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Plumcake’s Picks: Wide Calf Boots from Duo

I’ve got to be honest here, I cannot even THINK of wearing boots right now.

It’s Austin’s six-millionth day in a row with temperatures destined to be over 100 degrees and the suggestion of donning anything but the wispiest of cotton lawn dresses and the flimsiest of sandals fills me with a sticky overheated dread.

However, Duo Boots, that blessed British purveyor of wide-calf boots for the big girl, is offering free international shipping for a limited time and since it can take up to a month for your kicks to clear customs, it’s a good idea to order now for arrival by the beginning of October.

I’ve got a wide, extremely muscular calf and it’s almost impossible to find boots other than those dreadful cheap-looking microfiber stretch jobbers to fit my legs.

I am a big fan of Duo and one of the most fun evenings of my life involved a pair of Duo over-the-knee suede boots and their effects on the masculine population of Shannon, Ireland.

 

Let’s start out with the Belice raspberry suede knee boot.

What a fantastic date boot. A deep red like this can really be played as a neutral since you could wear it with black for a chic downtown thing, a rich chocolate for a sophisticated upscale presentation and navy for a fun and slightly unexpected look.

These are also available in black. Remember, suede stretches a good deal more than nappa leather so if you’re between calf sizes you might want to order down.

Next there’s the Salso taupe suede knee boots with cone heel.

I really dig these because taupe is an unusual color for boots. You’ve got great opportunity to play with texture here.

I imagine the taupe boots over a pair of nude fishnet tights, a fun wool skirt and fuzzy angora sweater, all in the same tones. You’ve got something funky and incredibly sophisticated without it screaming fashion victim.

The taupe is also a good choice for those of you who live in a place with long winters since it’s easily trasitionable into a spring look where you need that extra warmth but don’t want the visual weight of a heavy black boot.

I showed these Amora croc embossed black boots yesterday during the teaser.

These came out late last year and when I saw them I made a sort of strangled gurgle of pleasure.

They remind me of a pair of Hermes jumping boots I saw four years ago and which I have coveted for approximately every waking second since. Except, you know, not $25,000.

For those of you who like a pointier (though not razor sharp) toe in a boot, we’ve got the Parina in burgundy suede.

Another great boot in a color that can be treated as neutral.

Can you just imagine this with a pair of gray tights and a slightly slouchy little sweater dress in October? Completely effortless and gorgeous. Your friends will hate you…but in a good way.

If you want something classic, statement-y but still casual,  the Catalonia tan riding boot should be right up your alley.

The great thing about these is they can be styled dozens of ways.

Dark jeans, big earrings and a little striped top? Adorable date night outfit a la Edie Sedgwick. Same jeans with a rock tee and a grandpa cardigan? Cool and effortless for running around during the day or a concert at night.

Finally we have the Florence black equestrian boot. Talk about merciless chic, they’ve got the style of a Spanish show riding boot with a low cut back and they just slay me.

Put these with a pair of light honey leggings for a horsey set look or do head to toe black and a bright silk scarf or enormous jewelery for a bit of Parisienne cool.

Do you have a favorite way to wear boots? Put your best boot outfit in the comments and help your sisters out!

 

 

 

 

Pssst…Free shipping on wide calf boots from Duo!

I’m working on a big post for tomorrow, but I wanted to let you all know right now that DUO Boots, those wonderful British purveyors of boots made to fit your calf– is offering free international shipping for a limited time. How limited? They’re not saying, and since shipping can set you back over $100 for just a few pairs, now is the time to stock up on your wide calf boots.

I’m a tough critic and their Tulip boots were knockouts for me last year, so go get while the getting is good!

Review Revue: Duo Tulip Boots

Okay gang, I am about to reveal a deep and shocking secret about myself. I mean this is some next-level Final Season of Oprah stuff that’s about to go down. Ready?

I am, at times, a teensy bit particular.

I will graciously wait while you try to reclaim some sense in your now topsy-turvy universe.

Good.

That being said, there’s a difference between being particular and being unreasonable. If I’m going to my favorite Highly Questionable Taco Cart (Taqueria Las Rosas #2 holla at your girl! Orale!) I don’t expect haute cuisine, I don’t ask too many questions. I just take my taco, try not to knock over any of their fiber optic/ patriotic Jesus statuary and call it a noche.

