I am 5’7”, hardly petite. However, I’ve spent the past 9 years dressing women and also wrote a book
on how to dress the body. So, while I’ve never had to think about dressing to look tall (I already am), I have my fair share of experience on the topic. A request came in on my Facebook Page to address this topic and, loving my peeps on that page, I wanted to answer the question.
Certainly, there are plenty of petite-sized options out there, yet, during my research, I found a lot of petite clothing that hardly would be the best choice for shorter women. I came across plenty of long, full skirts, horizontal striped sweaters and jackets with contrast belts; things I would never put on a petite woman. Stymied with the selections, I wanted to put together some of my outfit choices along with tips on how to put great petite looks together. I’m sure the experienced petite woman knows that she will probably never look like a WNBA player, but she can at least get a little height going for her.
Dressed Up & Ready to Go
There are few reasons why this outfit works for petite women. First, let’s start with the dress byLauren by Ralph Lauren …this gorgeous, elegant and versatile dress. It works because of the wide neckline, which forces the eye up towards the shoulders, essentially making a petite woman appear taller. Next, the dress is one color with no seaming, belting or other horizontal distractions. When an eye can travel the full length of the body without being distracted by a horizontal line, it is possible to look taller (and thinner.) Next, the shoe choice. If you are a petite woman, it is important to match your shoes to your skin (if your legs are bare), like this pair by KORS Michael Kors, or to your pants or tights color. Doing this will create one long, seamless line, making your legs look longer. Lastly, I chose this clear bracelet by Kenneth Jay Lane to avoid creating a cropping effect on the arm. Finished with a pair of Vince Camuto earrings and a clutch and you’re walking tall.
Getting Down to Business
This look is a great business casual look that will not only make you look professional but tall. First, even though there are tons of wide-leg pants out there for petite women, don’t be fooled by them, they’re not for you. As you probably already know, a wide-leg pant will just make you look like you are standing in a hole. Instead, choose a tailored pant that sits closer to your legs, like this pair by Calvin Klein. Next, whoever told you that you can’t wear belts because you are petite is a liar. While I wouldn’t put a contrast belt on someone who is petite, I think a belt that matches the color of a top, sweater, jacket or dress is perfectly fine. Also, by cinching in the cardigan with a self belt, like in this case with this Lord & Taylor cardigan , you will emphasize your waist and create more proportioned curves. When you’re petite, you don’t have to lose yourself in a sea on monochromatic color either. For a splash of color, I partnered the plum cardigan with this kelly green top from Coldwater Creek and a bracelet from Vince Camuto. Lastly, the shoes. While platforms seem like an obvious choice, they can be uncomfortable for many to wear. Therefore, I chose this pair from Rockport (in a color that monochromatically matches the pants, for comfort.) Finish the look with a bag and some earrings and you’re good to go!
Lastly, for fun. Right now everyone is wearing cardigans and tall boots. If you feel your height has kept you from playing along, I want to assure you that it doesn’t have to. If you’re petite, skinny jeans, like this pair by Levi’s, can be your friend because they sit close to your legs. If you choose a darker wash denim, along with a darker boot, like this pair by Etienne Aigner, you can easily get away with it because the colors match more closely and the look won’t chop up your leg length. The goal, when you want to look taller in this popular look, is to not create that much contrast between your boots and your jeans.
Next, you can wear cardigans, if you choose properly. Big, oversized cardigans may not be for you, but you can choose one that creates a lengthening effect, like this one from Lord & Taylor. Pop a print top under the cardigan, grab a long necklace and save the distracting pops of color for your other accessories like this ring by Swarovski and this red bag from Banana Republic.
If you’re still looking for shopping help, be sure to take a look at my Virtual Online Shopping Guide where I can help you find the right pieces for your lifestyle, personal style, physical characteristics and goals!