Tuesday, April 11, 2006

The Swan Syndrome-Looking Great for the Vertically Challenged

Lots of our readers have asked us for advice on fashions for shorter women. You all have slightly different figures, but the problem is the same--how does a short girl find clothes to flatter her figure in such a tall world of fashion?

Petite readers, I share your pain. I'm short, and tend to look broader from the front than from the side. In addition I have a short neck and a short torso. Never fear! These are all easy hurdles to overcome if you're realistic about what does and does not compliment your unique figure.

Of course I could write reams on this topic. But you all might get bored. So instead I'll give some general hints that have worked for me:

Be realistic. I realize that I say this all the time on this site. However, in my experience I am the happiest with my looks when I wear things that flatter MY figure, not a figure with the circumference of a Japanese Maple. Nothing says fashion faux pas quite like denying one's own figure foibles! You can choose to ignore your own figure's little pitfalls in favor of trendy dressing, but this never turns out well. Usually the foibles are about ten times more obvious to everyone else. You've all seen those types at the mall..."Oh, HONEY...What were you thinking?"
Figure out what looks best on you, and stick to it!

Gain Fresh Perspective.Go shopping when you have plenty of time to spare. Ask the sales people for help, or take a fashionable friend whose opinion you trust. Listen to the opinions of those around you! Often a new set of eyes can lend a fresh approach to your wardrobe.

As I was culling the Internet, looking for ideas, I came across this picture of Kate Winslet at the Oscars last year:

Let's examine what Kate has going for her. She's always been curvy. You can tell from this picture that she has a short waist as well as a short neck, but she doesn't let those attributes stop her from looking truly fabulous. What does she have working for her?

Her hair is on the long side, and when she wears it down, it draws the eye away from her shorter neck. This is NOT to say that short girls can't have short hair. If you have a short neck, however, longer hair can cover the fact that your neck isn't all that long.

Kate has recognized what all smart women eventually recognize: V-necks elongate you. After years of denial, I've finally recognized that V-necks are by far the quickest way to make me look taller. I don't wear them all the time, but I do usually avoid scoop necks. V-necks create a slimming effect. Wrap-around sweaters are also a great idea.

Here are some other tips:

Less is more. Avoid ruffles, as they add unnecessary and unflattering bulk. Avoid cargo pants unless you're quite small and straight. If you have a short torso or short legs, avoid anything with tiers.

Take this dress for example. Everyone is wanting to wear these. They're fresh, bohemian, and look cool for hot summer days. If you're short, should you wear them? Nope. Sorry. The dress has multiple strikes against it: it's too baggy on top, it has multiple horizontal lines (a surefire way to abbreviate and shorten one's look), and it's completely untailored. Which leads me to my next point...

Avoid really long skirts, peasant blouses, and anything that's untailored. I'm not saying you have to encase your bod like a sausage all the time. However, tailored pieces with little to no pockets, ruffles, or extra frills will flatter your form. In addition, you'll save money since classy pieces that are less trend-driven stick around longer.

Stay away from belts. Period. Belts are bad, mmkay? They've been nothing but trouble as far as this short and curvy gal is concerned. Anything that cuts you off in a horizontal line is bad. 'Nuff said.

Did I mention that V-necks elongate? Really ladies. The V-neck is your friend! Wear it! Wear it lots. It does wonders.

Get pants that fit. Pants can be a nightmare. Make sure that they fit you correctly in the rise, on the butt, and around the waist. It's easy to get them hemmed if those three components are correct. Ignore the size tags, just get pants that fit you. Really. Rip the tags out.

Hope these tips help you! Feel free to chime in with any other advice you've found helpful. I love hearing your feedback!