Sunday, September 29, 2013

Wide Calf Boots Buying Guide

Finding wide calf boots that look nice sucks. And if you're on a budget? Might as well go barefoot and freeze to death. Sure, it can be done--if you sit and read descriptions online and read reviews and go to stores and try things on and place online orders and return things...but who has time for that? I am certainly not one of those humans who has time for all of that...but I'm also not one of those humans who will let a pair of wide calves get in the way of having awesome boots. So--I did it anyway. And now, hopefully, you won't have to.

How to Measure Your Calves

Look, I know you're not stupid. Measuring your calves is pretty simple. Bust out that measuring tape and measure around the widest part of your calf. But here's something you may not know: If you're 5'3" or shorter, you need to add another inch to this measurement. Why? Because, generally speaking, boots get wider closer to the top of the boot. If you're short, the widest part of your calf is going to be down lower than someone who is tall. So you're going to have to get a wider boot than someone who is 5'8", even if you have the exact calf circumference as that person. I will turn 28 this year and this is the first time this bit of information was ever shared with all 5'3" of me. Also, be sure to measure both calves. One of my calves is a whole unfortunate inch larger than the other. Keep in mind: In most cases, the bigger the boot size, the wider the calf will be. 

For Reference

I have one 16" calf and one 17" calf. I am 5'3". I usually wear a size 7 or 7.5 in shoes. I generally buy boots a size larger to accommodate winter wear. My hair is naturally turquoise. 

Kayleigh Wide-Calf Side-Buckle Boot by Comfortview

I ordered these 2 years ago from Jessica London and wore them about to death. They are still available for $59.99-$64.99 (depending on size) and will fit calves 17" (for size 7) up to 20" (for size 12). I got them in a size 8. 

They are still wearable and I love the look and color of them. They go with everything. They are comfortable and a perfect height and width for me. They do have a side zip, but I can get them off and on without unzipping them.

Because they are faux leather, bits of the fake leather have come off in places. The toes are beat up and I've had to use Shoe Goo to re-apply the soles several times. I like the look of the buckles down the sides but they've snagged things while I was sitting or walking in close proximity on more than one occasion. 

Stevie Wide-Calf Boot by Comfortview

I bought these last year from Jessica London and wore them constantly. If they'd been real leather and therefore held up slightly better, I'd probably still be wearing them. They are still available for $69.99-$74.99 (depending on size) and will fit calves 17" (for size 7) up to 20" (for size 12). I got them in a size 8.
I like the buckle around the ankle and I LOVE the red zipper up the back of these. It is reminiscent of the Frye boots I so desperately want but, at around $400 and with no guarantee of them fitting my ginormous calves, I just can't pull the trigger. When I found these for $70 instead I was pretty sure I had tricked the system. The calves on these are huge. I'm putting that in the "pro" section, but depending on your calf size this could easily be a "con." The website lists the same measurements for these boots as for the Kayleigh, but these are definitely wider. They are also very warm.

I don't love the color and wish they were a bit browner like the Kayleigh boots. The leather looks very fake and did not hold up well, particularly on the toes which are almost entirely rubbed down to the lining. For my short height they could have been ever so slightly shorter, but I don't hate the height. There is a flap at the back of the boots (I guess to provide more room) but in my case I didn't need the extra room and found the extra flap to be an annoyance, as it is constantly popping out. 

Lumiani International Collection Laila Extra Wide Calf

This year I decided to only buy real leather boots and save myself the heartache of getting attached to the perfect boots but seeing them destroyed within weeks. I purchased these from for $67.60, but they're now on sale for $50.70. They come in four colors. I got them in a size 8 and the website lists the calf circumference as 19".

They're real leather and they fit! 

I don't know--I just didn't love these. I was able to get them on, but because there's no zipper it wasn't the easiest thing I've ever done--even though according to the website I should have had plenty of room in these. They came up slightly too high on me. The leather seemed to be good quality but I didn't really like the look of it after I saw them in person. They had sort of a cobble-stone look to them rather than the smooth look I realized then that I preferred. I was going to return these but ended up selling them to a co-worker instead, who, for what it's worth, really enjoys them. 

Lumiani International Collection Laila Extra Wide Calf

Fitzwell Sante Fe Extra Wide Calf Boot

I'd heard a lot of good things about the Fitzwell brand for wide calf boots so I decided to try them out. I purchased for $69.99 from but they're now on sale for $59.99. They come in two colors. I got them in a size 8. The website says the circumference on these is 17" but I found them to be MUCH wider than the Lumiani boots which were listed at 19". 

