I still remember the embarrassment all these years later. I was about 15 years old and was shopping with my mum (still my number one person for an honest opinion), and I got stuck in a pair of black suede boots from Schuh. I so desperately wanted them to fit around my calves, so I squeezed every last centimetre of life out of the side zip and then couldn't get out of them. Panic, a hot flush and an emergency payment ensued. I eventually managed to get the boots stretched at a cobbler and wore them in a lot, and they ended up being a pair that worked for some time, but was it worth the public shame? Probably not.
Fact is, knee-high boots are often designed and manufactured with only the slimmest of legs in mind. I'm only a size 10-12 and petite at 5'1'', and if I struggle on this front, I can only imagine that there are thousands of women out there with the same or even worse frustrations when it comes to buying something that plays an integral part in our annual autumn/winter wardrobes. Things have improved since the '90s because stretch boots are far more common now, but why should we of the "abnormally large calves" crew be so limited with options? Why can't I find a great pair of leather pull-on knee boots, dammit? Well, now I can, and it's all thanks to fashion expert Erica Davies's collaboration with John Lewis & Partners.
Last October when she talked about this on her Instagram account, @erica_davies, she "was absolutely inundated with messages from women of all sizes who shared their feelings of body shame and frustration," reads a recent post. She had a barrage of responses from those who felt the same way, but she also had shoe designers getting in touch to explain that the circumference measurements hadn't changed in a long, long time, despite average sizes in the UK being larger than before. "I just couldn't believe that this was SUCH a widespread issue, that there was a captive market sitting right there! So I took my findings and moodboards to John Lewis. And with their brilliantly responsive footwear team and technologists, I created this: the John Lewis x Erica Davies boot edit—their most inclusive range of boots to date, 10-15% wider than average," she wrote on Instagram.
Launching a few days ago, some of the 10 styles on offer have already sold out, which is not surprising. Not only is Davies the kind of woman who has style many want to emulate, but this kind of wider-leg offering is also rare. I tried a few pairs out from the range to see if they worked for me, and I'm pleased to report nothing was too tight—a breakthrough, my friends. Keep scrolling to see some of the boots in action and to shop the versions that are still available.
I have definitely found Chelsea boots to be problematic in the past, giving me a rather undesirable ankle muffin top. Not with these bad boys!
They're a perfect height for dashing around while still getting a little lift. And the square toe references a '90s look which feels current again.
This leopard-print colourway works particularly well with denim IMHO.
These were my favourite boots of all the styles I tried. Why? They're ultra-comfortable and surprisingly versatile and tap into this season's big trend for knee-high chunky flats.
The black version has already sold out, and I can understand why, but you'd be surprised at how many looks and colours a taupe pair can work with.
These were a little loose around my calves (a first time for everything), and they have stretch panels, so I think these will be a real winner for anyone requiring more room.
I'm always between a size 3 and 4, and I'd recommend sizing down, as the 4s ended up being a tad too big for me on the toe.
I love the colour, print and finish of these scrunchy boots, but I'd recommend them to someone taller than me! They cut slightly too high on my knees but would work for everyone else I know.
They're a great option for those of you who don't want high-high heels but still like to make a statement. Again, these were a looser-fit style for me, so there's plenty of room for anyone with larger calves.