Tuesday, October 29, 2013

A few tips about DUO boots

A few readers have written to me when they're considering ordering from DUO boots to ask about my experience with the company. Although I can't write a review since I haven't ordered from DUO myself, I can share some tips from a friend of mine -- M -- who ordered from them about a year or so ago. 

A quick overview -- DUO allows women to purchase boots that are custom tailored to their leg measurements. They have a pretty wide selection of heeled boots, riding boots and ankle boots, and all appear to be leather. Prices  for ankle boots start right under $200, and tall boots range from $260 to over $400. I counted about thirty pairs that were $300 or under. I haven't spent a lot of time of their site but it seems to have a much larger selection of styles compared to just a couple of years ago. I found myself coveting quite a few pairs. My friend, M, said that the leather on her pair seemed high quality. I can't remember which style she ordered. 

There are a bunch of reviews of DUO floating around on the web and I'm not sure if the tips below add anything new, but here's some advice that M shared.

1) When ordering, send DUO an email asking if they can adjust ankle size, not just the calf size. In the return form that DUO sent her, they asked for many other dimensions aside from just her calf size. If she had seen that form initially, she could have made a much better decision. Her only complaint about the boots was that the ankle fit too loose. The calf fit perfectly. 

2) DUO has great customer service. M received immediate responses to her emails. When she returned the boots, she also received a very detailed message confirming that the boots were received. They offered to issue a refund unless she preferred to adjust any other dimensions on the boots.

3) Her main complaint about the order process was return shipping. She did USPS and paid $30. Shipping from the UK to the US (or other destinations worldwide) is free.

4) Items delivered to non-EU locations are subject to import taxes. A note from DUO about import taxes-- "Customs taxes are charged on goods shipped outside the EU, and unfortunately there is no way of avoiding these charges. Sometimes a parcel may slip through the net and not be charged but this would be lucky and not to be expected. The charges are usually about 10% of the cost of the product, plus an admin fee- it might be worth checking with your local customs office for more information." I’m not sure about the time frame to receive the notice about the tax, but it might take a month or more. I think hers was about 10% ($30) for her $300 pair of boots. 

If you have experience with DUO, please share in the comments. I look forward to reading them and I'm sure other readers do as well!

~ Little Contessa

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Review: Fitzwell Finley Narrow Calf (believe the hype!)

*Updated with pictures.
**The size 6 I returned has been snatched up by someone--hopefully one of you!

Finally! Boots that are actually made for narrow calves! Not ones that we have to tighten, tailor, stuff, or practically maim to get them to fit correctly. The calf circumference on a size 6 is actually 12 inches!! I couldn't get a good ankle circumference measurement but they fit my 7.5" ankles pretty well. The shaft height is 15". I measured from the arch of the foot to the top of the boot. 

The heel is 3" and although it's not a stiletto, it is a skinny heel that probably won't be great for standing or walking a lot. The description says there's a "gel comfort heel pad" but I didn't notice any extra cushioning. The sole felt a bit hard, although I wouldn't say the boots are uncomfortable. Perhaps readers who own these can weigh in about the level of comfort. 

I imagine these boots will be great with skirts and dresses. I don't think the narrow shaft will accommodate jeans unless your calves are much slimmer than my 12" calves, although tights and jeggings may work. I like that the leather isn't super shiny. The sheen on my Blondo Louna boots can be a bit much at times (I reviewed the Louna last year in this post). The Finley boots definitely seem like a better / slimmer fit on my legs than the Louna, although the Louna is very comfortable.  

I'm happy to be able to spread the word about these boots, which I hope will work for many of you. Currently, it looks like they're only sold at Zappos ($139). It looks like sizes 6 and 6.5 are sold out at the moment. I couldn't find any other online retailers that sell these boots but I'll keep an eye out for them. I plan to return my size 6 this week. I considered keeping them but frankly, I've been so fortunate to have found a few pairs of well-fitting boots over the past couple of years (many thanks to you all!) that there's just no reason for me to keep these to myself. I hope one of you is able to pick up the pair that I return.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Review: GeeWaWa Blair

A helpful reader shared her experience with GeeWaWa's Blair boots (see her comment at the bottom of this earlier post) and I'm so thankful that she did! I think these affordable boots are a strong flat boot / riding boot contender for slim-calved ladies. I apologize in advance for the graininess of some of the photos. (I removed some of the original photos and added new ones that hopefully are better).  

