Are you short and do you want to know how to look taller?
I am 5’2”, and growing up I have experienced those moments when I wish I could have a few extra inches. For example, being the smallest in my high school class means I looked more childlike than the tall girls who looked mature. Then, after I started working, being short means I was assumed to be less authoritative, so I wasn’t the first candidates to be considered for the leadership roles.
The list goes on and on.
Do you have similar experiences? Did you wish you looked taller at times?
I started writing about petite styling tips for short women since 2016, and my articles have touched the lives of millions since then. Based on my own fashion trial and errors and feedback from numerous petite readers, I have published a book “The Petite Style Bible“, first of its kind dedicated to petite fashion. Click here to learn more.
One of our favorite short celebrities Victoria Beckham published a book called “That Extra Half an Inch”. Come on, she is Victoria Beckham and she is 5’3″, and she still cares about even half an inch! In case you haven’t noticed already, Victoria is an expert of dressing to make herself look taller, using some of the principles I’m about to share with you in this post.
I get it, not every petite girl cares about how to appear taller. Some petite women are lucky enough to be blessed with long legs, even though their overall height is under 5’4″. If that is you, then you may have found it easy to dress and people have always told you that you look taller than you are. Sarah Jessica Parker has a body type like that.
It’s likely you already know some of these tips and tricks because you’ve seen it work on you. But, this post will explain why they work- you may not know there are theories behind them on how to use lines and proportion to trick the illusions of eyes.
I suggest you watch my video first, in which I have summarized key points on how to look taller instantly. After you watch this, I highly recommend you still read the full article to get all the details,
Now let’s dive in and look at together.
How to look taller
Before we get into the nuts and bolts, let’s look at the foundation.
First of all, tall or short is a relative concept. If someone just see 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 proportion is everything. We cannot change our height, obviously, but there is a lot we can do to improve our proportion and look tall.
Secondly, in order to look tall, it all comes down to one thing: vertical lines lengthen. Therefore, the key on how to look taller is to dress to create vertical lines in your body. This does not necessarily mean you should only wear prints of vertical lines all the time. Vertically lines can be created through the silhouette of a column of colors.
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Wearing mini skirts or dresses always makes your appear taller
Ok, let’s start with the easiest and most commonly known. Wearing short skirts or short dresses is one of the oldest tricks on how to look taller. People will focus their attention on where your skirt and dress hem ends.
Therefore, the shorter your skirts or dresses, the higher they will draw the eyes, thus making your legs look longer. The most flattering length of skirts or dresses to petite girls is about 4-5 inches above your knee.
Of course, that is not to say you should always go with the shortest dress you can find. You should balance out a short skirt with a less exposed top for a tasteful outfit and avoid a suggestive look.
The rule of thumb is to show off one asset at a time. That means if you are drawing the attention to your legs, then do not show cleavage or 6 pack abs at the same time.
Wear the Same Color Pants and Shoes
This is like “how to look taller 101”. If you are wearing pants, matching the color of your shoes with your pants will make your legs appear longer.
The picture below is petite actress Sammie wearing black skinny jeans from Petite Dressing. She is 4’8″. Do you see how much longer her legs look by wearing similar color shoes?
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.
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 and no ankle strap.
What is low vamp pumps?
Low vamp shoes are those which show a little bit of toe cleavage. The lower the vamp, the less covered your feet are thus the longer your legs look. For instance, pumps like this from Christian Louboutin and Jimmy Choo.
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 over $500 on a pair of pumps. You can find some more economical brands which have similar designs.
Read more about Best and Worst Shoes for Petite Feet, and watch my Youtube video on this topic.
In order to look taller, your most obvious choice is to go with high heels of course. However, I understand wearing them too long sometimes can be really hurt your feet.
Read our post on “7 Tips to Choose the Most Comfortable Heels“.
Wear one piece outfit
Did you know that the one piece such as petite maxi dress or petite jumpsuit is one of the best kept secrets of petite celebrities and bloggers on how to look taller?
You might be confused and ask ” Wait a second, a minute ago you were saying to go with mini dresses and mini skirts!”
The truth is, while it is obvious that short skirts are flattering to short girls in general, it is also good to know that maxi dresses actually can look very flattering to your petite frame. The rationale is different.
While short length creates space around your legs and draw attention above, long dresses and jumpsuit create a continuous column of color, which does an amazing job to lengthen your petite body frame.
In winter times, instead of dresses, you can also wear long skirts with thick leggings, which are very practical and can keep you warmer than short skirts. Pairing a long skirt with knee high boots is one of the best fashion choices for a short girl when the weather is cold. The key is the color of your skirt and that of your boots should be of similar tone, which will effectively elongate your legs and make you look tall.
Similar to wearing long skirt, wearing maxi dress the right way will actually make a short girl look taller. One of the key factors in styling short girls is to create a column of colors. Because of its continuous color and pattern, maxi dress can effectively elongate your body frame. For short girls, solid colors or small prints are your best choice.
Be very careful with large prints on maxi dresses. Given the big area maxi dresses cover on your body, large prints may make too busy and overwhelm your small frame. If you are short, getting the right length for your maxi dress is critical. Fortunately, some brands offer petite sizes so that you do not have to pay for a tailor.
