Do you have small feet? Are you petite? If you are under 5’4″, you probably agree one of the biggest challenges as a short girl is to find shoes for petite feet.
Shoes are a critical part of petite style. Short girls like us rely on shoes to add a few inches to our height and make our legs look longer, which are especially critical when we wear long garment such as maxi dresses or jumpsuits.
What exactly are petite shoes? I am talking about size 5 and under. I am 5’2″ and size 5 (to be exact, one shoe is 5 and the other is 4.5). I live in New York city area, which is supposedly the retail heaven for shoe lovers. However, most of the department stores or shoe shops in Manhattan start with size 6, so, it is frustrating for short women like me to find a store that carry my size.
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.
It is important to understand what works and what doesn’t, in order to pick out the best shoe style for your small feet and avoid those that make you look shorter.
In this video, I have summarized the best summer shoes for petite women.
If you are looking for boots as a petite woman, watch this video
Now, let’s take a deeper dive on the petite shoe styles most flattering to you if you happen to have small feet.
High heel pumps with no ankle straps
For girls with petite feet, high heel pumps are a wardrobe necessity without a doubt. The best pumps for petite girls should have no ankle strap.
Why? Ankle strap forms a horizontal line that visually makes your legs look cut off. The more contrasting the color of the straps is with your feet, the more obvious the cut-off looks. That is the OPPOSITE of what a petite woman wants!
What we want is to form an unbroken line from your legs to your feet, so that you look taller and your proportion look better.
Now, you see why ankle straps are not our friends. However, some of us got a dilemma here.
Since we have small feet, many of us will actually NEED the ankle straps to keep the shoe from sliding off our feet. Is that you? You are not alone. I have had this problem for years and I almost gave up looking for pumps without ankle straps.
The solution? If I wear ankle straps, I only wear nude shoes with very skinny straps in the summer, and I make sure to wear black straps on black stockings in the winter when I’m wearing a dress. That way, you will make sure the color of the straps blend in with your legs and they don’t make your legs look cut off.
Pointed toe is most flattering if you have small feet
This is the most flattering style for petite women with small feet! Pointed toe shoes seem to be just one inch difference at the toes, but they makes a whole world of difference and make your legs look so much longer.
Square toe shoes or round toe shoes, on the other hand, are not as flattering to girls with petite feet. Even if you are not wearing heels, a pair of pointed toe flats will make your legs look extended. Try it today, if you don’t own a bunch already!
Knee high or over the knee boots
If you have petite feet, it is important to create length in your styling. Knee high boots or over the knee boots extend your legs and are your best bet in the winter.
The most important tip to choose the best boots for you is to make sure you match the color of your boots with that of your pants or jeans! That will really elongate your legs and make your proportion look better instantly.
If you are wearing them with dresses, make sure to pair them with similar color stockings so that you can create the length you need in your bottom half.
Now, as a petite woman, you probably have found it super hard to shop for tall boots for small feet, even more so than any other shoes like pumps or sneakers. Why?
Boots have one critical measurement that is different from other shoes. That is, the boot shaft. Since the boot shaft is made according to the measurements of average height women, that means for petite women under 5’4″ they are most likely going to be too long for our legs.
That is why I have put together a post on how to choose the best boots if you have short legs, and the top 5 boot brands for petite women.
Nude or skin color shoes
Nude shoes are a must for girls with petite feet. They visually extend your legs by the length of your heels! If you have to wear flats, wear flats with pointed toes in nude color will make your legs look so much longer.
Heels with low vamp
First, what is low vamp? Although the term may sound foreign to you, I’m sure you have seen them.
These are the shoes which show a little bit of toe cleavage. The lower the vamp, the less covered your feet are thus the longer your legs look.
Many premier shoe brands like Christian Louboutin, Valentino and Manolo Blahnik really have mastered this kind of design, which is why you get the impression that more expensive shoes make your legs look better!
There are also reasonably priced brands such as Sam Edelman, Coach, Cole Haan also have many low vamp style, so you don’t have to spend $600 for a pair of designer shoes to get the look.
Now, let’s take a look at what does not work.
Shoes to Avoid if you Have Petite Feet
Shoes with heavy bottoms
I think most of us at one point have all tried the so called platform shoes. Does that seem to be the short cut for girls who want to add 5 inches instantly?
Yes, on the surface it does add 5 inches to your height, but I have to tell you that does nothing to help your proportion. I first noticed this when I saw a petite woman wearing those really high platform shoes standing in the New York city subway. The platform height was so extreme that she obviously was struggling to walk down the stairs. I was concerned she might trip over them! Worse yet, her legs looked shorter because how heavy those shoes looked on her! I felt really sorry for the girl and wish she had a chance to read this article.
In fact, girls with petite feet should avoid shoes with heavy bottoms, which create bulkiness in your feet and look out of proportion for your petite body frame.
Even though they may seem to have added a few more inches to your height, but they are visually not flattering and my make you look shorter.
I personally LOVE wedges! For people like me who live in the New York metro area and have a commute that involves over 10 minutes of walking, wedges are the top choices (other than flats)!
However, I have to admit they do run the risk of making your legs look shorter, if the wedge is too thick. So, use a lot of caution when you are shopping for wedges!
If you need a pair of walkable wedges, go with those designed with thinner wedges (not necessarily lower) which will reduce some of that heaviness for your feet.
What I have found helpful are wedges of nude color! Since they blend in with my skin color, the heavier bottoms are less noticeable.
Shoes with chunky heels
Chunky heels are not flattering for petite women with small feet. Because of the heavier heels, they seem to be easier for walking, but they actually add too much weight to your bottom half and make you look shorter.
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 look are normally the height of tall boots but they have straps all over. They will make your legs a lot shorter than they are.
Mid calf boots
If you have short legs, you should be very careful about boots that reach your mid calves. Mid calf boots are an awkward length and they make your legs look shorter than they are. Worse yet, they end at the widest part of your legs, thus make your calves look wide.
The problem is even more exaggerated if the mid calf boots have fluffy furs around the openings, which will draw all the attention to how short your legs are. Uggs are one of the most popular winter brands in recent years, but unfortunately a lot of their mid calf styles are not flattering to girls with short legs.