Learning how to dress if you’re short is a life skill that takes a while to master. As someone who’s under 5’3″, I’ve regularly found myself in fitting rooms trying on laughably long jeans or jackets that make me look like I’ve come straight from the ’80s (such is the unintentional oversized shoulder). If you’re nodding along in empathy, then rest assured that I feel your pain. But it doesn’t have to be this way, and it doesn’t mean you have to forgo all the latest trends.
While I think we should all embrace whatever size, shape or height we are, sometimes appearing and feeling a little taller helps with being more confident. I’ve looked to three petite street style stars (Courtney Trop, Lucy Williams and Aimee Song) to gather some tips on how to dress a smaller frame. Although all three have their own unique take on fashion, there’s one outfit they tend to avoid: anything overly layered. So, what are the guidelines? I’ve given a quick rundown of the key rules I always follow.
Ready to see what we mean? Keep scrolling for nine incredible tips on how to dress when you’re short, and shop some key pieces.
1. Cinch your waist where possible.
Style Notes: Miroslava Duma is petite by anyone’s standards at 4’9”. The street style star is rarely seen without wearing something that cinches in her waist. The illusion is that her legs appear longer, and therefore gives added height. Either look for a cinched-in dress or just grab a belt and wrap around your favourite frock.
Style Notes: The beauty about this look, as seen on Lucy Williams of Fashion Me Now, is that it’s so simple. It’s just a sleek piece of knitwear (in the always expensive-looking beige) with a black miniskirt, plus a matching pair of ankle boots and bag. There’s just something about a pointed-toe shoe or boot that draws the eye down.
3. Opt for cropped and fitted denim.
Style Notes: While it might seem counterintuitive to wear cropped items, the high-waisted, fitted cut and a clever flash of ankle (like, my legs are so long that these jeans are short!) gives the impression that Lucy Williams is taller than she is.
4. Wear high-waisted trousers.
Style Notes: Anything high-waisted is a must when it comes to dressing if you’re short. Whether it’s a pair of red vinyl trousers, as seen here on blogger Aimee Song, or a pair of palazzo pants, ensure you give the illusion of longer legs by emphasising your waist.
5. Tailor your pieces.
Style Notes: Just because most suits for the vertically challenged end up being too long in the trousers and too big in the jacket doesn’t mean you can’t go for tailoring. The smart way to approach this is to get your pieces altered so they’re truly bespoke and fit you perfectly.
6. When in doubt, go all black.
Style Notes: As always, all-black outfits are a classic go-to for shorter girls. The black boots and trousers help to give the overall impression of being taller.
7. Do oversized, but don’t layer.
8. Invest in a long coat.
9. Don’t underestimate small heels.
Style Notes: Saving the most obvious for last. Of course wearing heels will make you look taller. And if you can’t bear a high heel? Fear not: Kitten heels are back, so your feet can rest easy.
It’ll help you to not look swamped (which is a problem many of us vertically challenged ladies suffer from), and they often look much taller than they are in real life.