Aside from complaints from people who are not able to find shoes that are large, small, narrow, or wide enough, the footwear-related grievance I hear most often is from women who can't find boots that are wide enough.
They don't necessarily need boots with wider footbeds. They need boots with shafts that have a larger circumference. In other words, they're looking for wide calf boots -- or, "plus-size boots," as their sometimes called.
I'm always sympathetic when people can't find shoes that fit, and this is one problem that especially makes me crazy, because tall boots are absolutely perfect for making heavier calves look thinner. So, the women who might benefit most from them seem to have the most difficulty finding styles that fit.
Aside from that, it's also particularly frustrating since tall boots are so flattering. I want every woman to be able to work them into her wardrobe.
Fortunately, wide calf boots are a lot easier to find than they used to be. In addition to several brands that offer wide-shaft boots on a regular basis, there are specific styles and materials that will work for women who have trouble fitting into boots with standard shaft sizes -- which, in some cases, can be smaller than average to begin with.
First let's look at some of the types of "regular" boot styles that might work for women with wide calves.
Stretch Boots and Boots with Fabric ShaftsEven if you don't need wide calf boots, stretch boots are great because they often have a nice, dressy look to them. And like stretch jeans, they also just feel really good.
Of course, the biggest benefit to boots with stretchy fabric shafts is that... well, they stretch -- meaning that you can generally squeeze an extra inch or so out of the circumference of the boots.
It's pretty easy to find stretch boots with shafts that are made entirely from elasticized fabric, as well as styles that combine stretch panels with other materials like leather or suede. The more of the boot that is made from stretch fabric, the more wiggle room you're going to get.
On a side note, even with stretch boots I still recommend looking for boots with full, or even partial zippers, because pulling on tall boots is a pain any time. And pulling on tight tall boots can be a nightmare.
Boot Styles for Women with Wide CalvesHere are a few more standard-sized boot styles that wider-calved women are likely to find a good fit with.
Slouch Boots - Since they're made to be loose, boots with slouchy shafts are generally a bit wider in the calf area than, say, riding boots -- which are meant to have a trim, tailored look.
Mid-Calf Boots - Typically more flattering that ankle boots, mid-calf boots are a good starting point for many wider-calved women for two reasons: A) they don't have to zip or pull over the widest part of the calves; and B) they're often designed with a looser look in mind. For example, shearling boots, western boots, motorcycle boots, and even some moccasin-inspired boots have shafts that are wider than dressier, more streamlined styles.
- Lace-Up Boots - Naturally, boots with laces are going to allow for a much more customized fit than pull-on boots, and even most boots with zippers. But, I need to warn you here: make sure the laces are actually functional before purchasing. I mention this because with boots, laces are often only decorative, and don't actually have anything to do with the closure of the boot.
Wide Shaft and Plus-Size Boot BrandsManufacturers and designers change their lines a couple of times a year, so there's no guarantee that any of the following will continue to offer wide calf boots, but, at this time, each of the following brands offers a good selection of boots with wide shafts.
Anne Klein - With relatively-decent prices and small selection of classically-styled, wide calf boots, Anne Klein is a good label to check next time you're shopping. (Official Site)
David Tate - In addition to having wide calf boots, David Tate also offers boots with extra wide shafts. And, compared to a lot of brands, the prices aren't bad either. (Available at most major online shoe stores.)
Fitzwell - This label probably has one of the biggest selection of wide calf boots for women, and there's a lot of variety in the line, so you can choose from classic to trendier styles, as well as from casual to dress boots, and heels to flats. (Available at Zappos.com and 6pm.com.)
Lifestride - While Lifestride doesn't have huge selection of wide shaft boots, I wanted to list them here because they do have some really nice, basic styles, and because their prices would be difficult to beat. (Official Site)
RSVP - With a large selection of wide calf boot styles, and great prices, RSVP also has one of the trendier collections on the list. But even if you're more of a classic girl, you don't overlook this brand, as there are plenty of basic styles to choose from as well. (Available at Zappos.com and 6pm.com.)