Knowing Your Proportions + Dressing to Look Taller

One of the biggest challenges petite ladies face is proportions. It’s something I’ve always had to deal with and something that prevents me from wearing so many beloved pieces. Yes, we all have body types, which I’m sure we dress for, but knowing your proportions can be a bit trickier. Proportions are important because they tell us where our clothes should end, like skirt hems or sleeves on jackets. They help create a balance appearance and can help you look taller and slimmer, or shorter and curvier. Proportions are important for everyone, but for those more vertically challenged, it’s even more critical you know what you’re doing. For those fellow short girls, you know what I mean when you don’t want your outfits to make you look even shorter, right? Today, I’m sharing my experiences and a few tips I use when getting dressed to help me dress for my size and look as tall as I can be, lol.

J.crew chambray striped shirt

J.Crew button down (wearing petite 00), Madewell skirt (wearing 00, ON SALE!), Marc Fisher pumps, Serpui bag (sold out, similar), J.Crew neckerchief, Illesteva sunglasses

Marc Fisher white pumps
illesteva round mirrored sunglasses

Madewell beige skirt

Serpui round bag
J.crew chambray blue striped button down

I would say I’ve been aware of my proportions my whole life. It definitely magnified when I started taking photos of my outfits years ago. I would get dressed, thinking okay this is super cute, go take photos, and hate everything. One of the great things about taking photos of your outfits, you find out what works and what doesn’t. There’s still a handful of things I pair together that don’t typically photograph well (the other day I wore cropped flare jeans with ankle booties), I just tend to wear them on our off days. In general though, I very rarely sacrifice fit for anything. My outerwear has to be fitted, nothing I own is very oversized. Skirts and dresses have to hit me at the right length. If they don’t, I don’t buy them. There’s been plenty of things I have to pass on because the fit is just not there.

I used to get everything tailored, but then I realized my readers probably wouldn’t be as interested in something that needs alterations versus something they can wear right off the rack. I also stopped alterations because I haven’t been able to find anyone here to do them, lol. I had the best tailor in the Bay Area (shedding a tear just thinking about her). I will say, not hemming everything has saved me so much $$$. If you have something you love and know will wear for years to come, I would 1000% recommend finding a tailor. A fitted piece is an absolute game changer.

Dressing for your proportions is also a sign you know what you’re doing and for me translates into good style. I’m not sure I’ve ever thought someone wearing a huge bag with an oversized coat had good style, but then again, I might be the proportions police. If you’re looking to step up your style game, start dressing for your body type and proportions. Play with different silhouettes, colors, and styles. Know what looks good on you and buy more of it. Below are a few of my tips I tend to follow to help me dress for my proportions.

S H O P  T H E  P O S T


  • Buy clothes that fit you – Don’t sacrifice fit just because everyone is wearing something. If it doesn’t fit, you’re probably not going to look as good as the girl who has the same piece but is 5’7”.
  • Try different silhouettes – See what looks best on you. When it came to shorts, skirts, and dresses, I always thought shorter is better. More leg will help me look taller. Not the case! After trying on so many different lengths, I’ve come to find out, my most flattering length is when the dress or skirt sits 3” above my knee. Which is why I love this Madewell skirt so much!
  • If you like oversized pieces, stick with one per outfit – If you’re wearing an oversized jacket, stick to a smaller bag.
  • Go monochrome – Sticking with one color really helps you elongate your whole body. Your best way to look tall, for sure!
  • Nude heels are your friend – Pairing nude heels, flats, or sandals is a great way to elongate your legs, especially when you go bare legs.
  • Distressing that lands under your knees will make you look disproportionate and short – Been there, done that. For instance, I can’t wear these jeans with flats. The rips are big and come down below my knees. They shorten my legs, but I love them so much, I make them work with heels.
  • You should be wearing high-waisted everything any chance you get – Something I’ve learned this year. High-waisted bottoms help your legs look longer, always!
  • Reach for the mini bag, not the oversized tote/satchel – I used to wear so many oversized bags and people on the Internet would let me know how they felt, ha! Years later, I finally realized what they were talking about. While I still have and will wear my oversized totes, I do love my small handle bags right now. But yes, big bags are too overwhelming on small frames.
  • Don’t be afraid of longer silhouettes, just know what you’re working with –  If you’re going to wear a midi skirt, pair them with a nude heel.
  • Chunky shoes aren’t the best idea – Chunky shoes don’t allow your legs to flow. It stops the eye and can be really unflattering.
  • Lace up shoes can be tricky – Laces that go up your legs can be tricky. They cut off your legs, which for those with short legs, isn’t the most flattering. A trick I’ve learned, instead of going up your leg, wrap the laces around one part of your leg and tie the bow in the back. This makes everything look less busy.
  • Fitted outerwear is a game changer – An instant way to look chic or elevate an outfit, fitted outerwear. I can’t stress this enough. The one area I don’t compromise is my coats. I search high and low every winter for the best petite coats. If you fall in love with something that doesn’t fit just right, I would recommend getting it tailored. Outerwear can be worn for years and they instantly elevate any outfit.