Styling Tips to Help Short Legs Look Longer

I’m 5’4″, which puts me right at the top edge of petite clothing. My legs are proportionally shorter than my torso, which can be challenging to dress. Tall women can also have proportionally short legs, so today, I’m sharing how to make short legs look longer by fooling the eye with color and proportion. 

Read below for my best tips and tricks to give you the illusion of longer legs.


A monochromatic look helps short legs look longer by creating an uninterrupted visual line. Vertical lines have a lengthening effect, so front creases in trousers and vertical stripes give the appearance of longer legs. Matching your shoes to your pants also lengthens the line of your legs.

Wear high-rise pants

The higher the rise, the longer your legs will appear. Opt for pants that come to your natural waist or higher. Women with a short torso can often get this effect with a mid-rise pant that reaches their waistline.  

Shorter Top or Jacket

Choose jackets and tops that are only a few inches below your natural waistband or hip length. These are plentiful this season because the proportion is perfect with the popular wide-legged pants. If your top or sweater is longer, try a half tuck in the front, which shows more leg.


​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.


Low vamp shoes

The vamp of a shoe is the upper part that covers from the toes to wherever the shoe ends on top. Ballerina flats are more elongating than loafers because the vamp is lower and exposes more of the top of your foot. Ankle boots in the same color as your pants are the exception to this and help elongate your legs. High vamp shoes are especially unflattering with skirts and dresses if you have short legs.

Pointy Toe

Pointed-toe shoes have a lengthening effect on your foot and will help your legs appear longer, especially if you match your footwear to your pants. Round and square toes have a shortening effect. If you can’t wear pointed toes, try a classic almond shape, which is always in style.

Nude Shoes

Nude-colored shoes work year-round and will be your most versatile shoe color. Choose a shade that closely matches your skin tone, making your legs look longer because the eye doesn’t stop at the shoe. This works for flats with shorts as well as pumps with a skirt.


High heels

High heels can be your best friend and add extra height physically, but we can’t all wear them. If pumps are out of your comfort zone, try the low platform, wedge, or flatform shoes (wedges with no heel elevation), which also help your legs appear longer. You get double points for wearing these with pants with a longer hem. 


Avoid Ankle Straps

An ankle strap draws a horizontal line that shortens the look of your leg. Nude ankle straps could be an exception, but it’s best to cover them with a full length pant leg.

Avoid Pant Cuffs

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.

Avoid Pooling

Those wrinkles that form when your pants settle on top of your foot make your legs look shorter, so hem your pants to the most flattering length.

What can you add to this list?


  1. I’ve noticed that the back pockets on some jeans are larger possibly to accommodate cell phones? Not sure how the size of a back pocket would increase or decrease the size of the body part they are covering (bum, tush, hindend). 😳

    1. The location of a back pocket is what I am talking about. I suspect you’re right about larger pockets for the newer cell phones

  2. I agree with all of these things, as a non-petite, long-torsoed pear body type with proportionally shorter legs. This is why 1970s styles resonate with me. If I’m wearing a skirt, midi lengths work best to balance my body shape and proportions. This is also a ’70s thing. Monochromatic looks, which can be bright and colorful, are magic.

  3. At 5’2”, I follow most everything you suggest. I do love the comfort of the trouser style jeans from Chicos. The bonus is that they fit me! I buy petite in cardigans and shirts. It keeps the length to just below the waist. I guess it would be the lady jacket style like your Talbots navy jacket. My figure appears to be similar and our coloring is similar, so I follow your style leads.

    1. I love the look of trouser jeans too. I’ll have to try the Chicos ones in petite.

  4. Your new glasses are very cute! Would you be willing to share brand, style, and color?

  5. Janice in Ky says:

    Thanks for the advice. At 5’ I knew most of them. At 74 I don’t do heels anymore. 2” block heels are the best I can do in any style shoe or boots. I would offer one additional tip. If you have a favorite pair of jeans or dress slacks you love, buy two of each. Have one hemmed for flats and one for heels or boots. It makes life easier 😊. I just hope they keep making cropped pants, they are nearly always ankle length on me.
    I love the blue cropped jacket is it still available?

    1. Great advice about the hemming. I’m sorry the jacket is several years old from Talbots.

  6. I find articles like this extremely helpful… and good reminders! Your post has a title “ some shorter jackets, but underneath are a variety of purses. Can you include the jackets please? I love the navy one you’re wearing.

    1. Sorry, I fixed that link ot the jackets

  7. Grandma judy says:

    Lol! I am short and short waisted but I follow most of your suggestions just to make me look taller. Guess they are good ideas for alot of us. Have a good week!!

  8. I think you’ve got this covered beautifully Jennifer! Maybe add slim leg pants(?) rather than flare or full leg?
    And yes to high waist that you included.

  9. These helpful tips are what separate you from other style bloggers! Thank you, Jennifer!

    1. I’m glad you like these, Sharon.

  10. Thanks for these great tips. I am short waisted with longer legs but since I’m only 5’1 I still try to use these tips to appear taller.

  11. Donna zoltanski says:

    Much needed information. Tx so much.

  12. I love the jeans you are wearing with the cropped jacket. Could you please share which ones they are? Thanks!

    1. They’re a wide leg style from Talbots last year that seem sold out, sorry

  13. These are such good suggestions, especially the back pocket placement reminder! I would only add that some capri length pants can visually shorten the leg as well depending on the footwear.

    1. Yes! I am not a fan of capri pants for several reasons, and that’s a major one.

  14. All good points Jennifer! I find the shorter top/jacket particularly elongating with long pants. Would you tell where you found the beautiful navy cardigan jacket you are wearing in the above article?

      1. Many thanks

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