Dressing Taller: 10 Tips for Short Men

by Antonio on June 7, 2011 · 63 comments

in Dress & Grooming, Gillette, Style

Short men have always had a tougher row to hoe than their taller fellows. It can be frustrating to be picked last for the pick-up basketball game, to feel like you’re overlooked when walking into a party, and to struggle to see your favorite band at a concert.

And then there are those studies that say that tall men are perceived as more powerful and better leaders, are more desirable to women, and make more money (almost $1,000 more for every inch of height).

But short men shouldn’t despair. The news isn’t all bad.

First, while height may give men a leg up in the race for success (US presidents have been on average 4 inches taller than the general male population), there are always exceptions to the rule. Andrew Carnegie (5’0”)! Martin Luther King Jr. (5’7”)! Harry Houdini (5’5”)! TE Lawrence (5’6”)! Robert Reich (4’10’)! And have you seen Dennis Kucinich’s wife?

And second, while there isn’t much you can do, short of gruesomely lengthening your bones, to physically increase your height, there are ways to appear taller.  Key in this is the way you dress and present yourself, and today we’ll share ten tips on how you can use style to enhance your stature, and perhaps more importantly, your confidence.

The  Guiding Rule – Always Streamline Your Look

Looking taller is all about getting viewers’ eyes to travel smoothly up your body. It’s pure illusion: the more their eyes have to sweep upward, the taller their brains will register whatever they’re looking at as being.

That means that a shorter man wants to ease and encourage the viewer’s eyes upward towards his face. Visual clutter–such as eye-grabbing stuff on the body–breaks up the impression of height. That means staying away from obvious accessories like big, chunky watches, but it also means keeping an eye out for things as simple as the pockets on your suits and shirts. Something as simple as a pocket flap instead of an unadorned slit pocket can clutter up your appearance and lessen the impression of height.

10 Tips on Dressing Taller

FYI – I put these ten tips in orders of practicality and cost.  I realize some of these are beyond some men’s resources or not options worth considering–but I lay them out there so that you can make that decision yourself.

1. Monochromatic Color Themes

Along the same lines as minimizing visual clutter, removing contrasting color from your appearance helps streamline the way you look. Keeping all your clothes within a fairly consistent color theme, especially a dark one, will create an illusion of height. Different color shades are fine–just try to keep it loosely monochrome.

When you do wear different colors or different shades of the same color, try to weight the darker colors toward the bottom half of your body. That way people’s attention starts down near your feet and travels upward. Dark trousers with a lighter shirt create a lengthening effect; a darker shirt with lighter pants shortens your appearance.

2. Wear Vertically-Oriented Patterns

Most people have heard that vertical stripes are “slimming” and horizontal stripes are “widening.” That’s just a simplification of the same visual effect we’ve already been talking about: where people’s eyes go when they look at you. Patterns that run horizontally make you seem wider because the eye wants to follow them naturally out to the sides of your body.

Unbroken vertical stripes are one of the best ways to add an impression of height without seeming to try for it.   Dress shirts that increase the perception of height ideally have striping that is narrow enough to not create broad empty spaces of monochrome but wide enough to be visible at a glance. The equal-width alternation of white and colored stripes–often called candystriping–is a good choice.

Textured cloth with a visible up-and-down pattern has the same effect as any other vertical striping, so corduroy or very narrow herringbone weaves are also worth working into the wardrobe. Other than those very definitively vertical textures, however, stick to smoother fabrics where possible — rough textures add the visual clutter you want to avoid.



3. Wear Close Fitting Clothing

A loose fit on a short man actually emphasizes his petite frame–it makes him look sloppy, and it signals that he’s too small to find clothing that fits him right. Don’t let your own clothing send this message to the world.

When shopping for menswear, pay close attention to where your clothing sits on your body when you try it on. Most men are used to wearing clothing that is 1 to 2 sizes too large on them, and smaller men who have never given it much attention are some of the worst offenders.

Steer clear of jackets that hang loose in the armpits, even if the sleeves are short enough for your arms, and avoid any trousers with a lot of slack cloth in the crotch. Trust me, this doesn’t make you look more endowed. Instead, that sort of bagginess leads straight to the stereotypical “kid in his father’s suit” look.

Remember that most menswear is deliberately cut loose to accommodate as many body types as possible. Clothing marked small isn’t made for one type of small; it’s often made to try to accommodate shorter men who are anything from stout to round to thin. And the results are rarely flattering.

Savvy short shoppers often find a brand, oftentimes from a particular designer, that consistently suits them. They do this because designer clothing is often built for a narrower variety of body types, and as a result accommodates those limited builds better than the one size made to fit all variety. Designer clothes generally cost a bit more, but carefully watching sales and knowing when and where to shop for your particular size can lead to savings that make buying higher end clothing affordable.

Finally, have a trusted tailor who you can take your clothing to. Ensure he has an understanding of proportion and the needs of your body type, and you’ll find the adjustments he makes can transform your look more than any of the other tips in this article. It’s relatively inexpensive to have sleeves or cuffs shortened; more complicated work like having your trousers slimmed or jacket torso tightened isn’t too expensive either. Having a jacket shortened, or adjusting shoulders on a shirt is often limited by proportion–but again these small adjustments will transform your look from dopey to dashing.

short man dressing taller image

4. Smaller Proportions

Be aware that as a smaller man you won’t always want the exact same proportions in your clothes as other men. For example, it’s traditional to wear a sport coat or suit cut so that a half-inch or so of shirt cuff shows beyond the end of the sleeve. A shorter man, however, wants to pair shirts and jackets so that there’s less of a broad band–as little as a quarter-inch. A sliver of cloth color down around the wrists will look more proportional on shorter arms than ¾ of an inch.

