We're loathe to admit it (we've been neglecting our squat thrusts at the gym), but it looks like summer '12 is going to be the season of the leg. Sure, there's always been lots of skin on display in the warmer months, but after Angelina Jolie's thigh-high slit at the Oscars, and Anja Rubik's pelvis peep show at the Met Ball, it's clear that designers are upping their game and bringing legs front and center.
Great news if you hit the genetic lottery and have mile-long stems, but for those of us with less-than-lengthy limbs, the thought of revealing them can cause major dread. While it's easy to disguise your legs in the colder months with slimming and lengthening black tights, there's nowhere to hide come summer.
But fortunately, there are a few sneaky tricks you can employ to make your legs look, well, leggier. We asked a panel of experts to dish their secrets to getting your gams in prime condition for summer's tiniest short shorts. Read on for their best tips, and get ready to step out with confidence.
If you want to make your legs look fabulous for the long haul, you've got to put in the extra effort now. Rather than letting you waste hours at the gym doing exercises that don't do much for your thighs, we asked celebrity trainer David Kirsch, author of the very apty named Butt Book, for the ideal, express workout to get your stilts svelte and toned in just three weeks. "Any lateral movement that will shape and tone your inner thighs will instantly make your legs look more toned. I would suggest Reverse Crossover Lunges, Plie Toe Squats, and Single Leg Deadlifts," he says.
To do the the Reverse Crossover Lunge, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, then take a large step diagonally forward with your right foot, planting it at the 11:00 position. Sink down until your thighs form right angles. Extend your legs, lift your right knee, and bring it in toward your chest. Step back with your right leg, this time lunging behind your torso and stepping back to the 8:00 position. Repeat with your left leg.
Single Leg Deadlifts — we know, they sound scary, but they're worth it — require a great sense of balance. Stand on your right foot and extend your left leg straight behind you. Slowly lower both hands towards the floor, keeping your legs straight and your back flat. Slowly stand back up, maintain those straight legs and back. Repeat on the other side.
For Plie Toe Squats, stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, toes turned out. Squat down and then lift up your heels so you are supporting your full weight on your toes. Hold this position for five seconds and then straighten your legs and lower your heels back down on the floor.
Kirsch recommends doing these three exercises as part of a circuit training regimen. Do 15 reps of each, with no break in between, and aim to do the whole circuit 2-3 times, 4 times a week.
Looking for a quick fix? Kirsch says to stay away from dairy, processed foods, diet soft drinks, processed carbs, and sugar, as these can bloat you and promote increased body fat. Finally, invest in a great pair of heels. "High-heeled shoes — not wedges! — are the best way to show off gorgeously shaped calves. If you know how to walk in them properly, they can shape your entire leg," he says. Now that's a "fitness" tip we can really get behind!
Photos: Via David Kirsch, Amazon, Shopbop
Are you more of an instant results kind of girl? Yeah, us too. We don't tend to think about our legs until it's too late and then we need a quick fix. That's where Sophie Evans, St. Tropez's Skin Finishing Expert comes in. She's a pro at turning pasty legs into glam, glowing, red carpet-ready stems. "If the skin is glowing and tan it will instantly slim your legs and naturally create a more toned appearance by deepening and pronouncing the natural muscle contours," she says. According to Sophie, the three things every girl needs to perk up her legs are a spray-on leg tint, a wash-off bronzer, and illuminating lotion.
"A layer of self-tanner on the legs should be your staple, can’t-live-without product," she says. "It can hide a multitude of problems, from concealing stretch marks and scars, making the appearance of cellulite look better, and of course, instantly slimming you down by attracting the eye to darker, more pronounced contours." Evans recommends exfoliating to scrub away the dead skin cells, then moisturizing your knees, your whole foot, and the back of your heel with an oil-free lotion. Use an applicator mitt to apply the self-tanner — she says it will make life easier and you will get an even finish. Apply it liberally so the product will glide over skin without the use of pressure. "Lack of product is the biggest mistake people make," says Evans.
If you'd rather not commit to a color, try a temporary tan from a tinted bronzer or leg spray. These products work to give you a faux glow that washes off once the night is through. If you really want to get advanced, try contouring and shaping the legs using a blend of highlighter lotion, self-tanner, and temporary tint. "If you are happy with the depth of tan, apply moisturizer all over to hydrate and lock in color, then mix a little bit of St. Tropez One Night Only Instant Glow with moisturizer and apply directly to the contours of the leg — underneath the bottom of the cheeks, to the center of the thighs, down the shins, and around the calf muscle to sculpt alternatively. Dot a small amount of [shimmer lotion] down the shin, around the contour of the calf muscle, and at the center of the thigh. Your legs will immediately look smooth, hydrated, longer, leaner, and more toned in an instant. By directing the eye and light to the center of the legs, this instantly gives a slimmer illusion."
Photos: Via Drugstore.com, St. Tropez, Sephora