How to Look Taller with a Petite Figure


Fashion can sometimes be too idealistic for short women. Imagine having a height of less than 5’2 and watching super tall top models rocking a stunning outfit. If only it looked that good on us….

If you’ve embraced your short height, like me, but want to wear clothes that will flatter you (instead of swallow), then you’ve come to the right place. Follow me as I guide you through the 6 dress styles that look best on short women.

Dresses for short women: How to Look Taller 

Dresses can be quite tricky, especially since their length is designed to fit average to tall women. I can’t count the times I’ve fell in love with a dress, only to go to the dressing room to find that it swallows me: the length and the waist is just wrong, making me look even shorter than I already am.

That’s why there are some things that you should consider when you’re on the hunt for the perfect dress. Even if we can’t avoid going to the tailor to shorten the length, we can still choose styles that will help us look a bit taller.

1. Waist defining dresses

One of the best tips I can give you when it comes to clothes for short women is to opt for dresses that define your waist. This has nothing to do with showcasing a slimmer waist, but rather showing that there’s a body underneath the dress.

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Sometimes we make the mistake of wearing oversized clothes or dresses that are not petite-friendly, ignoring our bodies and, therefore, making us look shorter than we are.

Make the most of the wrap dress style and make sure to have at least one or two in your wardrobe.

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Wrap dresses are the best option for casual or dressy occasions. They’re flirty, feminine and super trendy as well.

You can find them in many different lengths, prints, styles, and colors, giving you plenty of options to choose the one that best fits your personal style.

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But wrap style dresses are not the only option for you. Any type of dress that hugs your waist is perfect for short girls. Emphasizing this part of your body will avoid any “swallowing effect” that other dress styles will give you.

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That’s why A-line dresses are perfect as well since they’re usually fitted at the waist.

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Sheath dresses are also a great option because they’re fitted (and sexy). For formal occasions, try wearing a sheath dress.

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In other words, any type of dress that acknowledges your waist is a total yes.

Being short makes fashion a bit confusing for us: should we wear this? Do I look shorter? Is this swallowing me? I’ve been through this as well… One piece of advice: when in doubt, always opt for any of these 4 waist-defining dresses.

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2. Shift dresses

Yes, I know. Shift dresses are the exact opposite of waist-defining dresses, but they can also be included into the “dress styles for short women” list. The trick here is to opt for shirt dresses that fall above your knee.

In other words, opt for mini shift dresses.

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For short girls, a dress’ length is one of the trickiest things. However, if you opt for wrap styles or anything that showcase your waist, the length becomes a bit less “important”.

However, when it comes to shift dresses, the length becomes much more relevant. What you want to do, just like with waist-defining dresses, is to demonstrate that “there’s a body”, so showing off your legs is a must.

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Wearing a knee-length (or worse, midi length) shift dress is the exact definition of the terrifying swallowing effect. So whenever you decide to wear a shift dress, as a rule of thumb, make sure that it falls above the knee.

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Shirt dresses are another great style. They’re usually short, but make sure they don’t look too oversized: double-check that the shoulders fit perfectly and that the style isn’t too boxy.

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However, we need to admit the fact that most shift dresses aren’t petite friendly, and many will simply be too long. In my experience, almost every type of dress I’ve tried on has either been worn with a belt (therefore, shortening its length) or been taken to the tailor to cut some inches off its length.

But that shouldn’t keep you from rocking a cute shift dress.

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Either way, with shift dresses you can always cinch your waist with a belt or a scarf:

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3. Opt for vertical stripes

It is a universal truth that vertical stripes will help us look taller. No doubt about it.

Vertical stripes will make the effect of elongating your figure (aka visually adding some extra inches), while horizontal will only widen it. That’s why this type of print should be your go-to option when deciding a cute outfit for a short girl.

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Midi-length dresses usually shorten our height, but if you’re wearing a vertical striped print, then don’t worry about its length. You can wear anywhere from mini to maxi lengths, as long as they have the right print for your petite frame.

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Avoid “subtle” vertical stripes. You want to make your lengthening effect obvious, so textures or prints like pinstripes won’t do the trick.

The same happens with super-wide stripes. Fashion for short girls should avoid huge motifs and prints because they will simply swallow them. So when it comes to vertical striped dresses, always remember: not too subtle yet not too big.

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4. Halter necklines

Just like vertical stripes, halter necklines have a lengthening effect that will add some extra inches to your height.

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Solid colors, vertical stripes or mini prints will always work best for short girls:

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5. What dress length is best for short women?

Now that we’ve discussed the best dress styles for short women, let’s move on to one critical aspect of petite fashion: the length.

5.1 Mini-length

As I mentioned before, a dress’s length can either make you or break you. As a go-to option for casual outfits, choose mini dresses.

Mini dresses will make your short height not so obvious by elongating your legs. So, when it comes to dressing casually, mini dresses will be your best option.

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Mini dresses are always a great idea for club or party outfits. They’re flirty, sexy and super feminine, making you look chic while showcasing your legs (making you look taller).

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5.2 Maxi-length

Many short girls will be surprised to know that maxi dresses can also flatter their petite frame. If you’re wondering how to dress when you’re short, remember that the trick is to wear anything that has a lengthening effect.

Therefore, when it comes to maxi dresses, wearing a solid color will create a “column” effect, elongating your figure by making it look like one vertical block.

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The best maxi dresses for short women will be those that, in some way, highlight your waist. These can be wrap styles, empire waist, cinched waist…. Or, as a styling tip, you can always add a belt to accentuate your curves.

You can also wear prints, but make sure they’re small. This type of print will make the same effect as solid colors: create the visual effect of a long vertical block (aka the column effect).

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5.3 Knee or midi-length

Wearing a dress to work or to a formal event is a total yes. However, mini or maxi dresses are definitely not appropriate, so we’re left with two other options: knee or midi-length dresses.

Now, if you were to choose between the two, knee-length will always be the best option. However, remember the first point we discussed on this article: waist-defining dresses should be your go-to option.

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You also need to remember the other tips I’ve mentioned: solid colors or mini prints, vertical stripes, empire waist… All these elements will help you wear a cute outfit without looking like you’ve been swallowed.

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As for midi-length dresses, there’s no denying they’re super cute and feminine. They shouldn’t be your go-to option if you don’t want to make your height super obvious.

However, I’m 5’ tall and must admit I’ve fallen into this trend. The trick, again, is to opt for dresses that have at least two of the elements I’ve mentioned.

For example, a vertical striped dress with a tie wrapped around your waist is a great example of short girls can rock midi-lengths.

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Or a sheath dress in a solid bold color:

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Wrap up:

As a short girl, I can honestly confirm that finding clothes that flatter my petite frame is not the easiest task out there. However, knowing the exact tricks and elements that will make me look a bit taller is the key to mastering a perfect style.

These dresses for short woman will also help you understand what are the things you should look for in any types of clothing, from shirts to skirts. There’s nothing better than knowing what flatters your body type!