FATshion: My Favorite Plus Size Coats And Wide Calf Boots That I Am Totally Not Buying, Really, I Swear

It's cold out, you're fat, you have a weirdly specific sense of quirky style that often corresponds with mine, WHAT DO YOU DO? Answers within.
Publish date:
October 23, 2013
shoppables, FATshion, plus sizes, coats, wide calf boots

I have decided I’m not buying a new coat or boots this year.

This sounds all noble and restrained when I type it out, but the truth is that I have no room for more of either. My coat obsession is near-legendary, and I blame my south Florida childhood and resulting lack of coats during my formative years for this. Indeed, the only true coat of my youth was bought for a winter trip to Philadelphia, and it was a puffy down-filled calf-length maroon thing with a zipper AND buttons, which were shaped like little plastic red kidney beans (I don't know why I remember these buttons, but I do).

I had boots for that trip too, waterproof ones that zipped and were lined with fake fur. I was six, and I was obsessed with both that coat and those boots -- even in the heat of a Broward County winter, I would periodically take them out and put them on, their weight and warmth such a novelty; it was like being a different person, playing dress up for a season I never really knew.

These days my coats and boots serve a purpose more immediate than winter cosplay -- I really need them to live from November to April or so. Nevertheless, when I permanently moved away from Florida in the late 90s, I quickly took my new Boston life as a reason to buy a lot of coats. The coats I longed to have, especially after spending my college years slogging around in a giant black parka from the Army/Navy store, with its fake-fur-edged hood and numerous pockets. (I still miss those pockets.)

Today I have a lot of coats. Last year I counted exactly how many and was mortified at the number, so as a defense mechanism I immediately forgot it. My boots are even more legion -- I’ve never counted those because I suspect I would never recover from the embarrassment of knowing the true number.

So I’m not buying anything. But, you know, that doesn’t stop me from LOOKING.

I’ve always wanted a plaid coat. It’s an obvious gap in my otherwise quite complete coat-collection. Unfortunately, it’s rare that I see one with a plaid I actually like, that isn’t trying SO HARD to be neutral that it may as well have woven “WAIT REALLY YOU CAN WEAR ME WITH ALMOST ANYTHING” right into the fabric. Not this coat, this coat is all YEAH I’M RED WHAT ABOUT IT.

Most of Joe Browns’ styles look like they were made by elves for woodland creatures to wear, and this example is no different. The style and the blue plaid are nice enough, but “enough” is never enough for this label, so they’ve added rando patching and embroidery AND a series of mismatched buttons that were probably collected by squirrels who had to take time out from gathering nuts to survive the winter because THEY don’t GET pretty coats from Joe Browns to keep them warm in the bitter dark of January.

I kid, I actually love this coat because it’s so quirky and weird. But those squirrels really do need to unionize.

In college, I had this fake fur jacket I got at a thrift shop, that was made of the cheapest, most horrific fake fur you ever saw; it was long and shaggy, in a greyish blue and white, and it shed everywhere, and you couldn’t wear it if there was even a suggestion of precipitation because if it got wet it matted and weighed a thousand pounds and took a week to dry out again. Eventually I started to suspect it had gone to the thrift shop because it was actually evil. I adored it though.

I think of this brushed wool-blend ASOS number as a prettier, less collegiate alternative to that. I bet you could even get snow on it without wishing you were dead. And that gorgeous color! It’d like wearing Cookie Monster’s crumb-strewn pelt. In a good way, I mean.

On the other hand, this “vintage” coat (why do they call it that when it’s new? that is actually the opposite of vintage) looks downright classy, as fake fur goes. Last year I may have been obsessed with leopard print, but this year I guess I’m digging something a little blonder in my fantasy coats.

I love a nice cape, although I have certain requirements for the capes I commit to. For one, it should have a belt -- an unbelted cape can come across as comically voluminous, and while I do enjoy a dramatic big-top-esque ensemble now and then, it’s not practical for actual cold weather, because if air is getting between you and your outerwear it’s not really doing the job.

Also, it ought to hit no lower than an inch or two below the hips, because any longer and it’s going to look like I’m wearing someone’s living room carpet.

FORTUNATELY, Simply Be has this gorgeous herringbone tweed option for me to swoon over (but NOT BUY, really, I’m not, realllyyyy aaaaarrrgggghhhhhhhh).

