How To Dress For Your Body Type Short Guy
Being a short guy can be tough. Trouser legs always need altering, shirt sleeves are often inches too long, and the typical winter scarf wrapped snugly around the neck tends to look more like a python constricting its prey than a luxury item to keep oneself warm.
But some of the most well-dressed, best-looking men were, and are, short: think James Dean, Marlon Brando, Nick Wooster, and Daniel Craig. And then there are those feel-good sayings “Good things come in small packages” et cetera, that have done a good job and making short people feel ‘tall’.
However, the model heights of the fashion world make it hard for the short guy to ‘reach’ his full potential in the style stakes. So, we’re here to give you a much need leg-up. How To Dress For Your Body Type Short Guy
RELATED: The Definitive Guide To Men’s Suit Fit
How To Dress For Your Body Type Short Guy
Here are the top short-man style secrets and how to dress to look taller.
Breaking It Down
The golden rule for shorter guy dressing is to take attention away from your small stature. This means, minimizing unnecessary details and hang-ups on your outfit and creating an overall stylish look. Think streamline; limiting pockets on coats and shirts and big accessories, like watches and ties. That way an onlooker can scan your body from top to bottom, and not get caught on a ‘busy’ detail or something that ‘cuts’ your look in half. Let’s take a like at five key tricks to dressing as the shorter guy.
In the vein of toning down visual busyness, a monochromatic or loosely tonal color scheme assists in creating a streamlined look. Bold color-blocking is not an option for the shorter guy, as it literally cuts your body in two – accentuating either your stumpy legs or short torso (or both). Dark tones (navy, black, charcoal) are even better when thinking ‘monochrome’, adding to the appearance of blended height as the dark hues run up from your shoe to your collar.
When wearing color or two-tone, the shorter guy needs to keep the color and light shades up top. In maintaining a vertical line – from toe to head – mix light and bright shirts with black or navy bottoms. We like navy with white and dark grey with red. And experiment with colors – but in darker hues – like marsala, plum, mustard, and olive.
Accessories are your chance to splash color on a duller-hued look (think pocket square and necktie but avoid long scarves). Finally, matching your trouser color with the color of your shoe is a visual trick; it blends the two together – preventing your legs from looking cut off, and therefore, they look longer.
RELATED: What Color Shoes to Wear With Suit
Vertical Lines & Textures
Typically associated with ‘slimming’ for the larger gent, vertical stripes are the shorter guy’s print, too. Unlike horizontal stripes, which ‘flatten’ or widen the torso, patterns that run vertically make you seem taller because the eye wants to follow the lines – from the waist to the shoulder line. Keep the stripes narrow, like a pins-width for suits, or slightly more candy-striped for casual shirts and pants.
Corduroy, a cloth with textural lines in vertical streams, offers the same effect. So too do herringbone weaves and tweed. Overall, the fabrics that you choose should be flatter, less densely woven options, going for mohair wool, cashmere, cotton, and linen. Denim is another great option, especially for jackets and shirts.
Adjust The Shirt
The shirt length calls for a touch of sartorial rebellion from the shorter guy. Forgot the rules governing the sleeve-length-to-jacket-cuff ratios – you need to look good. The shirt cuff should remain on show under your suit jacket or blazer, like usual but aim for a quarter of an inch cuff-show and no more. This adds to the illusion of your arms being the normal size in proportion to your jacket.
For smart casual shirting (without a blazer or jacket) go for the shirt tucked into slim-fit jeans, chinos, or trousers. This will stop the length of the shirt from falling too far past your waist. Keeping the shirt collar unbuttoned will create a suave, Euro look, and opting for no belt creates additional casualness, as well as visual length to the trousers.
As with all body types, a made-to-measure suit is key for the shorter gent. The length of your jacket needs to cut past the pant line but across the top of the butt. Keep the jacket shoulders sharp and a snug fit, maximizing flatness as the jacket is buttoned-up across the front.
Trousers should work higher on the hips to accentuate the length of the legs. Go without pleats and avoid trouser turn-ups, which destroy the vertical leg break and create a stumpy look.
