Body Type

What To Wear When You Have Skinny Legs

Whether you’ve had skinny legs all your life, or aging is starting to make them look like toothpicks, no worries! Here are some easy dressing tips to balance thin legs and make you look fabulous.

skinny legs in pants


Wear Straight-Leg or Boot Cut Jeans

Wearing straight-leg or bootcut pants is a great way to add weight and structure to skinny legs.  They add shape to your calves and create a flattering shape. Make sure they are fitted through the thigh, as too baggy will make your petite legs look lost. Avoid skinny jeans, leggings, and jeggings as these are designed to emphasize the thinness of your legs.

Steer Clear of Stiff Flare Skirts

Any dress or skirt with a wide, stiff flare, such as an A-line dress, is going to make your legs like two skinny sticks in the middle of a bell.  You’re better off wearing a slim pencil skirt that ends just above the knee, and that has a slight taper since a slim skirt is more in proportion with thin legs. If you like long skirts, another option is a flowy midi or pleated midi. Since a midi ends at the widest part of your leg (your calf), it gives the illusion of a wider leg under the skirt. Of course, a maxi covers skinny legs too and is ideal. Flowy palazzo pants work like a maxi too.

Wear Bright/Light Colors

Dark colors recede, making an area look smaller, while bright/light colors advance, making an area look larger. You can take advantage of this optical illusion to make your legs look fuller. For example, wearing white or tan pants will make your legs look fuller than wearing black pants. If you add contrast to your outfit by wearing a dark top with your light or bright bottom, this will make your legs appear even fuller.

Wear Patterns and Prints

The same idea applies to patterned pants and skirts. Prints and patterns are busy, keep the eye moving and distract from thin legs. They also add to the perceived weight. For example, plaid pants or floral jeans would be a great way to make thin legs look less skinny. Horizontal lines add width but avoid pants with vertical stripes as the long lines from top to bottom stretch and slim the look of your legs.

Try Textured /Patterned Tights

Another way to bulk up the look of your legs is with textured opaque tights—the lighter, brighter, or more patterned, the tight better.  Contrast the tights with the color of your skirt to make the effect even greater.

Wear Tall Fitted Boots

Boots are an easy way to hide skinny legs and enhance the weight and shape of your gams. A pair of tall, knee-high boots with a skirt really helps since the minimal leg is showing. Make sure your boots fit nicely and snug to your leg. If your boots are loose, your legs will, by contrast, look even thinner, like they are drowning in the middle of the boots.   You can also try tucking a pair of jeans into tall boots to make your calves look bigger.

Prefer booties over tall boots? Try slouchy calf-high booties with jeans to add bulk. These work much the way a pair of leg warmers would beef up the calves.

Slip Into Shoes with Ankle Straps

If you want to make your calves and ankles look thicker, then go ahead and have fun with a pair of ankle strap shoes. Ankle straps shorten the leg, which has the effect of making the calf and ankle look wider.  Strappy espadrilles which climb up the leg work too. A flat shoe also shortens the leg and gives this same fuller effect.

Avoid Wide-Leg Shorts

Just because you have skinny legs doesn’t mean you have to stop wearing shorts, altogether. Just stay away from wide-leg shorts, which create a chicken leg look, and wear a pair of longer slim shorts that fit closer to the leg but are not tight. As for capris, find a pair that ends in the middle of your calf to create the illusion of a fuller leg.

Having Skinny legs when you are 40+ can be aging, but follow these simple dressing tips to balance that thinness, feel confident, and look Age-amazing!

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23 thoughts on “What To Wear When You Have Skinny Legs

  1. Hi Deborah, I have a semi-formal event coming up. I have skinny, long legs. I was wondering if a mini skater dress with knee high boots or even thigh high boots would suit?

    1. Hi Brittany, It’s always hard to know what to wear, isn’t it? Everything is so casual these days. Still, I would say a short dress with very tall boots sounds rather casual for a semi-formal event. Also, tall boots would be heavy for now, as it is March. (Thigh-high boots would not be recommended at all as they have passed their prime). If I may suggest, why don’t you wear some nice flowy, wide-leg dress pants (black is always classy) and a lovely silky blouse or a cropped jacket? Wide-leg pants are very much in style, and they would cover your long, thin legs. I think they would look very modern. If you want to wear a dress, what about a midi? There are so many beautiful midis right now. Just be sure to wear dainty shoes so you don’t put the focus on your slim ankles. I hope that helps! Have a great time.

