October 4, 2006

Years ago, I was trying to set up a lunch date with an ex-boss of mine, and when I suggested the Cheesecake Factory in downtown Seattle – mostly because I knew there was a non-terrifying parking lot nearby – she snootily informed me that she wouldn’t eat anywhere with the word factory in its name.

I think of her sometimes when I shop at the Shoe Pavilion, because I bet she wouldn’t buy shoes anywhere with the word pavilion in its name, either. In fact, unless her personal circumstances have changed dramatically, I can pretty much guarantee it, because I once house-sat her Mercer Island mansion for a week and peeked in her giant walk-in closet and saw – for the first time in my life outside of Sex and the City – actual rows upon rows of carefully boxed Jimmy Choos. I don’t think you can buy Jimmy Choos at the Shoe Pavilion, is what I’m saying.

You can buy affordable boots there, though, and I decided that this year I need a sexy pair of tall leather boots. It is a Goal of mine, to find these boots. Sure, I could have a loftier goal like losing ten pounds or cleaning out the hall closet, but screw it, I want some boots.

So I visited the Pavilion of Shoes earlier this week and tried on a few pairs. And PEOPLE. There is a PROBLEM.

Let me back up a little and tell you something about myself: I have nice legs. I do. From about mid-thigh on down, I have some shapely motherfucking stems. They are not skinny, but there is definition between the calves and the ankles. I may have lost the genetics game when it comes to other nonfantastic body parts, but goddamn it I have good legs.

(Whew, that got a little defensive, didn’t it? Hi, low self esteem calling, are we reaching?)

Anyway, these boots…they do not fit at the top. What the hell? I know I do not have elephantine chunk-trunks, so why is it that I couldn’t zip up one single pair of tall boots without cutting off my circulation and creating a weird leg-bulge above the boot? WHY?

I tried on some Nine Wests, so I’m not just talking about El Cheapo pleather designs. Are they supposed to, like, stretch over time? Are leg-bulges trendy, and I just didn’t read about it in Us magazine? Are the only people who are able to wear tall boots shaped like Mischa Barton?

Maybe there’s a reason to avoid pavilions, after all. I need a Shoe Hut. A Shoe Hut for the Big-Calved, apparently.

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angela
angela
15 years ago

a friend of mine attended a christmas party hosted by a snooty co-worker and everyone brought white elephant gifts for people who were pre-chosen. my friend drew the host, and brought her a can of SPAM. but instead of giving it to her, she gave her a card informing her that there was a randomly placed can of SPAM somewhere in her house. the host tried to hold out, but was later found tearing through her home looking for said SPAM because GOD FORBID if someone else found the can. she could not sleep knowing that there was a rogue can of SPAM on the loose in her pristine home. heeeee.

Joanne
15 years ago

I am with you on the boots-too-tight-on-the-normal-sized-calves thing. I found a great pair of Enzo’s that were leather and … some other kind of material, stretchy, that fit perfectly but it was a few years ago. I know that some shoe makers make boots for “wide” calves too, if I can remember who I’ll post. Oh and off topic, I bought some of the Old Navy pants you recommended and they came in the mail last night and I.LOVE.THEM! Thanks!

Joanne
15 years ago
Swistle
15 years ago

Maybe the stems do not want to be covered by boots. Maybe they want slingbacks.

Jamie
Jamie
15 years ago

Welcome to my life. You know the old saying, though, “women with very little calf definition are great in bed…”

Seriously though? I haven’t worn knee-length boots since high school. I’m very much resigned to it.

sweetney
15 years ago

this seems to be a common problem. apparently many boots are sized for waif-model sized calves.

bastards.

sooboo
15 years ago

Radio Shack. Who buys electronics out of a shack? I also covet the knee length boots, but have not had the experience of trying them on yet. I’m waiting until they figure out how to combine leather and spandex.

ali
ali
15 years ago

well..it’s her loss because the cheesecake factory is some good, good shit.

i have the opposite problem. i can’t buy boots because i have skinny calves (and fat thighs…thanks, grandma for passing that along to me) so all boots roll down around my ankles or i look like i’m wearing rain-boots. totally hawt.