How To Dress Short Guy Body Type To Look Taller
Everything short men purchase has to be altered. And some thicker fabrics can’t be. But there are ways that you can wear your existing wardrobe to make you look taller.
RELATED: Your Definitive Guide To Men’s Suit Fit
Proportions Of Suit For Short Guy
As a shorter gentleman proportion should always be a goal. The easiest place to explain proportions is in a suit
- Shorter Jackets – take note that shorter jackets for men 5’8” should not suffer in the fit across the shoulders and arm. Jackets usually cover the butt but a shorter jacket will expose the leg more giving the illusion of height.
- Narrower Lapels – lapels that are narrow keep the shoulders from looking wide. A wider-looking shoulder does nothing for adding “height” to a not-so-tall guy. Also, notch lapels instead of peak lapels will slim the chest and shoulders too which gives the appearance of length.
- Slimmer Sleeve Widths – Arms hug the body and act as sightlines up and down a man’s physique. Slimmer sleeves add length to the arms making them appear lean as opposed to short a portly. The leaner and longer the arms appear, the leaner and longer your body will appear.
- Higher Buttons – The positioning of the waist button (button stance) is critical because it will draw the eye upward along the body. Secondarily, a high waist button gives the appearance of a high waist and longer legs. This adds height as well.
- Medium Rise Trouser – The drop of the crotch plays a big part in how long the legs appear. If the drop is too low it will create the illusion of stumpy legs.
What’s also important about proportion is the fit. It should be slim. The garments should accentuate your silhouette and not be bulky. Baggy-fitting clothes give a wide appearance and take away length and height.
RELATED: Suit Styles Details And How To Tell Them Apart
Topcoats that fall to the mid-thigh area help to lengthen the torso and create height.
One thing to pay close attention to is the surrounding pieces. If they are monochromatic or a similar shade it will create a streamlined look with the coat.
It is recommended that you have neutral tones for versatility in both heavyweight and lighter weights.
Wool topcoats are great elements to help achieve this length. The key is to make sure that it doesn’t contrast heavily with the rest of the outfit.
If you can find these patterns knit within the fabric it is also a plus as they give a subtle vertical weave which subconsciously creates more length.
- Herringbone – a zig-zag design that runs vertically
- Cable knits – prominent knit that runs vertically
Bomber, biker, and racer jackets are perfect shorter guy outerwear for their naturally cropped length. Be sure to keep the fit snug, and the metal hardware and pockets minimal. Mac and trench coats are your best ‘long’ coats, compared to military overcoats, which may engulf your frame.
Pay Close Attention To Shirt Fit
The length of your arms is directly related to the perceived height of a person.
So you want to create the illusion of length. As a short guy, your arms are going to be shorter so the cuff of the shirt should be amended as well.
Shirt Cuff Length – Generally, it is recommended that 1/2 to 3/4 inch of shirt cuff should show under your blazer. Because you are a shorter man, as little as a 1/4 inch is ideal. If more than that shows it will make your arms look shorter.
Slim or fitted through the chest – this helps to narrow the torso. Even if you are an athletic-built gentleman, you want to make sure that the shirt that you are wearing narrows your chest for the cleanest fit.
High armholes – higher armholes allow for a slimmer fit with more movement. Again the slimmer fit leans the body out to our eyes.
Short Guy Trouser Fit
Trousers are important in creating length because you wear them on your legs. I know it’s obvious but there are tricks to make your legs look longer thus creating the illusion of height.
Low-rise trousers should be avoided at all costs. When you tuck in your shirt to a pair of low-rise trousers or jeans, your torso looks longer. Your body is cut in half and your legs are shortened. Instead, stick to medium or high-rise pants.
The crotch should never be dropped. Pants that are dropped shorten the legs. Additionally, it looks sloppy when there is a bunch of unnecessary fabric hanging between your legs.
Pant legs – there should be little to no break on trousers. If you prefer to break, it should be a 1/4 break. Trouser break is defined as the amount of fabric that covers the shoe.
