How to Make Your Legs Look a Mile Long


Even when my winter weight is clinging to my bootay and tender midsection, I can generally count on my legs to remain lean. So, on days when it’s above zero, I do my best to accentuate those gams. Nothing makes me feel quite as powerful and strong as an outfit that makes my legs look a mile long. Especially because my legs are NOT a mile long and I get such a charge out of the optical illusion. I am fake-tall! Check me OUT.

Here are some of the tricks I use for artificial leg-elongation. Take a peek and see which ones might work for your body type and personal style.

SHORT HEMLINES

When more leg is exposed, it’s easier for the observing eye to comprehend the entire figure. And even if you are long in the torso and short in the leg, wearing a shorter skirt or dress will create the illusion of long, lean gams. I’m a big fan of miniskirts, especially in winter when they can be paired with tights for a more cute/demure and less sassy/sexy look. But even if you aren’t comfortable with a true mini, scope out some above-the-knee lengths and see what works.

TIGHTS AND SHOES
IN THE SAME COLOR RANGE

Since a high hem isn’t always desirable or comfortable, here’s a trick that works even with slightly longer skirts and dresses. If you wear tights and shoes that are the same color or very close in color value, the eye travels all the way down the leg to the floor without stopping.

BOOTS/LEGGINGS/PANTS
IN THE SAME COLOR RANGE

If you’re a pant or legging tucker and looking for a way to elongate your legs while wearing tall boots, simply wear dark boots and very dark jeans, pants, or leggings. Black/black and brown/brown are the obvious choices, but here I’ve paired black and a dark charcoal gray to decent effect. It’s the same concept as the tights/shoes: A long, unbroken line all the way down to the ground.

PLATFORM SHOES

I’d wager that 75% of my shoes have some sort of platform. I mean, why not? If you like the look and can walk in a platform, give your height an actual, factual boost and elongate your legs while you’re at it!

Platforms can be paired with pants and still give you mile-long legs, especially if we’re talking boots and pants in the same color range.


Same basic idea as the tall boot/legging/pant pairing, but with the added bonus of actual height increase. A platform heel or wedge – something with an incline that tilts your calf – will provide optimum leg elongation, but even a flat platform helps a wee bit.

HIGH WAISTS

Now this one is ALL optical illusion. Pulling the eye up higher than your natural waist gives the impression of superlong gams, even with a longer hemline. If the observer thinks your waist is up near your armpits, the assumption is that your legs start just below your armpits. Cool huh? And a wee bit weird. This holds true for certain styles of high-waisted pants, too.

This image is a bit dark, but hopefully you’ll get the generall impression. Yes, my torso is shortened up a good deal by this look, but the payoff is in the legs!

High waistlines are the least universal of all of these suggestions. Apple-shaped women, petite women, and extremely tall women generally hate this style of bottom, and it’s so stylized that many women shy away from it regardless of figure flattery. But I wanted to include it because, as a medium-sized pear of average height, it is a favorite look of mine … and I’d bet it works for some of youse as well.

Many of these tricks may seem cool- and cold-weather contingent, and that’s certainly true of any tights-based look. But if you’re comfortable doing a shorter hem with a bare leg, go to! Platforms sandals are just as effective as platform shoes and boots. And high waists can be worn year-round.

Now, I know what you’re gonna say: “Where are the nude pumps, Sal?” The nude pumps are in every other guide to leg elongation in the history of time. I love the idea of some cute sandals that match your skin tone and create the same to-the-floor sightline as same-colored shoes and tights. But I don’t own any nude pumps, don’t generally love the look of ‘em, and don’t often recommend practices I haven’t implemented personally. So know that bare legs and nude pumps* are a great tool for long leg lines … but also know that you don’t have to go that route. (I doubt I ever will.)

So what other tricks do you employ to make your legs look miles long? Any warm weather recommendations? Have you tried any of the methods I’ve mentioned above? Which of them would work for YOUR body type, and which would be disastrous? Are you comfortable in mini skirts? How about high-waisted bottoms?

*As always, “nude” means “matching to YOUR skin tone.” If you’ve got brown or yellowish or super-pale ivory skin, be sure to match to your own specific brand of “nude.”

Top image courtesy helgasms!

  • Melissa Blake

    Great post — I love that first photo! xoxo

  • Casey

    I love creating the illusion of longer legs! ;) My legs are proportionately shorter than my torso, so I'm always on the lookout for new ideas. ;) I'd have to say, you pretty much covered all my favs! I think the shorter hem/tights and matching shoes look is the one I reference the most, and the look that ultimately makes me feel I gained about 6" of height in my legs. lol!

    Keep up the fantastic tips, Sal!

