Four Ways to Fake Great Legs

After a long winter, you’re definitively ready to toss aside boots and leggings for sandals and short skirts. The question is: are your legs prepared for public display?

If gnarly toes, pasty calves and jiggly thighs are telling you “absolutely not,” don’t panic. You can get great, gorgeous legs with these easy beauty routine fixes and tricks.

1. Fake a Sunkissed Glow
No matter how long and lean your legs are, they’ll look even shapelier with a sunkissed glow. Drugstore shelves offer a wide variety of self-tanning products for an even, natural-looking tan that will leave your skin smelling great too. Here’s a guide to the formula that’s right for you.

  • Wash-off self-tanners These solutions create a temporary color that lasts about a day and washes away with soap and water. Apply one layer for a sheer look; add a second for deeper color.
  • Tanning mousses and gels Quick, but doesn’t dry instantly, so you can correct mistakes. The tint lets you see any spots you might have missed.
  • Daily self-tanning moisturizers Gradually builds a subtle glow with daily use. Foolproof, these are perfect for self-tanning novices.
  • Tanning lotion Produces the deepest caramels and bronzers for that “just back from St. Bart’s” look.
  • Tanning sprays The fastest way to achieve all-over coverage. Perfection takes practice; try this out a few times before a big event.

2. Pamper Your Feet
Squeezed into boots and forgotten for months, your feet are likely looking dry and callused, and your toes a bit ragged. Get them ready for their flip-flop debut with a spa pedicure that goes beyond just a file and polish.

Look for a service that offers these steps: a foot soak in a warm bath with moisturizing ingredients like essential oils; an exfoliating scrub to soften calluses and remove dead skin cells; a second scrub with a foot file to banish those calluses and other rough spots; a soothing massage followed by the application of a super-hydrating lotion that’s sealed by dipping your feet into warm paraffin or wrapping them in hot towels.

The final steps: shaping your toenails and applying polish. Scott Barnes, a makeup artist for such celebrities as Jennifer Lopez and Beyonce, suggests painting your toes in sheer nudes or a brown hue to make your legs look their longest. Nail stylist Reham Bastawros who prettifies the peds of Renee Zellweger and Miley Cyrus favors a splashier look: eye-catching colors like bubblegum pinks, citrus yellows, watermelon hues or a classic vixen red.

3. Choose Shoes That Elongate Your Legs
Fling aside those 4-inch tottering heels! Shoe designer Stuart Weitzman says this season, ’70s-inspired wedges will add height without straining the foot the way stilettos often do. Opt for shoes in nude or tones like blush-beige, khaki, brown or bronze that will trick the eye into thinking your legs and shoes are one lean, unbroken line. Avoid ankle straps -- they’ll chop your legs to make your gams look shorter than they are.

4. Tone Your Muscles
Want to rev up the definition of your legs in a flash? Dr. Philip L. Goglia, a Los Angeles nutritionist and trainer whose clients include Kim Delaney, Owen Wilson and Raven-Symone, suggests these three moves:

Wide-stance squats: Do them like a ballet plie, with toes angled outward, and a stance wider that your shoulders. Do five sets of 20 reps daily.

Hill- and flat-walking should be for 30 minutes (good) to an hour (better!) each day. Or, try stair-climbing for the same length of time.

Walking lunges: Great for your glutes! Just make sure that your knees don’t extend beyond your feet as you lunge. Work up to five sets of 20 lunges daily.

Shop for Your Best Little Black Dress

Take it from Coco Chanel, who popularized the little black dress, or LBD: “Simplicity is the keynote of all true elegance.”

Before considering embellishments, pleats or other accessories, take into consideration the natural contours of your physique. “Our bodies, personalities and careers are all so different, [so] clothes should enhance our innate beauties and also be appropriate for the occasion,” says Mariane Perez, a former Preview Magazine staffer and currently a fashion designer and stylist of her namesake brand, ShopMariane.Multiply.com. Here, she offers suggestions on finding the perfect LBD for different body types and matching accessories that make sense. Plus, she reveals how to carry your clothes with confidence.

