I was asked by a reader who is petite but has long legs for tips on dressing. Now more often than not, petite (5’4″/162cm or under) women are petite because their legs are proportionally short. But not all petite’s have short legs so some advice needs to be altered to dress well for the long legged petite.
10 Dressing Tips forLong Legged Petites
- Dress for your proportions first. Proportions make us happy when they appear balanced. Our body should look shorter than our legs (by about one head length). This means we tend to want to not cut off the appearance of the length of legs even if our legs are longer rather than shorter (unless they are super dooper long and if you’re petite …. never going to happen!). Longer legged petites will find people don’t think they are as petite as they are because we equate height with longer legs.
- Even though your legs are long, don’t change colours unnecessarily – so blend shoes to trousers, shoes to tights or legs.
- Wear your clothes fitted rather than baggy. Fitted doesn’t mean skin-tight!
- Avoid too much fabric – too much fabric (too many gathers, too large a waterfall etc) tends to swamp the scale of a petite woman (even if you do have long legs!)
- As you have longer legs, you can wear slightly longer skirts, sleeves, necklaces, tops/jackets, (watch this quick video to explain this concept) but don’t go overboard.
- Think about balance. If you want to break one “petite” rule, then make sure you are sticking to others to compensate.
- Create one focal point at a time – ideally up near your face so that you draw attention up rather than down.
- Fitted or structured garments (rather than oversized or blousy) can help to balance your smaller frame.
- Keep patterns smaller in scale (this works for all petites…. except of course if you’re dramatic in personality style – then you will break the rules). Think finer stripes or smaller patterns.
- Open necklines and 3/4 sleeves will help to stop the “too much fabric” which is often an issue for petites, from taking over. Roll up your sleeves and make sure your shirts are unbuttoned to the top of your cleavage – no higher. Look for lower necklines – Vs and scoops in tees.
Petite Proportions – Getting it Right with Skirts and Dresses
How to Wear Palazzo Pants When You Are an A or X Shape or are Petite
Top 7 Tips to Looking More Mature Particularly When You’re Petite
Thanks for the great information and as usual, it is spot on. So helpful for those of us who are vertically challenged.
As a fan of Japanese patterns and sewing books, I am always intrigued as to how Japanese women who are usually only around 160cm can manage to look good in garments that are fairly voluminous and often have with very little shaping or structure, which seems not to mesh with your advice.
Is the key maintaining the right balance in the outfit (i.e. voluminous top and skinny pants) and getting the proportions right (e.g. dress length/heel height)?
Proportion and balance are so important, it would be great if you could post more about these topics in the future.
Yes – proportion and balance are spot on. They are also less curvy (on average) than many western women which can make the clothes easier to wear too (without a large bust then fabric hangs differently). But never more than one voluminous garment.
Great tips..I hover at the brink of Petite but not quite.. I am 5’4″ with long torso and short arms and legs. I wear petite jackets and dresses.. But require misses bottom’s to accommodate the rise of the longer waist..
To create the illusion of height I often do monochromatic looks..
Always looking for ways to be look in proportion.
This is very interesting, but could you do an item on the opposite phenomenon please? I am fairly tall (5’7″) but with a very long body and short dumpy legs and carry all my weight in my bottom and thighs. It’s very difficult for me to find trousers that flatter and also to respect the 1/3-2/3 proportions when my waist is so low!
Great advice, Imogen! I am 5’4″ with long arms & legs & a short torso, so this info is spot on for me.
YES!! This is me!! 5’3″ and proportionately long-legged/shorter waisted. A lot of folks don’t believe I am only 5’3″. This advice is just perfect… thank you! I’ve found much of this to be true but sometimes would second guess due to other “criteria”… so this is super helpful.
There aren’t many of you around… but you do exist – glad that this information helps.
Thank you for this, Imogen – your advice is spot on! I’m 5’1″, with long legs (and a very short waist). The short torso can be an issue, but the long legs are a blessing, because I can get away with longer skirts – and often don’t need to hem my skirts and dresses.
Hi Imogen, I am a tad late to the game! I am 5ft 2ins (I was 5ft 2.5ins, alas age has shortened me. I have a long rise, short waist to neck nape, big boobs, broad shoulders and legs that are long for my height! Last time I measured my inside leg was 31inches. I can only wear standard trousers. For further background my sister who is 5ft 10inches has a 35 inside leg, modelled tights and catwalk in Japan. So I am just a scaled down version of her!