Altogether, I'm very happy with how these boots fit. The calf circumference of my size 6 measures between 12.5"-13" fully laced up, although it may be possible to shave off another quarter inch by replacing the leather laces with thinner ones. The shaft height is 13.5"I measured from the arch of the foot to the top of the boot--basically the full length of the side zip. The shaft hits at the widest part of my calf, so the boots look proportional to my height (I'm 5'2"). The ankle was a bit saggy. It was tough to get an accurate measurement but the ankle circumference is between 9"-10". As a reference, my ankle circumference is 7.5", although something in the 8"-8.5" range would probably look best on me. 

The boots are a soft leather and will need some type of protective treatment. The underside has no grip so these are definitely not for extreme winter weather. They lace up the back and have a "tongue" for a better fit (see the third picture). I laced them up as tightly as I could, which made the laces super long. I'd trim the laces to keep them from looking ridiculous. The toe is a bit pointy and I'm uncertain about whether they make my feet look gigantic, or whether it's not too noticeable. Our tipster said these run a bit large, but I think I can work with my true size 6. There's a bit of room in the foot but not so much that my foot will slip. I think this size would work for those of you who are a size 6-6.5 and maybe even a size 7. I'm planning to keep the brown pair. The black pair felt a teeny bit looser around my ankles. I'm still torn on whether these boots would work with skirts or dresses? I have a tough time gauging this. I still feel like a novice when it comes to wearing knee-high boots with skirts/dresses, so any input is appreciated!

Now for the bad news. I couldn't find these boots anywhere other than Shoebacca ($88), which has them in extremely limited sizes since they are on clearance. I'm planning to return the black pair tomorrow (via mail) so those of you who are a 6-6.5 can keep an eye out for them. Hopefully they'll be back up in a week or so.

Unfortunately, I couldn't find any similar options by GeeWaWa (pronounced like chihuahua-- their logo is a little chihuahua :) I'd never heard of this brand but I plan to email them this review. Hopefully that will prompt them to make similar styles in the future!

GeeWaWa Blair (now $88)

Friday, October 18, 2013

Another Boot Roundup (**updated**)

After writing the previous boot roundup, I came across the following boots that I wanted to mention quickly. Once again, I haven't tried these on but based my notes on the descriptions and reviews. (New boot added-- A helpful reader submitted a promising tip about Nine West's Noureen boots so I added it to the list as #8)

1) BCBG Erinn ($64 - $200)
These have a lace-up back--a nice alternative to the lace-up front. One reviewer sent a pic of how nicely these fit her narrow calves. Thanks :) Available at Amazon, Macy's, 6pm and in very limited sizes at Sears

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Boot Roundup

I'm traveling this week and since I cannot do any reviews, I thought I'd share some boots that I'm considering ordering for reviews. Surprisingly, I hadn't heard of most of these brands previously. Let's hope that means there will be lots more slim calf options in the future!
(Note-- See this boot roundup for information about Nine West's Noureen boots, a promising suggestion from a helpful reader!)

1) GeeWaWa Blair ($88, review)
A helpful reader shared her success with these boots (see her comment to this previous post). Personally, I'm thrilled to see an option that's less than $100. It makes me sad that most boots featured on this blog are so much more expensive. Although I've never been a fan of boots that lace up the front because they don't really work with my person style, I really like a lot of the new boots this year that lace up the back. Why don't more brands do this and why didn't they do this sooner?? I ordered size 6's in the chocolate and black to review and it appears there was only one each in stock, so now that size is showing as sold out. Our tipster said these run a full size too large so I'll probably return mine after the review. I'll add an addendum to this post once they're returned so those of you who are interested can keep an eye out for them. Unfortunately, it seems like they're only available at Shoebacca currently.