Pear/Apple Shape

Creating a shapelier silhouette entails offsetting larger parts of the body -- such as the torso, shoulders, or hips -- that may create a “visual imbalance” next to leaner parts. “If your hips are big, draw the eye upwards with voluminous details on top like ruffles or a structured shoulder,” suggests Perez. “If your bust is big, focus on creating volume in the bottom with a fuller skirt. Add a belt to cinch the waist for a sexy finish.” Perez says architectural shapes are also good for this category.

Petite

“Petites are based not on weight or size, but on proportion,” says Leah Feldon, author of Does This Make Me Look Fat? The Definitive Rules for Dressing Thin for Every Height, Size, and Shape. “So don’t be fooled by the word petite; it doesn’t really mean small. There are even plus-size petites!” she explains.

Look for black (or any solid color, for that matter) shift dresses that create a lean line or even flouncy numbers featuring shorter hemlines that visually elongate legs.

Tall and Boyish Frame

“Tall women are great canvasses for black, and they can pull off long gowns effortlessly.” (Charlize Theron and Miriam Quiambao come to mind.) If you’re worried about being too tall or too “straight,” Perez says you could opt for an empire-cut dress or simply add a waist-cinching belt. “This will create the illusion of an hourglass silhouette.”

Curvy
Perez favors showing off a little skin for voluptuous women because being too covered-up can actually make one look bigger. “Scoop necks and V-necks are great, as they show off a beautiful décolletage and draw the eye upward,” says Perez, who encourages plus-sized women to take quality and fit into consideration. Simple, tailor-fit LBDs create a leaner and longer line on your body.

Make the Most out of Your LBD

Accessorize

“Go classic in a smattering of pearls or really go for it with a statement necklace or cuff,” suggests Perez. “In the case of the latter, keep other accessories to a minimum or better yet, nix them.” To avoid overdoing it, Perez goes by Chanel’s advice: “Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and remove one accessory.”

Invest
Buy the most expensive little black dress you can afford; it’s well worth the splurge as it will last you a long time and will practically pay for itself by the nth time you put it on. Go for quality, noting that this needn’t be ridiculously expensive. You just have to look in the right places and befriend a tailor who can do alterations on dresses you buy off the rack.

Launder With Love

As much as possible, hand-wash your LBD in cold water, using the gentlest detergent you can find to keep the color integrity and to get the most mileage out of this dress you’ll wear many, many times.

The Perfect Jeans Wardrobe

Good jeans are a staple of every wardrobe, but putting together a collection of essential styles can be tricky. Nearly 60 percent of American women say finding the perfect pair of jeans is “very difficult,” and even more (63 percent) say it’s tougher than finding a flattering swimsuit, according to a survey by global marketing firm Synovate. But before you get the blues, here’s “jean-ious” advice from Dallas stylist Bridget Boggess, founder of Dress Marie fashion consulting, on building your best denim wardrobe.

Perfect Jeans Fit

Whether you’re shopping in a store or in your own closet, think about fit first. Boggess’ rule of thumb: Anything that’s too big can be tailored, but anything too tight is a no-go. Jeans can be too tight even without cutting off circulation; take note if you see pulling anywhere or wrinkling at the crotch. “Just make sure your jeans aren’t working too hard, even if they have stretch,” says Boggess. It shouldn’t look like you’re wearing spandex workout pants.

The 5 Jeans You Must Own

1. 
Straight-leg jeans. Once you find a great fit, buy two pairs. “Have one tailored to wear with flats and one to wear with heels,” says Boggess. In terms of color, a dark wash is most flattering because it creates a long, lean line.

Brands to try: Levi’s, Paige Premium Denim, Joe’s Jeans

2.  Skinny jeans. One of the most versatile styles, skinny jeans can be worn three ways. “Try them with high heels for the long-legged look, rolled up and cuffed with flats, and tucked into boots for fall,” says Boggess. Even if you don’t feel you have the legs for skinny jeans, think of the pants as a wardrobe tool you can use for layering, much like a legging.

