Adjusting Boots to Fit Your Calves

There is nothing worse than finding a pair of stylish boots that fit your feet perfectly but not your calves. As a woman with fairly muscular calves, I know firsthand that boots small enough to suit my feet probably will not zip up below my knee. (And I am sure you skinny-calved ladies out there hate finding a gorgeous pair of boots that gape around your lower leg!)
Altering boots to fit your calves can be costly. Before handing over money to a shoe repairman to fix boots that most likely cost you a pretty penny in the first place, consider these alternative solutions.

First of all, be smart (and flexible) when shopping for knee-high boots. Certain styles of knee-high boots are more easily adjustable than others. For example, look for boots with straps, laces or buckles that allow you to cinch them tight or loosen them in order to find a fit that is perfectly suited to your body. Certain russet-style boots (think: “ruffles” of leather) are meant to be worn a bit loose, and they look attractive that way. These looser-fit styles may give you a little extra wiggle room without looking like you have squeezed your calves into them. Look for boots made out of soft, stretchable leather. When in doubt, ask the shoe salesman if the material is likely to stretch. Often you can loosen boots made of soft leather simply by wearing them a few times in a row.

Another practical way to make your boots fit is to modify your wardrobe. If you fall in love with a pair of boots that are too big around your calves, consider wearing them over pants or with thick socks. Tight boots can be worn with dresses and sheer nylons.

When all else fails, visit your friendly neighborhood shoemaker who can expertly alter the boots to suit your needs. Be sure to tell the cobbler exactly how you intend to wear the boots (with pants, nylons, etc.) to ensure that you get the precise, custom fit you are hoping for. Most of the time, shoemakers will expand the calve-area of the boot by adding elastic gussets. This extra material can stretch so the boots achieve a precise fit. It is a little trickier to “take-in” big boots; you will need to talk to your local cobbler for details. The possibility of such an alteration will depend entirely on the way the boots are made. For example, it is easier to take in boots that fasten with a zipper rather than boots that close using laces.

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