The parts of your clothing that fold over one another contribute a lot to your visual effect. On your upper body, that usually means the shirt collar and the jacket lapel, if a jacket is worn. Try to keep both of those on the narrower side–though be cautious with lapels; jackets with very broad or very wide lapels run the risk of looking dated, depending on when that particular extreme was in fashion.

Collars with shorter points that aim downward help as well. Stay away from anything with an extreme spread (more than 120 degrees) or longer collar points (2.5+ inches), especially when the collar points are angled dramatically outward.

Your necktie should be on the slimmer side as well, particularly if you have a smaller torso; if your torso is very broad, a narrow tie may start to look undersized. However, this is a better problem than overemphasizing the latter.

It may seem like splitting hairs to recommend narrower collar spreads, shorter trouser cuffs (or no cuffs at all), 2 or 1 button jackets, thinner lapels, and pockets closer together on a jacket. But when you start combining all the usual elements of a piece of clothing in smaller proportions, the effects add up. A small difference here, a small improvement there–next thing you know you have a significantly improved look.

Most of these details are things that different companies do in their own style–you don’t need lots of expensive tailoring, just the patience to figure out which brands have the smaller, more vertically-tilted details that work best for you.

5. Wear Attention Grabbing Details Up High

You can keep attention moving up from your feet toward your head by weighting the brightest details at the top of your body. A pocket square or a brightly-colored tie help guide the eye’s motion upward. Just be careful of adding too much clutter all at once. A bright lapel pin on its own is helpful–worn at the same time as a patterned tie and a pocket square, it edges into the distracting category. More casual outfits can utilize details such as epaulets on a shirt’s shoulders or a contrast inner collar on a dress shirt.

Resist the temptation to add a few inches with a hat unless you regularly wear one–if not worn naturally or with confidence it can backfire on the wearer. Some even argue that the visual effect is actually shortening–a hat puts a “lid” on your body and stops the viewer’s gaze dead. I have seen it work both ways. Again, this is an attention-getting detail that takes confidence, practice, and the knowledge of which hat compliments you.

Always keep it simple, vertically-oriented, and limited to one or two extras at most.

6. Wear the Right Clothing

Wear a Jacket – Wearing a sport jacket or suit jacket builds up the shoulders–taller and more pronounced shoulders emphasize height. Use this to your advantage every chance you can and match the jacket with either trousers of the same fabric (suit) or trousers of a similar shade (sport jacket).  Again–know how to buy the right type of suit for maximizing height by following the guidelines in this article.

Trousers at the Waist – Shorter men benefit from a longer leg line, and you get a longer trouser leg by wearing the waistband higher. Wear your pants at the natural waist rather than down on the hips which only makes your legs look stubby. Trousers at the natural waist don’t need a belt cinched tight the way that they do on the hips, which helps your middle from looking distractingly pinched. For the best effect, wear trousers without belt loops and use suspenders.

Avoid Shorts and Short-Sleeved Shirts – Short men are short because their limbs are smaller than those of their tall counterparts. Wearing clothing that draws attention to your limbs, especially if you’re big or built, makes you look shorter because your limbs are proportionally more compact. Although not always practical–especially in the summer–a man on the short side should consider linen trousers and lightweight long sleeve shirts he can roll up on the forearm. A classier look that helps create a streamlined appearance.

7. Physically Add Height

Playing around with patterns and collar sizes and details are all good ways to make a combined impression of extra height. But what if you actually want to add real height?

It’s doable. But remember to do this in moderation. Some short men find it useful to wear a heeled shoe, and there are definitely styles that look fine with a half-inch or so of heel on them, but know what you’re buying. Manufacturers that advertise specifically as “for short men” are often slapping chunky heels on styles meant to be worn with a more moderate heel, and the result is eye-catching and tacky. Stick to black pumps for a formal look or heeled boots in more casual situations. And always avoid athletic shoes or regular dress shoes that come with an exaggerated heel–you’ll just end up tripping.

Heel inserts are a matter of personal preference. They add height but can be uncomfortable, and it can be embarrassing to have to take your shoes off in public if you have inserts. Definitely don’t wear them with an already thick-heeled shoe–you’ll end up tilted forward like a woman in high heels.


8. Shop Internationally

Mass manufactured clothing is made for specific regions based off taste and average target customer size. As such, American clothing is big; however, there are regions outside the ole USA that make clothing for a smaller demographic. Think Japan & Italy–two countries where style is at the forefront and clothing is manufactured for a man who is much smaller than the average American frame.

The internet has made it possible to get clothing from overseas without a trip yourself–the downside is that international shipping isn’t always cheap and many of the best online stores in Italy or Japan do not have an English storefront. Google translate helps–but it doesn’t translate size, especially when you’re trying to figure out what equals what–inches to centimeters, and then you have to account for brand variation! If you go this route, try to work with a merchant with excellent customer service or a website that gives you exact measurements of the garment you’ll be sent. Start slowly, ensure you get the fit right, and then buy in bulk to save on the shipping!

Ideally though, you’d be able to travel to the country and find the deals yourself, getting a closet full of great clothes and a memorable experience.

9. Visit the Young Man’s Department

There is great clothing to be found in the “Youth” section of American stores. Some styles obviously won’t work on an adult, but there’s a good number of clothing manufacturers who make scaled-down versions of perfectly presentable adult outfits.

