How to make thick ankles look slimmer

Over 50 our ankles tend to get bigger especially if we are carrying extra weight on the rest of our body.  So if you’re worried your ankles look heavy the first thing to do is to look carefully at anyone else you meet in this age range with thick or fat ankles. 

What do they do?  Does it work?  Or does it just make the problem worse?

While you’re collecting ideas here are some useful tips on what to wear.

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I have thick ankles and here’s what I do:

Wear the right shoes and footwear

  • I never wear ankle straps across the front of my shoes.  It immediately shortens your leg.
  • In summer my favorite shoe is an open-toed sandal with a lowisj front made by a crossover of leather or cloth.  Flat, platform or wedge.  This lengthens my stubby legs.
  • In summer I often wear a platform or wedge shoe or sandal.  This way I get the height that helps balance out big ankles with a longer bod silhouette  (I’m only 5’2”).
  • A platform (very fashionable right now) is good to add easy-to-wear height.  But even better – a wedge points the toes downward elongating the leg and slims the ankle area too.
  • I rarely wear round or square-toed shoes.  These highlight the clumpy look of my thick ankles.
  • I usually wear slightly pointed shoes and boots to elongate my leg through the foot.
  • Most people with thick ankles cannot wear really pointed shoes as their feet are too wide – that goes for me too.
  • I often wear sneakers (trainers) as these are heavier and larger than my ankles and make my ankles seem a bit slimmer by contrast.  Besides, the larger heavier foot is actually a style statement.  That’s why so many chic young things wear big sneakers with pretty frocks instead of always wearing delicate heeled pumps.
  • I often wear ankle boots (booties) in cool weather.  Nobody knows what lies beneath.  Note: you may need to get these specially made if your ankles are very thick.
  • I love wearing boots to just below the knee.  Same as booties but elongate the leg.  They need to be as sleek and unadorned as you can find.  Again be willing to pay for a pair to be made to your exact leg and ankle width.  Better to spend your money on one fab pair that you adore than five pairs that don’t do up properly and make you feel fat.
  • I never wear high or stiletto heels.  Nothing more unstylish than a big girl on a tiny heel.  Own your size but don’t flaunt it!
  • Same goes for really pointy shoes.  Look silly.  And hurt like crazy.
  • I rarely wear chunky stack heels.  Yes, I know they are fashionable but they only look good on women with thin legs.  The rest of us look like school mistresses from 1958.
  • People say don’t wear flat shoes.  I totally disagree.  They’re comfortable (and we deserve comfort) and they neither add nor subtract apparent width from your ankles.  However you move better and you smile more – and in the end that’s what makes the biggest impression.

Choose the right pants, jeans and skirts

  • I often wear pants and jeans that come right to the ankle bone.  Mom jeans and other straight cut pants are best.  Go for long straight lines. Be prepared to re-hem every pair you buy so they finish exactly where you want them to.  Add a long straight open cardigan too when it’s cold.
  • People say wear flared pants (bell-bottoms).  OMG.  Hated them first time round.  Certainly not going to look like a vertically challenged dwarf fifty years later even if they do hide my ankles.
  • I rarely wear pants or jeans that taper at the ankle unless I show a little skin and add big sneakers – the bare leg area looks small in contrast.
  • I like wearing wide-cut pants such as palazzo pants.  Where did those ankles disappear to?  Who cares.  I’m having fun!
  • I generally avoid wearing paler pants than my top.  Though in summer I might wear a big top over white skinny (well, skinnyish – depending what I can get into really) pants or leggings.  The inverted triangle takes the eye away from the lower body after the thighs.  But cover your rear end with that big top.
  • I like wearing bright colors and patterns on square-cut tops to draw the eye up and balance big hips, calves and ankles.
  • I sometimes wear skirts that finish lower than mid-calf or even at the ankle as this makes your lower body longer and is a style statement.  People are so busy looking at your skirt they forget to wonder what size your ankles are.
  • I avoid hems that finish at or just above mid-calf as these call attention to your lower leg at a very wide part.  All depends on whether your calves or your ankles are more pronounced really.
  • People say wear a wide, gathered skirt.  I totally disagree.  This style references young girls.  Young girls don’t sport thick ankles.  We look daft.  I wear slightly loose, sometimes pin-tucked, or slightly pleated, skirts but never fully gathered or very flared.
  • I don’t have one but I really need one now that the fashion looks here to stay – an ankle-length finely pleated skirt.  This is a big style statement and stops folk thinking about your ankles.
  • That whole Boho chic and California dreamin’ style works really well for shapeless ankles.  It’s big, it’s breezy AND it’s stylish.  For all you know everyone else is high as a kite and couldn’t care less about your ankles!

Make the most of your neckline

  • I usually wear a neckline or jewelry that accentuates the length of my neck (which is short).  This way people are still looking at my necklace by the time I sit down at the restaurant table and my ankles are hidden for hours.  I find a big smile and a linked arm after the meal helps me get out of the restaurant and into the car without my partner/date/friend/ business contact caring two hoots about my lower leg.

Move well

  • I may have heavy legs but I never waddle.  Take a look – most women over 60 waddle if they have thick ankles.  Much better to pick your (large) feet up and walk like someone half your weight. Practise, practise, practise.
  • I rarely cross my legs – bad for circulation, difficult when you’re overweight and gives everyone in the room a grandstand view of your big ankle/s.  And, depending how you sit, often a lot more too.
  • If my shoes make me take very short steps or hobble I donate them.  Life’s too short.  And hobbling makes you hunch your shoulders and look older.  Plus people look down at your legs to see what the problem is.  So no tight shoes.  Stand proud and smile!
  • I never stand for very long as this makes my ankles swell – and hurts. be the lady and ask for a chair!
  • I put my legs up whenever I can. “No I am not lounging.  I am improving the circulation to my lower limbs.  And, yes, I would like a cup of tea/a capucino/a glass of chardonnay.”

Get your head in the right place

  • I rarely think about my thick ankles because where our thoughts go so does our focus.  I’ve got better things to think about.  And oddly, where your focus goes is subliminally picked up by those around you.  They just know you’re somehow uncomfortable or ill at ease.  Think ‘top of my head’ not ‘down at my feet’. 

Here are some other style advice articles you might find useful.

How to wear Leggings over 50

Best Mom Jeans over 50


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