Here’s a confession: I’ve never liked shoe shopping. When you’re 5’10, plus size and have been blessed with large feet (size 11 EE, or double wide — thanks, Grandma) the struggle to find stylish and comfortable footwear is real. Boots are especially tricky for those of us with wider calves.
A few years ago, my search for the perfect pair led me to a tiny shop in Toronto that carries extended sizes. I found a pair of beautiful stretchy brown knee-highs in my size and was thrilled. But as I yanked the fabric over my calves, the shop owner (a portly man in a sweaty white tank top) chastised me: “Be more elegant!” There’s nothing elegant about sweating while keeled over trying to squeeze your gams into a pair of sleek boots. Because I was so determined, I bought them. (But it killed me to give him the sale.)
Thankfully, as the plus-size fashion industry grows (and retailers seem to be waking up to this relatively ignored market), so does the selection of stylish boots for curvy figures. Department stores like Hudson’s Bay now offer extended sizes on their websites, and Nordstrom also offers wide-calf designer boots in extended sizes from brands like Vince Camuto and Steve Madden. Trusted plus-size retailers Addition Elle and Pennington’s also offer trendy wide-calf boots for fall and winter in sizes 7 through 12 in store and online.
American plus-size store Torrid carries wedge booties, chunky hiking boots and knee-high heels (designed to accommodate wider calves) in wide widths from sizes 8 to 13. In-betweenies can also find half-sizes on their website, which is a bonus. Another go-to is Payless, especially if you’re on a budget. They have a small but decent selection of extended sizes in brands like American Eagle and Christian Siriano, and they carry some wide-calf styles in the fall and winter.
You’ll find plenty of online retailers that ship wide-calf boots to Canada — I’ve had success with ShoeBuy — but don’t go the online route if you hate dealing with returns. Sizes are different everywhere and finding the right one can be a crapshoot. My advice is to know your measurements; not just your shoe size, but also the width around the thickest part of your calf. Consult the website’s size guide to ensure it’s a match. And be wary of shipping charges, exchange rates and duty fees—which can all add up.
Despite the time and energy, it’s best not to sacrifice comfort for style. I’ve learned the hard way that cute shoes (in the wrong size) are never worth the pain.