The biggest challenge of the Youth/Boys department may turn out to be fit in the chest and stomach. Most adult men wearing youth sizes need an XL or a L, which have recently started to be made looser and looser. “XL” for a child carries an expectation of weight as well as height, which wasn’t as true ten or fifteen years ago–you may need to seek out long-established and more old-fashioned manufacturers to find youth-sized clothing that’s long enough for a short adult and also not cut for a very heavyset kid.

An added bonus is that these clothes are oftentimes value priced. If you’re small enough to fit clothing marketed for children and young adults, it’s worth the minor hit to the pride to browse the children’s section of a few high-quality clothing or department stores.

10. Go Custom or Buy from a Specialty Store

Seeking out a custom men’s clothier or short clothing specialist who can help optimize your look is an option many men take. They realize a second set of eyes and years of experience dealing with hundreds of men with similar problems gives a clothier expert status; the best study their craft and can build entire wardrobes for their clients that not only make them look taller but are interchangeable and functional for maximum wear.

Finally, keep your look natural.  By this I mean you have to be comfortable in your clothing – wear IT, don’t let it wear YOU.  There are a lot of tips in this post…DO NOT implement all of them into a single outfit. Instead pick a few and apply them in moderation over the next few months. Keep the ones that work, discard the tips that don’t.

And remember that being a sharp dressed man is all about confidence. Know who you are and have fun expressing that individuality with your personal style.

VIDEO: 10 Style Tips for Short Men

I’m going to try putting videos in some of my posts for those of you who prefer to have somebody talk you through it.

{ 63 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jay June 7, 2011 at 1:33 pm

Good call on number 8. I’m only a tad on the short side (5’7″) but I do have a slight/athletic frame. It’s pretty much hell having to find decent pants/shirts to fit me properly — and let’s be honest, like you said, adult American males tend to be generous in the midsection.

Everything in department stores is literally L to 3XL, and sometimes a M is thrown into the mix normal men’s sizes I look like a 5 year old that got into his dad’s closet. I know that H&M has tighter-fit clothing but if you don’t catch them during a sale it can get pricey.

2 hidflect June 7, 2011 at 1:39 pm

Sensitive topic, well handled. I’m tall myself and the only people I’ve really noticed as being “short” are the ones who’ve had their complex on display. Otherwise it’s not as big a deal as many imagine. Anyway, tall people die younger. It’s having to pump all that blood an extra foot higher that kills us. That’s one reason the Japanese live so long. Not very tall. And again, I’ve heard a lot of the soldiers in the British SAS are below average height. Tall people can’t carry a 90 pound backpack for 10+ miles too easy…

3 Dawson June 7, 2011 at 2:15 pm

Great tips, good stuff. One thing to add- watch your proportions:

The most common thing I’ve found that draws attention to my height (I’m 5′ 2″) is “mis-placed” pieces on my clothing, especially breast pockets. If at all possible, avoid shirts with breast pockets as they’ll almost certainly be too low on your chest unless you get them tailored. Also, asymmetrical patterns or graphic tees can have this problem (though you can find ones that suit, just be careful).

Just keep an eye out for these things, if they are sitting in the wrong place on your body your clothing will look ill-fitting (it’s what gives you that “kid in his dad’s clothes” look).

4 Adam June 7, 2011 at 2:23 pm

At 5’6, 135 lb, I have purchased most of my work wardrobe at Express. They have sizes of button-down shirts and trousers that fit short, lean, and mean guys very well.

I have often considered shopping in the Young Men’s department at Macy’s and Nordstrom, but have not yet mustered the courage to do so.

5 Tony June 7, 2011 at 3:03 pm

definitely great tips. as a short guy among other short guys (i’m 5′…with my doc martens on. and insoles), finding anything in the mens department that fits is rare. (when it fits in the waist, the rise is too long…etc) and the boys department is rough sometimes too. especially when it comes to nice pants, since it seems like all boys dress pants manufacturers are addicted to pleats.

6 Bob Iger June 7, 2011 at 3:14 pm

I wonder, as a 5ft 8in person, if a fitting bowtie would help add to my appearance or only would make me look shorter?

7 Brian E June 7, 2011 at 3:29 pm

At only 5’3″, I spent most of my youth trying to appear taller. While all of these visual tricks are well-intentioned and can help in some circumstances, they’re not going to fool anyone if they’re standing right in front of you, or from a far if you’re standing around average height people. Proportion is very important, as well as staying fit, but please don’t limit your clothing selections to only the things that you think will make you look taller. Life is too short…pun fully intended.

8 Chris Harrison June 7, 2011 at 3:30 pm

Is there, or will there be, an opposite article? I’m 6’6″, my brother is 6’8″ – what can we do to look less like mutants, other than sit down?

Dawson – those same tips about placement go for us on the other end of the scale too, especially for things with graphics on; if the graphic isn’t scaled it either takes over the smaller person’s shirt, or disappears on the larger one. I’ve also had shirt pockets WAY high on my chest, or that look like a postage stamp (because the manufacturer uses the same piece of cloth for the pocket regardless of shirt size, and the same measurement down from the top seam for placement).

9 ced June 7, 2011 at 3:36 pm

ok so i am 5’7 on the heavy side around 250 i dont wear “dressier clothes” ie ties and jackets more jeans and shorts because i wear a uniform for work. what can i do

10 Steve June 7, 2011 at 3:48 pm

Brilliant article and video, Antonio.

This is all absolutely rock solid advice for us shorter guys, at 5’6, I’ve really become aware of making sure my clothes fit well over the years and it’s made a huge difference as to how I and others percieve me.

I’ve also used a lot of the other tips you’ve mentioned here, but it’s great have it all in one place and for those who may not be aware of them.

