The greatest show accessory for any front row fashionista isn’t her handbag but a great pair of bare, sheeny limbs. Kate Shapland reports...

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At a recent runway show in Milan, a beauty director (who shall remain nameless) and I sat in the front row; she in the paint-splattered jeans, sneakers and sweater she had been wearing to decorate a room in her house the day before, having left her hand luggage in the airport departures lounge by mistake.

Actually, she looked great, and at least she – we – were both wearing jeans, because at that stage neither of us were ready to go bare-legged; and there’s nowhere like the front row for some spirited scrutiny. Anna Wintour, Alexa Chung et al are nearly always perfectly bare-legged - the perfect accessory to complement this season’s pencil skirt or kitten heels.

Bare-legged in the front row is a serious art form: nailing it is a science based partly on positioning and partly preparation. Assuming we get the first bit right – sitting, legs together, knees to one side and feet arched to lengthen and streamline the legs – let’s look at the preparation.

The Legologist’s 3-Point Leg Transformation


Completely integral to great legs, body brushing and exfoliating from feet to hips makes an instant visible improvement to legs and wellbeing.  Think energy. To get your legs feeling fly-light and looking leaner you must raise your circulation – both blood and lymph flow. This is what friction does. Ideally you should be brushing daily, but just five minutes before a shower, brushing with a detoxifying oil straight on your body – upwards, always upwards – or vigorous exfoliation, works revitalising miracles.


Massage is a must. This stage is not just about sloshing body cream on – the secret is in the rub because, like friction, this is what moves your circulation. And if you do it regularly you can control areas prone to puff, like knees, ankles and outer thighs. The best topical for this is one with diuretic qualities; a good drainage cream or oil, to be applied straight after friction and a shower when skin is warm and ready for treatment.

My magic moves:

1. Start at your feet, using your thumb to push along the edge of your arches, around your ankle bones, up the backs of your calves, over shin bones and sides of calves.  Repeat over the same areas, imagining you are pushing blood upwards.

2. Use your thumbs to gently massage behind and around your knees, releasing areas of collected fluid and puff.

3. Push your thumbs up the insides of your thighs, again imagining you are tracing the blood upwards. Repeat as often as time allows then move to your outer thighs, and use your thumbs and fingers to knead the flesh until it turns pink.


Assuming your legs are freshly depilated and, if you are wearing sandals, toenails pedicured (with dark leg-lengthening varnish), the final step is to perfect. As we know, a tan (real or not) helps greatly to beautify legs. But there is a fine line between tan and perfection – a deep tan ages a pair of legs almost as much as it can a face.

My advice is to use a subtle gradual tan to give legs a hint of colour and to improve skin; don’t aim for stockinged perfection here, just natural improvement. Apply it over moisturiser (not oil) and allow it plenty of time to develop (always longer than you think).

The Legologist loves

Ina White Gold Detox Bath Crystals,  £49 ( ). Azzi Glasser’s detoxifying salts are excellent fluid retention busters: add to the bath and soak for 20 minutes.

Kate Logan Fennel Nourish Oil, £19.99 ( ). The best detox oil to use with your body brush, or add a drop to a body exfoliator.

Leirac Body Activ Drainage Anti-Water Cream, £37 ( ). A great leg-lightener - use this after a bath or shower and before bed to massage your legs.

St Tropez Everyday Natural Tan Body Light/Medium, £14.50 ( ). Among the best of a limited offering of self/gradual tans that work reliably well.

Aromatherapy Associates Enrich Body Scrub, £35 ( ). This has a good density of buffing grains (you don’t have to play ‘chase the grain’ with this one) and the kind of consistency that allows you to get a good rub in. AA also sell a Natural Bristle Body Brush, £13, which works as well as any, although I still think body brushes in general could be greatly improved upon.

Kate Shapland is Beauty Editor of The Telegraph Magazine, co-founder of  and editor of