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Abracadabra! A Long, Lean Look

March 04, 1994|JANET KINOSIAN

Most women will admit that they have less than perfect legs. Their challenge, then, is to give the best possible illusion of length and slimness to their sometimes shapeless, stubby or thick lower limbs. The good news is that they can do just that--with a little fashion illusion.

"People in the United States seem to worship the illusion of thin and tall," says Marcia Yust, a fashion coordinator who lives in Tustin. "And your legs are an important part of that. You can follow some basic rules to help give a slim illusion to your leg."

Here are some fashion guidelines Yust says will camouflage leg flaws and play up assets.

Thick Thighs / Hip

Characteristics: Heavy, wide thighs. Also large saddle-bags and heavy girth in hip.

Best look: Wear skirts that flare from the waist to cover the upper hip. To elongate the look of the legs, wear skirts that stop just above the ankle; if you have nice calves and ankles, wear skirts that stop below the knee or at mid-calf. Wear stockings and shoes that are the same color as the outfit. Shoes should be mid or high heel.

Avoid: Tight pants (if you need pants, wear loose, pleated, tailored ones that fall over hip and thigh). Don't wear leggings with short tops, straight skirts, see-through skirts or dresses with leggings. Avoid flat shoes or thick boots that draw attention downward.

Thick Calf / Thin Ankle

Characteristics: Thick, heavy calf, either due to being overly muscular or overweight.

Best look: Flared or dirndl skirts or culottes in jersey, light wool, silk or cotton. A straight skirt can be worn but with a small slit in back (if thighs are thin, a long column dress works). Skirt should cover calf. Wear stockings that are thick rather than sheer. Shoes, the same color as the stockings, can be low, mid or high heel. Granny boots can be worn if the calf is covered.

Avoid: Ankle strap and the tennis shoe or combat boot look.

Thick Calf / Thick Ankle

Best look: Flared skirts that fall mid-calf or just above ankle. Flowing fabrics--light wool, jersey, silk and cotton--are best. Dirndl culottes or gaucho pants with boots are a good alternative. Shoes should be mid- to high-heel; a narrow high heel looks best. Open-toe shoes are good choices. Wear boots one size larger than your normal shoe size so they will be loose over your calf. Wear the same color non-sheer stockings and shoes.

Avoid: Flat shoes, mules, heavy combat and granny boots. (Granny boots can be worn with a long, full skirt.) Don't wear ankle straps or thick heels. Avoid tight leggings with short or long sweaters, dresses above the knee and short shorts. Even if you have a nice upper leg, avoid slits or open skirts that draw attention to the legs. Don't mix stocking and shoe color.

Long Thin Leg

Best look: Can wear almost anything. Skirts can be tight, slit or side-slit for a risque yet refined look. Length can be from a mini-skirt to just below the knee. Pants can be straight or full. Leggings work well with open skirts. You can wear flat, mid, high or chunky heels; boots; ankle strap or tie shoes. Ankle or mid-calf granny boots can be worn with long or short skirts.

Avoid: Mini-skirts should be reserved for young women. A skirt that ends just above the knee is as high as other women should go, even if they have great legs.

Skinny Legs

If the thinness of your legs bothers you, wear skirts that end at mid-calf or just above the ankle. Or try the layered look with leggings or opaque stockings with slips, sheer skirts or column dresses. Boots provide good camouflage.

Avoid: Mini-skirts, sheer stockings and ankle-strap shoes.

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