“Say what you want about long dresses, but they cover a multitude of shins.” Mae West

betty grable legsBetty Grable’s legs were insured for a million dollars, or say the legend goes. I’ve seen them, they look worth a million at least.  Joan Crawford had a lovely pair of pins, as did Veronica Lake. In fact lots of women have beautiful shapely legs. I do not – I never have and I never will even if I was put on one of those torture things and stretched to within an inch of my life. I have, how should I put this, the type of legs ideally suited for footballers, legs with big calves that cause huge embarrassment when  trying on boots in a shop and the darned zip won’t close. I can tone them, I can shave them, I can tan them but they never will be insured for a million dollars. And so over time for most of my teens and twenties I simply hid them away locked forever in a trouser prison never to be released unless I was forced to, say at the swimming pool or the hospital. I lived in a hot climate for most of twenties and thirties and  yet still I refused to release my legs – no early parole for them despite the soaring temperatures. However my poor pasty white unshapely gams were to find salvation but in a most unlikely place. Neiman Marcus! A friend and I had driven to San Francisco for a day of shopping and well more shopping. She and I both love browsing high end luxury department stores –  the opulent decor, the pristine see-your-own-reflection-in-them tiled floors, the smells- of money and oh more money. Holly Golightly finds her solace in Tiffany’s, I find mine in luxury department stores. Anyway there we were soaking in the lavishness when we happened upon a clearance sale. Who knew they even held sales? In a flash I was holding in my a hand a long white dress that skimmed the floor, tucked in at the waist and finished off with teeny tiny spaghetti straps. It was reduced from a really ridiculous figure to still a lot in my book but not for this place. It was a small size – aren’t they always -but I was determined to give it a try. I held my prize and marched triumphantly to the changing rooms that seemed better suited to a palace than a shop but who was I to complain? It fit  like the proverbial glove and I looked, well fabulous. And my legs were covered but the material was gossamer thin so although they could  still be seen through it but merely as  an outline – an illusion of shape without exact definition. The perfect cover for someone with imperfect stems.Now I may have been a frequent visitor to these shops, but I never bought anything, some of their clothes were roughly equal to my entire year’s salary – although given I was on a teacher’s salary that isn’t saying much. But anyway here was something that I could sorta afford and like the hunter with a one-of-a- kind kill in sight, I wasn’t about to pass this opportunity up. And so it came to pass that I sashayed about San Francisco, the cock of the walk, the hunter with his trophy – the Neiman Marcus bag dangling loud and proud on  my arm. This dress opened the door, released the floodgates as I began to experiment with different lengths, different materials, different styles.  I discovered that a sheer panel from the knee down  is another excellent option for gals with solid,sturdy legs; that even pencil skirts can work so long as they are more retro  and so come to about midway between the knee and the ankle. Long skirts with slits up the side are another alternative – again offering a hint of flesh, but just a hint. So thanks Neiman  Marcus  for liberating my’ get away sticks’, although with your prices I might need to use them as actual get away sticks – from the nearest bank!