How to Wear a Slit Skirt or Dress

Check out our best tips for rocking this daring detail.

Getty Images, Larry Busacca

Updated By Taylor Davies

Back in 2012 when Angelina Jolie flashed her leg at the Oscars, her remarkable strapless black red carpet gown sparked an immediate (and still-going-strong) formalwear trend of dresses with daring slits.

Dresses and skirts with slits are actually a rather classic formal look—and have been a sexy styling detail since the days of Old Hollywood. While the thigh-high slits may resonate on the red carpet, in real life you can get a lot of bang for your fashion buck with a more modest slit that's not quite so dramatic. 

Not only are slits sexy, they are flattering! For example, women in their 50s and above can wear slits to carry off longer skirts and dresses without looking matronly. Shorter women of all ages can use the strong vertical element of the slit to make themselves look taller and leaner.

The trick to wearing a slit is to make sure you are showing off only what you want to show off, because the last thing you want is a "wardrobe malfunction."

Here are our best tips for wearing a slit dress or skirt:

  • Leave the thigh-high slits to the celebrities. All you really need to do is suggest a little skin, not expose it all. It's the idea of the slit that makes it sexy—just a small slit (like Blake Lively's Michael Kors skirt, pictured) is really all you need to get people's minds whirling.
  • Check your Spanx. The last thing you want to show when you sit down is the leg of your foundation wear, so make sure that any body-shaping gear is well out of range of the slit. The best way to avoid a public peek is to practice sitting, standing and even dancing, at home before you leave.
  • Wear hose or tights. If you're not comfortable going bare with a slit, don't shy away from hosiery — especially sheer black pantyhose which are chic again, or even fishnets—to give you a bit more coverage than bare legs.
  • Go long. Love the look of long skirts and dresses but don't love the fact that all that fabric makes you look a little too gothic? Try a longer silhouette with a slit for a simple fashion fix.
  • Stitch it up. A too-high slit is an easy fix; simply stitch it up a bit for more coverage.
  • Go easy on the rest of the look. Things can easily get to be "too much look" if you try to add a statement top, bulky accessories, elaborate lace-up shoes or any other distracting elements to your outfit. Let the slit take center stage and tone down the rest of your look. A simple top and jewelry that doesn't distract will work wonders.
  • You don't need perfect legs. Since you won't (hopefully) thrust your entire leg out of your dresses with slits (like Angelina Jolie does), only a bit of leg will peek out until you sit down, and even then you can cross your legs so the slit is on the bottom and less leg shows. This is one time when bronzer and spot-on sleekness count because you may be showing lots of leg.
  • Go with heels. Honestly? What doesn't look better than a bit of height. A higher heel will make your legs look longer with the slit. Ankle details (ankle boots, wrap ankle) also work really well with the slit and add to the look.
  • Don't take it to work. Unless it's a really small/modest slit (like in the back of a skirt suit), this is one look (like sheer tops or too-short skirts) that's best worn during your time off. If you do dare to wear the slit skirt for work (with a pencil skirt for example) pair it with a very conservative top to balance the sexiness.