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!
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!)
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.
4. Show a (Little) Leg
One of the advantages of 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.)
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.
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.
TopShop: Trendy, affordable styles that are a step up in quality from other fast fashion retailers.
Asos: While super-trendy and a little young, this massive online store still has tons of options in petite sizes, including great basics.
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.
J. Crew: An endless source of options, with a Petites tab to take you straight to the right pieces!
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.
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!