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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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111 Comments

  1. Thanks for the great tried and true tips on looking taller! Here’s another for some people: I have muscular calves and thick ankles and always avoid anklestraps on shoes and sandals, and look for V or U-shaped angles. It gives a longer leg line and does make one look taller.

  2. Excellent guidelines Jennifer and A HAPPY 4th OF JULY to you and your family. My Mother was about 5′ in height and my sisters were not all that much taller and as a result hope you don’t mind me adding the following few tips. a) Avoid collars that on a larger scale (puritan, sailor, shawl, flounce). b) Choose an empire waistline when possible for dresses (often seamed just below the bustline) or if wishing to wear a belt, position it above the natural waistline. c) Avoid colour-blocked garments. -Brenda-

  3. I totally agree with the nude/beige shoe elongating your look. Also, very versatile. I know white shoes are having a moment, but I personally feel a nude shoe/sandal is a better investment. And a classic look that will last.

    1. I agree totally. I’m seeing less nude shoes in the store these days but they are preferable.

  4. Jennifer, kudos for this very informative blog. Wonderful reminders and new tips. At 5’4”, I follow the thirds proportion rule and it has worked well for me so I avoid having garments cut me in half. While I like dusters especially in the colder season, they are more visually attractive on me above the knee (2/3). Anything longer appears to drag me down. Midi skirts are the same way, even in heels. On a another note, a general thanks for all the tips small and large that you’ve provided through these blogs. I’ve enjoyed your book, clothes and shoes recommendations and my AirPods no longer fall out of my ears! Thank you for making a difference.

  5. I have to say, the pic of the rose pink / white pant, and light blue sweater/ light blue pant, with delicate white sandals, are perfect on you. Also the size and shape of the wicket bag is perfect ( small, rounded). Is your “ kibbe” , classic? These elements are great, classic, slim, tailored, simple, delicate. I know you show us what’s in the stores.. but this is “you”!

    1. Thanks Eileen. I think the Kibbe system would classify me as some type of classic. My broad shoulders might add a bit of dramatic tossed in too. Happy 4th!

  6. I know that my post will buck the trend, and it is not in anyway meant to diminish the common problem a lot of women face, but, while not tall (5’6″) I am a thin inverted triangle and have very long arms and legs, but a short torso with larger (for my weight) bust. So, is the solution to my situation the exact opposite of most of today’s very helpful suggestions? Round shoes, avoid color columns, round necks? I rarely find this body type discussed.

    1. Inverted triangle figures tend to wear clothes well because their shoulder act as a hanger (I and one). To add balance for your short torso, try tops that hip or wrist length to elongate the look of your torso. If you don’t like to appear taller, skip the column of color. Crew necks will not be your best because they’ll make your chest appear larger. Stick to a v or scoop that’s not to deep

  7. Jennifer – Thank you for the awesome tips. I really enjoyed your writing today and your great wisdom on what works for those of us in this height range.

    Happy 4th of July to all of your US following!!

  8. Thank you Jennifer! Such great information! One comment though, I am 5’4” but I am disproportionate because I’m quite short waisted but can wear regular length pants. I find if I tuck in pants as suggested with high waist pants I look even more out of proportion. Would you still suggest to do the shirt tuck in in my case?

    1. If your torso is very short, I’d skip tucking it in and try a high hip length top. A column of color or very similar colors are your best bet.

  9. I’m 5 foot 6 inches, and I also love these tips because they help distract from my menopot which has become enlarged during the Covid lock downs. Curtailing my activities has been so depressingly.

  10. Posture plays a big role in looking good. I find myself favoring one side when my back starts to bother me. The larger handbags I love to carry also cause shoulder and neck problems later in the day if it’s a long day out.
    Your advice is spot on to downsize purses. As we age we have more choices to accommodate body changes. Same with shoes.
    You look great in the soft neutral outfit with the striped pants. A bit dressier.

  11. I need all the help I can get because I am 5 foot. I love reading about how I can improve my look.

  12. What a nice article, so clear and informative. I’m so happy to have finally found someone who is near my age (and height) and who shows achievable styles. Thank you so much.

  13. Great article! I’m 5’ 2”. I wear a 34G bra and it’s been so
    frustrating to find clothes that fit without drawing attention to my bust. I’m only an 8 on the bottom which makes it even more challenging.

  14. I really appreciate all your help. I am 5’2 and 215 lbs so i need all the help i can possibly get. Thank you thank you.

  15. I think what your saying is so true. I’m a 5”3’ and am over weight woman with narrow shoulders and small “boobs”. Very hard to dress and look nice in my clothes. And I’m over 70 so styling is very important as well as fit. Short legs are very hard to fit in anything. I don’t ever ember buying anything tha doesn’t have to be altered.

  16. Thank you for your advice for the petite woman. I am a pear shaped petite and slowly goin to under 5 feet and need all the help I can get.

  17. Wondering if the tops with bare shoulders but longer sleeves make a shorter person look shorter and wider??.

    1. Bare shoulder tops with a vertical line certainly draw the eye out and make your shoulders look wider. I find longer sleeves make me look shorter too.

  18. As someone who is 4 feet, 11 inches I am an expert on petite dressing. All of your tips are great and make sense.

    The one suggestion I would add is tailoring. Petites are made for women under 5 feet, 4 inches so for many women even petites need tailoring. Yes it is extra money but it can make a huge difference. As you mentioned shorter people should not wear drippy clothing it makes you look like a child playing dress up. Yet many women wear dresses dragging on the floor, sleeves down to their fingertips, and pants rolled up instead of going to a tailor. Do yourself a favor and find a good tailor – which can be difficult as it is a dying art – and at least for business and dressy clothing – get everything fitted to you.

  19. I’ve just met you and have spent my saturday afternoon with you!! I am in a style rut at 59!! I love your suggestions for being well styled and age appropriate. I am 5’11” tall and still use all the techniques you’ve suggested to make the body looks taller and slimmer. I always look for a v-neck top and can’t understand why Talbots and Chico’s don’t offer more v-neck styles knowing that it flatters the figure more than a crew neck which I feel makes me look and feel broader in the torso. I completely agree with you regarding wearing heels to increase body length but even a lower heel, as opposed to a flat shoe, makes you ‘feel’ slimmer inside!! If you ‘feel’ you look attractive – you probably are!!! Thanks for sharing your fashion insight!!

  20. Love your style suggestions, I’m glad I am doing some of your suggestions already, so am very encouraged, I’m only 5’2 and 175 lb. so need all the help I can get.

  21. I’m new to your website and am enjoying the information. Your tips for wearing clothing that make you look taller/slimmer are very helpful. Do you ever wonder why there are not more tops with vertical stripes (vs. horizontal) for women — especially when the horizontal stripes emphasize the hip area? Maybe it’s because clothing designers have only super trim and tall women in mind.

  22. You look amazing. What size do you wear? I wear a 4 but I think I look much bigger than you. Are you a 2 or zero? Anyway you size it, I love your style and you look amazing!

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