Q&A with Bridgette: How Do I Make My Legs Look Slimmer?

Large Calves and Ankles  I received a question from someone asking for help on how to make their legs look slimmer.  Because the question is pretty common, instead of answering her directly, I decided to answer it here on my blog.

Can you advise me about what kind of pantyhose should I wear?  The problem is that my calves are quite fat and I usually wear trousers, but this time I must wear a skirt and have no idea how to make my large calves and ankles look slimmer.
Thank you in advance! -G.K.

Dear G.K.-

Well lucky for you (not me), in addition to helping other women address this issue, I also have larger legs.  In fact, the chapter on large calves and ankles in my book Style Rx: Dressing the Body You Have to Create the Body You Want was my most inspired chapter because of my own personal experience with the problem.

Okay, let’s forget about pantyhose for a second because there are other things you can do that are way more effective in the slenderizing of your heavier legs.  First, your shoe choices are crucial in making your large calves and ankles look slimmer.  Do not,  I repeat, DO NOT, ever wear a pair of shoes with ankle straps.  That’s right, raise your right hand and repeat after me: “I, G.K., solemnly swear that, no matter how sexy a pair of ankle strap shoes look, I will never, ever, ever, ever, ever buy or wear a pair of shoes with ankle straps.”  Okay, not that that is out of the way, let me explain why they are so bad if you have larger legs, ankles and calves.

Large Calves and Ankles?  Do Not Wear Ankles Straps

Large Calves and Ankles This before and after photo, taken from my book, illustrates perfectly why ankle straps are bad news for anyone who has large calves and ankles.  You can see in the photo on the left that the ankle straps make this woman’s calves look much bigger.  In addition, the fact that the hem of the skirt she is wearing ends at the larger part of her calf doesn’t help either.  Therefore, in addition to avoiding ankle straps, if you wear skirts that fall below the knee make sure that they are hemmed to the narrower part of your calves.

Large Calves and Ankles?  Consider Nude Shoes

Large Calves and Ankles Next, let’s talk about the power of nude shoes.  If you have large legs a nude pair of shoes can be the biggest blessing in your wardrobe.  As you can see in the picture on the left, the dark shoes shorten this woman’s legs making her calves look larger than on the photo on the right which look longer and leaner.  Breaking up the legs with dark shoes shorten the legs and make them look heavier.  A nude pair of shoes elongate the look of legs which slenderizes the look of them at the same time.

Large Calves and Ankles Lastly, let’s discuss your question about pantyhose.  Pantyhose, per se, won’t necessarily make your legs look slimmer.  You could consider a pair of dark opaque tights or sheer black stockings in the cooler months to make your legs look less heavy, but for the summer these types of leg wear are just too heavy.  A standard pair of nude stockings will work in slenderizing your legs by bringing an evenness and tanner shade to them, however, if stockings aren’t necessary to wear and you don’t want to wear them, you can try one of my favorite products; Sally Hansen’s Airbrush Legs which can be applied to not only slim the appearance of your legs, but make them look tanner and more even in complexion.  I never wear a skirt or dress in the summer without using this product on my legs.

I hope that helps and best of luck!

Shopping for nude shoes?

Check out these styles.

  • Zernike

    Personally, I think the ankle strap photo is MUCH better, MUCH sexier than the dowdy, plain boring one next to it (very weird pointy shoes). It’s stronger and more powerful to embrace your unique beauty than to be ashamed of yourself (which imho you should be for printing this). How do you think this affects women with naturally thicker legs? Do you think there should be only one standard of beauty? Yeah, only thin legs are acceptable, all the rest of us should blow our heads off…hide and be ashamed. That’ll work.

    • Hi there. Thanks for your feedback. Whether or not the photo on the left or the right is more stylish is completely subjective. However, if you read the person’s question, she asked how to make her legs look slimmer, and the photo clearly shows that by not wearing ankle straps and a skirt hemmed to the narrower part of the calves achieves this.
      This is not a question of being ashamed. I myself have large calves and ankles and, while I’d rather not, it’s what I was given. By learning to work with the body you have to so that YOU feel good about your natural body characteristics does not mean you deny what you have or have shame about it. To answer your question, I absolutely don’t think there is one standard of beauty, I was simply answering the question of the person asking. SHE wanted to know how to make her legs look slimmer and I simply showed her how to do it. Yet, unfortunately, society and media pushes one body ideal, and that is a shame, however, I think you may be reading too strongly into the particular post. If you read my book (from where this photo is from) you’d know that I don’t believe in one standard of beauty. Thanks for your comment!

  • Zoe

    While I do agree with choosing a nude color shoe and avoiding ankle straps, kitten heels are not very slimming, they make calves look larger in comparison, trying a thicker heel helps minimize the contrast. Also, a pointed toe shoe does help elongate, when they are too pointy they start to look like elf shoes.

  • Sara

    You honestly recommend painting your legs over wearing nylons?! Ugh…

    • No, I am simply offering it as an option.

      • Kickass

        What about fat knees? I know working out but I have a party on Saturday and my dress shows my ugly knees 🙁

        • Hmmm, I have a friend with the same problem and she just gave up wearing shorter than knee length dresses and skirts. Seeing you already own the dress, what about using leg makeup, like the Sally Hansen I suggested, which will tan your legs and create some slimness or maybe wearing nylons if you aren’t wearing open toed shoes?

  • Reeve

    To be frank – the model shown has rather slim ankles – how about doing this with someone who actually really does have LARGE ankles!

    • Heidi


  • Casey

    Those super pointy shoes are hideously unattractive, especially with such a short heel. I don’t know any men who would like to see that over a slightly chubby ankle. In fact, most men I know don’t notice things like chubby ankles at all (usually, that’s all in a girl’s head anyway), but we do recognize when a girl dresses certain ways… and that is not a good look.

    Secondly, men like the way a woman looks in pantyhose. Call it a fetish, call it lust, call it an Oedipus complex, call it Freudian behavior, call it what you will, but the fact remains. We don’t expect legs to be perfect, but we know when they are fake tanned and the rest of your body isn’t.