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Tips To Help You Look Taller and Slimmer

I want to look shorter and wider said no woman ever. At 5’4″ I like to use proportion and shape in my outfits to help me look taller because that also helps make me look slimmer. Today I’m sharing some tricks that a petite woman can use to help her look taller and slimmer.

Wear heels

Any heel, even a slight elevation will help elongate your look which makes your legs appear longer. My feet rebel in heels so I opt for low, comfy heels or wedges and platforms which are plentiful this year.

blonde woman walking toward camera wearing column of color and platform shoes

Some of my favorite comfy heels, wedges, and platforms are made by Gentle Souls, Clarks, Eileen Fisher, and Beautifeel.

Buy what fits your frame

Oversized and baggy clothes often overwhelm petite women so she looks shorter than she is. Instead, pair a loose bottom with a slim or fitted top, and vice versa so some of your figure shows.

Opt for high-waisted jeans and high-rise pants

High waist jeans and high rise pants create a vertical line that helps you look taller. If the pant leg is full, or boot-cut, hem them to cover your shoe but not drag on the ground. Pants that are too long will look overwhelming and you’ll appear shorter than you are. Tuck or half-tuck the front of your shirt for the longest look possible. Avoid cropped or capri pants which chop your leg visually and make them look shorter. Cuffs are never your friend in pants so avoid them at all costs.

GAUZE SHIRT / HIGH-RISE PANTS / ESPADRILLES

 

Wear a column of color

There’s no question that wearing a single color head to toe, or shoulder to ankle, will make you look taller. The unbroken visual line allows the eye to travel top to bottom without a break and that elongates you visually. Low contrast, tonal and monochromatic outfits with similar shades can have the same effect.

You may also enjoy –How To Find Your Personal Contrast Level And Why It Matters

woman wearing fresh green caftan and column of color to look taller
TANK TOP / SLIM PANTS / SIMILAR DUSTER

Try not to break this line with a contrasting thin belt that slams the eye to a halt midway and draws attention to your waist. You should also avoid wide belts for the same reason.

Handbag

Carry a smaller handbag. Petite women are overwhelmed by large totes and handbags. Scale your purse to your size and height. Also, avoid having your bag hit the widest part of your body which creates a horizontal line that makes you look wider.

Shoes

A nude shoe lengthens the look of your legs helping you to appear taller. A dark shoe with dark pants or tights has the same effect so match your pants and shoes for the longest look. Ankle straps and gladiator sandals shorten the look of your leg. If you like the secure feeling of shoes or sandals that buckle at your ankle, be sure they are a nude shoe that matches your skin tone. Pointed-toe shoes create even more visual length for your leg.

 Necklines

V-necklines draw the eye vertically and give the illusion of a longer torso which makes you look taller. Crew and boat necklines are flattering for narrow shoulders but they do create a horizontal line that moves the eye sideways which impacts the vertical line you’re trying to create.

PINK V-neck / WHITE JEGGINGS / SUNGLASSES / SIMILAR WICKER BAG / SANDALS IN TAN

Scarves and necklaces

Long necklaces and scarves draw the eye up and down. Necklaces that fit inside the neckline of your top can shorten your look so play with proportions and check in the mirror.

Long outerwear

Duster-length cardigans elongate your silhouette. Choose ones in finer fabrics and avoid bulky fabric with large patch pockets or distracting buttons. Longer blazers and jackets will also create the illusion of length.

Pattern

Skip large-scale patterns which will overwhelm you. Opt for solids or smaller patterns in proportion with your size. Vertical stripes, princess seams, and pleats draw the eye up and down which creates the illusion of height.

Sleeves

A wide, puff, or statement sleeve reduces the streamlined effect you’re going for. Slimmer sleeves have a more streamlined look. The 3/4 sleeve will also help you look taller so the simple act of folding or pushing up your sleeves helps you appear taller by showing some extra skin.

Find a Tailor

Few clothes come right off the rack fitting us perfectly so find a good tailor in your area. Clothes that are altered to fit you perfectly will instantly make you look taller.

If I followed all of my above advice, I still wouldn’t look 6″ tall but I would look my tallest which helps us look slimmer.

What tricks do you use to look taller?

Thanks for reading ladies and remember to wear what makes you feel confident.

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112 Comments

  1. 2 things will help you look taller and slimmer…
    1. Wear a good fitting bra. Make sure your breasts are well supported and not drooping
    2. Stand with a straight back as much as you can. Always be aware that you have good posture.

    1. I wish someone would have said this to me when I was young. I can no longer stand up straight. my back is permanently bent. Posture is so important.

  2. Carrying a smaller purse was a good tip for me, although a tote is necessary sometimes.

    Is it acceptable to carry a vintage, small beaded wedding purse when wearing jeans and a white shirt?

  3. Please add do’s and don’ts pictures of shoes for petite women over 50. Hard to find comfortable shoes that make me look polished with my nice clothes.

  4. These are great tips! I’m only 5’1″ so I was pleased to read that I’m already doing some of these things! One I had not thought about was carrying a smaller bag. I always seem to carry HUGE bags that look like they are holding everything but my kitchen sink. Hmmm… I totally see that this is NOT a good idea any more. 😉

      1. Jennifer, this is a great post. I am 5ft tall, due to age related shrinking. Used to be
        5ft 2 1/4 … so this post is the equivalent of receiving a lovely gift
        Thank you????

  5. Looking taller has never been my objective. I do follow some of these suggestions simply because they are good proportion principles and pleasing to the eye. The human eye likes balance. Face it: everyone knows if we’re petite or plus size or whatever. Clothing won’t change that (only in our own minds), but well-chosen clothing can help us look sharp, feel better and put our best foot forward. That’s a worthy pursuit.

