Fashion

Breaking the rules for fashionable boots.

20 January, 2011

Apropos of having absolutely nothing relatively important to blog about while living in a state where much of it is a disaster recovery scene, here is a post about shoes. I feel guilt that I’m safe, Nick’s safe, our families and friends are safe and our belongings are safe while thousands of people are mourning loved ones, livelihoods, homes and treasured possessions; however most of my readership is overseas and might be wondering why my blog silence stretches on and on. It’s just simply because everything I start to write about seems far too trivial. On the other hand, as people sometimes cruelly put it, life goes on. And it does go on for me even though I feel useless guilt that manifests itself in buying shoes. But yes, most of my readers are not victims of a natural disaster right now and they want content. So please enjoy this post wherein I juggle my guilt and my responsibility to blog about stuff, in this instance shoes.

I have big, wide feet that are attached to sturdy calves. It’s always been this way, even when I wasn’t particularly fat. When Mum took me to buy school shoes I’d dutifully slot my feet into the cold metal foot measuring contraption and the assistant would sigh and mumble something about going into the back of the shop to find the EEEEEEEEE fitting shoes. Upon finding out about my big, wide feet people would usually say something about me probably being a strong swimmer, and it’s true I am a pretty strong swimmer, but it’s really frigging hard to find fancy shoes for these flipper feet!

So when I started seeing ’90s style fashion trends all over the internet, with the lovely mid-calf lace-up boots, I started salivating. But I knew that it’d be a trend I probably couldn’t participate in. There was a time when I could say, “bugger the consequences!” and buy regular shoes but in the last few years I’ve realised how useful my feet are for carrying me around and I’ve only ever bought shoes that are wide enough for me. Finding shoes wide enough across the foot is one thing, but finding boots big enough to fit around my burly calves is another.

My feet and calves (in pale blue tights) wearing flat grey lace-up stompy boots.
First I found a pair of stompy boots at Evans that fit me, and even though I made a concession on the colour (I would have preferred black) these grey and purple coloured boots have been serviceable and comfortable. They don’t have arch support unfortunately and the shaft is almost too big and boxy, like they weren’t cut to the shape of a human leg, but I wear them frequently with dresses. They provide the perfect hard edge to a femme outfit.

Photo of my feet and calves shod in black and grey distressed looking witchy boots. They lace up and have two tabs that reach across the foot and buckle on the other side.
I bought these boots last week after searching for affordable, wide fitting witchy style boots for a few months. They’re from New Look‘s wide fitting range so I assumed they’d fit much like Evan’s shoes. (I really have relied on Evans in the last few years for affordable shoes that actually fit!) They were delivered today and half asleep I ripped open the parcel and tried to put them on my legs… it was a hugely arduous task. These are not for wide calves and while my foot fits in the shoe it feels quite tight. To get these on my foot I had to undo all the lacing and the buckles, yes even though there is a huge zip up the side, and Nick got on the floor and helped me shove my feet in! I have been wearing them for a few hours today to break them in, and I’m going to persevere but they sit rather precariously on the verge of breaking my “no uncomfortable shoes” rule.

This all emphasises a point I keep making: people with bodies that fall outside the regular sized range that fashion retailers stock are not catered for and have limited choice, and this can lead to compromise and not maintaining that well-kept appearance that our culture rewards. It’s why fat people are characterised as slobby and unfashionable. When it comes to shoes one really shouldn’t take too many chances with fit as it can lead to injury, and being diabetic I must be careful with my feet at all times. It’s just hard to do when you have big, wide feet with wide calves and a limited budget.

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  • Please never feel guilty for being safe.

  • Anonymous

    I struggled for the longest time embarrassed about my large calves thinking “Ok, I can get a great boot that fits in the foot, yet I can’t do it up around my calves…what’s wrong with me”. And of course now I realize it’s fashion and shoe manufacturers, not me.

    The best fitting over-calf boots I’ve ever found (apart from cowboy boots, not my thing) are slouch boots. I got a pair 20 years ago, wore them to bits. They came back into style 2 winters ago and I was stoked. They seem more generous in the calf cut. Though they’re not hard edge, and I’d love to wear more hard edge boots like yours :)

  • Those are some damn nice witchy boots too. I hope they “break-in” quickly.

  • Lilacsigil

    Just to combine “disaster” and “shoes”, I can’t buy gumboots, which rather limits the times of year I can spend out in the garden – I’m adjacent to a flooded area in Victoria, my garden is squishy with mud, but I can’t get boots to fit my small feet and big calves. And, just like you, my calves have always been proportionately large (great for hockey and cycling, though!) no matter my weight.

  • They look fab – pity they’re uncomfortable.

  • This is exactly my problem too!! I wanted to help with the clean up in Brisbane suburbs but a) all the gumboots in Brisbane were sold out before the Woodford Music Festival and b) they don’t fit my calves. A friend offered me hers and said I could slit the sides to fit my calves in but that’s not much use when you’re wading in knee deep muck!