Once again, great article.

11 TheHungryToothpick June 7, 2011 at 3:49 pm

I’m on the same page as Chris… at 6’4″, I usually am looking for ways to apear a little shorter. Do you have any tips for tall guys as far as finding clothes?

12 Jake June 7, 2011 at 3:53 pm

Great article.

I don’t think these tips are meant to “fool” anyone. Every man regardless of size should know how to dress in a way that emphasizes his best parts and minimizes his less than ideal features. It’s all about knowing how to dress and look the best that you personally can.

13 pjh139 June 7, 2011 at 3:57 pm

FYI guys: 5 foot 7 or 8 inches is considered “normal” or average height for a man. At 6 foot I am ‘tall’. And it is all in what you put in it. One of the toughest guys I knew was a Marine who was about 5′ 4″ and he frankly didn’t care if you thought he was short. He could still kick your butt. It’s all in the attitude not the altitude.

14 Eric Myers June 7, 2011 at 3:59 pm

Thanks for throwing a bone to us guys down here (5’3″). I suggest checking out http://shortshrifted.com/ a great blog with tons of helpful links to to guys under the fashion radar. Getting custom tailored clothing is usually the best (and sometimes most expensive) option, but plenty reasonable deals are available online if you do a bit of homework.
I like to think of these as tips to make you look good, not taller. My wife is 7 inches taller than me, there’s no way in hell I will look “taller”…but I can look good.

15 Dylan June 7, 2011 at 4:48 pm

Don’t forgot Ronnie James Dio!

16 Antonio Centeno June 7, 2011 at 4:58 pm

Gentlemen – thanks for the positive feedback. It is appreciated.

As for the tall man tips, I’ll be writing another article for AOM this late summer/fall and will address it then. In the mean time check out my blog Real Men Real Style as I know I’ve written about 3-4 articles on this already.

Again – thanks for the kind words.



17 Jay June 7, 2011 at 7:45 pm

*Everything in department stores is literally L to 3XL, and sometimes a M is thrown into the mix. If I wear normal men’s sizes I look like a 5 year old that got into his dad’s closet.

Don’t know how I messed that comment up so badly.

18 Lee June 7, 2011 at 10:13 pm

I’m sorry, I completely disagree with most of this article. Optical illusions are great and all, but when push comes to shove, we cannot increase our height. Once the shorter man is standing next to something of known height, any illusion is quickly dispelled.

But before I dissect the article, I do agree with some points. I agree with the vertical stripes, well fitted clothing, and most of the fashion advice. However, I agree with those points because every man looks better wearing those items. The parts about what to avoid are spot on. Horizontal stripes call attention to height. Loosely fitted clothes just look bad. But it doesn’t mean it makes you look taller. 8, 9, & 10 are good advice regarding where to buy clothes. Its hard to find clothes that fit in the US. I always have to pay extra for it. Author did leave out the option of tailoring clothes. If you already have the clothing, paying a little to tailor it to make it fit is a cost effective way of changing your style.

Wearing the higher heeled shoes works of course, but at the expense of your feet. Plus, its a lie. I’m not going to debate its effectiveness because obviously it works. But the negatives greatly outweigh the positives in my opinion.

The proportions advice makes no sense whatsoever. The proportions depends upon the man. Showing less cuff will not make us look any taller. Using a more pointy & narrow collar isn’t going to make us look taller either. Basically the argument with proportion is to make an illusion saying that we should strive to look like we are bigger than our clothes. We should try to appear “further away” than we actually are. This makes no sense whatsoever. In the video the author states that the head stays constant in size. We aren’t tricking anybody, we’re just wearing clothes out of proportion.

However, the advice about proportions is not entirely wrong. Wearing clothes in too big proportion to you looks sloppy. May not make you look shorter, but you certainly look sloppy. Showing the right amount of cuff is just good dressing. Limiting yourself to one type of shirt collar because it “might” make you appear taller is just silly. I have never seen any empirical evidence suggesting this.

The best we can do is dress better than everyone else. Look more successful. Wear clothes that is tailored for our bodies. Having longer hair also helps a little.

19 Eric June 8, 2011 at 12:24 am

This was a very welcome article. I’m 5’7″ on a good day and 135 but very lean, and where I live and work I feel shorter than even most of the women I see on a daily basis.

There are a lot of perks to being shorter, but still…if we shorter commenters ever had a pub night, first round’s on me.

20 Jake June 8, 2011 at 12:35 am

Lee’s comment is assuredly one of the dumbest I’ve seen on this site. And I’ve been reading a long time. Whenever a man dresses well, regardless of height, he is merely taking advantage of an “optical illusion,” is he not? All style is a matter of perception versus “reality.” If one argues that short men shouldn’t try to dress taller, one would also have to argue that unattractive men shouldn’t try to dress in a way that makes them look more handsome. Because it’s just an optical illusion, and as soon as you stand next to a truly handsome man, people will know you’re not really handsome. As I said in my first comment, every man should know how to dress in a way that highlights their best features and minimizes their worst. Who can argue against that? Of course, Lee also said that the author didn’t talk about tailoring your clothes, which Tony did, so I’m thinking he didn’t actually read the article after all.

21 Georgiaboy61 June 8, 2011 at 2:05 am

Well-done article, but it leaves out a very important part of a shorter man’s attire: confidence and being at ease with himself! My late father was 5’7″ tall, and once told me “Sure I’d have like to have been taller than I am, but I just knew I’d have to work harder and be smarter than the other guy…” He succeeded, he retired as the Senior VP of a Fortune 500 electonics firm; he was well-loved and respected and over 1,000 people from all around the world came to his retirement party. He also said being of service to others was critical to being taken seriously. Once people know and trust you as a leader and an honest man who can be counted upon, height does not seem to matter all that much. Tall, short or anything in between, make the most of what you’ve got, and never apologize for it.

