I work with clients of all different shapes and sizes on a daily basis, and everyone has their own assets that we flaunt (and things that we camouflage), but in general, it’s about proportion. Balancing your figure and streamlining your silhouette is something we all desire, and luckily, clothes can help! For petite women, this is especially key – I have many petite clients, and the question I get asked most is, “how can I look taller, without needing to wear heels all the time?”
The good news is that there are a few basic strategies to looking taller, leaner and longer. And it’s not about denying your size with sky-high heels – it’s about accepting your body, but utilizing clothes as a tool to keep you in proportion and give you those few extra ‘visual inches’ you desire. So check out the three easiest ways for petites to look longer and leaner, and let me know your questions in the comments!
COLUMN OF COLOR
Color is a simple, yet amazing way to elongate your proportions and create longer lines. Creating a strong vertical expression of color isn’t as hard as you may think – it’s not necessarily about wearing one shade from head to toe, it’s about minimizing the amount of visual ‘breaks’ in your outfit. For example, if you’re wearing a white top, black skirt, and black heels, you’ve broken your body into at least 4 pieces – the top, the skirt, your legs, and your heels. But if you shift to a top and skirt in a similar tone with nude heels, you’re only visually cutting yourself once, and creating a more streamlined look overall. How can you do this on a daily basis?
- Create an inner column of color – keep your top and bottom in the same tone, and then your ‘third piece’ (blazer, jacket, cardigan, coat) can be in a contrasting tone.
- Create an outer column of color – keep your third piece and bottom in the same tone, and then your top can be something totally different. Check out more ‘column of color’ examples here.
- Wear a dress – a dress automatically creates that column, whether it’s a solid or print.
- Opt for nude heels – when you’re wearing a skirt, heels in the same shade as your legs create one less visual break, and make your legs look miles longer! (click here to see examples of nude heel looks I created for my client, and a tip on how black heels can elongate, too!)
Vertical lines are the most straightforward way to get more visual ‘height’, so adding stripes into your wardrobe is essential. They give the illusion of more length, and you can place them strategically to your advantage.
- Use vertical stripes to balance your proportions – do you have a long torso? Then play with striped pants to lengthen your legs. Are you short-waisted? Then stripes on your upper half balance you out.
- Pay attention to silhouettes – vertical lines aren’t only print-related, they also come in the form of clothing shapes. A pencil skirt will always look more streamlined than a full one. Trousers that almost hit the floor (with heels, of course) will make your legs appear longer than cropped styles.
- Don’t forget the neckline – an open neckline, as opposed to a crewneck, is another vertical line to use to your advantage. Look for v-neck, scoopneck and open-neck tops, and be sure to unbutton your basic shirt a bit to show some collarbone.
Being aware of how much skin you’re showing (and how much you’re not) also can visually lengthen your frame and keep you in proportion. Think of someone wearing an outfit that’s covered neck to wrist to ankle, and now picture the same person with a shorter skirt length, or with a v-neck top, or in something short sleeved. In general, it’s about balance, which is specifically important if you’re petite.
- Knee length is always safe – when you’re wearing skirts and dresses, a knee length hemline (give or take an inch or two) is a surefire way to keep your proportions in check, and also flatter your legs.
- Try something shorter – as appropriate, shorter skirts or shorts show more leg, which can make your legs look longer, making you appear taller overall.
- Don’t ignore a midi – a midi length dress is something petites may shy away from, but it’s definitely worth a try. It creates that ‘column of color’ effect – but just be sure to pick one that’s not overwhelming. Go for something that’s closer to the body in shape, as opposed to a lot of volume that may swallow you up – and also try something sleeveless to show some arm when you’re showing less leg.
- Don’t forget about the sleeves – when you are covered up neck to ankle, it’s refreshing to see a little arm, as weather permits. Elbow, ¾ and bracelet sleeves show just a bit more skin, but that may be all you need to look less overwhelmed by your outfit.
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