Well, a week on, and I still have a ridiculous black eye though it’s starting to fade in interesting ways. I’m not quite ready to start taking more outfit shots, so I thought I’d do a Lust List instead. Since we’re coming into boots weather in Australia, I thought I’d give you all a heads-up about The Bootmakers.
Gone are the days when you couldn’t find wide-calf boots for love or money – companies have started to cotton-on to the fact that not all of us have calves the width of an eight year old’s forearms, but most of us would still like to buy knee-high boots when the weather turns cold.
I remember the sheer unabashed joy I felt zipping up the first pair of knee-high leather boots that I bought. They’re still in my wardrobe today, though they’re starting to look a little worse for wear after all these years. In the subsequent years I’ve had custom-made boots, Synthetic stretch boots, and most recently Wide-fit pleather boots.
I’m still on the hunt for the PERFECT boots supplier though. The problem is that I’ve got awkward legs. They’re very muscular in the calf, but the ankle is quite narrow, and just below the knee is, too.
What that means is that when I buy boots “off the rack” (so to speak) they will invariably bunch around my ankles, and swim around my knees, but will be a struggle to zip up over my calves. Duo fits by calf width, but not by leg height or ankle width, and generic “wide fit boots” often don’t fit at all, and if they do they’re wide everywhere; foot, ankle, and shaft. The custom-fit boots are great, but there’s such a limited number of styles, and the quality of the materials isn’t great.
I’ve been keen to try The Bootmakers since I first came across them in my eternal search for The Perfect Red Knee-High Boot (ongoing). This season, I’m finally getting the opportunity to give them a whirl.
The Bootmakers have been around for a number of years, and are based out of London, but manufacture is done at their family-owned workshop in Portugal using Italian leather. Sounds good, huh?
They fit wide calves, narrow calves, even different sized feet and calves. Check out their comprehensive fitting guide; I love how they take into account the narrowness of your ankle and the length of your leg, not just the measurement at the widest point on your calf. Leather lining is standard, and they even offer a full no-question replacement policy on the off chance your bespoke boots don’t fit you. They’ll even fix your boots for you for a negligible fee if they don’t fit because you stuffed the measurements up yourself. This is definitely a company that wants happy customers. Judging by their Facebook page they have them, too.
Of course, the biggest problem with The Bootmakers is deciding what to order. They have nearly thirty different boots styles, and nearly twenty different leathers including coloured suedes, animal print, patent leathers, crocodile, and snake prints too.
These are my favourites at the moment:
This looks like a great all-purpose boot. The stocky little heel is just 5.5cm tall and fully leather covered (quality, that). I have a penchant for rounded toes and the seams at the sides, around the top, and on the toe cap add a little bit of interest.
I think I’ve mentally dubbed this the “yummy mummy” boot, because I can imagine it zipped up over skinny jeans with some delicious long sweater layered over the top. And that seems to be the yummy mummy uniform of choice in Melbourne. Officially I believe it’s a traditional riding boot style. I guess you could layer them over jodhpurs too.
These are HOT. The sky-high heel looks scarier than it actually is, because it’s paired with a discreet little platform. The toe is that rounded almond shape that’s so classic. These are definitely serious boots for grown-ups.
At the other end of the spectrum you have the Zara, which comes with a moulded rubber sole. This is actually kind of perfect for me, because I’m a ridiculous klutz, especially in rainy weather, and I slip and fall on my ass with great regularity. A very practical all-purpose boot.
Another grown-up pair of boots with a slim-fitting foot, and a buckle detail at the back. But to be honest I can’t get past the BRIGHT RED CONTRAST LINING! Swooooon!
My old housemate Joss used to wear the cutest little ankle boots with almost all her outfits, and I loved them teamed with tights and dresses, it was a little bit hipster-Edwardian. I think these look delicious, though with my curvy calves I’d be more likely to team them with slim fit trousers.
When my boots arrive I’ll do a full review and lots of photos, and there might even be a special discount on offer, but in the meanwhile if you’re interested in winning a pair of ankle boots The Bootmakers are running a competition on Facebook. Just drop in on their fan page and leave them a comment saying Lilli from Frocks and Frou Frou sent you and they’ll put you into the draw to win your own pair of custom-made boots.
While you’re on Facebook you might like to swing past the Lane Bryant Style-Off page to check out the outfits the other LB bloggers have put together for Full Figured Fashion Week (if you’re on a mobile device, you’ll have to go via this link). There’s some amazing looking ensembles. If you feel comfortable with it I’d love you to vote in the competition, but Facebook is doing that annoying thing where it won’t let you vote unless you give it access to public profile & friend list, and if that squicks you out I completely understand.
