Short and Sweet
Although some brands have yet to catch up, the fashion industry is finally acknowledging that people come in all shapes and sizes and the traditional, tall, slim model is not representative of the general consumer audience. One group that has almost always been overlooked in fashion are short people. Fashion labels always seek out tall models because they tend to design their clothes for tall people. Despite the fact that the average height of a woman is 5'4", most brands seem to use fit models around the 5'7" mark. Needless to say, it can be a struggle to look fashionable when clothes and particular trends are simply tailored to fit taller women. But all hope is not lost. There are a lot of style tricks you can use that will be flattering for your height and silhouette and we're here to give you the lowdown.
As a short person, there are probably some bits of fashion advice that you've heard all your life. Wear heels! Avoid patterns! Don’t wear long dresses! And while some of these recommendations hold some water, they also kind of don't. Rather than dressing according to some very basic guidelines, figure out what works for your specific body type. Not all short people are the same. There are short people with straighter frames (think Ariana Grande) and those with curvier frames (like Octavia Spencer). On top of that, you might have a shorter torso with longer legs or a longer torso but shorter legs. All of these factors are important to consider when trying to decide what might be the most flattering for you. So with these things in mind, we're going to get into what will actually look best on you based on your body type.
A good guideline to follow is the 2/3 rule where you try to create the illusion that your legs make up 2/3 of your body height while the remaining 1/3 is made up by your torso. Although this isn't a fashion law, it's a good frame of reference when styling your next outfit. Based on your particular body type, certain styling choices will work more effectively to accomplish this ratio than others.
Styling Tips for Tops
For those with longer torsos, tucking in your shirt or using cropped tops will help visually shorten the torso and add length to your legs. If you have a shorter torso, then leaving the shirt untucked or opting for regular length shirts can be more flattering.
One of the key concerns of dressing when you're short, whether you have a straighter or curvier frame, is making sure that your clothes don't appear overwhelming on you. To do this, you can stick to more structured and form-fitting tops rather than those with a looser fit. Of course, that doesn't mean you always have to stick to that silhouette. For those times that you want something more loose-fitting, consider wearing a belt that will cinch your waist and give you more shape. Depending on your torso length, you can place the belt lower or higher on your waist to lengthen or shorten the torso.
Fashion experts have often said that patterns are a petite woman's enemy but this isn't actually true. While some larger prints can sometimes look overwhelming on a short person, smaller prints are subtle enough to still look flattering without being overwhelming. Vertical stripes are one of the most flattering patterns for petite women as it helps elongate the body and has a slimming effect on all body types.
Style Tips for Bottoms
Just like with tops, pants and skirts with vertical stripes can be your best friend. The stripes will create the illusion that you have legs for days.
Along with using cropped tops or tucking them in, using high-waisted pants can help create that 2/3 proportion we previously mentioned by bringing the leg line higher up. This works best for short-legged women. You'll probably want to skip the high-waisted pants if you naturally have a shorter torso.
Pay careful attention to your hemlines. With pants, try to avoid hemlines that bunch at your ankles as that will make your legs look shorter and can make them appear thicker than they actually are. Instead, go with hemlines that end right at the ankle or if you plan on using heels, try out a hemline that extends almost to the floor. With the added heels, these will have you looking taller than Naomi Campbell. As long as you don't actually stand next to her.
With skirts and dresses, hemlines that are shorter than your knees tend to look the most flattering because they add length to your legs but that doesn't mean you can't pull off longer bottoms. You can absolutely look good in maxi dresses and skirts with the right styling. Try sticking with simpler patterns or a solid color so that the piece doesn't overwhelm your frame. If you're wearing a dress, a style with some type of cinching at the waist can help better mark your figure. A slit in the skirt can also break the piece and give your legs length by bringing your leg line up to the point where the slit begins. Skirts that end midcalf tend to be the least flattering because they cut the leg off at a weird spot but if you stick with nude shoes, you can counteract that weird cutoff by giving some extra length to your legs.
Style Tips for Shoes
We all know wearing heels will make you look taller but that's not the only style tip there is to know when it comes to shoes. All heels are not actually created equally which means some are more flattering for short women than others. Contrary to belief, clunky platform shoes may actually make you seem shorter because they'll make your feet look disproportionate to the rest of your legs. Those with smaller platforms, on the other hand, tend to be more flattering because they add height while still being proportionate with your legs. Ankle strap heels or flats are widely popular right now but they're not the most flattering for short women as they cut the leg off rather than elongate them. If you want to wear them, consider going with a nude version so that you avoid that effect.
If you don't want to wear heels, you can still pick shoes that will give you length. Pointy-toed shoes, whether they're heels or flats, will make your feet and thus your whole leg a longer look.
Ankle boots are probably the best length for elongating the leg while boots that stop at the calf are really the worst. But if you want to wear calf boots, try wearing pants or a long skirt that are close in color to the boots so that the visual leg line isn't broken. Knee boots can either elongate or shorten the leg depending on how you style them. The key to pulling them off is using pieces that will cover the top edge of the boot rather than have a gap showing. If you have that gap covered, you'll create a longer and more flattering visual line. This can also apply to calf or ankle boots if you wear something close in color to the shoes.
While you can use these tips to help flatter your short frame, that doesn't mean you have to live by them. At the end of the day, the most important thing to remember is that you can pull anything off as long as you're confident and comfortable with the look. You can choose to follow all these tips one day and break them all the next. After all, some of the most iconic fashion idols earned that title by breaking all the fashion "rules" and just doing them. Remember you can do the same. Like Shakespeare once said, you may be little but you can still be fierce!