Caitlin
Caitlin
15 years ago

You just have to pull the zipper reeeeeealy hard. I put a thin shoelace through the little hole in the zipper toggle and pull either end while sort of arranging your calf in the boot, and voila! Real leather will stretch over time, and the hooker pleather kind (of which I wear in my secret life as a go-go dancer) will stretch every time.

Leah
15 years ago

I’ve been looking for a pair of tall boots for two years now, and have yet to find a pair that don’t squeeze my calves. Two years! Squeezing!

I also find that Shoe Pavilion descriminates against we large-footed lasses. Every time I can’t find anything over a size 8, I can be heard muttering “Sizest bastards” under my breath amongst the sandals.

If you find the perfect boots, let me know.

omuchacha
omuchacha
15 years ago

Is it awful that I’m considering wearing my custom riding boots as fashion boots because there’s no way that my athletic calves will fit in any mass produced boot either? Seriously.

I feel your pain.

vague
15 years ago

I have the same problem with the knee-high boots. I never knew I had such huge, monstrous, children-cover-your-eyes fat calves until the knee-high boot industry got ahold of me. Anyway, I recently read somewhere that you can get the calf of the boot stretched out fairly cheaply and easily at a shoe repair shop. I haven’t tried this myself (yet), but it’s a thought.

Heather
Heather
15 years ago

A few thoughts….first, my sister and I have the same issue. We’ve chalked it up to unique calf muscle placement — not calf fat. To be honest, my calves AREN’T fat, they just bulge and taper at points different from most boot designs. Second, try Cole-Haan. I have my first ever, non-cowboy boots from them and the calfs are plenty roomy. I don’t know if they have a pavillion/hut/shack anywhere….

biodtl
15 years ago

I have the same problem – last year I even tried “plus calves” and they were too small. I’ve lost 35 pounds and still no luck. WTF?? Although, even when I was in HS and skinny, I had to special order my majorette boots.

Jenny J.
15 years ago

Me too! I also apparently have enormous calves because I can’t find any to fit either

I know they make “plus size” boots, but I have been reluctant to order any because I am afraid that since the rest of me isn’t plus sized, won’t they be too big?

fellowmom
fellowmom
15 years ago

I have the same problem. Maybe someone should open the Boot Barn, or Calf and Hoofery Warehouse.

veralynn
15 years ago

Timing! Girl, you have timing. I just discovered that silhouettes.com has some boots that come in various widths as well as various calf widths (sorry for those that needed the skinnier ones…theirs go from medium to wider). Soooo many women I know are on the quest for boots with the perfect width calves right now! ‘Tis the season, apparently.

alicia
alicia
15 years ago

Okay…this is going to sound odd, but it’s true. Both myself and a good friend have had problems finding tall boots to fit the calves. And, of all places? Target. I found a great pair there last year–and they’re holding up quite well to this day. This year, they have more–both black and brown, faux suede-y and with a good heal. They’re surprisingly comfortable, and I have to admit I supress giggles all day when wearing them as they are the first pair of tall boots to ever fit me in all my 29 years.

Lisa
15 years ago

Sundry, you have great legs! Seriously, you do. It’s the boot industry that’s blinkered.

RANT ON: I would like to know why, if you’re looking at Eddie Bauer boots, the “normal” calves are 13 inches and the “full” calves are 15 inches. TWO INCHES is the mission-critical difference? Guh?

Also, I would like to know why, in this age of exercising and actual proof that women’s shoe sizes have gone up because of the increasing musculature and athletic activity, the bootmakers thought, “There will be no relation at all between this trend toward more muscle/bigger feet, and bigger calves. Time to make the wee booties!”

fellowmom
fellowmom
15 years ago

Alicia gives yet another reason to love Target.

Audrey
Audrey
15 years ago

I have knee-length boots I bought at Macy’s (when it was still The Bon) several years ago, having had similar problems to the one you are describing. However, I’m not sure why I insisted on the knee-length boots, as I’ve only worn them once or twice to show off their “length.” I wear them under pants, and no one knows I have CFM boots on — except me…and it probably wasn’t worth the extra money!!

Ashlea
Ashlea
15 years ago

I have the issues with my ankles. I have wide ankels.. and wide calves and I can’t wear knee high boots or even boots that go over the ankels! Sheesh, last year, I have a pair of mid-calf boots that tied and were all cute… well my sock was always showing. Stupid waif models *glares in direction of her college roommate* Thank god for long jeans. x.x

Jenny
Jenny
15 years ago

I believe J. Crew also makes different calf… circumferences?

(And what’s up with Macy’s buying every other department store in the country? Hey, Macy’s, maybe I don’t WANT to shop at Macy’s everywhere I go in the country.)

laura
15 years ago

I have a pair of knee-high Blondo boots that are so awesome that I want to wear them in the summer… no tightness in the calves, totally warm, and they’re WATERPROOF and STYLISH! Those Canadians know what they’re doing b/c the boots have lasted me three New England Winters. Beat that Jimmy Choo! http://www.regence.ca/eng/products/blondo.php

renovatingme
15 years ago

ha ha ha — your legs gained baby weight that sometimes never comes off:) One of the side effects of becoming a mother:)

anna
anna
15 years ago

I hear ya girlfriend! I have biggish calves from years of jazz ballet and therefore find it really hard to find a pair of boots that I can zip past mid calve. Sorry can’t help with shopping ideas as residing in NZ kinda hinders that, but, what you could do is just go for something that has an elasticated section.

dani
dani
15 years ago

it took me a year to find my tall boots. a YEAR.
and now i have foot problems and can’t wear them at all.

anyway, keep the faith. you’ll find them. eventually.

Pete
Pete
15 years ago

Guys have this problem too. I have large calf muscles and trying to get a pair of ski boots to fit correctly is next to impossible. They either cut off the blood to my foot at the calf or let my foot rattle around inside the boot. You might try lace up hiking boots. Not very sexy but they can be made to fit. ;-)

Jem
Jem
15 years ago

I have the same problem, but I have fat legs so it makes sense. I still wear knee high boots all the time though – I have one pair that are just really loose, and one pair that are lace-ups, and I lace them up to the second to last eye thing so that they’re not as tight.

Zoot
Zoot
15 years ago

Eh – the only pair I ever found that fit me right (which I love, by the way) were at Journeys and they were not real leather so they stretched a bit. So – maybe the cheaper the better?

Helen
Helen
15 years ago

I got a pair from Aldo last year which zip all the way up, yeeha! Do you do that thing when you’re trying them on- I sort of pull my pants leg down over the top of the boot so I can try and zip them up underneath the fabric so no one else can see the apparently gargantuan calf beneath which stops most zips midway in their tracks. Makes you feel so glamourous…

dorrie
dorrie
15 years ago

OKAY I am having a big problem. Huge.

You house sat at her house in MERCER ISLAND and you only “peeked” in her massive closet???!! You passed on the opportunity to snoop in that wonderland? Girl, word.

Kari
Kari
15 years ago

My parents bought me some knee length boots for christmas once. I didn’t get to try them on before hand. The tops of them had about an inch of roominess that looked awful. >_

KJ
KJ
15 years ago

My fave boots ever are my mom’s side-zip boots from *gasp* the sixties. Already broken in and way comfy. So what if they’re a little-bit-cowboy-&-little-bit-breakfast-club? There’s BUILT IN ELASTIC at the top in little wedges, artfully placed, that makes sure I never get the muffin-legs. Because egad, that would suck. Also got a supercheap pair at kohls that’s way hot but I’m ultra-allergic to the preservative in ’em.
Live and learn I suppose.
Good luck and can’t wait to see what you come up with – you sexy-calved superbabe!

Melissa
Melissa
15 years ago

I know you have a lot of suggestions here but last year I just couldn’t deal with cutting off the circulation in my legs and got a pair of boots with the “wider” calf. They were Aerosoles and I got them at DSW. Nice leather and everything. I have no idea why so the boots are made so damn tight. Even if you get a pair of Docs, you have to break them in too!

elle
elle
15 years ago

i know, i know, i know. i have looked long and hard for sexy black boots and yet when i find them, i can never get them zipped up past the mid-calf region. it is so sad. some places carry “wide” calf boots, adding insult to injury. nine west does carry a brand that don’t zip up but rather slip on like a giant slipper. i just want you to know that i totally feel your sexy boot pain.

