Contrary to popular belief, a short girl CAN wear a long dress. Nicole Richie is a testament to that. I myself am pretty tiny (standing only at 5 ft. and at 90 lbs.), but I have learned a few tricks that have allowed me to wear long dresses without being engulfed by it. All you have to do is follow certain guidelines:
Tip # 1 - Go Solid or Monochromatic
Maxis with solid colors, especially darker ones, will definitely make a short person appear taller for the simple reason that it is slimming (thus elongating) and it offers less distraction to the eyes.
If you’re a plus size petite, dark solid colors are a must. But if you’re small and petite like Nicole Richie, then you can afford to wear light solid colors .
Nicole Richie in a white maxi dress while attending the launch of House of Harlow Jewelry at Kitson, March 7 (2009)
If you want to wear a color block maxi dress, make sure it’s monochromatic, otherwise, try to choose maxi dresses with block orientations that will not cut you in half.
Tip # 2 - Pick a Print Proportionate to Your Size
It’s pretty unavoidable to wear printed maxi dresses because they are quite abundant. Make sure you pick prints that are proportionate to your size. Believe me, it matters. If you’re thin and short, pick maxi dresses that have small prints. Using a dress with large prints will overwhelm your tiny frame.
If you’re medium built and short, you can go for medium sized prints. Now if you’re a plus size and also a petite, just go with medium prints instead of large ones (large prints are most ideal if you’re tall and a plus size). Avoid prints that are horizontally inclined because that will definitely shorten you.
Chaudry Peacock Print Maxi Dress & Von Vonni Printed Long Dress (Both Sold Out)
If you’re going to pick out a striped maxi, go for subtle thin diagonal (45 degree angle) lines that are not as bold. Avoid wearing bold repetitive horizontal or vertical lines. Such will either cut across and make you look shorter or create the illusion that you are wider. Chevron prints CAN be just as bad as well:
RVCA White Moon Tank Dress, $56 (was $69.50) / GoJane Striped Maxi Dress,$36.80 (Both Sold Out)
Don’t get me wrong, vertical lines are good, but only when it’s not bold and repeating. For example, a single vertical line running through the center of a dress can make a person look slimmer and taller.
Tip # 3 Pick the Right Cut
Generally, for petite women, maxi dresses that are cut closer to the body work best. Dresses made out of soft and fluid jersey or silk fabrics cut on the bias are the most ideal. Avoid boxy, balloon, or structured tent like dresses that come in extra stiff materials.
Pick maxis that accentuate the waist (whether it be the empire waist or your true waistline). Empire cut maxi dresses with soft flowy skirts work best in hiding tummy bulges and giving the illusion of longer legs (more height).
If you’re wearing a maxi that is belted on the true waist, make sure you wear heeled strappies with the long dress to make your legs look longer (and you taller).
Tip # 4 Pick the Right Length
Again, contrary to popular belief, floor length dresses will always work best for petite women compared to ankle length ones, NOT the other way around.
Why? Well, once the hem of your dresses touches your ankles, whether or not you’re wearing heels, you will appear shorter because the hem is like a horizontal line cutting across. Do yourself a favor and avoid tea length dresses as well (calf length).
FLOOR LENGTH VS. TEA LENGTH
Tip # 5 Wear the Right Shoes
With the maxi dress already covering more than half of your body, it’s best to keep the feet open and sexy. Some people may tell you it’s okay to wear pumps with maxi dresses, but I don’t agree with that. The best companion of a maxi dress is a pair of heeled strappy sandals. If you want to wear flat ones, go with thong sandals that show a lot of skin:
Tip # 6 Pick Maxi Dresses with Details that Elongate
Vertical lines come in many forms. It can be a deep V neckline, a single vertical line running through a dress, detailing at the center of the dress, or even a long and deep V shaped accessory around your neck; the idea is that a deep V neckline elongates. V-necks are also perfect for plus size or busty petites. One shoulder (asymmetric) necklines are also flattering, since they give the illusion of a slimmer silhouette:
Halter necklines are also elongating. However, busty and plus size petites must stay away from it. Do avoid maxi dresses with contrasting border details on the hem. The borders will only make you look shorter than you already are. Also avoid dresses with horizontal panels:
T-Bags Tie Back Long Dress & Kitty Bohemian Print Maxi Dress
Tip # 7 Use the Right Accessories
As much as possible avoid using belts in contrasting colors because that would be like creating one horizontal line across your body and cutting it in half. Although this does not mean you can’t wear one. If you do want to wear a belt, make sure you wear heeled sandals (to compensate and balance out the loss in height). Also, pick a color that is similar (or almost the same) as the dress.
As long as you follow these simple rules, you’re guaranteed to look maxi stylish for the whole summer. Enjoy dressing up!