These are SUPER wide. They're actually a bit too wide for me...enough so that I considered returning them, but then my crazy kicked in and I started thinking about how I might want to have super wide boots in case of pregnancy and swollen legs. So I decided to keep them. I like the smooth look of the leather and they are a good height on me.

They aren't my favorite color. The picture above shows them as more of a brown/tan color, but that's because there's a filter on that puppy. The pictures below are a more accurate reflection of the color. I'm not really sure I can properly explain it, but the heels are weird to me. They're something. I'd kind of prefer there was no heel at all. My least favorite part is the elastic part on the insides. I understand it's there for more stretch but I just don't think it's attractively done and these are wide enough that I didn't need it there anyway.

Fitzwell Sante Fe Extra Wide Calf Boot

My Favorites: Jessica Simpson 'Elmont' Boot (Wide Calf)

By the time I purchased these, I'd already bought three other pairs this season and it's not even really cold yet. I'd tried to find a pair of genuine leather, wide-calf boots for under $100 that I loved but they'd all been just "meh" at best. Finally I broke down and paid a bit more money for these. I ordered them from for $168.49 (including tax) in a size 8. The circumference is listed online as 15" but says it stretches to fit. I was nervous to buy them (that's kind of a lot of stretching to fit there) but I know Nordstrom is great about returns so I went ahead and did it. 

These are the perfect color to go with everything. Not too brown, not too gray, but a rich brownish tan. The color paired with the subtle buckle accents were exactly what I was looking for. The leather is perfect and soft. The back has elastic goring panels that I had originally ruled out in my boot search beacuse I think it's tacky...but I think these are really tastefully done and it certainly helps them fit a variety of calf sizes (including, thankfully, mine). The other good part about the elastic goring is that it allows the boots to fit without looking huge at the top, like other boots that are fully fashioned in leather. (See the last picture of the Fitzwells to see what I mean.) 

I'd had these for less than two weeks when I broke the front of the zipper pull off. The actual zipping mechanism was still there so I was still able to zip them up and down, but it defintely sucked having them break so early--especially considering these were my comparatively expensive boots. I returned them in-store at Nordstrom and got a new pair sent to me in a couple days (they don't sell these in-store). So far, so good on the zipper front but I am much more careful with them now. They could be a half inch to an inch shorter on me to really be perfect, but other than that, no complaints.

Jessica Simpson 'Elmont' Boot (Wide Calf)

UPDATE: I returned the original pair of these because the zipper broke. Within days the zipper broke on the second pair too, so I returned them as well. Nordstrom is great with returns so I didn't even need my receipt. I normally wear a size 7-7.5 and had sized up in these to an 8. They kind of hurt my feet and clearly the zipper was working too hard on the one calf. For the third pair I sized up to a size 9 and now they are PERFECT. My feet feel fabulous and the zipper is no longer struggling. I would definitely suggest sizing up. Be sure to read the comments below to see where other readers have found these for cheaper (and in black). 

And One That Didn't Work At All: Franco Sarto Crane Wide-Calf

These were my first purchase this year, but unfortunately they did not work out. I loved the color, the genuine leather, the back zipper, and the clean lines and thought that they would fit based upon the online sizing guide--but I made the rookie mistake of not adding the extra circumference inch for short humans. I was able to barely get them on, with a struggle, on my "skinny" calf but couldn't even zip them up on the other. If you have 16" calves or smaller they may work great for you. I paid $82.49 (with a discount code) for them from  I returned them and found the return process for to be pretty pain free. They have since sold out, but can still be purchased for $104.99 from

Monday, September 16, 2013

Mid-Century Monday

A couple weeks ago Kurt and I got lucky and happened upon a lockbox full of treasures for $5. That was a pretty exciting find, but it wasn't the only one that weekend. There was also this:

A Stetson "Fireworks" Bowl 

This doesn't seem like it would be all that rare but I've yet to see this color variation of the "fireworks" pattern from 1955-1965 available anywhere else. I paid $1 for it. 

This Busted Mid-Century Stool

Theoretically, I love this stool. The orange upholstery matches my bar and the legs are great. But in real life the seam is noticeably busted in one place and is strongly considering making a break for it in several other places as well. There are random paint spots all over it. And one of the metal caps is missing. In my head I'm going to fix it up to its former glory, but in real life that may very well never happen. I only spent $3 on this so I guess it's okay either way. 