Heidi
Heidi
15 years ago

I’m not sure who boots are made for because it’s certainly not for people with slimmer calves. I once took a pair of boots to a cobbler to have them fit to my legs.

warcrygirl
15 years ago

I could never wear boots AT ALL on account of I have really high arches (insteps, whatever). Any kind of boot, whether it be pull on or zippered would be too painful to wear. That is until I had kids; apparently carrying a 9 lb+ baby will flatten your feet a bit so no only can I now wear boots (not knee length, yet) but my feet are a full size larger. Go figure. Hope you find your boots.

bee
bee
15 years ago

I don’t know if they have them this year but newport-news (shut UP, so they’re…accessible…) had some nice looking boots in what was called microfiber. But don’t cave and get those horrendous crochet boots that that awful Sienna Miller was wearing last year. EEWWW!

jen
jen
15 years ago

I have the same problem… but eventually, after much searching, I did find a pair of nine west boots that fit my calf with plenty of room. They have little stretchy things built in at the top (I should be a technical writer, I know), and a low heel. i think the low heel helps because with higher heels your calf is always flexed and fatter.

Ulli
15 years ago

Welcome to the “what the fuck is up with these boots or my legs club”.

Same problem here.

And I know about a million girl’s who do as well. Keep trying, you will find them!

Joanna
Joanna
15 years ago

I had the same boot problem and I ordered a pair from Chadwicks. I believe these are them:
http://www.chadwicks.com/product.aspx?PfId=90268&DeptId=8374&producttypeid=1&PurchaseType=0

Turns out cheap pleather was the way to go for me. They stretch enough to zip up. Wearing them a couple of times helped make the tops stretch a little more. I searched for 3 years before I found these. Don’t give up!

S
S
15 years ago

I love these Steve Madden boots (if you’re into the pointy toe, that is): http://www.stevemadden.com/item_image.asp?id=10703#

The actual “boot” part pulls up on your calf, kind of like a sock – there isn’t a zipper. Since they’re made of something synthetic (they look just like leather), the material is quite thin and they’re really pliable (hence the sock simile) AND super comfortable. Also, you won’t have that awkward “they won’t go all the way up!” thing going on.

kara marie
15 years ago

I also have normal nice legs, and I’ve tried on many boots that were too tight to zip. As another reader mentioned, look for the kind with little stretch panels built into the top. And in response to Leah, they size discriminate against small feet, too. Check out the pathetic selection in a size 5.5 or 6. And! Sundry! I also have serious doubts that you have baby fat stored in your CALVES. Geez.

Shawna
15 years ago

I do not have shapely stems; I have sturdy legs, courtesy of my Scottish ancestors. I am built for hiking, not running. And let me tell you, I have never, ever found boots that went over my calves. This fact made my first and only attempt at downhill skiiing such hell that I never went back; the rental boots were two sizes too big for my feet so they knocked around in all the space, yet so tight around my calves that I couldn’t actually get my heels to the bottom of the boots. My weight rested on my poor squeezed calves. It was really, really uncomfortable and I didn’t make it down even the bunny hill successfully that day. Bah.

Donna
Donna
15 years ago

Ok, so what you need are some lace up boots. I bought a pair from Splash on ebay, they zip up the side, but they also lace up the front. So you let them out all the way, zip them up, then take up the slack by lacing. Unfortunately, they are about a half size too big for me, so I’ve hardly worn them. Rabbit fur trim, leather lacing, Carrie wore them on sex and the city. Size 9, what do you wear?

christen
15 years ago

If there is an Aerosoles store near you (NOT the cheapy knockoff “made by Aerosoles” shoes at Kohl’s, I’m saying a real Aerosoles store, GO THERE NOW. Do not stop, do not pass go, do not collect $100 (unless you are at the ATM to get money to spend at Aerosoles). I am telling you, they have CUTE shoes (no, they are not granny shoes as they were 10 years ago), and they are the most comfortable shoes and boots that will ever grace your feet. GO NOW!!

leenie
15 years ago

i found GREAT tall leather riding boots at eddiebauer.com last season in THREE different calf sizes! such bliss! i bought my extra big, and then had them altered (for like $15 bucks) to fit MY (rather large) calfs perfectly. i LUV em.

Gentry
15 years ago

It’s a conspiracy by shoe designers. They just don’t know that there isn’t a constant foot-calf ratio. I have small feet and chicken legs and even I have only found one pair of boots in my whole life that zip up around my non athletic calves. O! The humanity!

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