These 10 techniques will help you dress in a way that makes you look as tall and lean as possible.
While your clothes can’t actually make you go from 5’6” to 6’2”, they can definitely make you look slightly taller and leaner than you really are.
On the flip side, the wrong clothes will make anyone look shorter and even fatter than they really are.
In this guide, I’m going to run through 10 extremely simple tips you can use to make sure your clothes are working for you, and not against you.
What’s wrong with being short?
I want to remind you that there’s nothing wrong with being short. No one chooses their height. No one earns their height.
Much of how we look is determined by the genetic hand we were dealt, and it’s really important to accept yourself and find ways to feel confident that have nothing to do with your physical appearance.
In bare feet, I’m just under 5’6”. As a younger guy, this was a huge source of insecurity for me. But as I’ve gotten older and focused on self-improvement and acceptance, I’ve come to be proud of who I am, and that includes my body.
Also, style doesn’t have to be about maximing your perceived physique. If you just want to use fashion to express your creativity or personality, go for it.
Maybe you feel awesome in oversized, slouchy fits. That’s great…wear them and don’t worry about how tall your outfits make you look.
For me, I feel best wearing clothes that enhance my physique, and to be honest, I’ve gotten pretty good at it.
So without further adieu, here are 10 tips to dress taller and leaner…
Tip #1: Wear clothes that fit
You’ve heard it before, and hopefully you’re already making this a priority.
But just in case you’re not convinced about the power of fit, just look at these two pictures of me wearing a suit.
The suit that doesn’t fit makes me look shorter and heavier than I really am. I look like a kid playing dress up!
But the suit that does fit makes me look thin and elongates my figure, making me look taller. I look way more mature and professional too.
If you want to look taller, trim the fat out of your outfits. I’m not saying you have to wear skinny fit clothes, but slim, tailored pieces will be more flattering than straight cuts or relaxed fits.
If you don’t want to buy new clothes, I highly recommend finding a tailor and letting them alter your clothes for a better fit. I get most of my clothes tailored, and I can tell you that it’s totally worth the time and money.
Fit is especially crucial for formal clothing like suits. So if you have clothes that don’t fit, the first step is to find a good tailor.
Tip #2: Wear solid, dark colors
You’ve probably heard that the color black is “slimming” and that people who want to look thinner should wear dark colors.
But did you know that darker clothing also makes you look taller? It’s true. Here’s why:
Dark colors eliminate shadows.
Minor imperfections like shadows and wrinkles are super noticeable in lighter-colored materials.
On darker fabrics, these shadows blend in with the fabric and become virtually invisible.
The net result of this is a clean, streamlined silhouette of your body.
Plus, dark colors eliminate contrast.
Our eyes are really good at seeing shapes. Shapes are created by contrast. It’s all about how you look against your background.
While lighter colors reflect light and pop out from the background, dark colors absorb light and recede into the background.
Just look at this image – which line looks thicker?
They’re actually the same size, but dark colors are slimming.
I’m not saying you have to wear all black. I really like color combinations that use navy, dark grey, burgundy, brown and dark green.
Tip #3: Make sure your accessories are proportionate
Ever see a guy with super thin wrists and really small hands wearing a huge watch with a 45mm case and oversized, chunky strap?
It makes his wrist and hands look tiny and your wrist look thin, so you want to make sure your accessories are proportionate to your build.
If you’re a smaller, thin guy, you should wear small, thin accessories.
In the same way, if you have huge forearms and hands, you should wear a bigger watch that doesn’t look unnaturally tiny on your wrist (although even bigger guys can get away with wearing smaller watches).
It’s not just watches. It’s all accessories. For example, think about neck ties. If you’re a small guy, you don’t want to wear a wide tie and use a full Windsor knot.
Instead, go with a slim tie and a four in hand knot, and make sure you ties don’t go past your waistline to avoid looking even shorter.
If you have a narrow face, many “one size fits all” sunglasses will be too wide, making your face look even narrower.
Stocky guys shouldn’t wear skinny ties, but skinny guys totally can.
Petite women will look better with dainty jewelry than oversizes jewelry, while larger women can wear bulkier jewelry very easily.
I think you get the point: when it comes to accessorizing, it’s all about keeping things in proportion with your body.
Tip #4: Don’t cut yourself in half
I don’t mean this literally…although, you shouldn’t do that either. I’m talking about contrast – specifically contrast between the top and bottom halves of your body.
You want to avoid stark contrast between your torso and legs. For example, wearing a white shirt with black pants.