Perfect red boots, I finally found them. Try the bloomed boot from mix mooz. I got a pair from Overland in NZ. Seriously. So cute.
I’m too wide calf for the Miz Mooz wide calf boots, alas 🙁 I tried them a few seasons ago
beautiful boots, but with soles that thin, not for Polish winter for sure 🙂
No, you poor thing! We don’t get a lot of snow in Australia, I’ll be the first to admit.
snow is nothing, but salted snow is becoming dirty slush that literally is eating the boots of any kind. no leather protection is good enough, decent soles is the only option…
sigh, I must get waterproof/saltproof boots for the next winter.
Thanks for the tip. I also have the ankle problem. I have been craving a pair of glossy black boots to cheer me up as the weather gets cold!
Yum! I had red patent leather boots from Duo a few years ago, and I loved them – such a statement item – but they were just too big about around the knees 🙁
I recently bought the black wedge boot from Autograph for $99.99. Not surprisingly the quality leaves A LOT to be desired (one day of driving only to and from work and there is a worn spot on the wedge) and the calf is really too big all around. I’m just going to have to save up and buy a decent pair of boots.
I think it’s worth it – I always believe that it’s better to spend more money on investment pieces that you’ll wear again and again every year!
I’ve noticed that you are doing a lot of posts recently that appear to be plugging companies – is this something that you’re going to be doing more often?
That’s a fair question – let me try to answer it concisely… It’s due to a combination of several things:
First, as you probably know I was accepted as a member of this year’s Fashion Front, which is a really exciting opportunity for me, but a costly one, too. I get entry to some of the most exciting events in the plus size fashion calendar, but first I have to pay to get myself over to New York, and accommodation and expenses. With my husband living overseas at the moment I’m also living off a single wage, and as a result I haven’t been doing much shopping lately. I’m also conscious of not repeating myself too often on the blog. I try to keep things fresh, and when I wear and re-wear and re-wear the same outfit it can get a bit stale… plus there’s only so many different things you can say about the same outfit.
Fortunately , after the Voices 2013 and the Full Figure Fashion Week announcements a number of companies have approached me with the offer to try their products. This is also a great opportunity, but it does come with an expectation that a post will be written profiling them, their company, and their product. Because in the last few weeks since the FFFWeek announcement I haven’t done much shopping with my own money, most of the new stuff I’ve been blogging about has been samples or gifts.
For what it’s worth, I’m very careful about the companies that I review, and I say “no” as often as I say “yes”. I’ve turned down offers from companies that do shape wear, some who don’t have a broad range of sizes, some whose products don’t fit my aesthetic. And I’ve sent several things back to companies un-reveiwed because I haven’t felt like I could honestly write a positive review for them, and I don’t feel comfortable posting negative reviews on the site.
Frocks and Frou Frou doesn’t generate a profit, because I don’t have advertising on my site. This is a deliberate choice on my behalf, but I think sometimes people forget that the time I spent writing the blog, responding to emails, researching trends, sewing and crafting DIY and Remix projects isn’t something I get paid for, and that it actually costs me money for the hosting, the domain name, and the majority of the clothes, accessories and materials that I buy.
But back to your question, is this something I’ll be doing more often?
Yes, and no. I’m not going to turn down opportunities to try products from a new plus-size fashion designer, or a wide-calf boot company that I’ve been eyeing off for three years. It allows me to show my readers new products without it costing me money. But once I’ve stopped having to save madly for this trip, and I have a bit more disposable income to spend on myself I think things will go back to normal.
I guess the best thing I can promise is that I’ll continue to run Frocks and Frou Frou as honestly and as ethically as possible. And if I’m “plugging” a company I can promise you it’s because I believe in them, and I’ve been impressed with their products. Because you guys, my readers, are more important to me than the corporations.
Good question. Great answer xxx
I agree with Cilla. I saw it as a fair question with no malice and your reply was perfect.
Rats! Looks like my response from yesterday didn’t get added 🙁
to sum up – love the response to this question (maybe it should be put on the main page as not all of us read comments!). Would love to hear the not so great reviews on products (maybe save us a heartbreak (or shipping cost) or two!.
