What to Wear if You’re Short

whattowearifyoureshort_square_opt

Let’s talk about me for a second, shall we? 😉 Back in the day, when I was in college, I bought a pair of GAP pants with an “L” after the size. That “L” meant Long, and for years, I would announce it to pretty much everyone I met.

“I wear Long jeans from The GAP.”

And they would look down (way down) at me in amusement. Sometimes they would pat the top of my head. Okay, they didn’t, but they easily could have.

That’s the sort of thing that happens when you’re 5’2″.

But being short isn’t a body type, and short women come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, just like every other height on the planet. I happen to be short with relatively long legs, hence the Long jeans. So not only do we have to dress for our height, we also need to dress for our shape. Just like everyone else on the planet. 🙂 (Click here and I’ll help you discover your Body Type!)

I use the term short because, well, that’s what I am, and I have come to associate petite with ditsy prints and Peter Pan collars and mint green. Before any of these were trendy.

Anyway, dressing a diminutive body is way easier with a few guidelines, so here, what to wear if you’re short.

Proportion is Everything

To my dear sister, who almost died laughing when I attempted to wear massive platform boots with skinny pants, back in our Boston days. You were right. So right. A short person with skinny legs in massive shoes looks comical because the proportions are so extreme. Here, more tips about proportion:

1. Wide Legs are Relative

Wide-legged pants and culottes aren’t off limits, exactly, but they do require a little extra work. And they need to be scaled to fit a petite frame. (There! I said it!) Too wide and they’ll gobble you right up!

Petite silky culotte jumpsuit, $26.85 (sale!), ASOS

2. Flares are Fabulous

A pair of trendy flares, or boot-cuts when they come back in style, are super-flattering and can make you look longer and leaner. (If you’re a Style Dial #2, however, skip these and stick with a long lean jean!)

MiH Casablanca petite flared jeans, $99.95 (sale!), Anthropologie

MiH Casablanca petite flared jeans, $99.95 (sale!), Anthropologie

3. Maxis are Miraculous

Many short girls steer clear of maxis, but you only need to remember two things to pull them off! One, buy a petite size so the proportions are right, Casual maxis are not usually worth the cost of alterations. Second, stay away from large pleats, full or overly flowy styles and stick with something simple and leaner.

Felicity & Coco jersey maxi dress, about $56 (sale!), Nordstrom

Felicity & Coco jersey maxi dress, about $56 (sale!), Nordstrom

4. Show a (Little) Leg

One of the advantages to less height is the ability to wear shorter skirts. If you like your legs, go for it! A shorter skirt, like a longer one, can make you look longer! (Notice there are no midis on this list. That was intentional.)

Petite blouson dress, $70 (sale!), White House Black Market

5. Raise Your Waistline

Higher-waisted styles are everywhere this season, and if you’re petite with a long waist (and possibly shorter legs) then a high-waisted style can extend your frame and make your legs appear longer. On a short waisted type (like myself), they are catastrophic.

Petite High Waist Sailor Pencil Skirt, $59.99, LOFT

Petite High Waist Sailor Pencil Skirt, $59.99, LOFT

Pick the Right Store

Unless your best friend is a tailor, or you have some serious sewing skills yourself, you’ll want to choose petite-sized pieces when it matters most. And by that, I mean pants. And maxi dresses. And anything tailored. (You’ll still need to befriend a tailor, of course, but your visits can be less frequent if you follow this advice!). Here, a few of my favorite sources for petite style, in no particular order.

  1. TopShop: Trendy, affordable styles that are a step up in quality from other fast fashion retailers.

A key trend this season: Petite Sleeveless Tailored Jacket, $85, TopShop

A key trend this season: Petite Sleeveless Tailored Jacket, $85, TopShop

Asos: While super-trendy and a little young, this massive online store still has tons of options in petite sizes, including great basics.

Petite high waist pants, $40, ASOS

Petite high waist pants, $40, ASOS

Anthropologie: Although Anthropologie doesn’t tout its petite sizes, a sizable selection of styles is available for petites, including popular brands like Level 99 and Pilcro.

Anthropologie Hiding Horses Ribboned denim dress, $148, Anthropologie

Hiding Horses Ribboned denim dress, $148, Anthropologie

J. Crew: An endless source of options, with a Petites tab to take you straight to the right pieces!

Petite Sunday Slim Chino with metallic tux stripe, $98, J. Crew

Petite Sunday Slim Chino with metallic tux stripe, $98, J. Crew

Choose the Right Shoes

There’s no beating a slim-heeled, pointy-toed pump for maximum flattery and leg-lengthening, but there are other options. Any slim, slightly elongated style adds length. Keep platforms and wedges moderate and not too clunky, especially if your legs are slim. Round and square toed shoes, as cute as they can be, do tend to make the legs look shorter, as do ankle straps, especially thick or contrasting ones. Sidestep the toe-shape issue altogether and choose a strappy sandal with a stacked heel for flattering and comfort when the weather is warm, and an almond-toed bootie in the winter in a comfortable height.

Klub Niko "Tahara" heeled sandals, $49.95 (sale!), Anthropologie

Klub Niko “Tahara” heeled sandals, $49.95 (sale!), Anthropologie

 

Sam Edelman "Opal" pump, starting at $90, Amazon

Sam Edelman “Opal” pump, starting at $90, Amazon

 

Jessica Simpson "Lafay" booties, starting at $50, Amazon

Jessica Simpson “Lafay” booties, starting at $50, Amazon

I have always adored being petite (although I still loathe the word), and aside from the occasional longing to wear a trend that doesn’t suit me, I’ve never wanted to change it. Plus, short has never been chic-er, and celebs of smaller stature, like  Sarah Jessica Parker, Miroslav Duma, Nicole Richie, Salma Hayek, Rachel Bilson and Reese Witherspoon, offer endless inspiration. What do you think of my style tips for short girls? I’d love to hear from you!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Anti-Spam Quiz: