Before we get into styling for specific body shapes, I thought it would be useful to give some general petite style tips and tricks that work to elongate the body and make you appear taller. This is useful not just for petites (women under 5’4″) but also for anyone wanting to appear taller as appearing taller can also help you appear slimmer too! I have picked my top 10 relating to shoes, jackets, tops, pants and skirts and added them over two posts. Here is post one, post two can be found here.
Tip 1: Add Length With Shoes
It is so obvious as actually wearing heels DOES make you taller! If you are wearing them for long periods, I would definitely recommend getting a pair of wedges or shoes that have a block heel as it takes some of the pressure off your back to have your feet more supported and are just generally more comfortable. Wedges are particularly great as they add an additional diagonal line which adds height.
-Match your shoes and legs
Having shoes the same colour as your legs also makes them appear longer. So for me, that means I wear a lot of nude coloured shoes. Invest in at least one pair of nude shoes if you haven’t already. This also means if you are wearing tights or leggings, try matching boots or shoes with the tights/pants you are wearing as well. Navy shoes with blue jeans is a winning combination too!
If you like flat shoes, I found these great shoes on Boden:
-Avoid shoes that sit at your ankle
The reason to avoid ankle straps and ankle boots is because visually it cuts the leg at that point and makes the legs appear shorter. It’s fine to break these rules occasionally especially if you are abiding by the other rules like you can see my nude wedges have an ankle strap and so do my favourite navy and white ones but these work as the colour of the straps are light like my legs and the wedges add a diagonal line elongating the foot and leg. So break the rules a little, mix it up and make those legs look loooooong!!
Tip 2: Use Lines That Elongate
Try to remember to choose items that add length to your legs or to your torso (you’re winning if you can do both at once!). For example, you can see that the skirts in this picture that sit ABOVE THE KNEE tend to work best in making me look taller as they lengthen the legs. Raising the waist helps to lengthen the legs too if you can wear a belt or tuck your top in at your waist (visual further in post). The shorter the skirt, the longer your legs will look and, the taller you will appear (note an additional diagonal line in the mini skirt here for even more height)! I also love to wear over the knee boots to bring that line up further. Anything that sits above the knee is usually great at adding length to legs!
Here’s a really cute skirt from Modcloth that does this well. Great vertical lines with the vertical seam feature and buttons here. Also great because of the attention to the high waist with the bow (lengthening the legs) and the shorter length:
-Lines that don’t work:
There are some lines that don’t work at lengthening the torso or legs and that is wearing tops or jackets that sit at the middle of your body (your hips) or jackets that sit at the lower hips (crotch). One of the reasons is because it brings attention to the horizontal lines instead of vertical (for height), it doesn’t lengthen the torso or legs and also it is often one of our widest parts (for triangle, hour glass and pear shapes anyway) so having jackets end there can make you appear wider. If you want to break the rules again, you can wear a longer shirt tucked in at the front a little (French tuck) or pair it with a cropped jacket. This ensures you are bringing that horizontal line up with the cropped jacket and with this trick you are lengthening your torso too (with the longer top).
Tip 3: Choose Cropped Items
Cropped jackets, cropped pants and cropped sleeves are a go to as well. These all raise the hem up and therefore make your legs or arms appear longer.
Here are some great cropped pants from Modcloth. I love these as not only are they cropped (lengthening the legs), they also have great vertical lines in the pockets and also with the line of buttons on the bottom of the pants! (More on vertical lines later) :
A cropped jacket (which will sit at your waist or upper hip) brings the waist line up, making the legs look longer. This works for many different shaped petites. A 3/4 sleeve also brings the attention up visually and makes your arms look longer.
If the clothes don’t naturally come cropped, you can create a crop by rolling or cuffing up a hem like for the sleeves in this jacket. Note that this jacket is also a great length as it sits higher on the body:
Here is a cuff example for pants:
You can also crop by shortening tops (so many people just cutting their tops at the moment to make them cropped!), by tying a knot in a shirt as well as doing a “French tuck” (where you tuck the front of your shirt into your pants and then untuck it a little so it sits loosely). If you are not so comfortable wearing a shorter jacket/top, you can cover your seat with the french tuck option or you can wear a longer jacket or cardigan paired with a monochromatic silhouette underneath or a cropped jacket over a longer top as mentioned above. Remember to make sure the shoulders of the top layer fit you and that the longer length sits at a flattering height as per discussion above.
Tip 4: Fit Shoulders Or Go Sleeveless
The most important thing for a petite in jackets is to make sure that the jacket fits her shoulders. Sometimes this may result in a jacket not doing up if you have a larger bust but it can still look quite stylish having an open jacket with a silhouette underneath (to create a silhouette, wear one colour or pattern as a dress or top and bottoms that are all in the same colour/pattern) as opposed to having a jacket where the shoulders are sagging.
If finding tops that fit your shoulders is tricky (me), I would also recommend wearing singlets, tanks or vests to avoid the shoulder problem altogether. If it is cooler, you can wear a longer sleeve top and if it doesn’t quite fit at the shoulders, layer it with a vest.
Tip 5: Layer
On that note, if your clothes don’t fit quite right, consider putting clothes over the top to cover ill-fitting shoulders or longer lengths. As I mentioned above, be sure that the top layer is fitted (especially to your shoulders) which will bring in your overall look. A super cute look for petites is to wear a dress or tunic that sits above the knee and pair it with a cropped jacket with tights and boots that are the same colour and a belt that sits at the waist.
For styling tips 6-10, please continue reading here. I would also love to hear your styling tips too so please comment if you learnt something new or if you have any styling tips you could offer other shorties. Otherwise continue reading here.
Til next time 🙂