The same goes for shoes and clothing. If I’m buying a $50 dress, I expect a few threads hanging here or there or less-than-luxe fabrication. If I’m dropping $500? My standards are a lot higher.

My standards were high when I ordered two pairs of boots from London-based Duo.

After hemming and hawing, I decided on the black suede over-the-knee Tulip and the cognac leather knee-high Rochelle.

Duo boots aren’t astronomically expensive –most of the boots run around $225-$325, perfectly reasonable for a pair of quality European-made leather boots– but their flagship fitting room is on Savile Row, a street in London that’s been shorthand for flawless bespoke tailoring for over 200 years.

You do not mess around on Savile Row.

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, my initial experience with Duo was not a pleasant one.

Even allowing for the cultural difference (I’m not saying Texans are necessarily nicer people, I’m just saying you think twice about being rude to someone if you’re in a concealed handgun state) I was Not Impressed with the attitude I received from the customer service when after close to a month, I asked after the whereabouts of my boots. That being said my other interactions have been –I won’t say overly warm, but the British didn’t build an empire on warmth– but absolutely satisfactory.

The Fit:

Getting into them is a wee bit difficult as the zipper only goes up to the knee, but a full zip would ruin the look. The toe box is nice and roomy for a wide foot with an elegant almond toe and surprisingly cushy padding, and although the ankle was a bit loose for my personal preference –I have slender ankles for someone with big calves– they were cut generously enough to fit a thick-ankled woman without looking slouchy on someone with slimmer ones. I ordered my regular size and went down a centimeter on the calf fit because leather –especially suede– stretches and I don’t like the slouch-boot look.

The Construction:

The suede is excellent and uniformly soft with only minor flaws in the nap.

These flaws are just going to happen with any natural material and I was pleasantly surprised by its quality and softness. I don’t know what animal they use but it feels like lamb or kid, both of which make suedes with a much finer texture than calf. If it IS calf then I am even more impressed.

The lining was another happy surprise: an incredibly supple fuchsia nappa leather extending to the top of the zipper. The over-the-knee part is finished with the same black suede as the outside, which means you can wear them cuffed to knee-height if your little heart desires.

The stitching is small and even, with the thread changes noticeable but not prominent (anyone who asks why I care about thread changes has clearly never been poked in the leg all day by a bristle-stiff loose end from an improperly secured thread change) and the turns are sharp, no lazy finishing here.

I noticed a few less-than-straight cuts on the leather lining, but I’d classify that more in the realm of adding charm than detracting from the quality.

Comfort:
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Fat Foot Week! Five Great: Tall Boots for the Fatted Calf

You know what? “Wide calf” boots can just go ahead and bite me. They SAY “wide calf” but are like, 16″ instead of 14″ and it makes me insane. I do not have freakishly large calves and they are almost pure muscle –which is what happens when a girl genetically predispositioned to muscular calves goes to college built into the side of a mountain– so WHY is it so damn hard to find boots that fit my damn legs?

I get SO. MANY. EMAILS. asking for a good pair of knee high boots for under $100. Honestly I think that’s aiming a little low for a real leather boot, even if it is made in China, but it shouldn’t be impossible to find an at least marginally better than average quality solid leather –I HATE those stupid elastic panels– boot for $200.

Which brings me to the subject of Good Boots.

There are some shoes where you can cheap out. Fabric evening shoes? You can get a nice pair of Nina’s for $60 and no one’s the wiser, but boots take up too much visual space and attention to go cheap and cheap boots look cheap. Which isn’t to say I didn’t wear the hell out of my white stretch vinyl boots when I was doing burlesque-flavored go-go on the weekends (good times) but that is not this.

Obviously you could go with calf-fit boots from Duo. Right now they’re having a HUGE honking sale so this might be your best bet if you’re looking to buy boots right now.

That being said,  I also have been Less Than Impressed with the Duo customer service. I ordered two pairs of boots on January 1st. They warned that shipments to the US might take a bit longer than the seven day delivery thanks to slowdown in customs. But it’s been 15 business days since I ordered them and they haven’t even made it through customs. Not only did they not send a tracking number automatically (and doesn’t EVERYONE do that these days?) when I contacted customer service they were not especially polite or friendly.

They finally provided me with tracking numbers. Turns out my boots haven’t even made it through customs yet, and I find it awfully unusual that I can get a pair of shoes shipped from Italy and have them get through customs in two days, but these boots from England are taking the better part of a week.