OK, end of sermon. Any clothing ideas for a man of 5’10″ but 215 lbs. and muscular with broad-shoulders? I tend to look blocky and big no matter what I wear, because of my build. Will use your tips, Antonio, when dressing in business or evening attire. Thanks! Now, what about casual wear?

22 Georgiaboy61 June 8, 2011 at 2:10 am

hidflect, re: “Sensitive topic, well handled. I’m tall myself and the only people I’ve really noticed as being “short” are the ones who’ve had their complex on display. Otherwise it’s not as big a deal as many imagine. Anyway, tall people die younger. It’s having to pump all that blood an extra foot higher that kills us. That’s one reason the Japanese live so long. Not very tall. And again, I’ve heard a lot of the soldiers in the British SAS are below average height. Tall people can’t carry a 90 pound backpack for 10+ miles too easy…”

Your post proves you are a gentleman and a class act, hidflect, and you have a sense of humor to boot…well-done!

23 Westicles June 8, 2011 at 8:25 am

@ Jake… I totally sympathise; I am 5’7″ with an athletic/muscular build. My biggest problem is dress shirts. I take a wide neck (16 – 16 1/2) but need a tapered midsection so I usually go with Geoffrey Bean tailored or Van Huesen; not the best quality but they are the best fit I can get (plus really cheap at macy’s.

My other problem is pants. I really don’t look right in pants that are too slimming b/c of my build. I have a lot of trouble finding decent fitting jeans.

24 Robert June 8, 2011 at 11:02 am

The tips are ones I’ve generally seen before. Still, I appreciate seeing them again, because it’s nice to see other people remembering that half of the population is shorter than average. Despite being half of the population, it’s still hard to find clothing designed for short men. It seems like every city has big and tall stores, but only a few have stores for short men. Off the top of my head, I can think of Jimmy Au in the LA area, and Brown’s in Toronto. Are there any others in North America? It may be easier outside of North America. It was easier to find clothing that fit when I visited Australia (the only shirts I didn’t need to take to the tailor to shorten the sleeves).

I think the most important tip is to be comfortable in your clothing. Those of us who are short should accept it and not try to hide it. The last time I needed crutches, the nurse in the ER was surprised that I was telling the truth when I said I was 5’5″. Apparently a lot of patients she saw overestimated their height by 1-3″ inches, especially the shorter ones. We shouldn’t be embarrassed to be short, we don’t need to overestimate our height.

I also second Eric’s recommendation for http://www.shortshrifted.com/

25 David June 8, 2011 at 11:22 am

Great article, as I am 5′ 4″, retired after finishing a 30 year successful career in the corporate world – I have a few tricks I can share, some which have been touched on…

1) Watch your weight! You don’t want your appearance to be short and dumpy, so try to keep in shape.

2) I never wore lifts in my shoes. But, working in Texas I found expensive, dress cowboy boots (not fancy, but nice solid black color, goat skin) gave me an extra lift. Then, relocating elsewhere, the boots were accepted because I was from Texas.

3) Never, ever wear something that does fit perfect. You don’t want something just a little too big or long, and end up looking like a little boy dressed up in adult clothes a size too big.

4) Most important of all – CONFIDENCE. Don’t hide you height or let it change your place in the world. You don’t want to come off like a little Napoleon; but always be ready to take charge and lead with a confident voice and a commanding manner!

26 john June 8, 2011 at 11:31 am

It row to hoe. Not road. You can’t hoe a road.

27 tbeard June 8, 2011 at 11:47 am

Good Post, at 5’11″ 180lbs I should be seen as tall. But I find that women over about 5’6″ think they are taller then me. It all seems very odd, I originally thought it was my clothes, but I recently got the same experience at a hotspring where I only had swimtrunks on. I assume something about my proportions does it, I have very broad shoulders >37″ and a thick neck, basically to fit right I have to have my clothes fitted. Either way good post

28 bMac June 8, 2011 at 11:50 am

Good article. We are fortunate here in Toronto to have Brown’s – A Short Man’s World (545 Queen West – http://www.shortmanbrowns.com)… “Because it Fi-i-i-i-ts!!” This isn’t a blatant commercial – I have never shopped there – but I hear their ads on the radio all the time, and think I’d like to drop in.
Another point for us short guys…. keep your weight down. I never had a problem looking good at 5’8″ when I was young and slim. These days the old stomach is starting to paunch out… and I’m looking shorter and shorter…. no longer have that inverted triangle thing happening :(

29 2buttonswag June 8, 2011 at 1:11 pm

Any way we could get a “Dressing Thinner” article up here?

30 Brian June 8, 2011 at 1:46 pm

Two more quick tips from a 5-6er: wear shirts without pockets (polo and dress) and wear boot cut jeans. Pockets split the shirt in two, making you torso look very short. Boot cut jeans have some extra width at the bottom that lets them fall around your shoe almost to the ground, and can add the appearance of an extra inch or two.

31 Rogerharris June 9, 2011 at 11:25 am

A lot of this is just plain wrong in its slant (not the content itself) on the topic. I come from scotland where a lot of people are short. As was mentioned above its about physical presence, building up your upper body and projecting physical strength and reactivity, pro-activity when short.

That however does mean having the stuff to have this in the first place. I have italian blood so i guess gaining physical strength and having reactivity comes easier.