Instead, try to minimize contrast by wearing colors are more closely related. Here are a few more examples of low contrast color combos you can try out:
Celebrities use this trick all the time to look taller on the red carpet. Assuming your clothes fit, this is probably the best way to maximize your height, or at the very least, avoid looking shorter.
Tip #5: Wear small scale patterns
In the same way that size matters with accessories, it matters with patterns.
You’ve probably heard people say that short men shouldn’t wear horizontal stripes be cause they’ll make you look shorter, and that vertical stripes make people look taller.
Well, this isn’t accurate. It’s not about the type of pattern, it’s about the size and scale of the pattern.
Regardless of what kind of pattern you like – gingham, checks, vertical stripes, horizontal stripes, polka dots – it’s a good idea to wear small scale patterns.
Why? Because large patterns will make you look smaller. Even thick vertical stripes are a bad idea for the shorter, smaller man.
Tip #6: Avoid low rise pants
Pants rise is one of those things that varies widely based on what’s trendy, but regardless of trends, shorter men should almost always avoid wearing low rise pants that sit down on their hips.
Why? Because it makes your legs look shorter.
Here’s the thing: everyone has a different leg to torso ratio. But regardless of where your actual waistline is, your perceived waistline is determined by your clothes.
So if you wear pants down on your hips, it lowers your perceived waistline (even you have really long legs compared to the average person).
In most western societies, long legs are attractive. They’re a sign of fitness, beauty and athleticism, which is why high rise jeans and shorts are insanely popular in women’s fashion right now. They give you a smaller waist and longer legs. It’s a win-win!
So if you want your legs to look longer, you just have to wear pants higher up on your waist.
Tip #7: Tuck your shirt in
This tip is especially powerful when combined with the last one.
I think medium or eve high rise pants with a tucked in shirt is one of the most flattering outfits a shorter person can wear. It just looks good, and it’s super comfortable.
Tucking in your shirt also fixes the problem of many off the rack shirts being too long for shorter guys. Yes, you can have shirts shortened at the tailor, but if you need a quick fix, just tuck it in.
Make sure to get a nice clean tuck by pinching the excess fabric in the back and folding it over.
With button up shirts, you can always use shirt stays to keep your shirt tucked in throughout the day.
Tip #8: Wear no break pants
When it comes to pants length, you have a lot of options, from full break to cropped.
I believe shorter people look best wearing pants with slight break or no break. The cropped look is also nice, especially with cuffed chinos.
If your pants are too long, and they’re stacking up on top of your shoes, it makes you look shorter, as if you’re wearing hand-me-downs or couldn’t find a pair of pants that’s short enough for your build.
But when your pants sit right on top of your shoes or even a little above, it has the exact opposite effect. It’s as if your legs are just so long, your pants are *almost* too short.
Keep in mind, this does not work as well with pants that have wider leg openings, so go with a nice tapered leg instead (this is easy to fix at the tailor, by the way!).
Tip #9: Avoid bulky outerwear
When it comes to freezing cold weather, you have to prioritize function over form. Sometimes an oversize, bulky parka is totally necessary, and that’s fine!
But in general, bulky outerwear will make you look a bit shorter.
That’s why I prefer layering up and wearing warm base layers (like insulated long underwear and thick wool socks).
I also like thin down jackets as opposed to the really puffers that make you look like the Michelin man, and wool topcoats, which can be just as warm as a casual winter coat.
If I do wear a parka, I make sure it’s slim fit and not too long. Mid-thigh is a great length for shorter men and women.
And of course, just adding a scarf, hat and gloves will go a long way to keep you warm.
Tip #10: Wear boots
I don’t ever recommend wearing elevator shoes or heightening inserts. These are ugly and bad for your posture.
But many boots come with a 1″ to 1.5” heel built right in. Of all the tips on this list, this is the only one that will actually make you taller.
Compared to a flat sole sneaker with minimal heel-to-toe drop, a sturdy work boot or even a dressy Chelsea boot will give you a nice little height boot without sacrificing comfort.
Obviously, women have more choices here since women’s shoe come with all different heel heights, from flat to six inch to platform.
Men don’t really have those options, but we can still wear boots pretty much all year round (except with shorts).
So when in doubt, go with your boots instead of your
I hope these 5 tips gave you some idea for getting the most out of your clothing, so you can look like the lean, handsome man you really are.
And remember, my friend, it’s not about trying to be someone else.
There is NOTHING wrong with being short, and anyone who says there is, is obviously very immature and insecure about their own self-worth.
Try to be comfortable in your body. And if you’re a younger man, don’t worry about your height. Worrying is just a waste of time and energy. So focus instead on what you can control, like how you dress.
Thoughts? Questions? Leave a comment below!