The Best Boots for Your Legs
If You Have Thick Calves
Look for: Elastic gussets, stretchy leather or fabric, buckles, or laces for extra give. Also, an angled cuff (not one that cuts straight across) creates a flattering curve on the leg.
Avoid: Pull-on styles that are hard to get into, boots that end at the widest part of the calf muscle, and wraparound straps that accentuate any fullness.
Try wearing them: With tights or leggings in a matching color to create a long, lean line.
If You Have Short Legs
Look for: Heels or wedges to lengthen the legs visually. “Stick with a streamlined design with vertical accents—zippers or laces—so the eye moves upward instead of side to side,” says Meghan Cleary, a shoe expert and the author of The Perfect Fit.
Avoid: Square toes, straps, and slouchy cuts that add width.
Try wearing them: With a pencil skirt or slim pants to continue the sleek, elongating effect.
If You Have Wide Feet
Look for: Round or almond-shaped (rather than pointy) toes that offer plenty of room and slim heels for a touch of femininity. “A zipper that opens to the sole is easiest to slip your feet into,” says Tousif Ghani, a store manager for Geox in New York City.
Avoid: “Broadening details, like buckles or straps, near the ball of the foot,” says shoe designer Chie Mihara. Chunky heels also look masculine.
Try wearing them: With trousers that skim the toe box, to break up the width of the foot.
If You Have Skinny Calves
Look for: Anything with flexibility—buckles, laces, stretchy material—so the boots can mold to the calves, says Ghani. A slim ankle style also tends to fit well. Make legs look curvier with a bold color, like plum or gray, or three-dimensional details like a ruffle.
Avoid: Slouchy cuts. “More than an inch of space between the boot and the leg exacerbates the issue,” says Mihara.
Try wearing them: With contrasting tights and a patterned skirt to add more dimension.
Boots: Two Annoying Problems and How to Solve Them
“My Favorite Pair Just Doesn’t Fit”
A good shoe-repair shop can make surprising alterations.
- Stretch the shafts up to a half inch: $25 to $50.
- Widen the shafts by adding up to three inches of extra material: $50 to $200.
- Insert an elastic gusset in each boot: $40 to $120.
- Take in the shafts up to six inches: $80 to $140.
- Widen the toe boxes up to a half inch: $15 to $25.
- Shorten the shafts: $40 to $100.
No reputable cobblers near you? NuShoe.com has a mail-order repair service.
“I Can Never Find My Size”
Do your feet fall on the small or large end of the spectrum? Bookmark these especially accommodating sites.
Plus: One More Problem Solved
“I’m Worried That Rain and Snow Will Ruin My Boots”
First pretreat leather and suede styles: Spray them with a silicone-free water repellent, such as Vectra-16 Spray ($13, footwearetc.com). Reapply at least twice a season. Have a cobbler attach rubber sole protectors (about $20) to the bottoms so that water won’t seep in.
When boots get wet: Stuff them with newspaper to preserve the shape and speed the air-drying process. Next, condition leather with colorless Kiwi Leather Lotion ($7, shoetreemarketplace.com). Or remove water marks on suede or nubuck with a suede eraser, and restore the nap with a brush. (Kiwi Suede & Nubuck Kit, $7.50, shoetreemarketplace.com.)
If boots get stained with salt: Combine 1 part white vinegar and 1 part water. Using a paper towel, dab the solution onto the spots until they disappear. (Suede boots should be cleaned by a professional.)