However i could better myself far more with the effort from my scottish counterparts in terms of projecting strength to height. They had hundreds of years of hardship up till recently making them still a tough and hard to beat lot of small people. By all means do some of the above to avoid major dress problems but overall the real important thing is to realise you will have few problems if you build yourself up physically so much that you could feel you can wrestle the average tall man to the ground and hold him there.

Its also a great feeling to develop such strength on tap. I have a short chinese employer tell me it was uneccessary. I said he couldnt realise what a great thing it is for all kinds of problems and long term health/good feeling till you actually posses and are then faced with the struggle to keep it. You will sure be glad of the routine of keeping lifting strength as you get older.

be proud and outgoing in doing all this. Its not only essential to eliminate such a stupid thing as height as being any kind of merit in todays intellectual world, but also an enjoyable process to ensure that people realize all this is a rather backward instinct and has to be fought against.

32 Rogerharris June 9, 2011 at 11:35 am

BTW i figured most of the above tips on dress anyway. However forget the slimming up and getting rid of stockiness. If you have stockiness, then emphasize it. If they have any sense in them a tall men will thnk twice on feeling superior to a shorter man who obviously has done a good job on maintaining broad physical strength.

33 Josh at Short Shrifted June 9, 2011 at 12:58 pm

Thanks for the links to my blog in this post, Antonio. Totally appreciated!

Some good, solid advice here. Though I think vertical stripes and monochromaticism are pretty limiting on a regular basis, especially given what little “heightening” return they actually provide. Optically, I’m pretty sure they’ve actually proven that people’s eyes actually pereceive stacked horizontal lines as being taller than verticals…

In any case, I always say that the best way to approach clothes as a shorter guy is to forget about “appearing taller” — just try to look your best as you are, which naturally means that you want to own every single inch of you height, whatever that may be. A lot of your fit advice is good to that end, as well as the nods to youth sizes and high placement for attention-grabbers.

Cheers — and keep up the good work here and over at A Tailored Suit.

34 Ryan June 9, 2011 at 4:49 pm

The hardest thing for me to find (I’m 5’2″) is shorts that aren’t too long. Most are made with 9 or 10 inch inseams which have to be altered or they will hang well past my knees. Some times you can find a 7″ inseam if you are lucky.

I disagree with the idea of adding height by putting something in your shoes. Seems like you are trying to fool people.

35 Oz Son June 10, 2011 at 5:26 am

Dave got it right in his 4th point: CONFIDENCE! Harry Houdini didn’t need pinstriped straight-jackets to make himself look taller, he had stuff to get done.

The only times I’m aware of being 5’4″ is when I read articles like this. I strive to look clean, and appropriate for the occasion. Who cares if a pattern makes me look 5’2″? Great. Short or tall, we’ve got to get out in the streets and handle our business!

36 James June 10, 2011 at 9:32 pm

Chuck Norris can hoe a road.

37 Joshua June 12, 2011 at 10:50 am

Just wanted to point out that the idiom is actually “a tough row to hoe” referring to weeding a row of crop in gardens or fields using a hoe. As we become more disconnected from the origins of these idioms they mean less. Someone who has never used a hoe to weed a whole swath of a large garden or a field cannot really appreciate the true meaning of said idiom.

38 Andrew M June 12, 2011 at 5:08 pm

Great to hear some do feel the plight of us below-average height men. It’s not fair that the ladies have petite, but us shorter guys seem to get overlooked by clothing companies. I think it’s partially because most american men don’t really care about the fit of their clothes. As a shorter guy who does care about his appearance, I have been called ‘gay’ just because I pay attention to how I dress.
Last year, being in Europe, it was like a dream come true for shopping. that said, the style there isn’t all to my liking, so I had to pick and choose. I also abide by the rule of having a few well-fitting items instead of a boatload of oversized stuff. It’s frustrating shopping here most of the time and I often come back empty-handed from shopping.
as a college kid, I just can’t afford custom clothing or shopping trips to europe all the time. however, I am going to save up for some custom shirts, as that seems to be the hardest area to find well-fitting items. Being 5’6″ 125lbs, I swim in shirts, even when I can find Small sizes. I also find that boys’ stuff fits height-wise, but is usually wide in the torso and wide in the leg for pants.

39 Andrew T. June 13, 2011 at 8:04 pm

Thanks for the post. As a 19 year old 5’1″ guy, I’m glad to have heard this early! I hope it’ll help me with the women. lol.

40 Andrew June 16, 2011 at 10:03 am

“And again, I’ve heard a lot of the soldiers in the British SAS are below average height. Tall people can’t carry a 90 pound backpack for 10+ miles too easy…”

Most “special forces” – SAS, Delta, SEALS etc, are small, wiry guys.

They can carry the same load over distances as guys with bigger frames, but they’re not carrying the same body mass and so they suffer less joint injury and they tire more slowly.

Plus they’re usually part of the vanishingly small X% of the population with a bizarre lung capacity and consequent stamina.

Had the privilege to meet an SAS corporal when I was on subs and he was a small guy, but small, like a coiled spring – he was incredibly strong, fast and confident without being arrogant. A great guy, in fact, a manly man…

41 Rick June 18, 2011 at 6:00 am

Thanks for the great article!

My biggest problem is always the wear of neckties. I have a shorter upper body, so I find that I have to make the ends match perfectly every time for proper length. Any longer, and I look like a kid trying to wear his dad’s tie. I’ve actually thought about trimming some of my ties down to make things simpler.

There is an actual advantage sometimes. During the end of year sales as Kohl’s, I can usually find a good selection of 42S sport coats on the cheap.