And interestingly, when I asked where exactly the boots were made, the response was “Our boots are made in small family owned factories throughout Southern Europe, using leather sourced from Italy.” and that sounds juuust a little shady to me, because to me when you say Southern Europe instead of Spain or Italy that means Turkey and Croatia and I’m just not super comfortable with the idea of boots being made in non-EU European countries. Anyway, I had two DUO boots listed as recommended, but they’ve left a bad taste in my mouth, I’m taking them off until I get the boots (and they had better be PERFECTION).

ANYHOODLE let’s have some boots, shall we?
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How to Wear It: Jeggings

Let me be clear: I hate the word jeggings.

Usually it’s a crapshoot whether fashion portmanteaux stick or not. Remember when they were trying to make “shooties” happen? It failed, as well it should. However, it looks like we’re stuck with jeggings so we might as well deal.

Jeggings are leggings that are supposed to look like jeans. They are like skinny jeans on speed and as such should be approached with great fear and trembling. Also, it is important to remember that just as Tights Are Not Pants and Leggings Are Not Pants, Jeggings Are Not Pants. They are closer to pants than traditional leggings and tights, but just like making out with your third cousin is not technically as wrong as making out with your first cousin, it’s still something that’s best avoided, even in emergencies.

I have never been a fan of the skinny jean on big girls because it’s such a tricky look to deploy. Big girls, like Tolstoy’s unhappy families are all big (or unhappy) in different ways. Yet back in October my bff Meghan, who was also a plus-size model and is even more beautiful than I am (if you can imagine such a thing), was not just wearing but actively rocking jeggings. My tiny world was turned upside down.

I was tempted.

Finally, after serious and measured consideration –let it not be said that anyone, myself included, gets into my pants without effort– I caved. I’d just purchased two pair tall boots from DUO, the over-the-knee (though foldable for when the OTK look is out) Tulip in black suede and the possibly sold out Rochelle in a gorgeous cognac leather and I really did need an incredibly slim-cut jean to wear with them.


No, I didn’t get them in purple suede. There is a very particular type of woman who can get away with wearing over-the-knee purple suede boots. I am not that type of woman.

So on the advice of Meghan, I picked up a pair of the Lane Bryant knit jeggings. Rumor has it these are about to be discontinued in favor for jeggings without a functional fly so if you want a pair, get them with a quickness.

They are surprisingly good. Unfortunately, you pretty much have to be tall and have shapely legs to make these work.

I hate saying this because I’m tall and have shapely legs and I feel like it’s saying “I can wear this, but you can’t.” But if you’re short and round, this might not be a great look for you. On the other hand, you’ve got miniskirts and the adorable thing going on, plus you get all the tall guys so you’re just gotta let us have this one.

On the bright side –I’m talking to you, apples– if you ARE reasonably tall and have reasonably shapely legs, it doesn’t matter what you’ve got going on up top, you can rock the jegging and look great doing it.

The trick is careful shoe selection. (more…)

‘Tis the Season for the Punk Rawk Grrl

Dr. Martens 20-eye Tartan Boots I sort of missed my window of opportunity for Docs –at least big statementy ones like these– and I regret it. While I have a hard time liking them on anyone over about twenty five, they’re an iconic part of the punk look, and you can’t mess with an icon. Just ask Cher.

Patti Smith Complete 1975-2006: Lyrics, Reflections & Notes for the Future For the punk kid with an intellectual bent. Women are woefully underrepresented in the annals of punk, so if all you know is Horses, do yourself a solid and dive a little deeper into the great poet of punk.

Perfecto-style Leather Classic Biker Motorcycle Jacket (great sales on this brand) If you want to go all out, pick up a vintage Schott Perfecto. Marlon Brando wore the 618 in The Wild One but I believe our mutual friends The Ramones preferred the 613.

Too Fast to Live Too Young to Die Vivienne Westwood ring. Punk isn’t dead, it’s just in a different tax bracket.

Be sure to check back at the main ‘Tis the Season page to look back on profiles you’ve missed and look forward to ones that are soon to come!

‘Tis the Season for the Anglomaniac

Vivienne Westwood Anglomania Rain Boots
Chef’s Choice Cordless Electric Kettle
Jeeves and Wooster: The Complete Series
Alexander McQueen Studded Brittania Clutch (wah)

Be sure to check back at the main ‘Tis the Season page to look back on profiles you’ve missed and look forward to ones that are soon to come!

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