Dress Tall Rule #4: Color Combinations

Do you know what color clothes to wear? Do you know which color combinations work best for men under 5'8″? Read on to become a color matching pro.

The Most A Very Important Aspect of Style

Ben Stiller

Source: WWD.com

One of the easiest ways to upgrade your style is to make sure your clothes fit. If your clothes don't fit, nothing else really matters. The best color combination in the world won't make ill-fitting clothes look good.

But that doesn't mean color isn't important. In fact, it's one of the most important aspects of style (after fit). The color combinations you choose will make or break your entire look.

Colors are especially important for shorter men. The right color combinations will make you look taller, while the wrong ones will make you look shorter.

I used to be clueless when it came to the color of my clothes. I used to wonder:

Should I wear light or dark colors?

Which colors go together best?

Are dark colors better than light ones?

But, through lots of trial and error and tons of mistakes, I learned which colors work best for the shorter body type.

Here's what you need to know about color…

Color Schemes

There two great color schemes for shorter men:

I'm not going to get into the details about what these terms mean. I'm no artist, and it's not that important anyway.

Just know that you should stick to these two schemes whenever possible. Here's why:

Monochromatic and analogous color schemes reduce contrast.

Analogous colors, especially, are naturally pleasing to the eye. Think about landscapes or any natural scenery, like a forest or shoreline. There are many different colors present, but they're similar (i.e. neighbors on the color wheel).

For a real life example, let's look at Mark Wahlberg (5'7″) wearing jeans and a t-shirt:

Mark Wahlberg

Source: DailyMail.co.uk

The above outfit creates a stark contrast between the upper and lower halves of Mark's body. This produces a jarring effect that cuts him in half visually.

Your eye stops at the line between the white shirt and black pants, making Mark's legs look extra short.

On the other hand, look at Wahlberg in a grey shirt and light jeans:

Mark Wahlberg

Source: DailyMail.co.uk

There's very little contrast between his shirt and pants. Your eye moves up and down his figure easily  since there's no reason to stop.

This creates a streamlined look that stretches his figure vertically and hides any imperfections (like short legs or  a shirt that's too long).

Learn From the Pros

You know who has mastered color combinations for short men? Josh Hutcherson (a.k.a. Peeta from Hunger Games):

Josh Hutcherson

Source: Fameflynet Pictures

Josh Hutcherson

Source: Fameflynet Pictures

Josh Hutcherson

Source: Eric Charbonneau / AP

In fact, it's hard to find a photo of Josh not adhering to this guideline. So if you ever need some inspiration or ideas, check out my Josh Hutcherson style board on Pinterest.

Bottom Line

When it comes to choosing the right color combinations for shorter men, try to streamline your figure by avoiding contrast.

The easiest way to do this is to stick with analogous and monochromatic color schemes.

What's your favorite color combination? Leave a comment below!

More ‘Dress Tall' Rules:

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  1. I have the opposite problem on this spectrum, haha. I’ve learned to not buy shirts that hit me right at my waist line as I’m 6’4 and pretty much all leg. Thank god for creating the illusion of a longer torso with an oversized shirt.

  2. Thanks for this Brock! Makes sense!

  3. Nice… yeah as long as you know how to make length/color work to your advantage, you can pretty much correct any imperfections. Pretty cool!

  4. This is one of the rules I usually ignore. If i like a contrasting outfit, I go with it. Honestly, I get the theory but I don’t notice much difference in those pictures of the celeb guy you posted ( don’t know who he is). He looked fine in both.

    I am more concerned with fit, avoiding color clashes, and wearing the right clothes for the season, situation or mood. You can’t always worry about height.

    Good information though. Thanks.

  5. Good info. But i do love yellow trousers and blue top !

  6. One of the rules we like to stick to is having your lighter/lightest color on top to bring the eyes up. This goes for monochromatic, analogous AND contrast. Especially if you must do contrast. Lighter color on top.

    Very honored to have guys we’ve dressed mentioned here.


    Alan Au

    Jimmy Au’s For Men 5’8″ and Under
    9408 Brighton Way
    Beverly Hills, CA 90210

  7. Great post, Brock! I just want to add that a navy suit is the perfect way for the “un-tall” man to dress taller – the lines of a well-fitted, dark suit can make any guy look a foot taller. Navy is a great go-to color that can take a man most of the places he needs to go (from weddings to funerals) – and the navy blazer and dark jeans does the same job for casual occasions, easily giving men the “I didn’t mean to look this awesome” vibe.

    You are right – paying attention to fit and color combinations is so important. Keep up the good work, Brock!

    Annie Kip
    Style Consultant, J. Hilburn Men’s Custom Clothiers
    Boston, MA

  8. Diamondflame says:

    Dressing well is more than just dressing ‘tall’. It’s a matter of proportions and certain color combinations are more pleasing than the limited monochromatic look. Trying to look taller than you actually are underlines a sense of insecurity or inferiority that is not particularly attractive. Why don’t we just embrace our lack of height and be more confident in our sense of style?

    • DIAMONDFLAME, I largely agree which is why i said I usually ignore this rule. On the other hand, the style strategy for anyone is to bring yourself into balance. This goes for tall men, wide, skinny, what have you.

      I see these rules as tools. Tools we can use or ignore as the situation demands.

      The insecurity thing is right on. I have never had bad feelings about my height and in fact never dreamed i was at a “disadvantage” until late in high school when i read something by a psychologist explaining the whole height issue. I thought it was an April Fools joke article. Still, bringing yourself into balance should be the goal, without being insecure (and definitely without those awful elevator shoes!).

  9. If you’re height challenged and have a high contrast complexion, this rule has to be tweaked a bit.

    A contrast should be focused above the shoulders like a contrast collar and away from the midsection.

    BD Wong in the upcoming film, Focus, is purposely dressed this way in the trailer.

  10. Malaquias says:

    I usually stick to monochromatic colors because I went through a blue phase and that’s mostly what I have. Great article! You should do an article on men who are incredibly short and can wear children’s clothing.

  11. In spite of the great advise in this article, and the wonderful advice in the post from Annie Kip, there are still some things to be aware of when it comes to choosing colors. As a photographer, I can tell you that interactions between color tones and skin tones warrant some consideration. In my days shooting fashion, I’ve had models virtually wash out when tonal ranges in wardrobe and skin have been too close. The term ‘monochromatic’ means different things to different folks, but remember that a little bit of contrast can go along way in getting good color choices to become habits.

    • I think I get what you are saying. I am blondish haired, blue eyed, light skinned and am often told by experts that i should wear light, low contrast clothing. I have never agreed with that and found that such colors wash me out. Medium to dark colors often work well for me, with some light colors thrown in. Now for a short black person, I imagine wearing dark colors might cause the visual problems you are speaking of.

  12. I thought you were against horizontal lines…(Josh Hutcherson 2nd pic)?

    • Nothing inherently wrong with horizontal lines. But, as with any pattern, keep it small scale. Thick horizontal lines won’t look good. That shirt Josh is wearing looks good because the lines are thin and close together.

  13. I loved looking at your pinterest. Please add more!

  14. This is very useful Brock.
    Thanks anyway..I would like if you can make a post on office wear for a short man also..It will be very useful for us..


  15. I’m 5.7 foot tall with fair colour with brown eyes and black hair . suggest me the best combination of clothing for my college fest

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