42 nemo June 27, 2011 at 9:41 pm

As a medium 5 11 I dont notice other mens height much.

43 Short Dude's Wife October 1, 2012 at 6:35 pm

Thanks for this nice article. My uber-sexy husband is 5’3″ but all the women and gay guys love him, although he is a man’s man at heart. He is confident, athletic, honest, and energetic. I have his business shirts custom-made. It’s expensive the first time, but after that it’s more reasonable, considering how much a tailor charges for alterations to something off the rack. My advice to you: Forget about your height. Stand up straight, but don’t use heel lifts. Don’t get a tall haircut. You don’t want a woman who is all hung up on her mate’s height anyway. They’re just shallow, and they’ve bought into that BS about shoe size. Who wants a woman who is dumb enough to believe that crock?

44 Ryan October 3, 2012 at 5:34 am

This was a great article to read, really reassuring. I’m 15, 5’7 and pretty lean, just trying to figure out which types of clothes would look good. I’m glad I found this. :) I don’t think I’m that short anyway, but I have tall classmates that rub it in and it ticks me off.

45 angelo sherman December 7, 2012 at 7:03 pm

There were some good tips here for me.
I am 5’7″
I noticed all the old school actors like James Cagney,
that was on the short side, could be seen wearing a vest and this seemed to stream line their look. I need to lose a few pounds before I buy new clothes. I will buy a full length mirror to check out things before leaving the house.Question:
what about wearing scarves and full length
coats? Should the coats be trimmed from
knee length to thigh length?-Thanks

46 rodmeister January 6, 2013 at 7:28 pm

Good article. I’m already following most of the suggestions but it’s nice to read a confirmation. The idea of having a high waistband to lengthen the leg line is a new and good idea.

Look at pictures Tom Cruise and Ben Stiller (both 5’7″ish.) They are both blessed with well-proportioned bodies thus ameliorating their shortness, but they also dress to avoid accentuating their lack of height. One exception is Tom Cruise’s prediliction for wearing casual jackets that are too long, making him look like a kid lost in a too big garment. Another tip is to wear narrow
belts to make a small person larger in comparison, but it’s difficult to find 1″ belts.

47 andylimpet January 9, 2013 at 5:43 pm

Its not so much a question of height and being “tall”, its proportion and bone structure. I am only 5″7, am slight (small framed, long limbed for my height with a reasonable length neck) and have a small head. I can carry off some designer clothes and cuts my tall friends could never pull off. I am also very happy with the way I look in my wardrobe and have my own personal style. I can even wear cropped trousers and still look sharp. I never crave to look tall and fail to understand what this stupid myth about being tall is about. It depends on which designer is cutting the garment. For instance, a size 36/Eu 46 (I live in London) jacket in a label like Acne is huge whereas the same size in Burberry will fit a short, lean man. You may start to notice that men’s coats are being a lot narrower these days with a lot more “ease” and far less padding. I find padding can infact make many men look top heavy, disproportioned and contrived. Take a look at Lanvin and a label called Thamanyah as well as Japanese labels for examples. I was able to walk out of the store in the men’s “long” coats from both these labels this winter with absolutely no alteration necessary. Its called a shorter, leaner “block pattern” and thank goodness its cropping up in men’s designer boutiques. And yes, they can come in XS and XXS (34 and 32). The only downside is there is a price tag that comes with these designer items.

48 Dear February 11, 2013 at 9:48 pm

Thank you for writing this. My fiance is 5’4 and I’m 5’8. Height has never really bothered us on a personal level, but he’s been lost on finding the right clothing. Many of the clothes he finds look like he is swimming in them, and I feel for his frustration because he would like to dress like a dashing gentleman. You’re right on the money about American men’s sizes. He couldn’t find anything suitable in the stores, not a single thing was made for a short, skinny man. We will look into importing to fix this issue, great tip!

49 G. February 22, 2013 at 9:59 pm

As a transgender fellow, I often feel uncomfortable about being seen as too short. These tips were helpful. I’ve had the most success with wearing more fitted clothing, usually darker and more mono-chromatic and by being mindful of my posture– yoga and more generally, stretching, help with this a lot. At the end of the day though, confidence and a good smile seem to go a long way.

50 Humble short man February 24, 2013 at 12:49 pm

PERFECT article. Thank you so much, sir!

#2, with its accompanying image “chart” was the best part of this article. I was looking for something exactly like that, and you guys are the only website that had what I was looking for.

51 Truth be told February 24, 2013 at 12:52 pm

To all the people saying they are 5’7 and UP, please shut up (I mean that in the sincerest way possible, lol)!

Seriously, you guys/girls/etc are NOT short if you are 5’7 and up. Comments like that are unfathomable to us [real] short men, so please be mindful.

The only reason why you feel that way is, Hollywood keeps harassing Tom Cruise for his [SUPPOSED] short height (5’7). You guys/girls/etc are NOT SHORT, okay? Thanks, lol.

52 Elias March 2, 2013 at 8:45 am

Not to sound like a Soviet or anything, but I wish you could’ve added the fact that men fit in the same realm of capability every other man has, if not more.
Short, stocky guys like me are excel at manly things like wrestling (Greco-Roman).
What really deters us, and this I would personally know, is the fact that girls often want tall men.
Since middle school and through high school and even into college, I’ve noticed even girls taller than my own height, 5’2, all seem to make a statement about height on a guy. And that’s made me feel pretty, well, culled off from the gene pool. And all my friends have always understood my distress over this.
But the thing is: height really doesn’t matter.
I’ve got a buddy four inches shorter than ME, and his steady girlfriend’s 5’8. And she’s a wonderful lady. He’s a hell of a dude.
It’s not the height of a man that matters, but where a man stands that matters.

