Best Boots for Petites: How to Find THE Ones for Your Short Legs
My relationship with boots is best described as complicated. As a petite woman (5′ 1/2″) boots are not my favorite thing to shop for. Most women get so excited about boot season. Me, give me all the sandals, pumps, and loafers. Nevertheless, we have to keep our tootsies warm and look fashionable in the cooler months. I am breaking down how to find the best boots for petites today.
Shopping for boots is like shopping for a bathing suit to me. You have to feel confident in both. Bathing suits I have nailed and you can read about how to feel confident in a bathing suit over 50 here. So now let’s take a look at how to find the best boots when you are vertically challenged or petite. By the way, vertically challenged is one of my favorite ways to describe myself.
How to Shop for Boots for Petites
First of all let’s just familiarize ourselves with a few boot fundamentals. There are specific parts to a boot and once we know what those are some measurements that work for our own body, then shopping becomes easier.
When you are shopping for boots there are four main measurements that you are going to want to pay attention to:
- Shaft height
- Calf circumference
- Ankle circumference
- Heel height
The shaft height is the length of the boot from the bottom of your bare foot to the top of the boot. This measurement and the calf circumference are probably the most important when you have short legs. You can find detailed instructions on how to measure for this here.
For me this is probably the most difficult part of the boot to fit my body. I prefer the look of a 15″ shaft height on my body and those are not easy to come by. Sometimes a 15.5″ will work. My go to brand for tall boots is Aquatailia. They are on the pricey side, but their boots last forever and most are water resistant which is very important in winter weather. I like their riding boots and their heeled boots for shaft height.
This is the measurement around the fullest part of the boot. When shopping for boots you will see the reference to slim calf or wide calf. The slim calf boots are for women who have thinner calves and the measurement for these is usually 13 3/4″ or less. A wide calf boot is usually 16″ or more. Many boots are made with stretchy fabrications in the back and those work well so that the boots hug you just right on your calves.
These boots by Franco Sarto check the slim calf or wide calf box which is a nice options since they also have a shaft height that usually works for shorter legs. These boots by Trotters are a great example of a boot with stretch so that they fit on the calf is just right for your legs.
This is measured at the most narrow part of the boot.
This is measured from the bottom of the heel up to where the heel meets the sole of the boot. In my experience, petites look better and more proportional with some sort of heel. You have to wear what you are most comfortable in. Just keep in mind that a little height helps us with proportions and when you have short legs any extra height helps.
Challenges of Shopping for Boots for Short Legs
Over the years, the three main challenges that I have experienced shopping for boots are shaft height, shaft circumference, and not many choices.
First of all, designers/manufacturers make their inventory for the average sized woman. Boots for petites is not a niche market for shoe designers. Thus, the shaft height is usually too tall for women with short legs. Many times I will try on a pair of boots and they come up to the middle of my knee cap. One, not a good look. Two, makes it VERY difficult to walk.
When it comes to circumference I prefer a boot that has some sort of stretch to the leather. That makes it so the boot isn’t too tight or too loose. I personally don’t like the look of lots of extra room in the calf.
Let’s face it, when you have small feet there are not a lot of options out there. I wear a US size 5 shoe and sometimes even size down to a 4.5. Most retailers start at a size 6 or 6.5. Personally I find that European brands are where I can find shoes that fit my feet. You can read about my favorite places to shop for small feet here.
Honestly, I just find it easier to order in a bunch of boots and shoes at once. Try them on at home and then return what doesn’t work. Very rarely do retailers stock size 5 and below.
Other Boot Options for Petites
Thank goodness for ankle boots, sock booties, and chelsea boots. Those can be a petite woman’s dream in the world of boot shopping. When buying any of these styles I keep three things in mind when buying and styling them.
- Avoid square toes. Almond or pointed toes always elongate our petite feet.
- When wearing them with skirts or dresses, add tights. Having that long line of color gives the illusion of leg length.
- Always wear a heel. Even if it is only 1-2″. Every little bit helps when you are 5’4″ or under.
When you are buying ankle boot you need to consider not only the height on the ankle, but also the width. Tall ankle boots like these or these by Sarah Flint will help elongate the legs. They are great if you are wearing a cropped jean or pant and don’t want a gap. You can use my code SARAHFLINT-BABETF for $50 off your purchase of any of her boots. Her boots fit my petite feet beautifully and are very comfortable.
Sock booties are a newer style of boot. They have a soft upper designed to fit tightly around your ankle and look like a sock. This style of boot pairs well with wider leg pants. You can also wear them with skirts and dresses. They are good boots for petites that have slim ankles. Here are a couple that I have my eye on to add to my boot collection this year.
Chelsea boots are a timeless staple in every woman’s closet. They first became popular in the 1950s and 1960s in England. They are known for their tight elastic side panel or gusset and usually have a lower heel. You can style them by letting your jeans or casual pants fall just above the top of the boot or you can tuck a skinny jean into the boot. You can also style this comfortable style of boot with short skirts and tights.
Thanks so much for stopping by and reading this post. I appreciate every read, share and pin more than you can ever imagine. Happy boot shopping. Hopefully this post helped break down some things for you as you look for THE pair of boots to add to you closet. Buying boots for petites takes trial and error, but I know the perfect pair is out there for you. That is what I tell myself every season as I add a pair or two to my closet.
Remember to always have a little SASs in your day!