Hollywood Legs: It's All About Legwork

Amazing gams don't just happen. Celebrity stylists and costume designers reveal their tricks for creating sexy, screen-worthy legs.

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Marilyn Monroe

Photo By 20thCentFox/Courtesy Everett Collection

Appeared In
Special Issue
WWD Special Report issue 02/21/2012

You need talent, looks and style to make it in Hollywood — and great gams don’t hurt, either. From vintage musicals with icons like Ginger Rogers or Ann Miller to a modern-day homage to burlesque in “Nine” with Penélope Cruz, Marion Cotillard, Kate Hudson and Fergie, a comedy like “The Seven Year Itch” featuring Marilyn Monroe, a classic like “The Graduate” with Anne Bancroft or the electrifying on-stage presence of Tina Turner — there’s one prerequisite: killer legs.

But amazing legs don’t just happen. Here, celeb stylists and costume designers share their tricks for creating sexy, screen-worthy legs. By Marcy Medina and Karyn Monget

• Phillip Bloch has dressed celebs from Sandra Bullock and Salma Hayek to Nicole Kidman and Halle Berry, whom he has wardrobed for The Golden Globes, The Emmys, the Screen Actor’s Guild Awards and the Oscars. He believes a gown with a high-cut slit that reveals a hint of leg is the sexiest look on the red carpet.

“I love slits. It’s a great way to show off legs and you don’t have to have great legs to look sexy,” said Bloch. “There’s a return to old-fashioned Hollywood glamour and it feels like Juliet Prowse or Ginger Rogers all over again. I’m seeing a lot of slits on the red carpet, like the [Versace] gown with thigh-high slit that Lea Michele wore to the SAG Awards. I also love the look of an evening gown with a high-cut slit because it’s not too brazen… It leaves a little bit to the imagination, not like the short skirts and HotPants everybody’s wearing.”

Favorite legs on screen: Anne Bancroft in “The Graduate,” Julia Roberts in “Pretty Woman” and Raquel Welch in “One Million Years B.C.”

Soyon An, costume designer for “American Idol” and “So You Think You Can Dance,” said a monochromatic leg and shoe creates “great gams.”

“One of the things I love to do to elongate the look of the leg is to use a tone-on-tone look like nude tights paired with nude-tone shoes. Another trick is wearing back-seam hosiery that looks like it runs down a stiletto heel for a really long leg.”

As for the biggest sins, she added, “Women shouldn’t wear shoes that cut them off at the ankle. If the shoe strap runs across the ankle, it’s a no-no. But it’s totally OK if it’s a V-shape or asymmetrical strap because it shapes the ankle and looks sexy.

“Some girls don’t have to worry about their legs, like Katy Perry and Carrie Underwood, who have amazing legs.”

Favorite legs on screen: “‘Nine’ comes to mind when I think of great legs and movies,” said An.

Cristina Ehrlich, whose clients include Amy Adams and Penélope Cruz, said, “I personally love — for myself and my clients — black opaque tights....They are a necessary winter wardrobe staple and help create the perfect Parisian-inspired ensemble. I particularly love Falke hosiery….If you really want to get creative, the color options from Falke are endless.”

Legwear, she said, is a great way to introduce interest into the wardrobe with color and texture.

“High heels are key. The elongating effect of a heel impacts the length and proportion of the entire body,” she added. “Skirt length is important when considering what flatters the leg most. I think age demographic should also be considered. It’s always a good idea to adjust the length of the skirt to make sure the best part of your leg is featured, and you create the illusion of length in the leg.”

She added that she uses Clarins Leg Emulsion to give legs a healthy sheen.

Favorite legs on screen: “The first time Daniel Day Lewis sees Juliette Binoche in ‘The Unbearable Lightness of Being.’ It’s the scene where she dives into the pool in a black swimsuit and we see an image of her legs underwater.”

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