January 31, 2012

Frye Melissa Button Boots Review

I've been spending anywhere from $50-$100 on cheapie riding boots every season or two, and that's definitely starting to add up.  As a result, I've been on the hunt for a quality pair of cognac leather riding boots with minimal embellishment for quite some time (read: 2+ years!), and I was willing to spend on boots that would stand up to multiple Midwestern winters, pair with practically anything from dresses to jeans, and age gracefully.

All that being said, I have wide calves (14.5"), but can sometimes squeeze into regular sized boots, and it's been more difficult than expected to find the perfect pair.  As a general rule, I try to avoid buying boots that have a less than generous shaft circumference because it leads to undesirable (in my opinion, anyway) bunching around the ankles and general discomfort.  My best shopping suggestions for ladies that need extended or narrow calf sizes include Nordstrom (all of Nordstrom's women's shoe measurements are based on the size 8), Zappos, & Endless.  Retailers like JCrew (and recently Madewell), Talbots, and Ann Taylor also carry varying boot shaft sizes.

I've tried a bunch of different boots & brands from Ralph Lauren (Stara Boots - cheaply made with subpar materials, in my opinion + a little tight around the calf), Nine West (Rachella - way too shiny & an odd looking toe shape, but a nice fit), BP by Nordstrom (Runway Boots - These are actually nice, but I was concerned that they didn't fit around my calves well.  Aili has a lovely brown pair that she adores.  If they ever go on sale, I might re-order the black pair.), Vince Camuto (Karena - leather was weirdly stiff & shaft opening was slightly too tight) and many, many more.

I think I found my ideal pair in these Melissa Button boots by Frye; the Melissa Button boots are one of Frye's best selling pairs.  The Melissa Button Boots are a pull on style featuring a 1" stacked heel, and 15" boot shaft, and 15" boot circumference for the extended calf (the regular calf measurement is just 1 inch smaller at 14").  Frye is the longest operating American footwear company; their boots are bench crafted, and if you're interested, you can learn more about Frye's heritage here.  On to the review...

Pros: The color is beautiful, and the buttery leather and materials are top notch.  Plus, they smell of really high quality leather.  :)  They're very comfortable and quite sturdy; I have no fear about tromping around in the snow for two reasons: 1) the Melissa Buttons can handle the harsh winter weather and salt with no real issues and 2) they keep my feet toasty warm.  Originally, I wasn't sold on the cowgirl-esque feel of these boots, but the more I look at them, the more I like 'em. :)  If you prefer a less Western silhouette but want the quality of Frye boots, consider the Melissa Button Back Zip Boots or Melissa Riding Boot (currently on sale at Endless for $284.99 - these have a pretty narrow calf).  Essentially, I believe these shoes were built to last, and I definitely think I'll be wearing them for years to come, and they'll still look beautiful.

Cons: My heel slips occasionally when I walk, but according to my Nordstrom SA, heel slippage is common.  They're a little tough to pull on and off, but nothing terribly inconvenient, especially armed with my trusty shoe horn.  These boots have a very slippery leather sole; slipper sole + icy streets and sidewalks = no bueno.  Unless you are an acrobat (or plan to bang up the soles a bit for some much needed traction), expect to pay extra for rubber soles that give your shoes the grip you need to move safely in the winter months; any cobbler should be able to provide this service easily.  Those things aside, however, the major drawback of these boots is price: These bad boys are expensive, retailing at $328 for the most desirable colors (black, cognac, a really lovely bordeaux, etc.) and around $317 for the less popular shades.  You can occasionally grab them for up to 20% off (on Piperlime or Endless, and we picked up the Melissa Button Back Zip at the last Nordstrom Anniversary Sale), but I've never seen deeper discounts on Frye's most popular colors and styles... and I've been checking out Frye boots, and the Melissa Button style in particular, for 3+ years.

Bottom Line: Consider Jane Squared big fans of the Melissa Button Boot by Frye.  Aili even has the black version of these boots; see me rocking 'em here!

We hope January was an amazing start to your 2012, and thank you for reading (extra points if you got through this entire thing!).

Dress: Sears (Summer 2011) | last seen here
Belt: JCrew
Bag: Jane on a Leash, Marc by Marc Jacobs | shop
Boots: Melissa Button Boots with Extended Calf in Cognac, Frye | shop


  1. I love my Frye Melissa Buttons so much! The only thing I hate about Frye boots though, is the label that they stitch on the inner front of the boots. I kept wondering why my tights (especially my fleece lined ones) would get all worn and pilly on my shins and I FINALLY figured it out. It's that darn label. I guess it's a minor inconvenience. And I totally agree about how slippery they are! But I love the leather. So pretty and smooth :)

  2. What color boot are you wearing here? The cognac?

  3. Wow, these boots look great on you! I'm thinking about investing in a pair myself. I am curious though, what type of leather is your pair constructed from? Is it the cognac soft vintage leather? And do these boots slouch over time or do they tend to stay upright?

