I am 5’2″ myself, and I have a petite clothing line for women 5’4″ and under. In my customer survey, I noticed that a fairly big percentage of my customers are 5 foot and under.
This really doesn’t surprise me. Being petite means it is harder for you to find anything that fits you, and if you are 5 foot and under, the challenge doubles!
Since I receive feedback from numerous of my customers on a daily basis, I’ve put together this detailed guide to help you find the right style that truly flatter your height and your shape.
Table of Contents
Elongating your frame
For us petite girls, because of our smaller frames, we tend to have not just shorter legs, but also shorter arms and shorter neck. This means our goal should be to elongate them through proper styling.
How do you achieve that? Before we talk about the specific tips and tricks, you just need to remember one thing: vertical lines lengthen.
When you create a vertical line in your body, it draws your eyes up and down, which creates the illusion of length and make you appear longer and taller.
One-piece outfit such as petite dresses (especially petite maxi dresses) and petite jumpsuit is your best friend, because they create a continuous vertical line.
In order to double the elongating effect, I suggest you wear them with heels.
Wear cropped tops
Whether someone looks tall or short is a relative concept.
If someone just sees a photo of you and you are not standing next to someone taller than you, there is no way for other people to tell you are short from the picture. What they will do, however, is to assume if you are tall or short based on your body proportion, i.e. how long your legs are relative to your torso.
What that means is, in picture, proportion is everything. We cannot change our height, obviously, but there is a lot we can do to improve our proportion and look tall.
Like Nicole Richie, there are some very lucky petite women who are blessed with very easy-to-style proportions, i.e. their legs are long relative to their height (read my post about leg ratio). They are considered long-legged petites. Are you one of them? If you are, then you are really lucky! If you are not, don’t worry- most of us fall into the normal range. That’s what this article is here for.
Now, let’s look at how to create the best proportion through smart styling.
If you are under 5 feet, the way to improve your proportion is to focus on making your bottom (legs) to look longer and top (torso) to look shorter.
The easiest way to achieve that is by wearing a crop-length top and long bottom.Your bottom could be long pants or long skirts. Ideally, your top should look like 1/3 and your bottom should look like 2/3.That is the best ratio, the so-called “Golden Mean” ratio, which is most pleasant to human eyes.
Mix color of pants with your shoes
If you are wearing pants, matching the color of your shoes with your pants will make your legs appear longer.
This applies to stockings in winter times. Wearing stockings that match or are close to the color of your skirt or dress and wearing shoes or boots of the same color will make you look instantly taller.
If you are wearing a dress with bare legs, then nude heels (or pumps that looks closest to the color of you skin) do an amazing job to extend your legs. If a petite girls could only own one pair of shoes, it should be nude pumps ! If you have fair skin, nude pumps literally just look like an extension of your legs.
This sounds counter intuitive, because many people think maxi dresses are hard to pull off by short girls.
Yes and no.
Yes because petite girls (especially if you are under 5 feet tall) have a shorter frame, so it is easy to look swamped by all the fabrics of long dresses.
No because they are definitely a short girl’s friend. Remember I talked about how important it is crate a vertical line?
Maxi dresses create a continuous column of color, like all dresses do. Better yet, it extends all the way to almost the bottom of your feet. So, visually, it can make you look taller and make your petite frame look longer.
There are many things that a short girl should pay attention to when wearing a maxi, and I have another blog post dedicated to that “How to Wear Petite Maxi Dresses ” as well as “Where to Shop for Maxi Dresses for Short Girls“.
Long story short, the key for short girls to avoid looking swamped by the maxi dress is to go with solid colors or small prints.
Wearing petite maxi dresses with flats are totally fine. But, if you want the most lengthening effect, you should wear them with heels. This is one of the occasions when you can wear platform heels or wedges all you want. Because the dress is so long that it covers the heels, so no one can tell if your shoes are bulky or not.
Low vamp shoes
For short girls with petite feet, high heel pumps are a wardrobe necessity without a doubt.
The best pumps for petite girls should have low vamp. Without getting into the technical aspect of the definition, have you seen those shoes which show a little bit of toe cleavage?Yes, that’s what I am talking about.The lower the vamp, the less covered your feet are thus the longer your legs look.