2) Arcopedio L31D ($175)
These are another pair of lace-up boots that I'm excited about. Unfortunately, Zappos seems to have sold out of them in black but still has a few left in brown. There's a few left on Amazon and Planet Shoes as well. Lots and lots of positive reviews from the small calf community! They're not real leather so there's a risk of them looking cheap. Personally, I get excited about vegan/vegetarian shoe options, but I just wish they weren't so expensive. I feel like an additional benefit of getting non-leather shoes should be that I shouldn't have to pay the same price as I would pay for leather. I'm hoping to order a pair soon to review. 
3) AIGLE Start M ($167)
There are very few of these left at Zappos and I couldn't find them elsewhere. Shoebuy used to carry them but they are out of stock. AIGLE appears to be a UK brand and hopefully they will soon be available on Amazon. A reviewer said a size 8.5-9 fit her 13" calves perfectly. I really like how these look but since they're not real leather, they might not appeal to everyone. 

It's exciting to see a boot that's marketed as "narrow calf" and that is reasonably priced! I just ordered the last size 6 so I hope to have a review up next week. According to Zappos, a size 9 has a 13.5 circumference. There's only one review so far and it is promising. Unfortunately, I haven't found these anywhere else.
Fitzwell Finley Narrow Calf ($139)

Happy searching! 
I hope to have reviews to share next week. 

~ Little Contessa

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Has anyone heard of Gabor boots?

I came across Gabor brand boots on Amazon the other day and realized I've never heard of this brand. Many of their boots have buckles that make the calves adjustable, but I'm not sure how slim their shafts really are even when fully buckled. There are no reviews currently. I'm thinking about ordering a pair to review but wanted to ask the community first in case some of you have advice to share. Here are a few that stood out to me on Amazon. 

Gabor Tall Adjustable Calf boot 75.789 ($325)

Gabor 36.596 boot ($270-$355)

Gabor Fashion Basic Tall boot ($300)

Gabor 31.503 Boot ($150-$345)

There's also a different pair on Zappos that is listed as having a 13.75" calf for a size 8, but still no reviews.

I'd love to hear from anyone with insight to share!

~ Little Contessa

Monday, October 7, 2013

Review: Mercanti Fiorentini Lazio Riding Boots

Although the positive reviews and listed calf circumference of 13" were encouraging, these boots did not live up to their hype. My true size 6 felt a half-size too large. The circumference was about 14" and the buckles were not useful in adjusting the calf size significantly. Perhaps a size 5 would be a better fit, but I'm not crazy enough about the style to order it again. At this price point, I expect a great fit. Sorry for the terrible photo! I will try to find a spot with better light.

Mercanti Fiorentini Lazio ($200) with leggings

Review: Unisa Terena Riding Boot

I ordered Unisa's Terena riding boots ($60) because they received so much "skinny calf" praise from reviewers. I hoped they'd be an affordable option that would work with skirts. Sadly, they were not a great fit for me. The calf circumference of a size 6 was closer to 14" and there was quite a bit of gaping throughout the shaft. The boots are not leather, which is to be expected at this price point. The shaft is a bit high and hit the bottom of my knee. 
The search continues....

~ Little Contessa

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Review: Aldo Floria

A good flat boot that works for slim calves is a very difficult find. The last one that worked well for me was the Simple Brrlin boot, and I bought two pairs. I'm happy to say that Aldo's Floria boot may also be a pretty good option. The boots come with a built-in knit sock "collar," so although the outer circumference is around 13.5", the inner sock wrapped around my 12" calves nicely. At 15" in length, the boots fell comfortably below my knee. The leather is a soft, slouchy suede and although the arch support seems minimal, I think they'll be decently comfortable for walking. One thing that confused me was that the boots arrived with the zipper sewn shut. Since I wasn't sure if I'd keep the boots and since I could pull them over my slim calf (even with jeans) pretty easily, I didn't try to break the thread and unzip the boots. I just assumed this would be possible, since the descriptions of the boots say it has a pull tab zipper. However, one reviewer on Zappos said she wasn't able to unzip the boots. I'm not sure I believe that the zipper is non-functional, but if any of you have experience with it, feel free to chime in. 

I ordered a size 6 (black) and the sizing felt right. I'm really looking for flat / riding boots that I can wear with skirts and I'm not sure how I'd feel about wearing these with skirts because of their slouchy-ness. However, I do think these are a nice, slightly dressier option than my Simple boots so I'm still considering keeping them. Aldo Floria are available at Zappos, Amazon, Aldo, and Asos

With jeans