    1. Hi Wendy! I don't think I have the "soft vintage" leather; it's more sturdy than that, and these are the exact pair I purchased.

      My boots haven't slouched too much since the leather is thick, though I've got to admit you might get some bunching around the ankles. Plus, I use thick magazines (or wine bottles will do, too!) to store and care for my boots here.

      My sister has also had her Frye boots since the winter of 2010 (see 'em here, so they definitely soften up, but I'd say they overall keep their shape and stay upright. Anyway, I hope you found that helpful. :)

    2. I appreciate your input, thanks! :)

  4. What size are your feet? I think the calf width of the boot gets bigger as the sizes go up, no? I'm a size 9 so I'm trying to figure out how big the calf will be. My calves are 16". And thanks for reviewing these boots! I think they might save me from my 5 year 'perfect boot' hunt!

    1. Hi Jennifer! I generally take a size 8, and that's what I'm wearing here. According to Nordstrom the Approx. boot shaft height: 15" & 14" calf circumference, and I think that's based on a size 8 boot; I am wearing the wide calf version of the boots, too. Keep me updated on what boot you choose!

  5. Hi Jane,

    How are your boots going after nearly a year of wear? I've been wearing mine around the house a bit to see how I go in them. Because of the price, I can't afford to change my mind once I've worn them outside!

    Anyway, my slight concerns are: slouching at the ankle (I have particularly narrow ankles, so maybe that's why)- will this worsen over time. I know you dealt with this query above, but I wondered how you were faring a year in. Also, does the leather give much. They fit now with an extra thick wool pair of socks, but if they give too much they might be too big.

    Thoughts much appreciated!!



    1. Hi Sophie!

      I definitely was a little bit nervous of committing to the boots and actually wearing them somewhere besides my living room, but overall, I've been really happy with them. Most recently, I've worn them here and here, and I think they've held up pretty well. I also hate when the ankle area starts to get slouchy; for me, it ruins the entire sleek look of a riding-style boot, but that being said, I've tried on, purchased, and returned so many different pairs of boots that I haven't really been able to avoid at least a little bit of bunching around the ankle area.

      On my boots, I don't think the leather gathers too much around the ankle, but I use a few different techniques to help my boots maintain their shape:

      1) I store these boots using the poor man's boot shaper, thick magazines (I like Nordstrom catalogs, though you could also use wine bottles) which I think helps with helping them maintain their original shape. I discuss how I care for my boots in this post if you're interested.
      2) I always use a shoe horn (or put them on carefully) to ensure that the leather of the boots doesn't crumple while I'm slipping them on.
      3) When I'm wearing them throughout the day, I actually pull 'em up every now and again to ensure they're looking sleek and not slouchy.

      In my experience, if the boot doesn't fit well around the base of your calf, then they tend to slouch. I hope that was helpful, and feel free to reach out if you have any other questions.

  6. ps. they look awesome on you in the picture!!

  7. Hi! My husband just bought me these for my birthday and I love! I just had a baby,so im 13lbs heavier than usual and I told him i might need an extend calf because my calves are bigger(than usual). They fit perfectly at the calf but seem too big at the ankle.These are my first riding boots so i have no idea how big they should be in various areas. Did you have this problem? I don't know if i should keep them or buy the regular ones and hope they stretch out. UGH!!!! I love them but don't want to make the wrong decision. They look SUPER cute on you! As do all your pictures :)

    Please let me know if you have this ankle problem.


    1. I have tried the regular calf boots and they fit (not very comfortably, but they fit nonetheless), but the ankle became very bunchy, which I absolutely hated. So the wide calf are definitely a better fit for me even though they don't fit perfectly in the ankle -- in fact, they're a little big there. Overall, I definitely prefer the wide calf version, though!

      If you want something that is a sleeker silhouette all around, then you might consider a pair of boots with a full zip. In all my boot trying days, full-zip styles have fit the best on me.

  8. Those boots are looking very pretty..
    I want these boots for narrow calves, have to gift it to someone special.....

    1. Have you checked out Madewell's archive boots? I think a lot of ladies with narrow calves find these to be a good fit.

  9. I just ordered the shearling lined version of the Melissa Button boot and was wondering how well the Melissa boots hold up to winter weather and salt. I know you mentioned they do, but is this just walking the street with slush and salt? Have you tried walking through snow in them? Sorry for all the questions, I too am scared to wear my boots outside of the living room!

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  27. Boots with narrow calf can be really hard to find, especially when we are talking about frye melissa, ros hammerson or david tate's.

  28. Wow...they are certainly a fine looking pair of boots...and how kind of you to share your goodwill toward the company!!

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  29. Looks great on you! Really love the finish on those boots.

    Theres a great pair of Frye shoes here too you should check out!

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