What to wear to minimize large ankles and calves

Q. I am a woman who has wide calves and big ankles. This is something that I have struggled with my whole life. I do not like to wear skirts or dresses because of this complex – too self conscious. I have a wedding coming up and need to wear a short dress as it will be in a house. Can you please advise what are some great shoes and dresses I can wear in order to help minimize the size of my legs.


A. There are several strategic ways to minimize the size of your calves and ankles:

1. Avoid shoes with ankle straps. A classic pump or d’Orsay pump with a high heel will help to elongate and visually slim your ankles and calves.

2. Opt for a monochromatic leg. If you are going bare legged, then opt for a nude shoe; otherwise, try black hosiery with a black heel.

3. Draw the eye upward. Choose a dress with embellishments or interesting details towards your face, or opt for a statement necklace or dramatic earrings to divert attention from your legs.

4. Wear a long dress. You mention that you need to wear a short dress since the party will be at someone’s home. There are plenty of long or maxi dresses you can wear that aren’t considered too dressy.

5. Choose a dress or skirt that flares out at the bottom. A fuller skirt will make legs look slimmer by comparison.

6. Make sure your dress hits at or above the knee. The shorter you are comfortable going, the slimmer your calves will look. Anything below the knee will draw attention to the widest part of your calves, creating a matronly look.

You can also opt for dress pants with a party top to avoid the leg issue altogether.

Wear black pumps with black hosiery for a lean, monochromatic leg

Nude heels with no ankle straps elongate and slim your legs

Draw the eye upwards with interesting details or a statement necklace

A full skirt makes legs look slimmer

Avoid hems that hit below the knee at the widest part of the calf. Anything at or above the knee is best.

A maxi dress is always an option

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