How to Make Short Legs Look Longer

I’m 5’4″ and my legs are proportionally shorter than my torso. This tends to make me look and feel shorter than I am. Tall women can have proportionally short legs, too, so today I’m sharing some ways to make your legs look longer by fooling the eye with color and proportion.


If you have short legs, cuffs aren’t your friend. Even that 1/2-1″ stylish roll on the bottom of your jeans will shorten your legs visually. The deeper the cuff, the bigger the effect.J.Jill plaid cuffed pants on A Well Styled Life


Those little wrinkles that form when your pants settle on the top of your foot or shoe. If you want your legs to look as long as possible, don’t go there. Hem your pants to the most flattering length. Men usually have a “break” to their trouser legs, but it’s not helpful for women with short legs.

Low-rise pants

These are fatal for women with short legs. Thankfully high-rise pants and jeans are well on the way to being standard again.

Low back pockets

It may seem a trivial point, but if your back pockets are placed low, they make your butt appear lower, so your legs look shorter. This is true no matter how high the rise is. Look for pants with higher patch pockets, besom pockets or no back pockets at all.

Contrasting shoe color

Matching your shoe to your pants or tights elongates the appearance of your legs. Black pants? Black or dark shoes. White pants? Light or pale shoes. Michael Jackson wore black pants and shoes with white socks so you would look at his footwork while dancing. If wearing a belt, have it match your pants, not your top.

Shorter toe box

Shoes that end high on the foot shorten the look of your leg. A ballerina flat is more elongating than a driving moccasin. Booties can shorten the look of your legs, too, so opt for colors that match your pants, and there is no break in the line. (Skin or sock showing)

A Nude Color Shoe

Nude-colored shoes are one of the most versatile. Choose a shade that closely matches your skin tone, which will help your legs look longer.

High-heeled shoes or boots

This is so obvious, but we can’t all wear them. Platform, wedge, and flatform shoes (wedges with no heel elevation), also help your legs appear longer. Hem pants so just the toe peeks out.

What can you add to this list to help your legs look longer?




  1. Shorter skirts and shorts are key, also. I’m 5’3″ and my legs are super short, and every time I wear a skirt that goes below my knee, it makes me look shorter. I tend to stick with skirts that are mid-thigh and high waisted. A shorter skirt with a nice pair of heels is like magic! Capris, especially ones that are not form fitted, are out automatically. Also, my feet are naturally longer, I wear a size 8 1/2, so I have to avoid pointed toes and shoes that lengthen my feet, but I have noticed if I wear tall boots or round-toed flats, they make both my feet and my legs look nicer. I avoid shoes that are clunky or thick soled, unless they’re wedges taller than three inches.

    1. You are so lucky to be able to wear high heels and short skirts! High waisted, in both pants and skirts are a great way to lengthen the look of legs, Having tops stop hip level or higher also gives the illuson of longer legs. Chunky shoes don’t cut it foe me either 🙂 Thanks for sharing Amber!

  2. Great tips for short legs! Thanks for sharing at Thursday Favorite Things. I hope you will join us again next Thursday!

  3. Jennifer, I actually learned a few new tricks to “lengthen” my 5, 4 frame. I have really been off track with my shoe choices. Thanks for the tips!

    I am sticking with my cuffed jeans though. I know it is of no help to my stature but I just love the look!

    1. If you love it Cheri, That’s what counts! I love the look too!

  4. Great advice! As you know, the contrasting shoe colour is my downfall! And I never considered the rolling of jeans as cutting my legs off, but now I can totally see it! I am with contessa – bring on the tummy (and the flat bottom, thank you very much!)

  5. Donna~Faded Velvet says:

    Jennifer, thanks for the great reminders! As a short person, I think I’ve figured these tips out over YEARS of trial and error. Until just recently, I wore heels every single day. I no longer can do that, so I often look for a mule that just looks like an extension of my foot. And I think I ALWAYS wear a column of one color with maybe a tank top for a contrast. Sigh. I wish I had Contessa’s legs!!! Thanks for the great post!

    1. That’s the ticket Donna, an extensions of your foot! And don’t we all wish we had Contessa’s long legs!!

  6. If they stop just south of the knee, where the leg naturally indents, it can be OK. But I agree Anita, this is tricky territory.