Brand to try: J Brand

3.  Trouser jeans. These look like dress pants that just happen to be made of denim instead of something more formal like linen or wool. Save trouser jeans for date night or casual Friday -- not hanging around the house -- and keep them pressed.

Brands to try: Express and J.Crew

4. “Trendy” jeans. Think high-waisted, distressed, ripped, patched and boyfriend styles. “Bring it in for a season, just to update your wardrobe and mix in with your classics,” says Boggess. But don’t spend a lot of money on disposable fashion you’re only going to wear for a single season -- and don’t just wear something because it’s trendy. “If it expresses you, go for it,” says Boggess. “If not, skip the trend.”

Brands to try: Mossimo and Lee

5. Seasonal jeans. Break away from blue with white, black or even go-with-everything gray. “Try white jeans for summer and black for fall,” Boggess says.
Brands to try: Lucky and Paper Denim & Cloth

Toss Your Jeans That Are …

1.    Too tight. If you have to lie down to zip your jeans, they’re too tight.

2.    Pleated. Pleats add bulk to an area -- your hips -- where you don’t want it.

3.    Capris. This length cuts your legs off and makes them look shorter. If anything, go for ankle length.

4.    Too low. Super-low-rise cuts will make you look shorter and can also cause belly bulge, love handles and back fat! When in doubt, sit down, and if you see so-called butt cleavage, then it’s too low.


Photo: Corbis Images

Jeans Alert: Wide-legged Denim Is in

When the skinny jeans craze hit a few years ago, denim buffs everywhere sighed in despair. After all, for those with anything other than the waifish figure of Kate Moss or the perfect curves of Gisele Bundchen, those drainpipe-slender pants were a big no-no.

Thankfully, designers are now offering up a more forgiving style: a wide-legged jean that sits higher on the waist and is cut to one circumference all the way down. This is different from the bootleg, which is fitted to the knee and then gently flares out. It’s also an alternative to the bell-bottom, which hugs the thighs and is uniformly wide from the knee down.

With wide-legged jeans, the circumference of the leg opening can be up to 23 inches compared to the 15 or so inches seen on cigarette jeans. The front rise is at least an inch or so higher than in low-waist jeans and even higher in the back. “Wide legs have a longer rise because the silhouette needs a bit more height to flatter the body,” says Chachi Prasad, founder of the fashion line Bishop of Seventh, whose jeans have been worn by Carrie Underwood and Rumer Willis.

The look is also markedly different from the more casual boyfriend jean, which often features distressed, fraying and upturned hems. Sleek and chic, the wide- leg jean can be worn to work or for an evening out. And it’s not only versatile but affordable too, as premium brands and lower-priced lines offer the silhouette.

Still, this is not a jean that can be thrown on with any old T-shirt or bought by just eyeballing the size. It takes a bit of polish and planning to pull off the look. Here are tips from style experts:

The right pair The wide-legged silhouette looks best on women at least 5 feet 4 inches tall and on the slender side, says Lisa Rudes Sandel, founder and creative director of the denim line Not Your Daughter’s Jeans. “With any trouser, the wider it is, the bigger you look,” she explains. Broader women can still embrace a wider leg with a boyfriend cut in a sleek dark finish, such as those offered by DKNY. For petite women, cuts like the Provocateur by Joe’s Jeans straddle the line between skinny and wide, lengthening the leg with a higher knee break and then flaring to an 18-inch leg opening. 

Ladylike tops Skip anything oversized or billowy and opt instead for something fitted on top, such as a trim tee and a cropped jacket. Or, suggests Sarah Bergman, manager of Los Angeles-based vintage store The Way We Wore, consider a feminine Victorian-style white shirt with a band collar and a bib front or ruffle.

High shoes and minimal accessories To balance the look, try a heel or wedge of at least 3 inches. For a handbag, carry a vintage or modern clutch or a small beaded bag. Finishing touches: a skinny belt and a delicate necklace peeking through an open-necked shirt.

