02/02/1998 at 01:00 AM EST
So often in fashion there's a fine line between flash and trash. At the moment, the slit in skirts seems to be that line. A trend that began innocently enough last fall, the look has, of late, been taken to surprising heights by celebs including Mariah Carey
, Elizabeth Hurley and Salma Hayek
. With thighs no longer the limit, some wearers appear to be skipping their Skivvies. "Women are getting more and more comfortable pushing the fashion envelope," says designer Tom Mark, whose Mark Wong Nark dresses adorn Carmen Electra
and Drew Barrymore
. Kim Bowen, a fashion stylist for Janet Jackson
and Brad Pitt
, is less forgiving: "Americans do backflips trying to find ways to strut their stuff. Where do we draw the line exactly? Where the G-string joins the hip?"
In the end, celebs—and the people who dress them—are split down the middle. Stylist Linda Medvene, who has brought the leggy look to Tyra Banks
, Elle Macpherson and Julianna Margulies, says that at least compared to last year's navel-plunging necklines, "The slit centers your eye on something other than the upper body. People are actually looking elsewhere for a change." Anyway, who ever said overexposure—especially in Hollywood—was such a bad thing? "I love my legs," says fan Leila Kenzle (Mad About You). "They're the best part of my body. I figure, why not show them off?"
with Steven Cojocaru and Irene Zutell