A Future-Baby-Dresser

Look, you can call me a crazy baby lady all you want, but when you get pregnant and have to make a mad dash to Babies R Us to spend thousands of dollars on cookie cutter baby furniture, don't come crying to me about how you weren't absolutely insane enough to start furnishing a baby room before you ever even conceived. This estate sale find was $30 and is still sitting in the pole studio. It will, however, slowly but surely, migrate upstairs so I can start to prematurely fill it with baby stuff. 

I'm hoping it'll go nicely with this other estate sale find from a month or so ago. What's really weird is how this is already fully decorated. I don't know who did that. But I know she paid $20 for this. And I also know the books were hand-me-downs from her parents, the circus decor was from a baby shower she threw last winter, the winking Bailey cups were from an antique store for $5 each, the green wall art was from an estate sale for 75 cents, and the red Texas thing was a failed string art project. 

Bow Gloves for Teeny Tiny Lady Hands

AKA gloves that fit my abnormally small hands perfectly. Please don't mistake "small" for "dainty," however. I also have short little sausage fingers. When I look at my hands they remind of me the fat kid from The Goonies. The gloves were $2.

A Handmade Dress

Randomly stumbling across vintage clothing that fits you perfectly when you're not the skinniest broad on the block is quite the feat. Finding a dress with pockets though? Shut up. I love a dress with pockets. It has shoulder pads too and I'm not mad about it. I fished this gem out of a hundred degree attic and paid $4 for it. (I'm not exaggerating about the attic, either.) The hat is vintage, the belt is from Target, and the shoes are past season Charlotte Russe. 

This past weekend I ventured out alone to an hour-long estate flash sale and then to a flea market in Pasadena that has apparently been around since the beginning of time, but that I'm only just now finding out about. The following treasures were found:

Mid-Century Leather Tufted Bench & Fantastic Rainbow Pillows

I found the bench and three of the four pillows at the hour-long estate sale. The bench is in near-perfect condition and the pillows appear to be hand-made. I do a lot of vintage shopping so I can tell you that bright pink color is not so easy to come by. I paid $35 for all of them. The turquoise pillow in front was from the flea market and was $1. 

My long-term vision is to magically stumble across a mid-century buffet for under $100 and put it in this space. In the meantime I think the bench and pillows are doing an alright job. The shelves, the 3-tier planter, and the rug were all from Ikea. The oval mirror and the framed print were from Goodwill and the big mirror was from Tuesday Morning. 

Wind-Up Tin Circus Elephant on a Bicycle Toy

I am, in general, all about getting the best deals on all the things. This elephant was $20 at the flea market. I talked the guy down to $15 but I'm still pretty sure I paid too much for this. The tassely ball on his nose spins around while he rides his little bicycle. Which is cool. But I really want to believe this is an old toy and in real life I think know it's just a new toy packaged look like an old toy. Sigh. Anyway, aside from the future baby room decor aspect, I figured I could use it as decor in the upcoming Circarnival wedding I'm planning. 

1976-ish Salton Hotray Automatic Plate Warmer with Original Box

I'd never seen one of these until I saw a vintage reseller selling one on Instagram the other day. I don't really need one but a hot tray seems like it would be a good idea for entertaining and the seller had it listed for what seemed like a really fair price, so the shop-a-holic in me briefly considered buying it. I paid $4 for it at the flea market, which is, for what it's worth, quite a bit cheaper than the 'fair price' I'd seen days before. A quick Etsy search tells me the cheapest one of the same design is $23 before shipping. 

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Circarnival (Circus Carnival) Wedding DIY: How to Make Bride and Groom Pinwheel Accessories

Jessi and Mark are getting married October 27th. 

While Jessi and Mark have been engaged-via-fortune-cookie for a while now, the wedding date was just decided upon a couple weeks ago. If you're keeping score here, that means planning a wedding in less than 2 months. And the budget? People pay more for a month's rent. To me, this is awesome. Stressful, but awesome. Which is why I'm on board.

Plans started immediately and now, two weeks in, I think we may actually be done purchasing everything we will need to purchase. Today I'd like to share one of my first DIY wedding projects: bride and groom pinwheel wedding accessories. A hair fascinator for the bride and a boutonniere for the groom.

