Best Boots for Petites: How to Find THE Ones for Your Short Legs

brunette woman wearing a tan leather jacket, jeans and tan sock booties which are good boots for petites

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. So 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. The difference is that boots can be quite an investment so you want to make sure that you get a pair that flatters your figure, are comfortable, and will not look dated next year.

Before we nail buying boots this season there are a few other petite fashion posts I have written that you might want to check out. They go along with boot season.

This article may contain affiliate links; if you click on a shopping link or picture and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission. I appreciate your support.

Let’s Find Some Boots For Our Short Legs

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. The goal of these tips is to help you find a great-fitting pair of boots that you can wear and enjoy for many seasons.

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

Shaft 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 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.

If you are looking for comfort and a 14.5″ shaft height, then this boot is a must-try. What’s nice is that it has a cushioned footbed for comfort. If you are looking for a wedge boot, then this one is definitely one to put on your list to try. Again, it has a 14.5″ shaft height.

This is a great pointy toe boot that would work well with skirts and dresses. The sculptural heel makes it very modern looking. It has a 15″ shaft.

Another knee boot that always comes in handy from time to time is a good rain boot. They come in handy on those rainy errand days in the winter or when there’s a bunch of nasty slush to trudge through. I

Calf Circumference

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 option 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 and are just right for your legs.

Ankle Circumference

This is measured at the most narrow part of the boot.

Heel Height

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.

brunette woman wearing a black sweater dress, leather jacket, black tights and black Chelsea boots

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 high for women with short legs. Many times I will try on a pair of boots and they come up to the middle of my kneecap. 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. Personally, I wouldn’t say I 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. 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 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.

Ankle Boots

When you are buying ankle boots you need to consider not only the height of the ankle but also the width. Ankle boots are such a versatile style of boot to wear. They can be very casual or dressy depending upon the boot.

I always love to have a good waterproof ankle boot. They are such a great boot to have if you are traveling in the cooler months. You never know when you may get caught in rain or snow so it’s good to be prepared. Blondo boots are a great price point and comfortable for this. I really like this style and this style if you need something to wear for a lot of walking and to keep your toes warm and dry.

Here are ankle boots from brands that I find comfortable for my petite feet and short legs.

Sock Booties

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.

I have this pair of boots in this Isla boot in the cacao and plan to add it in black this year. The boot looks great on my petite foot and is comfortable. I am wearing it in the photo at the beginning of the post when I am in jeans.

Chelsea Boots

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.

I am wearing a classic Chelsea black boot in the photos in this post. As you can see I wear them with everything from sweater dresses to faux leather leggings. I probably wear them most often with straight-leg jeans.

You can now find them with a traditional sole or a chunkier sole and heel. I would just caution not to go too chunky so that the boot makes your feet appear a lot larger than they are.

Need Below Size 5 Or Special Width?

If you are in need of shoes below size 5 or that are not a normal medium there are two brands that you need to know for great, comfortable boots and shoes. You may have to special order, but if you have this need then you know that once you find a brand that works you stick with them.

The first brand is Margaux. Their Downtown Boot has been called “sinfully comfortable” by Town and Country magazine. They also offer several other ankle boot options. They now have two styles of knee boots. This style has been around for a while and this lower-heeled boot is new this season. What is great about this brand is that they start their sizing at US3 and go up to US14. They offer three widths as well. They make the same styles over and over so you can always get another color if their boot is the boot of your dreams.

The second brand is Ally Shoes. Ally Shoes motto is that women should conquer in comfort. A podiatrist is on their design team so you know that they have the comfort of our feet as a priority. I have some of their heels and a pair of boots is on my wish list this fall/winter. Their heels are very comfortable and I could walk or stand in them for hours. They have two great ankle boot styles and offer them starting in size US4.5 to US12 and medium, wide, or extra wide widths. You can use code BETH10 for 10% off at checkout.


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 your 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.

You can also find me on Instagram and Pinterest. I would love for you to follow me there. I also have a newsletter that I send out every Sunday morning. In it, I share things that I don’t share on other platforms. I hope you will sign up by clicking here.

Updated October 2023.

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  1. What boots are you wearing in the top picture?

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