather is icing on the cake.

Unfortunately, the Orso is sold out almost everywhere, but do check ebay! You might get very lucky.

I love the Orso...

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Here I am modeling the Orso with varying thicknesses of legwear (sheer stockings, knit tights, skinny cords) on my 11.9" calves.This is about as pretty a foot shape as I've found in a boot. Provides a long, lean look from top of shaft to toe.Hope these pix help you get a sense of how this boot would fit yours.Thanks, Aquatalia, for another slim-cut work of art!
Here I am modeling the Orso with varying thicknesses of legwear (sheer stockings, knit tights, skinny cords) on my 11.9" calves.
Here I am modeling the Orso with varying thicknesses of legwear (sheer stockings, knit tights, skinny cords) on my 11.9" calves.
This is about as pretty a foot shape as I've found in a boot. Provides a long, lean look from top of shaft to toe.
This is about as pretty a foot shape as I've found in a boot. Provides a long, lean look from top of shaft to toe.
Hope these pix help you get a sense of how this boot would fit yours.
Hope these pix help you get a sense of how this boot would fit yours.
Thanks, Aquatalia, for another slim-cut work of art!
Thanks, Aquatalia, for another slim-cut work of art!
frye chelsea
frye chelsea

Here's the Frye Chelsea on me. You can see there's little space around the leg, even over very thin stockings. With jeans, there's definitely enough room, but you'll get a nice fitted look unless your calves are well under my 12". This one is hard enough to find that I suspect it's been discontinued :( -- and, if history is any indication, whatever replaces it will probably be wider rather than slimmer.

FRYE Women's Riding Chelsea Boot, Expresso, 8.5 M US
FRYE Women's Riding Chelsea Boot, Expresso, 8.5 M US

This is best for average height to taller women; if you're shorter, you might find the Riding Chelsea a bit too tall.

 
FRYE Women's Lindsay Plate Knee-High Boot,Black Smooth Full Grain Leather,8.5 M US
FRYE Women's Lindsay Plate Knee-High Boot,Black Smooth Full Grain Leather,8.5 M US

13" advertised, but please note: I grabbed these on sale in antiqued black but found that in my size (8), the opening was wider than advertised (see photo below). Having said that, the high-quality leather & standup shaft (no ankle slouch) gave me legs for days. Tough call...

 
Frye Lindsay Plate - for thin legs?
Frye Lindsay Plate - for thin legs?

To find calf size, wrap a cloth tape measure arouund the widest part of your calf, or use this paper one. Add 1/2" to 1" to your measurement for riding boot styles. (Gorgeousness won't mean much if you can't pull them on!)

I've warmed up to gold accents and am loving this Kors boot, 13.5 around, which looks much pricier than it is, especially at the sale price. The Arley has the most fitted ankle I've found so far in a riding style, after trying on many narrow calf boots.

Update: You can click the photo to read Nordie's reviews (very helpful), but sadly they don't appear to be restocking this style. It is, however, on offer in several sizes via ebay, so give that a look.

~ here's the 2013 Arley on me ~ - It really was 13.5 around at the top, in my shoe size (8) anyway, and 12.5 around where my calf is widest!

Click thumbnail to view full-size
The Orley narrow calf boot over thin stockings, on my just-under-12-inch calf.And here, over skinny cords. The stretch panel in back didn't really have to stretch even with pants, but it did hug my leg really nicely.
The Orley narrow calf boot over thin stockings, on my just-under-12-inch calf.
The Orley narrow calf boot over thin stockings, on my just-under-12-inch calf.
And here, over skinny cords. The stretch panel in back didn't really have to stretch even with pants, but it did hug my leg really nicely.
And here, over skinny cords. The stretch panel in back didn't really have to stretch even with pants, but it did hug my leg really nicely.

Solemani Slim Calf

The SoleMani brand is the first I've seen to develop an explicitly "slim calf boot" line. Below are some photos of the original Gabi riding style on my scrawny calves. And this new Amazon listing is for this year's version of the Gabi.

SoleMani Women's Gabi 2 Black Leather Boot SLIM CALF 7M
SoleMani Women's Gabi 2 Black Leather Boot SLIM CALF 7M

This is the 2014 Gabi -- and if it fits like the 2013 version, you can count on it being a truly slim option.