I’m on my third pair of Duo boots and also have the saggy baggy ankle problem, great to know there are other options out there. And personally i think you should get paid for what you do 😉
I invested in some yummy mummy boots last year from The Bootmakers as I am very tall and struggled to find a pair tall enough for my liking. After an initial stuff up with the order (the boots arrived way, way too big, and nowhere near the measurements I supplied), which resulted in several phone calls from Stephen in the UK, me being required to send him a dozen photos which demonstrated said stuff up, and me then having to sell the pair in order to pay them back!, a new pair were made and shipped to me. Despite, this and the fact that it took about 3 months to actually get my boots, I do love them. They are such great quality, fit perfectly, and are comfortable to boot (haha). Even if they do make me look like just a mummy.
Target is now also stocking specially labelled wide calf boots too. My target boots have done 3 winters and still look good (but admittedly in Perth winters aren’t that harsh!).
although probably not made of Italian leather! hahaha
I love my Duo boots,sending in all your measurements ensures you get boots that fit. Well worth every penny!
That’s interesting to hear about custom bootmakers. I love my Duo boots, but I get the tight calves, loose knees problem too, as they don’t quite hit the right spots on my short lil legs. (It’s the same issue with pants that aren’t a petite size, either – it’s not just the hem, the knee and calf and everything hit the wrong spots and it all fits strangely.) My Duo boots are still great, but I’ll keep the custom route in mind if I ever want to splash out on ~the one and only pair~ of boots.
I bought some duo boots after seeing yours- they’re not perfect, the ankles are a bit too big and sag but it’s so nice to have boots that zip up. I have horrid memories of tear filled boot buying expeditions- sigh!
I guess I don’t see this as you plugging a product. Lots of these brands are ones you’ve talked about previously, either you’ve bought from or wish you could. As long as you retain your integrity, as you have, and accurately reflect what you think of products then I think it’s ok for you and us!
Oh boots…. grrr. I have similar legs to you and only 5’2″ and UK size 4 1/2, which makes it nigh on impossible, despite what is on offer! Many companies define wide (or even extra-wide) as 40 or 41 cm. Not much use when I need at least 45 cm to stand a a chance. And that’s mail order that costs a fortune to send back… I did try Duo and it was mind-bogglingly expensive, both to buy and to send back – yep, despite giving my measurements in detail, they were too tight. I kept the last pair out of frustration and not wanting to pay MORE p&p (and I’d had to pay customs, too) but have never worn them – they would probably fit if I lost 10 kg but I don’t live that way!!
I did find the perfect black riding boot in Evans about 6 years ago, albeit in a UK 6. I have worn and worn them and last winter got them completely re-soled, they are leather and cost £80 and I love them. The “wader” look round the knees is minimal… that is my major problem. My ankles aren’t quite as slim as they used to be (approaching 50, here!), it’s the width at the knees that bugs me and makes me look as if I’m about to go swashbuckling!
This winter I found brown riding boots that fit at Waschbär, an ethical company that sells here in Switzerland and the boots made, I think, in Portugal. However, they did have that dreaded “wader” effect. Although they cost me CHF 320 I spent another CHF 100 for a shoemaker to put a dart in the top. He was reluctant but it resulted in an almost perfect boot :)!
Now my quest would be for a nice straight boot with a block heel about 2-2 1/2″… sigh. Let’s get summer over, first (narrow sandals anyone?!)…
Super looking forward to your bespoke boots review! And just as a side note, I absolutely LOVE seeing you recycle your outfits. Financially, things are tight for me also at the moment – and I find the way you mix and match older pieces to be super inspirational. You add fresh touches that I wouldn’t have ever thought of, and helps me approach my own VERY small wardrobe with fresh eyes! P.S. I love the polkadot Liz Jordan blouse! Fits perfectly, except for my chubby arms!
Do you know when the winner will be notified?
Brilliant, thank you so much! I have ordered a couple of pairs because I’ve spend thousands on gorgeous boots that look terrible and are uncomfortable on me because of massive bunching around the ankle. 40% off bespoke boots, yes please! I am surprised by the fact they don’t do half shoe sizes, though that’s never been a real issue for me because shoe size can be adjusted so easily with socks, arch supports, or cosy sheepskin liners.
The eternal search for the perfect pair of boots! I do love the Burleigh (I’m looking for some brown boots) and the red lining on the Buckingham is to die for, so I’ll check out Bootmakers, they look great. There is a Canberra company called Boots For Broads (www.bootsforbroads.com). They measure you up (either in person at their market stall or via their website). All the boots are made in Vietnam and take about 2-3 weeks to arrive and are about $250 a pair. I ordered one pair and they were okay, but the zip was plastic and broke within a year. I did get them in 2010, so perhaps they have lifted their game. Their website has changed considerably. I don’t mind paying for quality, especially when it comes to shoes, so I might give Bootmakers a try.