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How to Dress If You're a Short Woman

Get a leg up on the competition with these wardrobe tips.


  • Step 1: Head to the petite department Head to the petite department, where clothing is tailored for women 5-foot-4 and under, regardless of their weight. Or shop in vintage stores; clothing from the '40s and '50s was often tailor-made for shorter woman.
  • Step 2: Dress in one color Dress all in one color; it will make you look taller.
  • Step 3: Wear V-neck tops Wear tops that draw attention up and away from your legs: V-necks, halters, small shoulder pads, and necklines with beading or trim. Avoid tops that end at your hip bone; they can make legs look stubby.
  • TIP: Never wear a pattern or print that is bigger than your fist.
  • Step 4: Choose the right pants Wear wide-leg trousers to elongate your frame. Pair heels with them, with the pants hem reaching almost to the bottom of your shoe. Avoid cropped pants, which make short legs look even shorter.
  • Step 5: Wear certain dresses Choose dresses over skirts to create an unbroken vertical line. Flattering styles include Empire dresses and V-neck wrap dresses with a high waist; both lengthen your bottom half. Dresses should end either slightly above the knee or be ankle-length; anything in between will cut your silhouette in half.
  • Step 6: Be a heel Wear backless footwear with dresses; they create one long, unbroken leg line. Avoid shoes with ankle straps for the opposite reason; they'll cut you off just where you need the illusion of length. And remember: Platform heels are your best friend.
  • FACT: Fifty-four percent of American women are 5-foot-4 or under.

You Will Need

  • Petite and vintage clothes
  • Visually interesting tops
  • Small prints
  • Wide-leg pants
  • Empire or V-neck wrap dresses
  • Backless shoes and high heels

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