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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Playing up the legs in “Moulin Rouge.”

Photo By Courtesy Everett Collection

Tina Turner

Photo By Mary Evans/Ronald Grant/Everett Collection

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

Randall Christensen, costume designer for “Dancing with the Stars,” called legwear the number-one priority for celebs to look sexy on the hit TV series.

“Dancing tones everything from the ankles to wonderful calves, thighs and a firm derriere. So, cha-cha your way to sexy legs. Also get some color onto your legs with self-bronzers, a safe way to tan up the legs and draw attention to the shapes and curves.

“One thing that is so fun and a bit playful is to accent an ankle with a bit of body art like Swarovski press-on tattoos. They are fun, playful and most of all, removable. But keep away from ankle bracelets. Being a former dancer, it’s all about elongating those legs, so don’t break the line by having a clunky ankle bracelet.”

Favorite legs on screen: “Any movie with Cyd Charisse. She did a phenomenal job of showcasing the most beautiful legs in the industry in ‘Singin’ in the Rain,’ ‘The Bandwagon’ and ‘Silk Stockings.’ Marilyn Monroe in ‘Gentlemen Prefer Blondes’ would definitely be next in line. That opening number with Marilyn and Jane Russell, in the red sequin gowns, cut up to there — Wow.”

Allison Leach, costume designer for “The Legion of Extraordinary Dancers” Web series, said boots create sexy legs with an attitude.

“Boots balance out the hips and make you feel powerful. A shoe you can rule in, that lets you walk beautifully, is always gonna make for an overall sexier silhouette in motion. I have very pretty shoes that are so unbearable that they have been relegated to home decor at this point.

“Pilates works wonders for leg confidence. I like how pilates elongates the leg muscles like a dancer’s....Designing for the LXD has put me in full service to the lines of the leg. A dancer’s top priority is often showing off their leg articulation. When the look doesn’t call for double-layered Capezios, I use metallic skinny jeans like Kill City’s Junkie Silver coated stretch denim or American Apparel’s disco pants, which have both awesome compression and reflective highlights that create sexy 3-D legs.”

Favorite legs on screen: “I have the poster of Brian De Palma’s “Dressed to Kill” in my entry way, featuring a Graduate-like shot of black stockings. It inspires me to ask myself each time I leave the house — are you dressed to kill?

“My favorite scene in the recent ‘Mildred Pierce’ redux miniseries (designed by the legendary Ann Roth) was when Guy Pearce slips up Kate Winslet’s skirt to reveal her much-discussed ‘working woman’s legs’ in nude stockings and a girdle with garters...He is kissing and worshiping her calves, which really reveals the eroticization of the legs during that period...It used to be all about ‘nice gams.’ I’m glad we are moving away from T&A and getting back into an emphasis on legs. There’s also the scene in ‘The Piano’ when Harvey Keitel finds a tiny hole in the calf of Holly Hunter’s woolen stockings and it’s the first time he touches her skin. I love how in historical drama, the sex appeal is in the discovery of the body beneath the garments, rather than the flesh parade we are used to these days.”

Jill Ohanneson, costume designer for the ABC-TV series “Revenge,” said, “I love sheers on any legs in heels, as they give an elegant hint of color without the heaviness of an opaque tight. But those same opaque tights look amazing with flats and boots.

“Shimmery tights, like shiny fabrics, do weird things on camera — unlike real life — so I tend to stay away from them. And nothing is sexier than a great pair of fishnets with the right outfit.

“I do love Wolford stockings as they are so well made and hug the leg beautifully. And Donna Karan has always done a great job combining hosiery and shapewear together and has a really large selection of colors, textures and patterns. Hue also has really fun patterns and colors. The most flattering shoe on any leg is a high-heeled pump or sling-back, which elongates the leg. Ankle traps and Mary Janes are harder to wear as the strap line can accentuate thick ankles and calves.”

Favorite legs on screen: Claudette Colbert’s revealing leg scene in “It Happened One Night.” She noted, however, “I think my favorites have got to be the musicals ‘Chicago,’ ‘Moulin Rouge’ and ‘Burlesque,’ because when you’re dancing it’s all about the legs. Also all those wonderful Esther Williams movies with beautiful girls in sexy vintage swimsuits. And I think ‘Sex And The City’ did a really good job of making sure that the shoes, and therefore the girls’ legs, looked great.”

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