  • Memily

    If they get too uncomfortable let me know, I’d consider buying them from you ;)

  • Finding rubber boots is my new mission – I have NEVER owned a pair that actually fit – but I live in rainy wet locales (London and Vancouver) and choosing between not leaving the house for 6+ months a year OR being uncomfortable/wet and sadly unfashionable.

    Evans has a new pair online, but I want to try them on before I buy them.

  • Finding rubber boots is my new mission – I have NEVER owned a pair that actually fit – but I live in rainy wet locales (London and Vancouver) and choosing between not leaving the house for 6+ months a year OR being uncomfortable/wet and sadly unfashionable.

    Evans has a new pair online, but I want to try them on before I buy them.

  • Helen

    Those New Look ones do look lovely, but I share your pain on the calves issue, as well as having a ‘no uncomfortable shoes’ rule. I pretty much spend all my time in Doc Martens now – they seem to be the only footwear that I can wear comfortably.

  • Christina

    Hey Natalie – if you like those boots, you should look into just buying some military issue boots – they look exactly like those top ones except black. :)

  • I’ve just come to the realisation that I just can’t do uncomfortable and ill fitting anymore. As a tweenie, that means not jamming myself into size L tshirts that TECHNICALLY fit, but cling to me. It’s too binding and I can’t move properly. It means not buying skirts that only zip up halfway, or shirts that the shoulders are too narrow. And no shoes without arch support.

    It also mean fewer options, and they are all more expensive. I know in my mind that it’s worth it, but too often it means that I am not dressed in ways that I like, or I’m a bit on the frumpy, slobby side. Because slobby is comfortable AND cheap. Sigh.

  • bns7

    I have wide feet and large calves as well, and though I didn’t end up buying them so I can attest to long term comfort, I did find rain boots at Target tis past season that actually fit decently and I could actually get my foot down the shaft and into the shoe part (I wear a US11 and find this is often a problem in boots without zips), so it might be worth checking them out.

  • I love them and want them desperately.

  • Sarah

    I find the lack of any ease in the calf sizing very irritating. Being unable to get gumboots is particularly frustrating. The reluctant solution I have reached is to shell out for just two good pairs of knee-high or calf-height boots (I go with one black and one red). I appreciate that full freight ($250) for custom made boots might seem steep, but I’m still a fan of buying just one pair of custom made boots. (I have no affiliation whatsoever with this mob! I just love their boots) The link below is an Australian company that has the boots made overseas. They do a great job and if you get them reheeled/resoled as needed should last you for a long time. Not the same company, but I have had one pair of knee-high black boots that I wear at least 3 times a week 6 months a year which still look great 5 years later (obviously worn but still in great nick courtesy of reheeling etc as needed and good care of the leather).

    http://www.bootsforbroads.com/

  • I hear you! I have tiny, tiny but wide feet and big calves (and short legs) and I can’t wear boots at all. I live in Tasmania and if I want to spend any time in the great outdoors I wear Blundstone boots because they are the only thing I can find that remotely fits me and is waterproof.

  • Your New Look boots look gorgeous, I wish they fit better. Really, isn’t it time shoe companies realize not all people have dainty feet? Just saying. Love your blog, keep it up!

  • Ok, so, I just bought these really cute rain boots on Amazon (photo here on the nordy’s website: http://shop.nordstrom.com/s/chooka-gypsy-owl-rain-boot/3110957?cm_cat=datafeed&cm_ite=chooka_'gypsy_owl'_rain_boot:310893&cm_pla=shoes:women:boots&cm_ven=Froogle&mr:referralID=NA&mr:trackingCode=CC1BABFF-D7D3-DF11-A880-001B2163195C) (wow long link, sorry!) and omg they’re so cute, I can’t stand it. I CAN wear them, but it makes my leg have a muffin top. Am I crazy to think about cutting off a couple inches from the top?! Would it look terrible?! I just feel crazy wearing expensive boots that don’t fit and for some dumb reason I am committed to keeping them, because I love them. So should I have a leg-muffin-top, or should I slice up some $60 boots?! HELP ME FATS!

  • Damsel

    A year since you posted this.  I just learned compression works!  I’m looking for boots for thick legs.  Look good.  Wonder what happened then…

  • Jackie_Paper_44

    Thanks for this post! I also have tree-trunk-like wide calves and buying boots is a nightmare. I really want to buy a pair of lace-up ones like your top pic, though, and I like the idea that if your calf is too wide for them, just undo a few rows of the laces. Looks cute and comfortable! I hate that shoe-buying sites never show models with wide calves and how their feet would fit in the shoe. I GET IT, IT LOOKS AWESOME ON SKINNY PEOPLE BUT WHAT ABOUT ME