 
Click thumbnail to view full-size
The 2013 Gabi boot was quite snug on my skinny legs. In my size, it measures only 12.25" around at the fullest part of my calf, which is awesome.The ankle is 9.5" around, maybe a half-inch more than I'd like, but that's a minor quibble.The very top opening measures 13.5 in my shoe size (8), which I think looks fine. Shaft height is 16", pretty much ideal for my 5'4" height.Here's the ankle detail -- pretty subtle, should dress up or down just fine.
The 2013 Gabi boot was quite snug on my skinny legs. In my size, it measures only 12.25" around at the fullest part of my calf, which is awesome.
The 2013 Gabi boot was quite snug on my skinny legs. In my size, it measures only 12.25" around at the fullest part of my calf, which is awesome.
The ankle is 9.5" around, maybe a half-inch more than I'd like, but that's a minor quibble.
The ankle is 9.5" around, maybe a half-inch more than I'd like, but that's a minor quibble.
The very top opening measures 13.5 in my shoe size (8), which I think looks fine. Shaft height is 16", pretty much ideal for my 5'4" height.
The very top opening measures 13.5 in my shoe size (8), which I think looks fine. Shaft height is 16", pretty much ideal for my 5'4" height.
Here's the ankle detail -- pretty subtle, should dress up or down just fine.
Here's the ankle detail -- pretty subtle, should dress up or down just fine.

Aquatalia waterproof narrow calf boots

Aquatalia Women's Olga Riding Boot,Black Calf,9.5 M US
Aquatalia Women's Olga Riding Boot,Black Calf,9.5 M US

I love the timeless style of this boot, from a brand that is perhaps the number-one friend to thin legged boot lovers. Every year Aquatalia produces not one but several narrow calf styles, and they're always gorgeous. I especially like the artful "wavy goring" approach on the back of this one.

 

~~ Narrower than advertised? ~~

I have a new theory: Just as some boots listed with a small circumference end up, sadly, being wider than advertised, there must be some listed at 14+ around that are actually narrower than advertised. I tested this out while shopping at a department store, trying on 4 boots with average calf measurements listed but some "too skinny"/"too tight" complaints floating around online. Of the 4, only one would work for thin calves, I think -- this terrific weatherproof-but-soft-and-smooth riding style from La Canadienne. The fit on my 8 1/4 inch ankles was excellent; over tights only, there was some space up top, but not much more than a winter sock & skinnies would fill. For 13-13.5 inch calves with slenderish ankles, this could be your dream boot.

Have you come across boots that are actually **narrower** than advertised? Please share in the comments!

La Canadienne Women's Stefanie Riding Boot,Black,8.5 M US
La Canadienne Women's Stefanie Riding Boot,Black,8.5 M US

This was the last boot I was brought during a department store visit, and the only one that remotely hugged my calves! Very pretty.

 

ECCO=comfort and style

The Hobart Tall Strap is a taller sister to the petite-friendly Hobart Harness by ECCO, very popular last year, with a bit wider circumference than the Harness but a promising strap system for custom-fitting. Note: Some reviewers say that the circumference is also smaller than advertised -- by a half-inch, says one who found the shaft too snug.

Here's the ECCO Sullivan Buckle style on me.
Here's the ECCO Sullivan Buckle style on me. | Source
ECCO Women's Sullivan Buckle Riding Boot,Black,37 EU/6-6.5 M US
ECCO Women's Sullivan Buckle Riding Boot,Black,37 EU/6-6.5 M US

Why am I including a boot that lists a 14.5" circumference? Because its four buckles can be tightened for a custom fit, and an extra hole even punched to accommodate extra-thin calves. Good cobblers will do this for a nominal fee.

 
Source

~~ how much extra space is too much? ~~

My feeling on this is that 2 inches extra is about the maximum that looks okay, unless you're purposely going for a baggy of slouchy look. Here are my 11.9 inch calves in Frye boots that have a circumference of about 13.5 at their widest point, to give you an idea of what 1 1/2 inches of extra space looks like. The space distributes, so it's not bad at all. I find anything from 12.5 to 13.75 around is ideal, especially over tights or skinnies.

Want to snow-, ice- and even salt-proof your new leather boots?

Those in the know swear by SnoSeal leather protector for safeguarding them through the ickiest months.

What do you think? Any of these narrow calf boots strike your fancy? Do you own one of these, or another narrow calf riding boot? Please share your impressions to help others with this sizing challenge.

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    • profile image

      2 years ago

      don't forget about Solemani Brand they have much bigger collection now than 2 years ago. solemanifootwear.com

      they are making the style Gabi in Brown this year as well!

    • profile image

      allisonl 2 years ago

      I'm just finding this post and LOVE the information!!! Thanks for doing all the research for us! I'm wondering if y'all found any boots without zippers for narrow calves. I'm not a fan of zippers and I have narrow feet, but find it much easier to look for a cute boot with a narrow calf and then bulk up on socks. I STILL don't know why shoe makers think people are OLD if they have narrow feet! :) Any leads on slip-on narrow calf boots would be greatly appreciated, thanks y'all!!!