Many premier shoe brands really have mastered this kind of design, which is why you get the impression that more expensive shoes make your legs look better!
That doesn’t mean you have to spend $600 on a pair of Louboutins if you want to get a pair of low vamp shoes.
Caution with platform shoes
If you are under 5 feet tall, it seems like the easiest way to add several inches instantly is to throw on a pair of platform shoes. It sounds like a no brainer to most people, including myself (when I was in my 20s).
Does that really work?
No, not if the platform is too thick. Why is that?
I talked about how looking tall vs short is all relative based on proportions. This in essence is just a visual game of playing tricks with human eyes.
If the platform is so thick that the bottom of your shoes looks bulky, they actually make your legs look shorter. That takes away from the actual 5 inches the shoes have added to your height. So, what’s the point of wearing them?
Don’t get me wrong- I think there are occasions when you do need platform shoes for various reasons.
For example, on my wedding day, I was wearing platform shoes so that I could look taller in pictures. And, most of all, they gave me the comfort to stand on heels all day and dance at night!
So, you CAN wear platform heels, but just avoid those super bulky ones.
V neck and off the shoulder are universally flattering to short girls under 5 feet tall.
Deep V neck works on pretty much petite women of any height and any body type. The space they create around your neck essentially makes your neck appear longer and make your proportion look better.
Off the shoulder is another design that has taken the center stage of fashion in the last few years. If you happen to be pear shape, off the shoulder is heaven sent for you. Pear shape women tend to have sloping shoulders and wider bottoms, which can be perfectly balanced out by the horizontal line created by the off-the-shoulder.
Caution with cropped pants
Choosing the right inseam length is critical for shorter women. You might think because of your height, you should go for cropped length jeans or pant.
It actually works exactly the opposite way.
The reason is that your legs are only as long as your inseam. Whenever you are wearing any cropped length bottom, they are also going to shorten your legs.
If you are under 5 foot, you should be cautious with any pants or jeans that’s above your ankle. Not that they won’t ever work, but you need to choose the right style shoes and you also need to be more selective with your outfit in order to elongate your legs.
Besides, anything that is too cropped, i.e. capris pants, are also very easy to age you.
Full-length wide leg pants
Wide leg pants may sound intimidating for shorter women, but they actually can be one of the best items to flatter you, if you know how to style it right.
Go with full length wide leg pants and pair them with heels. Make sure your pants are long enough to cover part of your heels.
This combination will trick the eye into believing your heels are part of your legs! That’s why it’s one of the most effective ways to make your legs appear elongated.
Celebs under 5 feet tall
Having a style icon, or role model, helps you to understand how other petite girls of similar height dress and get inspiration. You may not need to copy their looks, but they will show you what works and perhaps what doesn’t.
My personal favorite for petite women under 5 feet is Russian It girl Mira Duma. I don’t know exactly how tall she is as it is not listed anywhere officially, but she could be 4’10 or 4’11.
I recommend her because of how versatile her style is. No matter what your personal style is, you can find some of her looks for inspiration. If you like polished feminine looks, she has plenty of glam outfits you can copy. If you like neutral looks, she is the master of pantsuits. If you like causal style, you will find her wearing t-shirts and jeans.
Be confident in your own skin
Ok, this isn’t really styling tips, but it is probably more important than any styling tip in the world. Nothing makes a woman more beautiful than confidence.
Sammie we mentioned earlier is 4’8″, an aspiring actress and blogger living in LA. She mentioned on her Youtube channel how sometimes people would be come up to her and make fun of her height right in her face. And, she is not talking about what happened in high school. This could happen in a restaurant or at the airport…
Has that happened to you before? If so, how has that affected you?
Sure, I can understand anyone would feel annoyed if that happened to them. No one likes to be made fun of their size or body shape or weight. But, you can choose to let that go and not let that put you in a bad mood.
Why being Confident is a must?
Nothing is sexier than a woman comfortable in her own skin.
You are enough the way you are and you don’t have to look like anyone else.
When you come to accept yourself as you are, then nothing can stop you from being confident and beautiful.