Being a short woman in a big world can sometimes be daunting. Everyday is a constant battle, filled with even smaller battles of reaching for our favorite shampoo on the fourth shelf, standing on our toes just to get clothes out of the washing machine, and pulling our slips up discreetly every five seconds just because the “knee-length” half slip comes down to our shins. Yes, the myths you’ve heard about short women are true: we’re really out there, alive and buying stilletoes.
In a world of giants, shorties can very easily be intimidated. People are always patting our heads and making off-color jokes about our stature. Some folks have even cleverly called us “vertically challenged” which, while a little annoying, is actually funny–but that is beside the point. The point is, we’re little people just trying to survive in a world made for big people, and we can’t even get dressed without big people telling us what to wear.
The countless blogs are out there, written by fashionistas a slim 5’7″+.They sit drinking their wine and eating their chocolates (not worried about any weight showing on their stretched midsections) and tell us that we cannot wear anything but what they tell us to wear (which is usually a shirt that shows our crotch-line paired with shorts that don’t even cover our thighs). It would seem that the entire fashion industry is indoctrinating short people into wearing fewer clothes so that they can save money on fabric.
Foolish people! Didn’t they know that one shortie would pause between reaching her teacups while amounted upon her step stool and after kicking her feet hanging off the loveseat to contemplate life? Yes, that did happen, and now the word is out. Ladies, here are ten GIANT lies about short women’s fashion DEBUNKED!
1. SHORT WOMEN CAN ONLY WEAR SKINNY JEANS
Stop for a second. Look at the picture above you. As you scrolled down to look at the entire picture, what was the first thing you noticed?
That model looks sooo short.
Is she not short? And what is she wearing? SKINNY JEANS! This is a fashion lie that I have never understood. Never.
Here’s why skinny jeans often times are some of the most unflattering things short women can wear:
First, we have short legs. That’s just a given. And when we show off our entire legs squeezed into a pair of boxy, tight jeans that come to our ankles, we are not looking any taller. Another problem is that skinny jeans are made to to come no lower than the ankles. That means that the solid line breaks at our ankles, and the skin between the shoes and pants shows. This makes us look shorter than we actually are! Yes, we can wear skinny jeans very fashionably (if we wear shoes that cover this break between our jeans hems and feet), but we can also wear things like bell-bottomed jeans.
Jeans that are fuller at the bottom and fitted at the top tend to have a slimming and elongating effect. One of the reasons for this is that bell-bottoms or boot-cuts come lower than our ankles, making our legs look longer. Another reason is that many petites are hourglass, and have a fuller bust. Bell-bottoms balance out the top and bottom portions of our bodies to make us look slimmer and balanced, as opposed to top-heavy.
Skinny jeans are the best choice for women US size 14+, who are fuller below the thighs and therefore whose legs will look a little less like drumsticks in skinnies.
2. SHORT WOMEN CAN’T WEAR FLATS
Another big lie about little people. Yes, we may opt for heels most of the time, but seriously do you expect us to wear heels to our three-year-old nephew’s birthday party at the zoo? This is how shorties get bad reputations. Fortunately, short women CAN wear flats and not look like Humpty Dumpty. Converse low-tops are the best flat sneaker for short girls (Vans are a little wide and thick and therefore shorten the leg). For a formal ballet flat, we can wear one in a color close to our skin tones with a pointed toe. Flats also look amazing with maxi-dresses, which, by-the-way, short women can pull off.
3. SHORT WOMEN CAN’T WEAR MAXI DRESSES
This one is split pretty evenly–for as many people who say short gals can’t wear the maxi, nearly just as many say we can. I can vouch for the latter from personal experience. Remember, the goal for the short girl is to look thinner and shapely (which usually means a little taller). The maxi dresses create a single. straight line that go below the ankle, giving more leg than there actually is. This is why so many shorties toss this lie out with the tags on their new maxi dress.