    • williamslaw profile image

      williamslaw 3 years ago

      Awesome lens! I love narrow calf boots, and I got a couple of them too. I can't stop myself from buying more when I see them!

    • Diaper Bag Blog profile image

      Stanley Green 3 years ago from Czech Republic

      Wow! Gotta show this lens to my wife... she is crazy about narrow calf boots...

    • profile image

      jessykay 3 years ago

      @marcospor3: I found the Franco Sarto Cipher very stiff and way too big around the calf (I have a 13" calf and size 10) Just this weekend I found a great, reasonable boot at Bass & Co. (ghbass.com) It's the "Bryanne" in chocolate. I typically wear a 10 but ended up with a size 8! With a 13" calf, I punched an extra hole in the buckle at the top so they fit with tights and the next tightest hole for skinny jeans. The Bass Bryanne was $98 in the outlet store but the website had a sale going for close to the same price. If you have an outlet near you it would be best to try them there since the sizing was so strange. Good luck!

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      jessykay 3 years ago

      @verymary: I agree! I guess they just have the $$ to get custom made? Thanks for all of your suggestions on this site. I was able to find a pair at our Bass & Co outlet this weekend for a great price of $98. It's the "Bryanne" and they actually come pretty close to fitting my 13"calf since they have an adjustable buckle at the top. Once I punched an extra hole they fit with tights. Very soft and nice chocolate color.They run very big as I wear a 10 normally and the 8 fit me. Very strange in that respect. Also narrow in the foot (which I need). Thanks again for your site!

    • profile image

      jessykay 3 years ago

      @marcospor3: Marcospor....see my reply above. I am 5'9 and normally wear a size 10 with a 13.5 calf. The BASS & CO "Bryanne" actually fits me. It's in your price range too at $98. I got the chocolate brown and they are very soft. They do run narrow in the foot and the sizing was strange. I ended up with an 8, so if you have a BASS outlet near you it's best to try them on.

    • verymary profile image
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      Mary 3 years ago from Chicago area

      @jessykay: That sounds about right, since they were 14.5 inches around when I tried them in sz 8. It's very frustrating that circ. almost always goes up with shoe size. What do the scrawny 5'10" models with long feet wear? Surely they need a narrow boot...

    • verymary profile image
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      Mary 3 years ago from Chicago area

      @marcospor3: I tried the Cipher but sent it back, so don't have photos; in my shoe size (8), its circumference measured 14.5 inches, which was too much extra space for me. Depending on your shoe size, I actually think that boot could be a good pick for you, as one inch of space (beyond your 13.5 inch calves) is perfect for over jeans & tights. I wouldn't recommend that boot for under 13 inch calves, though, unless you have a smaller than average shoe size, like 6. (Circs. tend to go down proportionally with shoe size.)

    • profile image

      marcospor3 3 years ago

      @anonymous: Hi! I know this is a weird request but can you please post some photos of how the franco sarto chiper boot looks while wearing them? I've been wanting to order this for a few days but I never get around to it because I'm afraid that they won't look like I want them too! I have 13.5" calves more or less.. I just want to know if they will fit with skinny jeans, tights etc! I would be very grateful! thanks a lot!

    • profile image

      jessykay 4 years ago

      @anonymous: Based on your recommendation I ordered the Franco Sarto Ciphers. They came today and I was sooooo hopeful but sadly in my size (a 10) they were 15 inches in the calf. I only have a 13 inch calf and they look too big, so I need to send them back. My budget doesn't really permit me to try the Cole Hahns. What size were yours?

    • verymary profile image
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      Mary 4 years ago from Chicago area

      @anonymous: Wow, thanks for the info! I didn't even know Tahari made boots. Love the Tennley but have also had good luck with Franco Sarto boots in the past ( comfy, budget friendly). Good luck deciding!

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      OK ladies, I ordered 6 pairs of boots after reading this article and doing a lot of digging online. Here are the results:

      Narrowest calf was a tie between the Franco Sparto Cipher

      and the Cole Haan Tennley. Both boots were so similar I had on 1 of each and couldn't even tell. Biggest difference is the Franco Sparto has a full length zipper, which may be helpful when wearing with skinny jeans, although I was able to pull the Cole Haans over my jeans. The Cole Haans have more style, with the double buckle and embossed leather on top.

