A few years ago, admitting I have "wide calves" to the world was not something I would have signed up for. Even labelling it as a "fit issue" still makes my nose scrunch a little. My whole life, I've been convinced that my calves were big based on one single piece of evidence: I could not zip up any off-the-rack boot over the top 3 inches of my legs. There's nothing quite like trying something on in front of a store clerk and clearly not fitting into it. Let's be honest, it's a bit awkward. A combination of shame and embarrassment results in a "lighted-hearted," self-depreciating joke that buys the time to scramble back into your own shoes and head for the door. I've found some relief in the past, when I spotted those stretchy pleather boots and quite happily zipped them up, embracing the Cat Woman inside of me and slinking around, though often seeming a little overdressed for everyday wear. I've tried getting leather boots stretched, but it just ends up morphing and you are never completely happy with the result. I've experimented with "supposed" wide calf boots that have the elastic panel inserts at the top or lace-ups to accommodate. They're ok, I guess, but really shout out "Look at me! I have big calves, and I need wide calf boots!", and you're still compromising on style. Plus it's never a good thing when you start to see your pants through the edges of the laces. I've also stuffed myself into cheap "wide calf boots" made with mystery materials, which tend to be super tight around the calves and baggy around the ankles with very uncomfortable insoles. I accepted these solutions, because they were the only ones available to a girl with 17.5-18" calves. I've been living a life of settling! This slowly chipped away at my "sole" (teehee) and I basically stopped even trying to search for wide calf boots. Sometimes I would do a sneaky stretch test with the floor model to see if there was any give. There usually wasn't. Another quick exit.
This all goes to say that when Kendall and Justine
approached me about designing Poppy Barley's brand and website
in 2012, I was more than eager to join forces and be part of a larger movement to help women have the boots that they wanted (be it wide calf boots or otherwise) and be rid of the shame surrounding fit. No one deserves to feel less than normal because of an arbitrary industry standard set by... who knows. The most annoying part of these standards is how excluding they are. My "fit issue" was my own battle and girls everywhere were enjoying beautiful leather boots while I explored booties and wet, snow-soaked jean bottoms.
When Kendall and Justine showed me the market research that 60% of women have difficulty finding boots that fit, I was surprised and felt a huge sense of relief. Suddenly my calves weren't so huge or embarrassing. In fact, my calves were, and are, exactly as they should be—normal. And I deserve boots just like everyone else (above, I'm wearing The Off-Duty Boot in Essential Black, now sold out).
Evaluating Poppy Barley's customer measurements over the last year, it quickly becomes clear that "normal" encompasses a huge range of measurements. The fit issues we have encountered are all over the map, including no fit issues at all. This really proves that Poppy Barley boots are not only addressing a major problem in the market--stopping the search for wide calf boots, narrow calf boots etc.--but that they are stylish and fashionable enough to be made for EVERYONE. They aren't wide calf boots. They are beautiful boots. There are a lot of women who still need to know that they can have boots no matter what their calf size, foot size or fit issue, and we are on a mission to spread the word—and the leg love.
So thank you Poppy Barley, you've made me a very happy girl.
-Monica, Brand Design Manager