Finally, from ReDress, something practical that will go with everything, if “everything” means “an adult-sized version of the wardrobe of a 19th-century porcelain doll.” (This coat also comes in grey, and I’m lucky it doesn’t come in navy with white trim because I’d have it IMMEDIATELY. My self-control only extends so far, friends. LET ME LIVE.)

Hello and welcome to the boots portion of today’s fatshion events. Every year I try to highlight some wide-calf knee-high options as a public service to my big-legged brethren -- and those of us with prodigious calves know that not all wide calves are the same. Indeed, my legs look at standard “wide calf” boots and laugh bitterly. Or they would, if they had the necessary apparatus to do so.

My own personal calves measure 21” at their widest bit -- since many “wide calf” boots max out at 16” or 17,” I am like WAY above and beyond the options that are readily available. But I have a few resources for us, as well as a few tips.

The Jordana boots above are from WideWidths.com, a longtime favored resource for really, really wide calf boots -- their “super plus wide” width (which, let’s be honest, sounds kind of like a tampon) will accommodate up to a 22” calf, depending on shoe size.

That’s as big as they come, but for those of you will smaller widenesses, Wide Widths offers boots in four different calf sizes, so odds are good you will find something that works for you.

Simply Be has also leapt into the multiple-calf-fit arena with their Legroom boots, which come in five calf sizes, all the way up to “Curvy Plus,” which will accommodate 22.5” calves in a size 9. The calf size measurements are sort of buried on Simply Be’s site, as I discovered when I realized they didn’t actually include calf measurements in the individual item descriptions -- you can find the full size chart here.

Also please note how unbelievably awesome those studded high boots are. SUPER AWESOME. You’re like a punk rock knight riding an anti-authoritarian horse and smashing the state through the countryside in the middle ages.

DUO is another wide-calf-friendly option -- located in the UK, they make beautiful boots that you can customize by foot size and calf measurement (up to 50 cm, in many cases), and are very expensive. That said, I’ve had many friends over the years who swear by DUO boots and who have loved theirs to little tiny tatters.

If you’re looking for something more affordable (and nonleather), Torrid has lots of wide calf options that won’t last more than a season, but will at least fit you -- up to about 20” or so, depending on shoe size. (Do keep in mind that Torrid’s shoes run wide in general, so if you’re more narrow of foot these might swim on you.)

Also those studded overknee boots are crazy hot, for those of you who think that flat boots can never be hot, don’t even bother arguing with me on that, you know I’m right.

Fortunately for me, I’m personally more partial to ankle and mid-calf boots than knee-high ones (knee boots make my legs feel claustrophobic -- just me?). The kind folks at Naturalizer recently sent me a pair of the “Britain” boots above, and although I was dubious -- these are regular wide calf boots, and the top edge maxes out at just over 14” -- they actually fit better than I could have hoped. Also they have a subtle steampunkish vibe, like I could be piloting an airship in them or something, Plus they are CRAZY comfortable, being Naturalizers, of course.

Further evidence that in boots as in clothes, it’s always a good idea to try things on, rather than assume they won’t fit.

I have a mild obsession with saddle shoes, and, in this case, saddle boots. Bass has repeated this particular style for a couple years now, but never in colors I liked. This year, though, these cognac boots in a mixture of suede and smooth perforated leather are SCREAMING AT ME. I want to wear them with thick tights and a plaid dress and go romping through the woods like I’m Laura Ingalls.

And yeah, OK, these aren’t wide calfed at ALL, but that’s what the laces are for.

HAHAHA I TOTALLY JUST BLEW YOUR MIND. I know. Ariat Fatbabies are not for the faint-hearted. They are loud as hell. Many of you will despise them. But if you're gonna do cowgirl boots, then REALLY DO THEM.

Aside from having a cute name, Fatbaby boots are gorgeous, well-made, weep-worthily comfortable, and extremely friendly to big calves. I have a sedate saddle-style pair myself, but I’d be lying if I told you I wasn’t occasionally tempted by their brighter options. (As an alternative, there are also my longtime favorite Justin boots, which are equally calf-accommodating but a little less obnoxious.)


Well, I’m spent. Have you bought a coat or boots this year? Tell me about your purchases so I can live vicariously through them.