Tania Tonello is a fashion stylist, personal shopper, and regular contributor to STYLE Canada based in Downtown Toronto. On #WardrobeWednesdays, she gives you fun yet practical tips and tricks to mastering the art of dressing and expressing yourself in a functional, economical, and more sustainable way. You can read last week’s instalment here.
Last #WardrobeWednesday, I shared simple fashion tips on how to flatter various body types. This week, I’m focusing on height and how to use clothes and accessories to elongate or shorten your frame. Before diving in, I want to emphasize the most important garment consideration for anyone of any height, and that’s fit. When a garment is ill-fitting, it can draw unnecessary attention to your shape, causing you to look larger or smaller than you actually are. If you’re unable to alter garments on your own, connect with a local seamstress or tailor. And try not to disregard a beautiful garment because it’s a little large or a bit snug. If it can be taken in or let out an inch or two, it’ll be worth the alteration time and money to achieve the perfect fit.
For those who are shorter in stature and interested in appearing taller, the following fashion tips will help:
1. Dress Monochromatically
Choosing to dress in like coloured clothing will elongate your frame. By doing so, your outfit will draw an uninterrupted line from neck to ankle, which will create the illusion of a longer silhouette. Notice I didn’t say ‘head to toe’ (I’ll touch on that later). Another option, although not as effective, is to wear various shades, tints or tones of the same hue.
2. High-Waisted Bottoms
Wearing a pant, skirt or short with a high sitting waist is another way to elongate the leg and overall frame, as each will add an inch or two to your legs.
3. Simple Blouses & Jackets
Avoid blouses and jackets with large gathers, lapels, and ruffles and opt for those with clean lines to create a longer silhouette. Single-breasted blazers and jackets will also help to elongate the frame rather than double-breasted, which narrow it. Larger lapels on blouses and jackets can overwhelm a shorter frame, so less is more in this case.
DYNAMITE Linen Boyfriend Blazer, $59.95
4. Vertical Stripes
You’ll read and hear mixed reviews about this classic elongating trick, but the right vertical stripe can help lengthen a frame. Play with stripe widths and colours to see which types are most flattering on you.
When choosing dresses or skirts, think about their hemline. A hemline that sits above the knee shares more leg and exaggerates the leg line. If you prefer longer skirts and dresses, consider those with sheer fabric and transparent details such as lace, fringe, or leg splits.
Bardot Lace Sheath Dress, $214
6. Friendly Footwear
The obvious footwear tip for someone of shorter stature is to wear heels, but heels aren’t for everyone. Remember earlier, when I suggested that you dress monochromatically ‘from neck to ankle’ rather than ‘head to toe’? The reason I made this suggestion is because wearing a shoe colour that matches your skin tone helps to elongate your legs. The only exception is if you’re wearing dark coloured tights or pants that cover your ankles – then you’d want to carry that colour story into your footwear. But if you’re wearing a garment that reveals your ankle, calves, or lots of leg, a shoe that mirrors your skin tone will continue drawing out your leg line instead of cutting you right at the ankle.
Another footwear tip for tricking the eye into seeing a longer frame:
- Wear pointy-toed shoes and low-top sneakers. Pointed shoes will add another inch to your silhouette and low-top sneakers will reveal more of your ankle.
7. Smaller Bags
Bag choices also play a role in flattering one’s height. A larger bag carried on a shorter frame can overwhelm it, whereas a smaller bag sits more to scale. This doesn’t mean that a tote bag is out of the question for a shorter frame – just choose a smaller-sized version of the classic.
Whether you’re 4’9 or 6’2, stand proud. I’m 5’10 and I love wearing heels, which leave me standing at 6’2 sometimes.
“Why do you wear heels? You’re already so tall!”
This question still baffles me. I wear what I feel good in and I encourage you to do the same, regardless of body shape or height. I provide context here because it feels off base for me to be sharing fashion tips on how to appear shorter… but if you’re curious about how to create a shorter frame, give these tricks a try:
1. Colour Block
Meaning: the opposite of dressing monochromatically. When wearing different colour blocks to break up your frame, the starker the colour difference, the larger the effect. Contrasting coloured belts is another way to break up a long figure too.
2. Patterned & Cropped Bottoms
Big, bold patterns and prints take the eye on visual trip, detracting from long lines. Florals, dots, paisley and animal prints are fun options to explore.
Cropped pants allow for a break between hem and footwear, which also pulls focus from longer frame lines.
Zara Faux Leather Pants, $45.90
3. Statement Blouses & Jackets
Where oversized fits can overwhelm a shorter stature, a taller frame can appear smaller when wearing oversized pieces. Whether it’s a jacket, jumpsuit or sweatshirt, an exaggerated fit can help balance a longer silhouette. Larger lapels, ruffles and double-breasted details on jackets help to break up long lines as well.
Zara Blazer with Buttons, $159
Shorts, dresses and skirts with above-the-knee hemlines will make a long leg appear even longer. So, if you’re looking for ways to shorten your frame, opt for below-the-knee hemlines, like midi skirts.
H&M Pleated Skirt, $49.99
5. Friendly Footwear
Besides the obvious suggestion to wear flats instead of heels, try out round-toed shoes and high-top sneakers to help break up your leg-line. Where skin-toned coloured shoes help elongate the leg on a shorter frame, contrasting coloured footwear will help break up your silhouette.
6. Larger Bags
Smaller bags are flattering for shorter frames, but larger bags will compliment a tall body. It’s all about proportion and scale. Go big!
Let me know which tips you’re applying to your styling choices from this edition of #WardrobeWednesday in the comments below. Next week, I’ll break down skin tones and which garment colours flatter your complexion. See you then!