Hair height Those killer heels will get the proportions right below the waist; for flattering proportions above the waist, go for tall hair. Suki Duggan, owner of New York City’s Donsuki Townhouse Salon, suggests a classic ponytail with an added “hump” for height. (It can be achieved by sectioning off the front part of the hair, spritzing it with hair spray and folding it back into the ponytail.) Another option: a half updo. “When in doubt, go for volume,” said Duggan. “Draw the attention upward.”

Photo: @iStockphoto.com/TerryJ

Jewelry Trend: Big Statement on a Small Budget

Jewelry and chocolate have a lot in common this season: You can’t stop with just one piece.

Stacks of bangles adorn wrists; layers of chains circle necks; and pendants, pins and earrings are built with unusual materials piled one atop the other. Worn in multiples and combined in eccentric, slightly kooky combinations, today’s jewelry makes its statement with size, color and audacity -- not price.

With many accessory collections featuring a strong vintage feel, now is the time to reassess that pile of forgotten chains, bangles or rhinestones cluttering your jewelry box. Don’t go on a treasure hunt for the perfect piece: how you style and combine pieces is more important than any single item.

Big trends seen everywhere include cascades of pearls mixed with matte metal chains; rhinestones partnered with ribbon; and rosettes that anchor asymmetrical assemblages of beads, chains, leather and fabric. Metals don’t aspire to impersonate the precious; they’re content to look like they belong in a hardware store.

A recession-inspired return to less-precious materials, coupled with a new consciousness about sustainability, has helped inspire a creative renaissance in fashion jewelry. Free to experiment with less costly materials, designers are crafting wood, glass, rubber, leather, lace, Lucite and grosgrain ribbon into jewelry that only looks expensive. Silver -- sterling or not -- is back at center stage too. Los Angeles jewelry designer Jeffrey Levin, whose designs have graced the covers of Elle, InStyle and Vogue, is even creating a new collection of what he calls “wristwear” made from recycled rubber.

The trend is good news for all of us who have despaired that our jewelry is a hodgepodge of different styles, materials and decades. Matching is out, mixing is in. Now is the time to flaunt your personal style, says Ken Downing, senior vice president and fashion director of Neiman Marcus. “You can combine bracelets and bangles that feel as if they have been collected not only from various places on a journey, but also from various times,” says Downing.

A frail seed-bead bracelet can slip beneath a chunky wooden or silk cord cuff. That intricate necklace of mirrors, medallions and bells you bought in India (or the neighborhood thrift shop) is now the height of fashion, particularly if it’s part of a heavily embellished look. Forget restraint: Big necklaces can complement earrings the size of a corsage. Or copy the baroque approach of designer John Galliano of Christian Dior and pile a bib necklace of gold medallions across a brocade tunic, fling a rhinestone-studded cord around your neck and still feel free to tack on tasseled earrings.  

Colleen Sherin, fashion director at Saks Fifth Avenue, advocates mixing layers of chains and not worrying about everything coordinating perfectly. “An off-kilter, eclectic look is really on trend,” she said. “You can mix your pearls with chains, organic beads or stones.”

Finding the right balance of glitz is important so that you don’t look like Mr. T. “If you are going to layer your necklaces, make sure what you’re wearing is a bit simpler,” says Sherin. “Make a statement either with your clothing or your jewelry.”

Here are some do-it-yourself tips on giving your pile of jewelry an up-to-the-minute look:

  • Layer two or more chains, bead strands or pendants.
  • Take the pendants from several necklaces and string onto a single chain or ribbon.
  • Using a crochet hook, weave ribbon through a segment of wide, chunky chain and tie the loose ends in a bow behind your neck.
  • Replace the chain in a pendant necklace with a complementary color of sheer organza ribbon. For variation, string the ribbon with a few crystal beads set far apart.
  • Resurrect your big crystal cocktail rings and anything acrylic or clear plastic.