    1. Humans do prefer visual symmetry, Binky. For those of us with less than perfectly symmetrical shapes, the choice of garment can give the illusion of balance which alters our appearance to everyone. Line and proportion are powerful tools we can use to change much about our appearance.

  6. Great tips! The one I hadn’t thought of is the size of purses. I’ll have to give that more thought. I too find long cardigans challenging to wear in cold weather because of the coats that are suitable to wear over them but I think they are great to wear!

  7. Great informative post. At 5’7″ I’ve never felt the need to try to look taller, but instinctively have followed a few of these suggestions.
    Someone asked about what coats to wear over long dusters. I wear long dusters all year long and I will wear a long wrap coat in fall over top or a heavier long wool coat in winter. I guess the advantage of living in a cold climate is that I’ve accumulated many different style coats over the years.
    BTW – I think you look great in the white jeans and top with the denim jacket.

  8. I’m 5’8″ and I still dress to look taller or really, thinner. I love long cardigans and have many that I use as a lightweight coat. Column dressing has become my style along with long over lean. I like the look, but my small hips are my best asset and I’ve realized I need to wear closer fit jackets as well. I now always buy a matching top or tee with new slacks if one is available, since a column color is flattering no matter the length of jacket or sweater. I think this is why I’m addicted to Chicos for my basics. Thanks for this post, I’m going to the closet to get a scarf right now…

  9. Great blog today. Please answer Susan B’s question as it is one that I ask too. What outer wear can one wear with a long duster cardigan?

  10. I love the long cardigans and have many. My problem is what kind of outer wear to wear over them when it’s cold and rainy. A long black raincoat seems so formal, but that’s about all I can find that’s longer than the cardigans.

  11. Hi Jennifer,

    I just bought my first long cardigan from Talbots and I love it! I am going to look for more. I don’t do a lot of monochromatic dressing since I find it a bit boring, but now that I know it’s slimming I’m all in. Need some more long necklaces though, any suggestions>

    1. I look for vintage necklaces such as Money or other brands. They seemed to offer a lot of longer inexpensive jewelry.

    1. 5’4″ is actually slightly above average, so you are not short. I think 5’0-5’3″ is considered short for a woman. But consider that the heavier woman at 5’4″ will look shorter, and a slim woman at 5’4″ will appear taller because of the slender appearance.

  12. I’m 5’8” so looking taller does not apply. Now, looking thinner – yes! I do dress in a column of color most often.
    I don’t think big boxy clothes look good on anyone. They make one appear bigger than they are, your advice on slim fitting clothes everyone should follow regardless of size. I love these posts that give styling advice.

      1. Ditto for me, please, Jennifer. I’m 5’9″, so I’d love posts about dressing for taller women, particularly for slim fitting clothes. I look terrible in boxy things, like a giant walking rectangle. (I love every inch of my height, but it’s such a problem to fit. I’m too tall for most regulars, and too short for most talls.) Thanks!

  13. Being 5’1″, this post has given me a lot to think about when shopping and dressing. I love every tip you shared and you certainly portrayed each one with success! I have two questions that your post raised in my mind.
    1. I noticed you wore elongated earrings with each outfit. Are long, dangly earrings another trick I should be using?
    2. I love the stripped full-leg pants in the cover picture. Can you share where you found them?

    1. I have a very square jaw so prefer earrings that stop below jaw level. It doesn’t make me look taller but it visually narrows my jaw. The striped pants are by Nic+Zoe from Nordstrom several years ago. I love them!

  14. I do most of these things, but it is nice to see this list. I appreciate seeing the lighter column of color, thank you. I hope to see more of it in the Spring and Summer. You look wonderful in all of the photos.

    I really like the shoes with number see 6 and 7, could you please share what brands they are.

      1. I , too, am 5’4″. Do you wear petite clothing? Sleeve length is better for me , but sometimes, I struggle. I have a long torso though. Sometimes xs . I have a small frame so I really struggle with sizing. I am 65. I do not feel comfortable in petite bottoms. Needless to say I am so frustrated trying to find clothes. I joined Stitchfix to try to help, but I have to use my own judgement when I receive the items. Any help would be so Very Appreciated!!!

      2. I have a long torso and long arms. My legs are short but most petite pants are too short on me after I wash them! Crazy.
        It’s a pain but I determine each and every garment on fit. I can not generalize and buy petite or not. I can always shorten things but I can’t lengthen them.
        I’m happy to help you. Shoot me an email.

  15. I have always loved monochromatic looks. Also, jumpsuits, and one piece dresses. My friend and I were just commenting on how we were tired of being “ cut in half” with two piece dressing, and we are both 5’5”!

  16. Well done! You “nailed” it. I wish wish I had known these tips long ago, but at least I do them now. You look fabulous in every picture. I especially enjoy the lighter column of color. It proves that you don’t need o hide under darker colors to look slim.

  17. Really loved this post! It is advice you have given all along but nice to see it all in one post and illustrated so well. Thanks Jennifer!

  18. I’m 100% in on the monochromatic look. The Vivienne Files did a series showing a typical Breton striped shirt, one white background with black stripes and the other black background with white stripes, and then pairing each with white pants and black pants. These were catalog photos of just the clothes, no models, mind you, so there were no humans involved. It made the exercise even more clear–predominately white top with white pants and predominately black top with black pants looked markedly longer and thinner.
    On the duster length topper, I haven’t had much success–they tend to be too long on me. However, I do avoid mid-length jackets and prefer something cropped.

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