Body Type

Style Tricks to Make Short Legs Look Long

If you’re petite or just have legs on the shorter end of the spectrum, you’re in good company. Midlife celebrities, including Reese Witherspoon, Jada Pinkett Smith, Paula Abdul, and Lucy Liu, all clock in at 5’1” or less. When you think of them, what comes to mind, apart from their skill on the screen and in managing their careers, is their style and beauty.

What you’re most likely not thinking about is how short their legs are. That’s because these women (and their stylists!) have a trick or two up their sleeves to make the most of what they have. Here’s how they do it….

Buy the Right Clothes

This sounds obvious, but it’s amazing how many petite women don’t shop in the petite section. Women come in all shapes and sizes, which is wonderful. Embrace your body, and as a starting point, look for the clothes designed specifically for it.

Wear High-Waisted Pants and Skirts

Higher waists make your legs appear to be longer, and on the flip side, a low rise cuts your legs off sooner, making it look like you’ve got less leg. Luckily for us women of a certain age, after many years of low-waisted jeans and pants that didn’t do our midlife tummies and muffin tops any favors, high-waists are making a comeback.

best pants for short legs

Shop for Narrow Pants and Slim Skirts

Think twice before gravitating towards wide-leg pant trends. We’re seeing more and more of these now, but honestly, wide-leg pants have a shortening effect. And even more so if they are cropped. Sorry! If you love them and still want to wear them, then go for them. Otherwise, stick with narrower pants and sit closer to the body.

Ditto when it comes to skirts. Full skirts make short legs look shorter. You’re much better served in an always-classy pencil skirt.

Don’t Wear Cuffed Pants

Cuffed Pants create a horizontal line across your leg which makes your legs appear shorter, and we don’t want that!

Tuck in Your Shirt

This goes with Tip #2, but really, no matter what waistband you wear, tuck your shirt in to maximize what you’ve got from the waist down. Cropped styles work too.

Keep Jackets Short

Continuing on the theme of keeping things short on top, look for jackets that are shorter rather than longer. When you keep your top half short, your bottom half looks longer by comparison. Luckily there are many cute cropped jackets to choose from these days.

Use Stripes Strategically

Some women have a complicated relationship with stripes, but if they are your thing, it’s a tried-and-true rule that horizontal stripes broaden (and shorten) and vertical stripes lengthen and add more height. For maximum impact, wear pants or a skirt with vertical stripes, but keep your top solid.

Embrace Monochromatic Dressing

Wearing a single color from head to toe creates a long, slimming column of color, making you appear taller. And while we’re on the topic, monochromatic doesn’t mean black. Brown, navy, grey, burgundy, and white, or whatever else tickles your fancy will work.

Wear the Perfect Shoes

    • Skin-tone shoes make your legs look like they go on forever. And ever.
    • Wear heels. Block heels are popular now, and not only do they look great, but they’re also forgiving to middle-aged feet.
    • Wear shoes with a pointed toes.
    • Avoid ankle straps. Not only do they visually ‘cut’ your legs at the ankle, making them appear shorter if you also have heavy calves or ankles, but they’ll also only add heft, where it’s not welcome.
    • Match your shoe color to your pants.

There you have it. Any other tips you’d care to share

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