Tall boots make every outfit cuter in an instant, which is why fall and winter style is so fun! However, it can be really overwhelming or really frustrating looking for the right pair. Not only are there a million styles and options out there, but then you have to find one that fits your foot, your calf circumference, and hits your leg exactly where you want it to!
Spoiler alert: I don’t have cut and dry “how to find the perfect boot” advice for you, sorry! But I hope that by talking about boots today some info here at least points you in a helpful direction!
When I bought my first pair of boots several years ago, I just thought knee high boots were knee high boots. I never paid attention to whether or not they were slouchy, had buckles, how tall they were relative to my knees, or anything like that. Now I have a better idea of what to look for, which has helped me to be pickier about my boots and therefore love the boots I chose for longer because I was more thoughtful and intentional about them.
There are SO many things to consider that I can’t possibly write them all, but some of the major things I think through with boots are:
- Do I want any buckles or none at all?
- Do you want them to be slouchy? Some boots are purposely slouchy. Do you prefer that, or boots with straighter lines?
- Suede or leather, or faux leather and faux suede?
- How do you want the ankles to fit? Some boots fit very flimsily around the ankle and crinkle a lot, while some boots make a straight line at the ankle up the rest of the shaft, and others fit in between.
- How much of a heel do you want on them, if any at all? A heel changes both the boot’s aesthetic and its practicality. If you want to wear them for everyday casual outfits you might want to consider little to no heel so that you can walk around in them all day. You may also want to consider a wider heel versus skinny. Both characteristics like a higher heel or a skinnier heel almost always automatically make boots look dressier.
And of course, no matter what you do, before deciding to keep a pair, try them on with several outfits to make sure they’re giving your outfits the style and functionality you want.
SUEDE VS. LEATHER (VS. FAUX LEATHER/SUEDE)
Shop Outfit #1:
top | similar jeans | similar scarf | boots | watch | tote
Shop Outfit #2:
similar sweater | similar top | similar jeans | similar boots
Shop Outfit #3:
top | similar cardigan | identical scarf | leggings | similar boots
I have owned boots made of all three of those materials, and I like them all for different reasons. (Shown in the pics above are suede, real leather, then faux leather respectively.) Everyone’s preferences will be different, but here’s what I tend to keep in mind when deciding on a pair.
Aesthetics by Color
For whatever reason I could usually go suede OR leather with cognac boots, as seen in the picture above–I’ve had cognac boots in all materials. (Though, these days I’m loving the texture of suede a bit more!) But when it comes to taupe or black boots I much prefer suede. I like how suede softens up looks, especially when it comes to black boots. I have a harder time styling smooth, shiny black leather without feeling either too preppy or too tough. Similarly, for some reason I don’t love the smoothness of grey or taupe leather boots as much as I love that color in suede. Again, it’s up to whatever style you’re going for as some people might want preppier or edgier looks or whatever. Just things to consider!
I live in an extremely mild climate where it never ever snows and almost seldom rains, so I don’t have a lot to offer regarding inclement weather. But what I’ve heard from many people is they find leather easier to wear in the rain and snow than suede, even when suede is treated. But I’ve also heard suede connoisseurs say when they’ve treated their suede shoes, they can wear them through harsh snowy and rainy weather and have their shoes last for years. You can also get waterproof suede boots and booties from brands like Blondo. I haven’t personally tested them (I don’t even have snow or rainy weather to test them in, haha!), but you can read reviews to gauge how well they actually protect from harsh weather. Personally, I don’t trust leather OR suede in harsh weather just because I don’t want to risk it with either. On the rare days it pours rain where I live, I actually turn to faux leather boots! See below.
The Pros of Faux Leather and Faux Suede
- I’ve worn several pairs of cheap faux leather boots through rain AND snow (many trips to Chicago and St. Louis) and they have gone unscathed. Because they usually have a plastic coating, water and dirt roll off them beautifully. Perhaps faux leather is the real MVP! ?
- Cheaper and less risky way to test styles you’re considering. There were a few times I would have liked tall black boots to go with my outfits, but it hasn’t been enough to justify paying $70-$100+ for a nicer pair of real suede boots. This season I bought THESE inexpensive faux suede boots for $34 (seen on me below). If I somehow find myself wearing them a whole heck of a lot, I will upgrade to a newer, nicer pair when the time comes. But so far for the last 2-3 years I haven’t felt the need for tall black boots very often, so a cheaper pair is a great solution.
Shown above are two suede pairs and my black faux-suede boots.
Shop Outfit #1:
top | similar cardigan | similar jeans | boots | tote
Shop Outfit #2:
similar top | similar vest | similar jeans | boots
Shop Outfit #3:
top | scarf | jeans | boots | tote
SHAFT HEIGHT AND CALF CIRCUMFERENCE
Do you know what your ideal boot calf circumference and shaft height are? This will make shopping online for boots SO much easier as it will allow you to quickly rule out various pairs without going through the hassle of ordering and returning.
You can measure your calf circumference by loosely measuring around the widest part of your calf. Measure your shaft height by starting at the bottom of your foot, like where your arch is, and measuring up your calf to where you want the boot to hit, give or take a few inches since there’s probably a range that you’re comfortable with. On most sites for boots they should have both the circumference and shaft height listed.
Another thing you can do is look online for the measurements of a pair of boots that already fit you really well so that you know almost exactly what measurements you like, and then you can compare that to other boots.
My preference is a 15″ circumference and usually between a 14.5″ – 15.5″ shaft height.
STORES WITH WIDE CALF OPTIONS
I filtered through several stores to find their wide calf selections, so if you click through the links below you should be taken directly to only wide calf options. You can filter further by color and style.
- DSW’s wide calf selection
- Zappos’ wide calf selection
- Amazon’s wide calf selection
- Macy’s wide calf selection
- 6pm’s wide calf selection
- Nordstrom’s wide calf selection
STORES WITH NARROW CALF OPTIONS
Shopping for narrow calf options is NO JOKE! Yall don’t have it easy, lemme say. I’m not as familiar as sifting through narrow calf options as I am with wide calf, but here’s what I was able to find. It was difficult to find because most filters that say “narrow” are actually for foot width, not calf width.
The links below *should* take you directly to only narrow calf options. I scanned through several in each link to make sure the circumferences were 14″ or less, but some are still 15″ because it’s dependent on what the store deems as narrow. Apologies in advance for that! You can filter further by color and style.
- Amazon’s narrow calf selection
- 6pm’s narrow calf selection
- Macy’s narrow calf selection
- Slim Calf Boots’ selection – all very narrow, but really stinking expensive.
16 TALL BOOT OPTIONS:
REGULAR AND WIDE CALF
Lastly, a ton of boot options! Most come in multiple colors, so if you like the style and shape then click through to see what other colors are available.
I own Option #7 (definitely needs a shoe insert to be more comfy), Option #8 (really comfy by itself!), and Option #12!
Shop the Items:
one | two | three / WC | four / WC | five | six
seven / WC | eight / WC | nine / WC | ten | eleven
twelve | thirteen | fourteen | fifteen | sixteen
*WC is the link to the wide calf option