What Does Wide Shaft in Shoes Mean?

Fashion designer Anna Sui demonstrates how to wear black boots on a fuller body.
Fashion designer Anna Sui demonstrates how to wear black boots on a fuller body. (Image: Mike Coppola/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images)

A boot with a wide shaft offers ample room around the calf. These boots are designed to accommodate thicker legs, with a stretchy material and a larger circumference. If standard sizes of boots squeeze your legs, buy ones with a wider shaft. Invest in a stylish, quality pair that will last more than one season.


Wrap a flexible tape measure around the thickest part of your calf on both legs. A reading of more than 15 inches may mean you need boots with a wide or extra-wide boot shaft. If your legs have different calf sizes, go with the larger size. If you only need a slightly wider shaft, take your boots to a cobbler for minor adjustments, instead of buying a boot with a wide shaft. A cobbler can stretch boots or add more leather for extra room.

Boot Shapes

Wide calves fit better in certain boot shapes. Examine the contour of the boot to see how it molds to your leg. Look for boots with slouchy shapes that are looser around thick calves. Riding boots, designed to have a uniform structure from the knee to the sole, naturally have a wider shaft than styles that taper in near the ankles. Wide shafts with stretch backing provide easier access for your legs.

Boot Styles

Some manufacturers make wide shaft boots that are just as high fashion as standard-sized boots. They come in a variety of styles, including classic looks and edgier details. Look for a note from the manufacturer about wide or extended calf options, and shop for elastic panels, buckles and long zippers so you can easily adjust the boot to the correct fit. Keep in mind whether you plan to tuck your pants into your boots, as you'll need extra room if you do.


Petites should take extra care when shopping for wide calf boots. If you're short, the thickest part of your calf hits at a lower point on the shaft than someone who is taller. Allow your legs more room in this area; look for a boot with a wider circumference close to the ankles. You may have to go up a calf size. Wear tights or leggings in a color that matches your boots to elongate your legs in a sleek, lean line.

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