Tuesday, September 8, 2009

These boots aren't made for wearing

195 pounds
I’ve been trying to find a new pair of knee-high boots for over two years now. I have one pair of Isaac Mizrahi chocolate-colored, suede knee-high boots with a three-inch heel that I bought at Target back in '06. They’re very dressy and girly, and I still love them, but I also want a pair that are more casual and rugged. The Frye “Campus” boot (pictured here) is my ideal, but as fate would have, the “shaft” of that boot is too narrow for my calf.

In fact, what I’ve found over the past two years is that hardly any knee-high boots fit my calves. Do I have especially big calves? I’ve definitely got big bones—even when I was a little girl, I was never able to stretch my fingers around my wrist—but I don’t think my calves are really that much bigger than anyone else’s.

Like I said, I started looking for a more casual pair of knee-high boots two years ago, and after a few months, I began to enter the desperation phase of my search. Whenever I become obsessed with locating a hard-to-find item, my search usually goes through five stages:

Stage One: Initial Excitement—this is when I first decide that I want to find a certain item, and I feel completely titillated by the prospect of looking for it.

Stage Two: Momentary Confusion—confusion sets in when I don't easily find what I want. At this stage, I spend precious time wondering why something as straightforward as a pair of boots is so elusive in our consumer-driven society.

Stage Three: Frantic Desperation—once I understand that it's going to be a struggle to find said item, I start to get frantic: my adrenaline begins to rush, my nerves start rattling, and my forehead starts to sweat.

Stage Four: Righteous Anger—when I finally realize that the item I want is either not available—or in this case, not available to me—I do what any smart woman would do: I get pissed off.

Stage Five: Bad Choices—And sometimes when I get really frustrated and irritable, I even go so far as to make a bad decision, buying something I don't even really want just to satisfy my insatiable desire for a purchase.

But last fall, I still hadn’t even reached stage four, so I tried to convince myself that I just hadn’t looked hard enough. I figured that the boots I'd tried up to that point probably ran smaller than normal and that I just needed to be more thorough in my search. So with a renewed sense of enthusiasm and focus, I hit the local mall one weekend last fall.

But what I had hoped would be a fruitful search ended up being a disaster, not to mention a huge waste of time. I think I must have tried on every single pair of knee-high boots in the entire mall but could still not find one pair that fit my calves. I even asked the salespeople in the various shoe departments for help, but though they tried their best, ultimately they looked at me with pity, as if they were secretly thinking, poor little fat girl can’t find any cute boots. You might think these looks would bother me, but they had the opposite effect.

I had entered stage four: I was pissed.

Eventually I regrouped and approached the problem from a more scientific angle, measuring my calves to see if that information would aid the process. It turns out that my calves—which I still think are pretty average-sized—are nineteen inches around.

That's bigger than I thought anyone’s calf would be, but looks can be deceiving. So I went online with this crucial information, and what I found was that most knee-high boots have a circumference of twelve inches. Twelve inches? That’s barely over half the size of my own calf. Are my calves really almost twice as big as those of most other women?

Then I remembered that my friend Kelcey once told me that Banana Republic carries “extended calf” boots—that is, knee-high boots that have more room in the calf area. As soon as I thought of this, I went to the Banana Republic website and scoured the shoe listings, but I discovered that the boots there—at $300 and up—are way out of my price range.

So my search continued.

At Zappos, I typed in “extended calf” and "extended shaft" and "wide calf" and whatever else I could think of. But I found that only a handful of knee-high boots—made by Fitzwell and R.S.V.P.—offer more room in the calf, and none of them fit my needs so I put off my decision, hoping for some kind of shopping miracle.

Before I knew it, winter was over, and my material needs were changing. I shelved my search for the perfect pair of casual knee-high boots and focused on other things.

But I never completely gave up, always keeping an eye out for a pair that would fit my unfittable nineteen-inch calves.

I never had any luck—every time I tried on a pair, I was either unable to get my nineteen-inch calves inside the shaft or unable to get the zipper closed over them—and now that it’s September, I have found myself back at square one: I still need a different kind of knee-high boot for my fall and winter wardrobe, and I am now beginning to believe that such a boot doesn’t exist.

And, to be perfectly blunt about it, the idea of this pisses me off in a way that I haven't been pissed in a L O N G time. Are there really no boots for girls like me? Girls who wear the size that most women in America wear?

Women’s clothes are available in all kinds of “plus” sizes, so why aren’t boots available in a plethora of sizes as well? Are my calves being discriminated against? It’s as if the fashion industry is trying to tell me that girls like me are not allowed to have cute boots.

I got so frustrated that I emailed Piperlime—a competitor to Zappos—and asked them if they carry any extended calf boots, and they actually wrote back and said, “Unfortunately we do not have boots with extended calf sizes. We apologize for any disappointment this causes.”

They apologize for any disappointment this causes?

Is that it???

They’re acting as if they’re merely sold out of the size I'm looking for when, in truth, they don’t even carry my size, a size that I bet most women in America wear. I’m no longer feeling simple disappointment. I’m feeling righteous anger.

Because if Piperlime—and all of the other stores I visited—don’t carry boots for someone like me, aren’t they reinforcing the notion that the only women who should dress in a fashionably way, the only women who are allowed to look good, are women who resemble the stick-thin models we see on the front of our magazines?

I wrote back to Piperlime and told them that I won’t be spending my hard-earned dollars at their store until they carry boots for all sizes of women. In the meantime, I beg you to please let me know if you are aware of a place where a girl like me can find a nice pair of knee-high boots.

For now, I’ll just have to keep looking.


  1. have u tried Hyder's? u know the dead people shoe store;)

  2. I hate to be one of those obnoxious link distributors, but try this:

    If you have any more trouble, you should really call one of Zappos' "Comfort Consultants". (888-927-7670) They have amazing customer service and will actually pick out a pair of shoes with you, step by step. They helped me select a pair of hiking boots for my Italy trip. I was pretty lost.

    Good luck!

  3. You two are amazing! I am going to check out both of these this weekend!!!!