Things You'll Need

  • Double sided scrapbook paper (alternately, glue two patterned pieces you like together, patterns out)
  • Scissors
  • Paper cutter, optionally. If you, unlike me, can cut in a straight line, you can skip this.
  • An X-acto knife. Or a hole punch. Or scissors. You're going to be making a hole for the brads with this.
  • Metal brads (These can be basic circles, but if you're feeling fancy, check Michael's, they have these in a ridiculous amount of shapes.)
  • Hot glue
  • A hair clip (I get mine from Sally's by the box for $2.50-$3)
  • A paper straw (Or any kind of straw or stick, really.)
  • A boutonniere flower pin (I found mine at Michael's for around $3)

I already had almost all of these things and only needed to buy the paper and the brads. But, if I hadn't, here's how much I would have spent:
  • Paper pack of 24 double-sided sheets: $10 from Michael's
  • Lollipop brads: $3 from Michael's
  • Hair clips pack of 12: $2.50 on sale from Sally's Beauty
  • Paper straws pack of 144: $5 on Amazon
  • Boutonniere pin: $3 from Michael's
(I assume most crafters will have everything else, ie scissors and a hot glue gun.)
Total: $23.50 

But, keep in mind, I obviously did not use all of those materials for this one project. For example, I only used one piece of paper out of that 24 pack. 
This individual project only cost $3.79.
Yes, I'm serious, the groom's boutonniere and the bride's hair 'flower' together cost less than $4. AND, the added perk is that they're completely appropriate for the theme.  

Here's How to Make the Pinwheel Hair Fascinator:

  1. Cut a 7x7 piece of double-sided (or two glued together pieces of) paper using a paper cutter or scissors. (This turned out rather large. I envision the bride having big, fantastic hair for her wedding day so I think it'll be perfect...but this could definitely be much smaller and still be equally cute.) 

    Excuse my beat up paper cutter. It's older than all of us combined.
  2. With scissors, cut equal lines diagonally into the center of the square from each corner. Don't cut all the way to the center. Most people would probably tell you to measure this part. But I definitely didn't.
  3. Using the X-acto knife or the hole puncher orrrr the scissors, make a small hole to the right of each diagonal cut (or the left, but either way be consistent). Cut another hole in the center of the square. Because I used an X-acto knife I instead cut a little starburst shape for the brad to poke through, but it functioned just as a circle would.

  4. Put the brad through one of the holes and then add the other three to the back of it. Finish by pushing the brad through the center hole. 
  5. Bend the ends of the brad and you're done with the pinwheel! (I used a lollipop because it's so cute I could die. The downside here is that these pinwheels won't spin. If you want yours to spin--stick with something simple and round and be sure not to fasten the brad too tightly.) 

  6. Being cognizant of where the pinwheel will pin into the hair, attach the top of the duckbill clip with hot glue.  I already knew this pinwheel wouldn't spin so I just glued this sucker on. If you're still hell bent on making a spinning pinwheel you may want to think really hard about how you can attach this clip and still allow for spinning. 

Here's How to Make the Pinwheel Boutonniere:

  1. Repeat steps 1-5 above, but instead of 7x7 paper, use 5x5 or smaller. I used 5x5 and it could certainly be a lot smaller. I may even re-do it.
  2. Cut a paper straw to desired length of 'stem' and hot glue it to the back of the pinwheel. 
  3. Stuff it in a boutonniere clip. I added hot glue to the bottom of mine so the pinwheel would stay upright. In lieu of steps 2 and 3 you could just skip the stem and the holder clip thing and instead glue a pin right to the back of the pinwheel. If I remake this bad boy in a smaller size I might do that. 


Monday, September 2, 2013

Mid-Century Mystery Monday

Yes, I found a few mid-century goodies estate saling over the weekend. Said goodies will have to wait for another Mid-Century Monday, however, because this weekend my husband found something a bit more fun. (If you can believe it you MidCenturaholic you.)

I don't generally like to get to estate sales late because then I risk all the "good stuff" being gone. But this last Saturday we had to meet up with someone to sell Kurt's racecar [sadly for him]. Since we were in the neighborhood anyway we decided to swing by a sale on our way home.

While I was scooping up a mid-century footrest and a dress I found in the 100 degree attic, Kurt was analyzing an overlooked lockbox in a corner. One of the guys running the sale informed him that they'd searched the whole house and couldn't find a key for the box. I could see "Challenge Accepted" register in his pupils as he asked the guy how much he wanted for the locked box. The guy told him $5 and Kurt quickly decided the mystery was worth the expense.