When there is a lot of fabric bunched up at the ankle, the leg can look stumpy and short. Other common styles such as stacking, cuffing, and rolling will shorten the legs. Take your trousers to your tailor as it is a simple and inexpensive process to create this look.
Accessory Usage For Short Guy
What isn’t a secret is that accessories can make or break an outfit.
Socks – How you wear your socks can really elongate you. Make sure that your socks are the same color or as close as possible to your trousers.
Be careful with going sockless because it can segment your look. Also, stay away from patterns or bright colors as they aid in fragmentation.
Hats and scarves – These are excellent for adding color, drawing the eyes to your upward and to your face. As shorter guy hats and scarves are arguably the best way to add some pizzazz to your outfit during the fall and winter months.
Another good tip is to play them on your physical features; if have green eyes then a rich, emerald green. A scarf is a great way to draw attention to them.
Belts – keep them slim. It’s best if they are no thicker than 1.5 inches and shouldn’t contrast too heavily with your outfit.
The preference is to go beltless. Belts divide you in two and can shorten you. Thin belts or no belts keep you looking long. Also, suspenders are another option to add to the vertical visual effect and they are extremely classy.
Shoes for shorter men are critical as they can have a lengthening effect. This is achieved when shoes don’t contrast too heavily with trousers. The low contrast will visually elongate the leg.
Keep the contrast with the pant leg low by not having stark opposites in your color palates. When wearing black denim, try to avoid white trainers. Black or charcoal sneakers with black denim are a fantastic option because the colors are in the same palate.
During the warm and hot months, there is a trick you can pull off when wearing shorts. Wearing shoes that match your skin tone as closely as possible will elongate the legs. Tans, beiges, and browns (flesh tones) shorts should sit above the knee which will show more leg. Creating one continuous color line makes it look like one long leg.
The final approach to shoes is to pay attention to the shape and silhouette of the shoe. Remember that the goal is to elongate the leg. As such you should:
- Wear a pointed-toe shoe – rounded or squared-off toes can shorten the foot. Pointed toes visually lengthen the foot and, subsequently, the leg.
- Keep the shoe below the ankle – this applies to wearing shorts. Low-top shoes show more ankles as opposed to high tops or boots that shorten the leg because the rise is past the ankle.
Add Visual Length
This one takes some moxie and creativity. Let yourself play around with collar sizes and narrow lapels. When these elements are worn correctly they will draw attention upwards but simultaneously lengthen the neck and narrow your frame.
Vertical lines – This is the most obvious one to most short men, and for good reason. It does help elongate the body and add the appearance of visual length.
Hats are fantastic for adding some inches to the top of your head. There are dozens of styles, colors, and patterns to choose from that can be the focal point of the outfit. With the eyes pulled upward, the length will have been achieved.
Jackets – look to wear two-button jackets as opposed to three or four-button pieces. Also, the top button should be above the waist which gives the appearance of a higher waistline and longer legs.
The pockets of the jacket should be closely placed together. When they are out wide it makes the torso look wide. Wear accessories that match your eyes and hair. Both are at the top of your body and will draw the eye upward.
Layering is a skill that must be mastered as a shorter gent. To give a slimming effect and to lengthen, you should work the colors inwardly.
When wearing a darker jacket over a light-colored shirt the piece that is lighter will create a more noticeable vertical line. This will help visually extend your upper body.
Add one more layer by wearing a jacket over a vest, which is then layered over a shirt. If the top two pieces are worn properly, the jacket and shirt will shape the narrow V from the vest, adding by default a vertical line contrast.
You could also experiment with a printed shirt in this instance, as it will help create two lines on either side of the center.
What you are trying to achieve is the creation of a vertical line. Remember that vertical patterns are a great method of elongating the body. It also provides great texture to the look which can distract the eye from the lack of height.
How To Dress Short Guy Body Type To Look Taller
Dressing for a short guy’s body isn’t about over-compensating for the fact you aren’t as tall as your colleagues or mates. You’re short, but you’re still a dapper gent. With a few fashion adjustments, the few inches still lacking are then made up by your confidence and assertiveness in a dress.