Women with the 'perfect pair of legs' share their secrets

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Research has revealed that the perfect length for a woman's legs is 1.4 times the length of her upper body. Most of us would kill for long, shapely legs - and here DIANA APPLEYARD talks to five women who have the perfect leg-to-body ratio:

Leah Hibbert, 22, is single, lives in North London and works as a model. She is 5ft 11in and her legs are 41in long. She says:

"I have the longest legs the manufacturers make clothes for - and it's still not easy finding clothes to fit.

"I can only get jeans from Lee, for example, as Levis are too short. Having such long legs means I get lots of attention. Most of my friends are models, and when we all go out together people will shout out: 'Look at the legs on her!' "I don't do any formal exercise to keep my legs in shape, but I love going clubbing or listening to live music, so I think it's all the dancing I do that keeps them slim.

"When it comes to my diet, I'm a healthy size ten and I eat very well. I don't snack on rubbish. Having long legs is obviously a great help in my career and my legs have become very much my trademark.

"Designers love dressing women with very long legs and short bodies because clothes naturally look good on you. It seems to be the sexiest look.

"I don't think having long legs gives you a lot of energy, though, because I get tired walking up an escalator."

Zula Haigh, 24, an account executive, is single and lives in East London. She is 5ft 7in tall and has 39in legs. She says:

"At school, I hated my dimensions, because I felt like a freak with my very long legs and short torso.

"The only way I can explain my extraordinary body shape is the fact that my mum, who's a physiotherapist, is 5ft 2in, while my dad, a businessman, is 6ft - so maybe I got her body and his legs.

"I used to long to have a more average build, but now I think it is a real advantage to have very long legs. Men definitely go for tall, leggy girls.

"Having long legs does mean I have to shop around for clothes, though, and I spend a lot of time browsing around Spitalfields and Camden markets trying to find more unusual clothes which fit.

"Zara does a tall range, so I get my trousers from there. I can carry off skinny jeans,which is great, but I don't tend to wear short skirts because I think they can look tarty when you have very long legs.

"People tend to assume that you must be a model when you have very long legs and I am always having to disillusion them. I might have long legs, but at 5ft 7in I am really too short to be a model.

"But I get a lot of nice comments about my legs, which is lovely. I feel under pressure to keep them slim. If I put on weight it would be awful because they would look like tree trunks — so I make sure I keep them in shape by cycling and jogging every day.

Nikita Akilapa, 26, works in PR, lives in Walthamstow and is single. She is 5ft 11in and has 41in legs. She says:

"All my family have very long legs so I think my shape is definitely genetic. I am half English and half Nigerian but I was brought up in this country.

"Mum is 5ft 10in tall, my father 6ft and my brother is 6ft 5in. In fact, mum designs clothes especially for tall women.

"The hardest thing about having such long legs is getting trousers to fit. So many pairs end up swinging around my ankles.

"I am often buying trousers which are too short — and then I have to stuff them into knee-high boots.

"I think having this leg/body ratio does make you look elegant, though, if you can find the right clothes. People comment on my legs all the time and they are definitely my best feature.

"I buy a lot of trousers from Topshop, who do a special long leg range. I also wear my boyfriend's jeans. He's a music promoter and he's nearly 6ft tall, so his clothes fit me.

"I show my legs off by wearing skinny jeans, or very short skirts. If you've got long legs, you may as well make the most of them.

"I don't do anything to keep them slim - I'm just lucky and don't seem to put on weight. I keep them smooth by using lots of E45 cream. I used to go climbing but I don't have time for that now that I am working.

"I studied the performing arts at university in Bedford and did lots of dancing then, so maybe that has helped keep them in good shape."

Deborah Tilley, 34, works for Waterstone's book chain, is single and lives in Beaconsfield, Bucks. She is 5ft 4in and has 37in legs. She says:

"I am really quite short but I have extraordinarily long legs, which I regard as a real blessing. My legs are much longer than my body and make me feel taller than I am.

"I always knew I had long legs for my body, but it was brought home to me recently when I was at the cinema with a friend who's an actress.

"Standing up, we are the same height — but when we sat down she towered above me. For a laugh, we got out a tape measure later and that's when I realised that my upper body to leg ratio was 1 to 1.4.

"My legs have always been my best feature and I am very proud of them. I wear skinny jeans - which maybe I shouldn't now that I'm over 30, but people keep telling me my legs look great in them.

"Another good thing about having such long legs is that you don't seem to get much cellulite. My mum, who's 60, still has lovely long, slim legs and she doesn't have any cellulite at all.

"We were on holiday together recently and she still looks great in a swimming costume. I keep my legs slim by walking - I walk everywhere - and I do choose clothes to show them off. Recently, though, I went to a fancy dress party and had a real Bridget Jones moment.

"I wore a bunny girl outfit with fishnet stockings and a little fluffy tail, but arrived early to find the party was full of elderly relatives and very young children, all staring at me aghast."

Elly Gilbert, 22, works as an account executive and lives in Harpenden, Hertfordshire. She is 5ft 11in tall and her legs are 41in long. She says:

"All my family are tall - I am sure it is genetic. My dad's 6ft 2in and my mum is the same height as me and has very long legs. My father is a retired financial adviser and my mum is a teacher.

"I have never minded being tall and having very long legs - I love it. I did a lot of swimming as a teenager and I think that helped my build, and I go to the gym to keep my legs long and lean looking.

"I have always been tall. As a young girl, in school photos I was a head taller than nearly everyone else.

"I am very flattered to hear that I have the perfect leg length. People tend to notice you when you have very long legs and it makes you stand out from the crowd.

"Before university (I studied French and Italian at Warwick) I spent a year in Sardinia and the people there are really short.

"They used to say 'Look at the giant', which was really funny, and they even took photographs of me. The only downside to having such long legs is finding a boyfriend, because you do tend to tower over most men and sometimes you don't feel very feminine or girly.

"People say to me 'Where do your legs end?' and you have to get used to all the comments. But that doesn't stop me showing them off and I love wearing short skirts or tight jeans. I buy most of my jeans from Topshop's tall range.

"I find I really have to shop around to get clothes to fit because most clothes seemed to be designed for women who have the same ratio of body to leg - not nearly one and a half times as long."