5. SHORT WOMEN SHOULD TUCK IN THEIR SHIRTS TO LOOK TALLER
If the above picture is not enough to debunk this myth, let me further explain. Many short women have very short torsos. Our legs are short, but like all legs, they are longer than our torsos. This leads to a s lovely all-bust-and-no-waist look when our shirts are tucked. This is why we feel guilty and angry when people ask us, for the 100th time, why we don’t tuck in our shirts like they do. It’s not because we don’t think the tucked blouse look is a great style, it’s just that amount of torso shown with our shirts untucked is just about as much as their shirts when it they are tucked. Instead, we opt for the very fashionable untucked shirt that does not completely slaughter our pride.
5. SHORT WOMEN CAN’T HAVE LONG HAIR
Many shorties, including myself, have resorted to the shears because we have feel dwarfed by our long, thick, overpowering hair. While short women look great with short hair, long-hair actually has a slimming effect. Remember, thinner = taller for many short women. The goal is to look a line ( 😦 ).Especially if you are a plus-size petite, you will want to slim your proportions with your long hair, that will look larger when the hair is chopped off. Often times our hair looks dwarfing because it looks heavy. To solve that, we can free our hair with layers, and fight the frizz with leave-in oil-free conditioner.
6. SHORT WOMEN CAN’T SPORT BOBS WITHOUT LOOKING TOO CHILDISH
False! Let me clarify: short women can have whatever hair we want! Just because we’re short doesn’t mean we look like kids (our shapes give that much away!). Bobs can be worn with class and style without shame on any petite.
7. SHORT WOMEN CAN’T WEAR BERMUDA SHORTS
This one is a given in many a SWC (short women community. Yes, these really are a thing). The reason is because bermuda shorts have a tendency to make our legs look a little…short. However, I’ve actually been able to pull these shorts off like a lot of women. The key is wearing a shirt long enough that covers the widest part of your thighs.
Do you remember those how-to-dress-if-you’re-short blog posts you’ve read about how to pull off skirts? They said short women’s skirts should go no longer than the bottom of the knee. There is no reason that this same won’t apply to shorts, but supposedly it does. I think this is another lie told by the fashion industry to save money. Here’s how you can successfully wear bermuda shorts if you are petite:
1. Wear shorts that are made of a knit. The ones I am wearing now are a pink floral jegging material. These are much more flattering because they stay with the shape of the leg.
2. Pick ones somewhat similar to your skintone. If you are fair, wear spring colors. The darker you are, the darker your shorts.
3. Wear a loose, long shirt with the shorts. This will make your thighs look slimmer and your shorts less like lightbulbs. Usually, the shirt’s hem will look lovely at a 3″ mark below the crotch.
4. Wear shoes that balance your upper body. Wearing the long tee will make you longer, so wear shoes with deep vamps.
^Notice the pointy-toed shoes!
Sarah says, ^ “I’m 18 now. Let’s just freak out.”
8. SHORT WOMEN CAN’T WEAR TUNICS
Yet another bogus claim by the fashion industry to save money. Remember, the idea here is to create a sense of line. Lines elongate us. When we buy those short crotch-showing blouses, we’ve made ourselves look less like a line, and more like a tired old woman. Which, if you are one, is no excuse. Tunics hide thunder thighs that make our legs look shorter, and instead bring our eyes down, instead of sideways. Short women look wonderful in tunics.
9. SHORT WOMEN CAN’T WEAR MIDI SKIRTS
This one depends on where the skirt falls. Usually about an inch or two beneath the knee is the most flattering length of midi for short women. Before you give up on midis, remember when the skirt became populars. In the 194os, the average woman was 1/2″ shorter than today’s average. Midi skirts were made for petite women–women just over 5’3″. So yes, you can pull this off.
10. SHORT WOMEN CAN’T BUY THEIR CLOTHES AT REGULAR STORES
I went to Dress Barn once. The employee kept pushing me into the petite section. I couldn’t even look at the clothes for “regular” ladies without her finding me and banning back there. I tried on clothes in the petite section, reluctantly, and most things just weren’t flattering. The reason is many petites don’t have tiny bodies–it’s just that our bodies are a lot shorter than yours! We may need to buy jeans in petite for height reasons, but petite dresses aren’t worth the extra $20.
So yes, we may be shorter than you, and buy petites more often than you think, but we certainly can’t rock the same styles you can, my tall fashionistas.
It’s time for us shorties to stop listening to what the giants say, and stand up the tyranny once and for all–even if we do have to stand on our toes!