Can Boots Be Altered to Fit My Calves?

Wide Calf Boots and Boot Calf Extenders

knee-high leather boots
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Boot shopping – call it the fall equivalent of the dreaded summer bathing suit hunt. Whether you have wide or even average-sized calves, knee-high leather boots are a tough fit. Find a pair that’s just right in the foot and the calf will be too snug. Go up a size and the calf may fit like a glove, but the heel slips.

If you love trendy or expensive leather boots, but the styles you choose leave you jammed into your footwear, here are some ways to get a better fit without ruining the sleek look – or your investment.

You can find wide calf boots, or have your favorites altered with boot calf extenders.

Measure Your Calf Width

How wide do you need your boots to be in the calf? Calf circumference for boots is measured at the widest part of the calf. Get a tape measure and measure the widest part of your calf while sitting and standing. You are likely to have a slightly different measurement in each of those positions.

For the most accuracy, do the measurement at the end of the day and after having gone for a walk or run. Measure while wearing the leggings, tights or hose you are going to wear with the boots.

Research Wide Calf Boots and Designs

Start by doing a web search for "wide calf boots" from your favorite boot brand or retailer. See which styles they have for wide calves. Check any dimensions they give for the calf width and compare them with your measurements. You may discover you need to search for "extra wide calf boots." Don't feel bad, this is a very popular web search term, you are far from alone.

Boot Shopping - Tips for a Better Fit

  • Look for boots made of soft leather rather than stiff, thick leather or fabric that won't provide any give.
  • Look for boots that have adjustable laces or buckles at the calves to provide more allowance.
  • Look for boots with elastic gore inserts at the calves.
  • Go boot shopping wearing the leggings, tights, or hose you will be wearing with the boots after you purchase them.
  • Go boot shopping later in the day. Most people experience some leg and foot swelling by the end of the day, and this ensures the boots that feel good in the store will feel good when you want to wear them out for the evening.
  • If the boots you choose are a bit too tight, zip them up as far as you can and try wearing them a few times to see if the leather loosens up. But be sure you know the shoe return policy of the retailer or online site. You don't want to make a costly mistake and no longer be able to return them because they have been worn.

Having Boots Altered with Stretching or Boot Calf Extenders

  • If you can’t stretch the boots on your own, an inexpensive option is to have the boots stretched by a shoemaker, which usually works best when you need just a bit more wiggle room.
  • Cobblers also can expand boot calves by adding elastic gussets, stretch fabric, or matching leather insets up the length of the boot. These boot calf extenders can be the solution to wear your favorite boots.
  • Let your shoemaker know how you plan to wear the boots. If you’re pairing them with pants, an extra seam or a slight color variation on the insert won’t be a problem. For boots you’ll wear with your favorite mini, calf widening remedies need to be less noticeable.