      The other 4 I tried, which were all about 2 inches too big for my 13" calves were:

      --Ecco Hobart Harness (this one has a short shaft as well)

      --Nine West Partay

      --Bandolino Countless

      --Tahari Karen

      All of the boots promised 14" or less calf circumference, but that was definitely not the case. I wanted boots that will look good with tights, so was looking for the narrowest possible. I haven't yet decided which of the 2 that fit to keep, but either one would be a great choice for a classic black leather riding boot if you have small calves.

    • verymary profile image
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      Mary 4 years ago from Chicago area

      @anonymous: The Frye Carson Pull-on looks fab in navy but is above your price point. Does it need to be a riding style? ICheck out the Eric Michael Tina - very cute.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      I want a pair of navy knee high narrow calf boots that don't cost a fortune (under $250) and they are virtually impossible to find. Has anyone seen any?

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      dragonvalecheats 4 years ago

      bookmarked this as im looking for a present this weekend

    • takkhisa profile image

      Takkhis 4 years ago

      My gf would like to have a pair from your boot list :)

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      I bought two pairs of flat riding boots in tan and black and I'm wearing them all the time with skinny jeans, love them, there so comfortable and look stylish.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      @anonymous: Which pairs did you buy - I am really looking hard....

      Thanks

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Yay! My little chicken legs thank you!!!

    • profile image

      NickJohnsn 4 years ago

      Its good to see there are so much boots for narrow calf , it shows that the era has ended in which it was difficult to find narrow calf boots....

    • verymary profile image
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      Mary 4 years ago from Chicago area

      @anonymous: yes -- it is the 10th boot on this page, if you count the intro image at very top .... Pour La Victoire Loryn. Click on that one & you'll see options for black & chocolate. happy new year!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Karatekatgraphics, is there a way or a website where i can order the chocolate color boots way at the top? I really do love em......

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      Bgon

    • verymary profile image
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      Mary 4 years ago from Chicago area

      @anonymous: do come back & tell us which ones you liked best! curious minds want to know! :)

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      I am so excited! I just ordered two of those - will, of course, return the pair that I like less. Give a woman free return shipping, and she'll create a virtual dressing room :-) Thank you for the awesome blog post, it's been invaluable to me in my quest for that one perfect pair of riding boots.

    • SarahPorter LM profile image

      SarahPorter LM 4 years ago

      Nice boots! Gotta get me a pair if they come in my size . . . .

    • profile image

      andrew69 4 years ago

      It can be as difficult to get boots for skinny calves as it is to get for large calves.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Thank you! It has been a pain to find boots with narrow calves!

    • jcalbon lm profile image

      jcalbon lm 4 years ago

      Great boots! The just-right pair of boots seems so elusive every year--will definitely check out a few of these. (Also, Duo Boots--a UK company--offers some customization on calf widths which is handy.)

    • verymary profile image
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      Mary 4 years ago from Chicago area

      @anonymous: wow! you get the tip of the week award, for sure! thanks!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      @verymary: I ordered them and they still gap at the top of the shaft and are baggy at the ankle like most kid boots. The size 4 kids is equivalent to size 6 ladies if you have smaller feet. I have 11.5 inch calf, but if you have a 12 inch calf these could be a good option for $100 and Cole Haan construction.

    • verymary profile image
      Author

      Mary 4 years ago from Chicago area

      @anonymous: I have looked into kids boots as thin calf adult options, but you really have to have tiny feet. The Air Nancy 2s appear to go up to size 5. Thanks for the tip!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Have any of the petite skinny calf ladies tried the Cole Haan Air Nancy 2 kids boot?

    • profile image

      DDLewis 4 years ago

      I have shared this page on our barn's Facebook Group Page as a resource. Great lens!

    • profile image

      DDLewis 4 years ago

      Wonderful selection of narrow calf boots! When my daughter first began showing, I had to have her boots altered to fit properly. She had not reached the point for custom boots yet.

    • rooshoo profile image

      rooshoo 4 years ago

      Cool lens. Some beautiful choices.

    • verymary profile image
      Author

      Mary 4 years ago from Chicago area

      @anonymous: ps I'm taking it off the list. thx again.

    • verymary profile image
      Author

      Mary 4 years ago from Chicago area

      @anonymous: oh no :( -- I actually ordered those boots! guess I too will be returning them shortly after receiving. ticks me off, as I emailed the manufacturer specifically about this & they said yes, it's 12 inches. thanks for posting, and sorry about the inaccuracy.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      The nicole Women's Smoothie Riding Boot isn't a 12" calf circumference. I just returned them because the circumference is more like 14.5" or 15".

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Thanks for the research! The baggy look gets even worse with a larger foot (11med)!