Learning how to dress if you're short is a life skill that takes a while to master. As someone who's under 5'3", I've regularly found myself in fitting rooms trying on laughably long jeans or jackets that make me look like I've come straight from the '80s (such is the unintentional oversized shoulder). If you're nodding along in empathy, then rest assured that I feel your pain. But it doesn't have to be this way, and it doesn't mean you have to forgo all the latest trends.
While I think we should all embrace whatever size, shape or height we are, sometimes appearing and feeling a little taller helps with being more confident. I've looked to three petite street style stars (Courtney Trop, Lucy Williams and Aimee Song) to gather some tips on how to dress a smaller frame. Although all three have their own unique take on fashion, there's one outfit they tend to avoid: anything overly layered. So, what are the guidelines? I've given a quick rundown of the key rules I always follow:
1. Cinch your waist where possible.
3. Opt for cropped and fitted denim.
4. Wear high-waisted trousers.
5. Tailor your pieces.
6. When in doubt, go all black.
7. Do oversized, but don't layer.
8. Invest in a long coat.
9. Don't underestimate small heels.
If you want to see these rules in action, keep scrolling for nine outfit ideas that are ready to steal. Plus, shop key petite pieces.
1. Cinch in your waist where possible
Style Notes: Petite street style star Courtney Trop is adept at wearing big silhouettes, but she'll often keep voluminous layers in check by belting them. It's also a trick that can create the illusion of longer-looking legs and therefore gives added height. With belted blazers continuing to be popular, this is the perfect investment piece.
2. Wear short skirts with pointed-toe shoes or boots
Style Notes: The beauty of this look (as seen on Lucy Williams of Fashion Me Now) is that it's so simple. It's just a sleek piece of knitwear (in the always expensive-looking beige) with a black miniskirt, plus a matching pair of ankle boots and bag. There's just something about pointed-toe shoes or boots that directs the eye down.
3. Opt for cropped and fitted denim
Style Notes: While it might seem counterintuitive to wear cropped items, the high-waisted, fitted cut and a clever flash of ankle give the impression that Lucy Williams is taller than she is.
4. Wear high-waisted trousers
Style Notes: Anything high-waisted is a must for petite women. Whether it's a pair of red vinyl trousers (as seen here on blogger Aimee Song) or palazzo pants, ensure you give the illusion of longer legs by emphasising your waist.
5. Tailor your pieces
Style Notes: Just because most suits for the vertically challenged end up being too long in the trousers and too big in the jacket doesn't mean you can't go for tailoring. The smart way to approach this is to get your pieces altered so they're truly bespoke and fit you perfectly.
6. When in doubt, wear all black
Style Notes: As always, all-black outfits are a classic go-to for shorter girls. Black boots with trousers help create the illusion of longer legs, therefore making the frame appear taller.
7. Do oversized, but don't layer
Style Notes: There's one thing that all petite street style stars know: Multiple layers are not your friend. Instead, you only drown your small shape under a pile of clothing. But if you want to do trends such as the oversized look, then just opt for one key piece (like a giant jacket), and wear it over something skimming or slinky.
8. Invest in a long coat
Style Notes: Kim Kardashian West is also a fan of this trick because she knows that a streamlined silhouette (with the help of a long coat) is always going to make you appear taller. Bonus fashion points: It will instantly make any outfit look smarter. And even more bonus fashion points: You'll find that many of the world's midi coats will be long enough to do the trick, so you've got more options to play with.
9. Don't underestimate small heels
Style Notes: We saved the most obvious rule for last. Of course, wearing heels will make you look taller. And if you can't bear high heels? Fear not: Kitten heels are back, so your feet can rest easy.
This post was originally published at an earlier date and has since been updated by Elinor Block.