We all know there are certain things that simply can’t be changed—as much as you might want to. One great example: your height, which can sometimes feel like a serious impediment to your style—especially for the vertically-challenged, who often complain that a certain street style star’s look would “only look good on someone tall.”
Until science comes up with a way for petite folks to add a few extra inches, your best bet is to rely on a few clever fashion tips and tricks to fake those extra inches. Below are 14 ways to instantly look taller using nothing but what you’ve got in your closet.
1. Try flared jeans.
Fitted jeans with a distinct flare at the bottom create the illusion of a longer leg— especially when the hem hits the top of your shoes (heels, of course!) The trick here is to keep the fit of the jean super-slim through the leg, and to make sure the waistband hits your natural waist—not any lower. For optimal height, be sure to pair your flares with a waist-length top, or a blouse you can tuck in.
2. Don’t discount maxi skirts!
It’s common fashion folklore that small women simply cannot wear floor-grazing skirts and dresses, but luckily that’s been proven entirely false. In fact, a well-cut maxi skirt can actually give you the appearance of looking taller, as evidenced by petite gals like Rachel Bilson, Rachel Zoe, and Mary-Kate Olsen. Choose solid versions that skim the length of your body, which will create a long vertical line (forego anything with thick pleats or too many layers.) Be sure to keep your top fitted—a tucked-in T-shirt and a cropped leather jacket, for example—so as to not drown in fabric. Also, make sure the skirt’s hemline is as long as you can go without tripping, and add a pair of wedges or heels underneath.
3. Choose heels with a low-cut vamp.
Here’s small trick that can change the way you shoe shop: Shoes that have a low-cut vamp instantely elongate your leg (and make them look slimmer, as well) when you’re wearing skirts, shorts, and dresses. What’s a vamp? It’s the portion of a show that cuts across your foot at the front. So, a low vamp cuts across the base of the toes, while high vamp can come up the foot and possibly up to the ankle. If you’re able to find a pair that matches your skintone, like the image above, that’s even better to give the illusion of mile-long legs.
4. If you’re going short, go short!
When you’re petite, it’s just a fact that—when it comes to skirts and dresses—you should either go super-long, or super-short (translation: avoid calf-length and knee-lengths). Mini-skirts show more skin, which creates the illusion of a longer leg. Here, petite It-girl Miroslava Duma pairs her mini-skirt with a matching top (see tip #6!) and sky-high platforms. While ankle straps typically aren’t ideal for short ladies (they cut off your leg), they can work with super-short skirts since more skin is being shown. Of course, if you’re wearing a mini, make sure it’s not offensively short—let’s keep it chic, ladies.
5. Rock a top knot!
Obvious, yes, but piling your hair on top of your head really does gives a taller impression, again creating a more vertical line. Same goes for hair that’s simply voluminous—it adds inches! Time to put away that flatiron, friends.
6. Wear all one color.
Using color to enhance the illusion of height is a highly effective strategy, as it helps create a vertical line. While wearing head-to-toe black is the simplest—and eternally chicest—option, saturated hues work well, too (a look that’s incredibly now, as well.) The trick to monochrome dressing: Keep each silhouette crisp and tailored.
7. Say yes to high-waist bottoms!
High-waist bottoms get a bad rap, possibly thanks to an unfortunate Jessica Simpson style mishap, but when worn correctly, they can trick the eye into thinking you’re taller by elongating your lower body. Whether you choose skirts, shorts or skinny jeans, be sure to make the elevated waist visible by tucking in a tailored blouse, or opting for a slightly cropped top.
8. Wear pointy flats.
Since nobody can be expected to wear sky-high heels every day, petite gals should invest in a pair of pointy flats. Why? Because it’s a known fact that shoes with pointed toes lengthen your leg line.
9. Rock out with vertical stripes.
It’s the oldest trick in the book for a reason: Vertical stripes create long lines, thus making you look, well, longer. Bonus: Stripes are one of spring’s biggest trends, so you’ll have absolutely no problem locating some cute striped options.
10. Ditch the gigantic shoulder bag!
Keeping your accessories appropriately scaled to your body size is a smart move for petite girls, starting with that oversized bag. Here’s why: Every time you cause the eye to take in width, you reduce the amount of height it takes in. That means smaller cross-body bags, clutches, and small top-handle totes are your best bet.
11. Chop your hair.
Long hair drags petite girls down, while shorter hair does the opposite. For the wary: A wavy lob (long bob) is the best option—it shows off your shoulders and your neckline, which makes you look taller (plus, it’s so chic!). Daring gals should go even shorter: a super-sleek chin-length bob or an elegant gamine-esque pixie.
12. Stick with skinny belts.
When it comes to belts, short girls should always opt for a skinny version—it’ll define your natural waist in the most flattering way possible, but won’t cut you in half the way a super-thick belt can, which causes you to look shorter.
13. Be mindful of proportion.
When you’re petite, it’s imperative to be sure all your clothes fit properly (a good tailor is key!). Wearing cropped skinny jeans? Make sure they’re not too cropped and that the hem hits the ankle area—small gals should avoid anything resembling capri pants, as they cut your leg awkwardly. With blazers and jackets, always make sure the seams sit perfectly at the bony tops of your shoulders and that the sleeves hit exactly at your wrist.
14. Wear V-necks.
Tops with plunging V necklines give the illusion of a longer, leaner torso, so keep that in mind when you’re shopping for new tops this season!