Tips for a Petite Figure

“With great Filipino genes comes great shortness.” That might not be the way that Spiderman quote goes, but it works for this topic.

You may not already know this but I am 4 feet 11 inches tall (even though I often round up to 5 feet), half-Filipino, and have two parents that are 5 feet 4 inches tall. In other words, “height” isn’t in my vocabulary or my genes. If you are like me, then you shop in the petite section always and steer clear of dresses that fall below the knee. As I’ve grown older, I’ve realized what flatters my small frame and what makes me look like a little troll. My friends always tell me that they wish they had my height while I have always wanted to be at least 5’6″ (to be a Rockette, of course). In fact, being short is my biggest insecurity. In the past, I have wished for longer legs, eaten foods that supposedly “make you grow”, and written the words “make me taller” on my Christmas list for Santa.

So, I put together a list of a few tips and tricks that have helped me flatter my petite frame in the least troll-looking ways possible.

Get to know a seamstress.

Or be one yourself. The first time I had my clothes altered, other than pageant and formal dresses, I was a junior in high school. I brought my tailor every single pair of pants I owned to hem according to my inseam. I quickly realized how expensive the hem of a pant leg actually is. For this reason, I asked for a sewing machine that same year for my birthday so I could learn to alter clothes myself. Once I learned how to hem the extra length off of pants and dresses, I began buying items even if they didn’t have my size because I knew I could just alter them when I got home, which saved me (and my parents) money in the long run.

Don’t cuff your jeans.

Unless they’re boyfriend jeans. A clean hem that falls at your ankle is much more flattering than a rolled up cuff because you’re too lazy to get your jeans hemmed. Because denim typically isn’t reversible, the lighter colored denim from the inside is showing when you fold up your jeans making your legs appear shorter to the eye. Also, don’t let your jeans scrunch up at the bottom from all the excess material. It has the same effect as cuffing them. Basically, just get them hemmed.

Get a haircut.

Similar to not cuffing your jeans, this tip also tricks the eye. I have always tried to keep my hair above my shoulders. Longer hair tends to overwhelm a short stature while shorter hair does the exact opposite. It takes the weight off of a tiny figure and doesn’t look like the person is drowning in hair.  Although, if you do have longer hair and are afraid of making the chop, wearing your hair up can make all the difference too. (Ex. side braids, high ponytails, top knots)

Don’t be afraid to wear heels.

Personally, if I could wear heels for any going out occasion, whether it be the grocery store or dinner with Anna Wintour, I would so do it. But, my life is full of walking. Lots and lots of walking. Therefore, it’s not very realistic. Anyways, heels add height. Enough said. However, be careful when choosing the type of heel. Stay away from heels with an ankle strap. Much like the cuffs, they take away length from your legs making you appear shorter. A good heel for petite women is a nude pump. The nude color elongates your legs and makes you appear taller.

Go for the shorter boots while you can.

Boots that end just above the ankle are more popular than the longer ones, so take advantage of the style while you can. I may sound a bit repetitive, but the long hair, the extra material, and the tall boots all weigh a tiny person down. Think about it — the only leg that’s showing when wearing a tall riding boot is the thigh. I don’t know about you, but the length of my thigh barely reaches one foot. Then, think about adding a some jewelry and a tunic. I’d be drowning in clothes!

Opt for high-waisted.

I love how high-waisted everything is back in style. When the waist is higher up on the body, it elongates the legs. This also goes for skirts. I always make sure my skirts are above my belly button when I wear them. Plus, the whole “belly button showing” look is a no go for me. From my experience, having your belly button out creates a longer torso and takes away from your overall height. In contrast, only showing off your midriff adds to all the length. So, stick with the midriff.