  7. Carol Ozimek says:

    Hi Jennifer,
    I met you at the NorCal Knitting Retreat; didn’t realize this was your blog. I enjoy checking in with what you have to say at a Well Styled Life.

    Carol O.

    1. Thanks Carol! The retreat was a blast, wasn’t it??

  8. You DO have long legs! Envious of them. Tummy is another issue I deal with myself. I’ll put a post together! See you tomorrow at Remnants!

  9. I think I will SKIP this POST!!!
    TUMMY however!Will YOU address that PLEASE!
    Off to set up for the REMNANTS SHOW!!!

    1. I’m gald you got something out of them Cathy.
      Read the other comments from my brilliant readers and you’ll get even more!

  10. Hi Jennifer! I like where you are going with your blog and subject matter. We need to see MORE women over 40/50 to talk about beauty and style. Heather mentioned your blog event Friday and I will try to participate. xxL

  11. Nancee Webb says:

    I always find straps wrapped around the ankles make your legs look shorter. They stop the eye at the ankle rather than allowing it to continue to the foot.

    1. True in most cases Nancee!

  12. Absolutely agree with the ankle straps being a no-no. I wouldn’t dare wear them, even though I think they are sooooo sexy. I think Jennifer can get away with them, judging by the photo above, coz she’s got great legs.

    But for those ladies with not-so-perfect short legs – gorgeous shoes with ankle straps are the kiss of death!

    1. I agree Raynette, However I find thin, ver pale colored ankle straps can work if they blend into your flesh color and you happen to have narrow ankles.
      * A couple of things about these shoes make the ankle straps work.
      The slightly pointed toe, the color and the narowness of the ankle strap.

    1. They are usually for me too Kathy. But I chose very pale colored ones and they seem to work in this pair.

  13. Jennifer terrific advice! I love the nude shoes that have been in style the last year or so. So flattering and they really make everyone’s legs look great.So many of the new shoes frankly just don’t flatter and are clunky! Especially booties.

    Funny about Michael Jackson, but you are so right! xxoo Kim

    1. I’m not a fan of clunky shoes because I want the eye focused on my face, not my feet. It is funnt about Michael Jackson. People just thought it was a style statement, but it was also clever staging!

  14. Jennifer I think a slightly flared or boot cut pant gives a longer leaner look most of the time than a “skinny” leg.

    The Arts by Karena
    Artist Brad Oliphant

    1. I agree, especially if you can wear a heal with them.

  15. As a fellow short-arse my suggestions are; wedge shoes or sandals worn with wide leg, flared or straight trousers that cover the top of the shoe, A-line skirts with nipped in waists, wearing same colour top and bottom especially with trousers, short jackets that hit at the top of the hip, not half way down the backside…and last and most importantly and possibly controversially, stay slim! I often wear skinny trousers turned up or cropped trousers with ballet flats, and a short jacket, good if your ankles are slim.

    1. Great tips Alison. Columns of color are a great way to make your legs look longer. In fact it hides a multitude of sins! Short jackets are a must, or a 3/4 length that stops just above the knee’s.

  16. Great suggestions, Jennifer. It’s funny how many young women I’ve met never seemed to notice how short their legs look in low-rise pants. Or maybe they just couldn’t find any higher-rise ones. I have the opposite problem….very, short torso etc etc. I moved to high rise jeans for comfort…but wearing tops that fall to at least my hips is a must. Not just to avoid showing that middle-aged middle…but tucked-in tops make me look like I’m on stilts. Veeerrry long legs and no upper body to speak of:)

    1. I see it all the time and just assume they don’t care. Heck, when I was younger I did’t care either! Long legs are great, But I bet you have trouble finding pants long enough sometimes! We all have something, or in my case several somethings, we would love to change the proportion of!

  17. As a short (and getting shorter) girl, I’m familiar with many of your great suggestions, and they do work. But I can’t eliminate all those elements of sartorial fun! I love snubby-toed shoes, booties, contrasting shoes, pants that pool slightly… I guess I’m not going to fool anyone’s eyes into thinking I’m taller.

    1. I love booties too, but try to keep the colors similar.
      There are no rules, if you’re happy, that’s what counts!

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