I highly recommend you also read my other blog posts on:
Best Places to Shop for Maxi Dresses for Short Girls
How to Wear Petite Maxi Dresses
Wear a solid long coat in the fall and winter
Some blogs have suggested that short girls should only wear coats no longer than their knees. I agree that is a good length for petite women for a clean cut and simple silhouette. However, if you haven’t tried wearing long coat, i.e. coats that reach your mid calves or even ankles, then you are missing out.
Long coats do the best job in creating a column of colors and make petite women look taller, the same rationale why maxi dresses and maxi skirts elongate short girls. Plus, aren’t long coats more practical than shorter coats? They keep you warmer in the winter if your area is freezing like New York city or Chicago.
For more styling tips on coats, read my post “11 Tips to Find Best Coats for Petites“
Wear monochromatic outfit
Now, I want to share with you a more advanced technique on how to look taller and this may take some practice. You may have noticed (maybe without fully understanding why) that if your top and bottom are from similar color hue, your outfit looks more pleasant to the eyes and this trick almost always works when you are debating what you should wear. That is the magic of monochromatic styling.
For those of you not familiar with the term “monochromatic”, here is the definition. According to Wiki, Monochromatic color schemes are derived from a single base hue and extended using its shades, tones and tints. Tints are achieved by adding white and shades and tones are achieved by adding a darker color, grey or black. In fashion, monochromatic outfits are most flattering to short girls because they create a column of colors, i.e. the length much needed by short girls.
If you want to master the skills of how to look taller, then monochromatic outfit is a must. Using colors to enhance the illusion of height is a highly effective strategy, because it helps create a vertical line. While wearing head-to-toe black is the simplest and eternally chic option preferred by many, we actually do not recommend it to petite girls. The reason is blacks shrink, and they may make petite girls smaller than they already are. Instead, opt for saturated hues such as red, blue or neutrals like beige. Lighter colors will add more presence to your outfit.
To apply monochromatic dressing does not necessarily mean short women should be wearing one single color from head to toe- that would be boring to wear all the time, wouldn’t it? It just means if the colors you wear are all from the same color scheme with less contrast, you will appear to be taller.
The trick to monochrome dressing is to keep each silhouette crisp and tailored. For petite girls, you should avoid any oversized items anyways and always go for a fitted look.
I suggest you also read my other posts on
Why Short Women Must Learn Monochromatic Dressing
What to Avoid if You want to Make Yourself Look Taller
Now, since you know the vertical lines strength, the opposite is also true, i.e. horizontal line shortens. Therefore, these are the things that will make you look shorter, and you should stay away from generally.
Ankle straps make your legs look cut off. Wearing shoes without ankle straps will make you look taller. If you can find your size, these kind of low vamp nude heels are the best for shorter women who want to look taller.
However, if you are a petite woman with smaller feet, pumps without ankle stripes are not practical.
Take myself as an example. For the longest time, I almost gave up on wearing pumps, because my feet are small and short and there is no possible way to wear them without sliding out. I tried all kinds of tricks I found on google and youtube and tried all the foot paddings, glues and so on- nothing worked.
If you are like me, your only choice might be ankle straps, but you can opt for skinny ankle straps closer to the color of your skin, which will blend in and will not be as noticeable to look cutting off your legs.
Another example of horizontal line is gladiator sandals.
Gladiator sandals have been extremely popular in recent years, thanks to all the celebrities and fashion bloggers in the wake of the block buster Hollywood movies. Although they can look very trendy and fashionable, they are not flattering to girls with short legs.
If you have short legs, any horizontal straps will make your legs look cut off, let alone gladiator sandals with numerous straps. The worst is the tall gladiator sandals which normally are the height of tall boots but they have straps all over. They will make your legs a lot shorter than they are.
So if you are interested in know the tricks about appearing taller, ditch the gladiator sandals! If you are a die hard fan and want to go against the fashion rules, try gladiator sandals in nude color or colors that blend with your skin.
Like I mentioned earlier, straps which blend with your skin look less noticeable on your, thus there is less risk for your legs to look shorter!
Can you wear choker?
Choker has been so popular in the last couple of years that you see it on almost every popular celebrities. Does that mean you should copy this trend? Not unless you have really long neck!
Sadly, the opposite is true with petite women. Choker necklaces go across your neck, so they tend to make your neck look shorter. If you happen to have a short neck (most petite women do), then you should be careful about your choices of chokers.
I’m not saying you should avoid them altogether. You could still wear them, but I suggest you opt for skinnier chokers, or chokers of beige or white colors which would blend with your skin and won’t make your neck look cut off.
By the same rationale, horizontal prints in general make you look shorter.
That is not to say petite girls should avoid horizontal prints all together. When I talk about how you can make yourself look taller, one golden rule is to keep the prints in scale with your body size.
By that, I’m not saying the smaller the better. That means if you are petite and skinny, opt for smaller scale prints. If you are a curvy petite girl, choose prints proportional to your body frame.
With these tips on how to make you look taller, I’m sure you will find the right styles that work really well on you!
No matter how tall or short you are, the most important of all is to be confident and stay positive- that is probably my best tips for you!