    ♥ Casey
    blog | elegantmusings.com

  • misfit

    that's great advice, Sal, thank you. I just LOVE showing my legs too, I think they're my best feature, and I am really short. the other day I saw myself in a picture, I had a high-waisted skirt on and could not believe how TALL I looked. amazing! I was not a big fan of high waisted skirts, but after this picture I started thinking otherwise :)

    love,
    Fernanda
    (from Brazil)

  • La Historiadora de Moda

    This is so funny because weight goes immediately to my thighs and hips. This is why I've hardly been wearing pants lately. Between the holidays and the wedding cake, I feel like all of my pants do not fit my thighs right now.

    I love these tips, especially the line of unbroken color and wearing high-waisted garments.

  • Clare

    Yes, yes, YES!

    These are definitely the tricks of the trade. I might add that dark neutrals tend to elongate more than bright colors or light grays and whites, but I don't think that's really a universal rule.

  • WendyB

    I think it would be inconvenient to have mile-long legs. You'd be so much taller than everyone else. How would you fit in your house?

  • Frances Joy

    Love these tips! I didn't realize that high-waisted skirts/pants were also helping to make my legs look so long, but now I guess that's why I keep embracing those high-waisted skirts.
    I will say, however, that I am a HUGE fan of the nude shoe with a bare leg. HUGE. This is probably because I only recently started embracing tights, but it does work wonders for me.

  • lynnette

    haha great post! :D i'm a real shortie so i always need to figure out how to artificially elongate my legs…

    i think wearing sandals/heels that don't go above the ankle line really help too!! especially if your calves are on the chunkier side… I tend to get sandals/heels that show off my ankles and i think that definitely helps!!

    i love your blog as always, Sal! :DD

  • Zuzuli

    Lady…you are looking HOT in those thigh high boots!! I am a huge fan of nude shoes so that's my trick in the summer…in the winter I do the match the shoes to the tights/bottoms of my outfit. Great post!

  • Charlotte

    My waist really IS just under my armpits, but I love all your tips anyway. Why not emphasize the positive, right?

  • A-C

    I definitely do the same color tights and shoes as well as same color pants + shoes. I'm not so keen on short hemlines, but we'll see. And I might have to try the high waists too.

  • Solidaritybitch

    Another great post, Sal!
    I am, like so many others, proportionally longer in the torso, but if I say this to anyone (while shopping or something), folks always think I am far leggier than I am. I'm all about the short hemlines. At least 3 inches above the knees allow me to wear even mid calf boots (as one of your tutorials showed). Otherwise, if a skirt falls just below the waist, dark hose at and least 2" heels.
    Legs are so beautiful. I think they're actually the most compelling thing about most women, and I wish ladies would show them off more. Mine are not that long, quite muscular (I have to wear wider boots, even though I range between a size 2-8), or elegant but they are still lovely.

  • orchidsinbuttonholes

    This post is fantastic, Sal! I had no idea the effect of the higher-waisted jacket until I saw those photos! Seriously, a great trick. And I love how you demonstrate a wonderful (and leg-elongating) way to wear OTK boots. That photo and how you styled that outfit make me want a pair!

  • Diana

    I tend to use the shorter hemline trick a lot. Ditto on matching tights to shoes. And I've got plenty of high wedge sandals to do some leg elongating once summer hits :)

    I'm with you on nude pumps – to me they just look weird.

  • Audi

    These are great suggestions, Sal. I've always heard, however, that short women should not wear short skirts because it makes the legs look even shorter. So how do the super petites get away with short (say, above the knee) skirts? I'm assuming their best option is to pair them with platforms and color-matched tights, but are there other approaches? I ask because I get questions from time to time about how to style things for a petite frame, and I always struggle with how best to answer.

  • SarahN

    Those are all great tips; I also recommend making sure trousers are the correct length for the shoe you're wearing: a half inch off the floor, regardless of heel height.

    You are my hero for rocking those thigh-high boots! They are a bold statement piece, but you manage to pull off a casual vibe. I bought a mini recently but feel a bit too exposed in it. If I could pluck up the courage to wear them, thigh-highs would be killer. Actually, reading this blog and others has inspired me to wear more skirts and dresses in general. I love my legs, so why have I been living in pants for the past ten years? No more! I took some trousers to consignment, stocked up on tights, et voila! I look taller and thinner, and I get more compliments from friends and strangers alike.

  • lisa

    Fantastic tips! I agree about keeping jeans/boots in the same colour family when you tuck your them in–even in flat boots you have a great elongating effect.

  • rb

    I don't always do the nude leg nude shoe thing, but in warmer weather when I'm not wearing hose, or today when I'm wearing nude fishnets, I try not to wear black or very dark shoes. My current favorite lighter leg-lengthening shoes are one mustard yellow pair and one dove grey pair. In summerier weather I have a croc-textured apricot/peach shoe and of course several tan/nude pairs. Even worn with a black ensemble, I think a non-black shoe looks much more chic with a bare leg.