A couple months ago we played this game with a locked vintage Starline suitcase I found in the attic of an estate sale. I liked the suitcase and thought it would make a good photoshoot prop, but I was really sold by the fact that I could hear things rattling around inside. There could have been anything in there! Gold bricks? A shard of wood pulled off the Titanic as it was sinking? A kitten?! I bought it for $1 in what I considered to be one of the greatest transactions of all time, even before I cracked it open.

In that case it turned out to be about a half dozen wooden hotel hangers that appeared to be stolen back in the day and a fabric dress belt. Not exactly a huge score, but not bad for $1. Not bad at all actually.

Back home, it took less than three minutes for Kurt to crack the box open. And we surely made our $5 back.

Here's what was in it:

Lots of old family photos

I like old photos, but I feel a bit guilty having these. I've tried to call the sale company to see if they'd like them returned but I haven't gotten anyone on the phone. (For the record, perhaps I should feel guilty about keeping the rest of the stuff we found in the box as well, but A) we paid the asking $5 and we can't be held responsible for a poor economic choice on their part and B) as it turns out maybe I only feel like returning the pictures because I can't make any money off of them. That might be the truth about me.)

This Marriage Program from 1958

I love the smell of old books and, not surprisingly, that's exactly what this smells like. I love that this couple kept their marriage program. And I love the font and minimalist color usage. It reminds me of the mid-century children's books I collect--but more romantical. 

A Brooch from the 1964 Tokyo Olympics

This is one of my favorite box-finds. I have no idea what the tab inside says (please don't be greedy with that information if you do). I tried to find something like it online but couldn't find a single thing similar. It appears to be in its original box.

What I did learn about the 1964 Tokyo Summer Olympics Games (thanks Wikipedia!):

  • American Billy Mills, a little-known distance runner, shocked everyone when he won the gold in the men's 10,000 m. No American had won it before and no American has won it since.
  • Reigning world champion Osamu Watanabe capped off his career with a gold medal for Japan in freestyle wrestling, surrendering no points and retiring from competition as the only undefeated Olympic champion to date at 189–0.

I'd like to think this pin belonged Osamu Watanabe. Don't wreck that for me. 

An old Asian hair comb.

I'm honestly not cultured enough to know what sort of writing is on this box, but if you are I would love to know. In fact--any information you might have on this at all would be greatly appreciated. I am a pretty solid Googler but I don't know how to Google characters I can't even read. We assume it's in Japanese because the Olympic brooch was from the Tokyo Olympics, but that might not be the case.

A Rolls Razor Whetter Sharpening Strop

The case for this has "Don Shima" embossed on the front. I couldn't find another one with that on it so I'm thinking maybe this was the name of the owner?

The razor system inside, on the other hand, is easily searchable. It would appear that Rolls Razor was very proud of their strops and emblazoned them with identifying markers all over the place. I researched and found that this was called a strop, but I didn't know what a strop was so I googled and it's more or less a piece of leather used to hone the edge of a razor. This device not only includes the razor and the strop but also acts as a self contained honing machine. Plus it comes in a fancy case and has a cool Greek Key design.

One side of the razor says "Best Sheffield Steel."

The other says "Rolls Razor Pat No 224-578, 242-718."

Here's a video I found on how it works:

A 1936 Shirley Temple Picture Book, "Just a Little Girl"

Short of the original owners being super serious Shirley Temple fans, I'm not sure what the significance of this book is, but they had it saved in a plastic sleeve and everything.

A Michael Jordan McDonald's Toy Stopwatch from 1991

Another sort of random thing, but it was in the original packaging and everything. I looked this up on Ebay and apparently it's worth about $12, which is more than twice what we paid for the whole box so I'd call that a win.

A Piece of Paper Signed by Andy Warhol

I really don't know anything about autographs. Does anyone care about them if they're just on a random piece of paper? I am pumped to just be in the presence of such a legend's signature. The fact that we found it in a random locked box is just bananas. And one that we paid only $5 for? Shut up. But um, beyond all that, did we just get rich? That's a serious question.

The funniest part about this, assuming it is a genuine Andy Warhol signature, is that I can imagine the person who got the autograph getting coffee somewhere when Boom! There's Andy freaking Warhol! So she whips out her Elephant notepad and snags that sig...and then, even though the piece of paper conveniently says "Don't Forget," she goes home and pulls out of a magazine page with the same signature and attaches it so she for serious does NOT forget that ish.

Have any information about anything we found in this box? Don't hold that in. Tell me in the comments, duh.