If you search the Internet for style advice for short men, you'll find at least one article from every popular fashion-related website…
…and about 150+ articles from The Modest Man.
Most of these non-TMM articles contain a lot of the same old tips that you've heard a million times before:
“Wear vertical stripes.”
“Don't wear light colors.”
“Wear shoes with thick soles.”
Here's the thing:
A lot of this advice isn't actually true. Most of these “rules” can be bent, many can be broken, and some should be ignored entirely.
Here are 10 common misconceptions about dressing the shorter body type.
Misconception #1: Horizontal stripes make you look shorter
This is probably the most popular piece of style “advice” for shorter men. You hear it all the time:
“Never wear horizontal stripes. Only wear vertical stripes so you can look taller.”
It's simply not true. The direction of the stripes doesn't matter nearly as much as the size of the stripes. In fact, this goes for all patterns.
It doesn't matter which type of pattern you choose (checks, stripes, dots), as long as they're small in scale.
Think little dots, not big dots. Thin stripes, not thick stripes.
Misconception #2: Shorter men shouldn't cuff their pants
This is another popular bit of wisdom that gets rehashed on sites like GQ and Esquire, but it's misleading.
You can roll or cuff your pants with confidence, as long as you keep two things in mind:
- Make sure the cuff isn't too big
- Make sure your pants are tapered
If the cuff is taller than two inches, it can make you look shorter. If your pants aren't tapered below the knee, cuffing will look a little silly.
Elijah Wood's thick cuffs are distracting. They look to big for his body, which makes him look short.
Mine, on the other hand, are proportionate to my build. Sorry, Elijah. I love your style, but I win this round.
Misconception #3: Short men should never wear double-breasted suits or jackets
Well-fitting clothes let you get away with anything, including wearing double-breasted suits or jackets.
Yes, an ill-fitting DB suit can make you look short and boxy, but that's true for every man, regardless of height.
If you want to wear DB suits, check out this post/video:
Misconception #4: Only insecure men wear elevator shoes
Some people believe that no man should wear height increasing shoes. Many style experts take a strong stance on this, urging short men to avoid “risers” at all cost.
I don't think there's anything inherently wrong with shoes that make you look taller. It's not much different than wearing cologne, whitening your teeth or dying your hair.
These are just different ways to look and feel more attractive, and they're not bad.
Sure, men who are insecure about their height might wear elevator shoes to feel better. But that doesn't mean that every man who wears tall shoes is insecure.
And even if you are self-conscious about your height, that's okay. We're all insecure about something, and it's usually the stuff we can't control.
That's why we dress well – because we CAN control that. If you want to wear elevator shoes, wear them. Don't worry about what anyone else thinks!
Misconception #5: Lighter colors make you look shorter
Okay, there's some truth to this. Wearing dark colors helps eliminate shadows and streamline your figure. But it's really more about the contrast in your outfit, rather than the darkness of the colors.
If you want to avoid looking shorter, you should wear outfits that don't cut you in half visually. In other words, avoid stark horizontal contrast.
Here's a detailed explanation of what I mean:
Misconception #6: Slim fit clothes always look better
Ever see a big guy wearing skinny jeans? It's not flattering. Clothes need to fit your body, and not everyone looks good in slim fit.
For example, if you're short and stout, you don't want to wear clothes that are slim or skinny. They will look and feel restricive.
Jonah Hill looks much better in a fitted-but-not-skinny suit that has a little breathing room in it.
Not to mention that skinny tie, which brings us to the next point…
Misconception #7: Skinny ties are always the best choice
Again, saying that all short men should wear skinny ties is ridiculous. Skinny ties look good on skinny people who wear jackets with slim lapels).
Your lapel width should be loosely dictated by your overall body width, and your tie width should roughly match your lapel width.
Just look at the above picture. Jonah looks much more balanced with wider lapels and a standard width tie.
Misconception #8: Short men should always tuck their shirts in
Yes, many shirts are too long for men under 5'8″ to wear untucked. But the solution isn't to tuck every shirt in, all the time.
That's just not realistic, especially in casual situations. A better solution is to find shirts that are the right length by:
At the very least, you should have a couple of t-shirts, polos and casual button ups that are the perfect length for wearing untucked.
Misconception #9: Short men shouldn't wear short sleeves
Yes, you read that correctly. This is an actual piece of advice from a major menswear publication.
We won't spend too much time on this ridiculous tip, but keep this in mind:
Your short sleeve shirts need to fit well. The sleeves should hit about halfway between your elbow and arm pit, and they should sit closely around your biceps (less than one inch excess fabric on each arm).
If you have short sleeve shirts with sleeves that are too long or wide, take them to the tailor to have the sleeves taken in.
Misconception #10: Wear accessories high up on your body (to draw eyes up)
I've heard this one many times, and my response is always the same…
It's as if wearing a pocket square will trick people into thinking you're six feet tall!
Short men can wear any kind of accessories they want to. Like all men, I think you should limit yourself to 2-3 accessories per outfit, but even this is a loose guideline.
You definitely don't have to consider where the accessories are on your body.
I usually go with a belt, small watch and bracelet. If I'm wearing a suit, I'll ditch the belt and add a tie (and pocket square).
Accessories are a great way to spruce up an otherwise boring outfit (like shorts and a t-shirt), and they allow you to add some personality to your getups.
Have fun with them!
You should take most style tips with a grain of salt, especially when you don't know anything about the person who's dishing it out.
Much of what you read on the internet is overly prescriptive (I'm guilty of this too), so you have to experiment to figure out what works for you.
When it comes to style for short men, feel free to ignore the dumb “rules” you hear on the web.
Except here on The Modest Man, of course 😉
Do you agree/disagree with this list? Leave a comment below!
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