  2. Deborah, I so needed this. Thank you! I’m 55 and have had ‘sparrow legs,’ according to my Father, all my life, but now that I’m older, they’re even worse! I have always loved and worn bulky boots and shoes, but when I glimpse my side view in a mirror late, I realize that my footwear choice has exacerbated the problem. Hence, I am searching for an article such as this. So thank you for all that you’ve said. Never a truer word spoken, and I assure you I’ll take heed.

    1. Hi Gina, I’m glad this post helped. We all have areas of our body that are a little challenging so please don’t beat yourself up! If the suggestions helped, great but remember you are unique and beautiful as you are! Cheers, Deborah

  3. I knew I was not alone but so good to find this! My legs have always been skinny and as I am getting older (44) they are thinning out even more. I also do not have much of a butt so that even makes it worse from the back : (
    I live in Florida and fall weather is coming soon and I love the legging look but cannot get past how bad my skinny legs look in them and not to mention a flat bum. Any advice on what brand to try and how to make things appear bigger? I read patterns and texture but was wondering if anyone has a specific brand they love and recommend. Thank you for any advice!

    1. Hi Stephanie, I would say a faux leather legging ( gives the illusion of weight) but that might be too hot in Florida even in fall? Spanx has the best ones. I would also make sure to wear a long top or what would be really great would be any legging with a top and a long very light caridgan or ruana over top. Layering helps detract from skinny legs. Cheers, Deb

    1. Hi Brenda, I think jogger pants would be great since they are a little loose in the leg and will make your legs look fuller. Wide-leg pants and flares are in style and would be good too!

  4. Oh, thank you for this!!! I have terrible chicken legs, had all my life. I am used to getting made fun of and always looking for ways to disguise them. The worst thing is I can’t find tall boots that fit skinny legs!!

  5. I’ve always been self-conscious about my chicken legs, and coming up on a family reunion stresses me out. Thank you for your tips.

    1. Hi

      I sympathize with you as I have had the same problem all my life. I cannot wear various clothes because of my skinny calves. I found fabulous made-to-measure knee-high boots at Duo. You can actually pick the measurement of your calves and they fit perfectly.I have 2 pairs of these boots and they are fabulous. Good luck. X

  6. Hello everyone. Skinny legs have always been a concern for my looks. w that I’m 60, they have lost some muscle. I a g ng to the gym to lift weights to see if that can help. I’ en taking protein shakes, but no improvement. So, I a glad I found this website for support, and thank you for the tips. Thank you all :)

  7. I commented previously, but then I read Diane’s post. Don’t hate your ‘beautiful thin legs.’ Instead, embrace them, be grateful that they function, and know that others understand what we are feeling and are here to help. It wasn’t until I thought I was losing mobility in my legs that I truly began to appreciate them and not care what others thought or said about my ‘skinny legs.’

    1. Hi Joan, You are so right. Every woman I know is so self-conscious about a part of their body that no one notices. I’m sorry you lost your mobility. It sounds like it has made you wise. Thanks for the insight and inspiration. Take Care!

  8. I love this article on skinny legs!! t is a problem I have never seen addressed before! I have this going on! Mostlready es most of the things you mentioned, but I learned a few tips! Thank you so much. I hate my chicken gs!!!!

    1. Same for me! I’ve always had skinny legs and used to love them. Now, in my late 50’s, I think they look much too thin. I’m 5’10” with a 34” inseam… LONG and SKINNY! I learned some more tips from Deborah here… thank you!

    2. I love the fact that I am not alone! Having had skinny legs ALL of my life, it has been an issue that was always an embarrassment to me. I have always tried to dress to accentuate my legs; thank God for tall boots, maxi coats, and long dresses and skirts. So glad I stumbled on this site.

      1. I honestly thought I suffered alone. Hearing family and friends call you chicken legs and constantly asking why your legs are skinny, as if we pick them out at stores, is tormenting. But my consolation is that they run, jump, swim, climb, kneel, and walk well, still at 54!

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