  • The Waves

    Great tips here, and you look stunning in those thigh-high boots! I'd add that wide-legged trousers or boot-cut jeans worn with heels make one's legs look super long. The hem must fall somewhere mid-heel, and the wider the pants, the longer the length. Just avoid covering your shoes entirely – that just makes you look footless! :)

  • Debra Martin

    I love the thigh high boots. Way to rock a look!

  • Sonja

    Holy smokes! Check out those awesome gams! Love the legs and short hemline shots. Gorgeous! And such great tips! I'm tall, but it's not because of my legs so I can definitely use some help creating a flattering illusion. :)

  • futurelint

    Great tips! The photo of you in the high-waisted dress is my favorite picture ever! Luckily I have no torso, so I've got the longest legs a 5'3" gal could ever have!

  • Marie McGrath (The Joy of Fashion)

    Great post! I absolutely LOVE your high waist outfit! love love love it! so cute!

    http://www.thejoyoffashion.blogspot.com

  • Anonymous

    I'm one of those long torso-d, short legged, pear-shaped women. These are great tips, I have a few more:

    1) Skinny pants are not your friend. Pants that come down over the foot/shoe elongate the leg.

    2) Watch out for high-waists if you have larger thighs. The break of the thigh makes the waist look weird because it's obviously too high. I actually avoid high waists in favor of something that sits on or close to my proper waist. That tends to give a more elongated look.

    3) In the summer, bare sandals and flip flops are your friends. The more foot you can show, the longer your legs look.

    4) Length is important (I think this answers Audi's question) — minis are great, but you want the hem to hit the thinnest part of your thigh. For me, that is about 4-5 inches above the knee. The length of a good mini will vary from person to person, but if you put on a skirt and pull up the hem until your legs look fabulous, you should be able to figure out your personal mini zone. This is the same length you should wear shorts at also.

    5) Watch out for slim-cut shorts — they make almost everyone look bottom heavy and legs stumpy. Your shorts hemline should flare out from your hip. This is why cut-off jeans don't look good on most people.

  • Eliza

    Lots of great tips. Just two more things I look for.
    I like stockings and tights with details that draw the eye up and down the leg. My favorite was a sheer black pair with an embroidered vine up the back of each leg.
    The other thing I notice, shoes that make your feet look smaller tend to make your legs longer in proportion as well.

  • Musing Around

    Sal! Where did you get the over-the-knee boots? And, again, as always, another fantastic teaching post!

  • Sal

    Musing Around: The brand is Pleaser, but I got them via Amazon!

  • bluerose

    Another useful item (as you are demonstrating yourself): Cropped jackets and cardigans.

  • Rosie Unknown

    Leg elongation isn't hugely important to me, since my legs are already long compared to my torso, but I adore high waisted anything! Very helpful post.

  • What Would a Nerd Wear

    sal, another amazing post!!
    i am also a big fan of the high-waisted skirt illusion, although i love me a mini skirt, too.
    bookmarking this one!

  • angie

    Nice tips!

    Making sure that you wear your pants and jeans at the perfect length is an instant leg lengthener (almost skimming the surface of the ground will do it unless they’re super tapered at the hems). So many men and women sport their pants too short and it's so easy to control.

  • Luinae

    Good, good tips! I use almost all of these without even thinking, and I love all of them!

  • Beatrice

    Sal, the high-waisted pants are awesome! Where did you get them?

  • Dani

    I'm a high-waisted gal myself. Love these other suggestions!

  • Hanako66

    this is great…i need all the help i can get!

  • Meghan Chapman

    Pretty sure those big pants are the best thing on earth! Wowza… I love them!

  • http://paperarmour.blogspot.com/ Elspeth @ paper armour

    I’m pretty sure this is my de-lurking comment, so yay! I’ve been reading your blog for a few weeks and love it. I found this specific post from your link in your “petite fashion” post.

    I’m a pear-shaped woman of average height and only in the last year have A) realized it, and B) started loving and embracing it. I hadn’t realized before that, yeah, my hips are bigger than any other part of me, but the trade off is a fantastic waist. So I’m in the high-waistlines-are-awesome camp, and I’m so grateful to have a fashion mentor there. I identified with your “will those clothes you see online look good on YOU” post, it’s hard to tell if a form-fitting dress will work with my hips-to-shoulders ratio. :-\

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  • Hannah

    You know,
    I agree on the short hemlines, and platform shoes. Thanks for the info. I found it did not help me that much, but thanks a billion.
    -Hannah

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  • http://www.brunarosso.com Andy

    Interesting article and interesting ideas.
    Nice job! Andy