That’s all I’ve got to say.

53 zia March 12, 2013 at 11:16 am

i m 5.4 and i m slim. and my colour is dark .kindly somebody sujjest me colour for formal and dresses

54 Chris Morton March 26, 2013 at 1:12 am

My cousin was 5’7 and he bought a pair of shoe lifts before went to a job interview last week. He told me they’re good for special occasions.

He got his at http://www.liftheightinsoles.com

Anyone here tried before and mind sharing your experience?

55 Donny April 23, 2013 at 11:43 am

I’m 5’8″ and have a very wide,stocky build and I never really cared about my height until recently. I’ve actually been considering surgery to lengthen my legs by 6 inches.

56 Shai-Hulud June 7, 2013 at 1:19 pm

Re: #2. Wear Vertically-Oriented Patterns
This has been empirically tested. Horizontal stripes seem to have a slimming effect.
“A square composed of horizontal lines appears taller and narrower than an identical square made up of vertical lines. Reporting this illusion, Hermann von Helmholtz noted that such illusions, in which filled space seems to be larger than unfilled space, were common in everyday life, adding the observation that ladies’ frocks with horizontal stripes make the figure look taller. As this assertion runs counter to modern popular belief, we have investigated whether vertical or horizontal stripes on clothing should make the wearer appear taller or fatter. We find that a rectangle of vertical stripes needs to be extended by 7.1% vertically to match the height of a square of horizontal stripes and that a rectangle of horizontal stripes must be made 4.5% wider than a square of vertical stripes to match its perceived width. This illusion holds when the horizontal or vertical lines are on the dress of a line drawing of a woman. We have examined the claim that these effects apply only for 2-dimensional figures in an experiment with 3-D cylinders and find no support for the notion that horizontal lines would be ‘fattening’ on clothes. Significantly, the illusion persists when the horizontal or vertical lines are on pictures of a real half-body mannequin viewed stereoscopically. All the evidence supports Helmholtz’s original assertion.”

57 CoachT June 7, 2013 at 2:44 pm

Interesting to read from men standing 5’7″ or 5’8″ who consider themselves to be “short men” in their universe.

The view from where I’ve spent the past half-century is nose-to-nose with the average American woman, if not slightly below. I’ve found it an advantageous vantage point at times and not so much at others. I’ve found no challenge in other’s perception except as perpetuated by stereotype and stereotype permeates so many other attributes that those on height aren’t all that significant when compared.

All of the tricks are for naught though – none of the tricks work. We are each only as far from the floor to the top of our head as we are. No manner of vertical stripes and thin ties will change the distance we bend to reach our toes. And it would take a particular dim woman to be fooled by such a charade.

Dress well and fit well. Fit by proportion and not inches. Breast pockets go over the chest, for example. 28″ sleeves don’t fit a 26″ arm. Few men look good in trousers that hang off their bottom… All a matter of correct proportional fit – not always easy to find. But none have anything to do with the width of the lapel or tie except as it relates to the width of the rest of a well fit garment – proportions.

All “short” men are not simply short in the limbs. Some are, some aren’t. Some are uniformly short proportioned throughout their body. Some are short in the torso. Some are simply short in the leg. The universality of this article is a population generalization that doesn’t suit all short men and therefor will not suit their selection of suits.

On stuffing your shoes though; isn’t that just about as vain as a teenage girl’s stuffed bra? It didn’t trick us in Jr. High, we can’t trick them now.

58 5 foot 5-ish Male June 7, 2013 at 10:43 pm

The shoe inserts work well but only for half an inch in most shoes. As a short male, I have found that black leather boots (chukka style) match well with many business casual and casual (jeans) outfits and many companies offer height-increasing boots that are not noticeable and look good.

I have been wearing black leather chukka boots from Tallmenshoes (ID TOTO X0603) that realistically give me a little over 2 inches in height (they advertise 3 which is BS) and I have actually received many compliments on them.

I’m 23 so for a casual jeans / polo or button-up look it’s much more fashionable looking than my friends wearing sneakers. And I can wear them with black or grey slacks and it looks good for business casual at work.

I haven’t tried any of their dress shoes but I would imagine the heels would be noticeably clunky. The boots work well because the bulk of the height is inside the shoe and still provides ankle support.

59 Agustin July 3, 2013 at 4:17 pm

Standing at 5’4″, I also had a huge problem with clothes. But after my youth, I decided my adulthood would not be determined by my height, or lack thereof. I made a shift in the clothes I wear, primarily. I also put on some weight, muscle mass to be exact. In high school I was 110-115 on good days. I became more athletic, added 30lbs or muscle, and still manage to look thin, but with well defined muscular features. I find that my posture has improved, making me look slightly taller. Also, tailoring my clothes has been the main thing in changing my appearance, though I’ll admit, it can get pricy. But if you are like me and take good care of your possessions, they will be an investment. Now, I am considered one of the manlier men among my friends, so their girls say. Also, keeping slim in all places possible (i.e. grooming, shoes, pants; especially the crotch region, and of course the suits you wear). Bulk is not a good thing in the world of short men.

60 Andrew December 18, 2013 at 10:38 am

Some rather old-fashioned techniques and opinions here – An indiviuals proportions and bone structure determines what they can wear and not their height. There is nothing wrong with fluid, baggier clothing on the right frame. Overfitted clothing looks contrived and infact accentuates shortness. These are all very Western aesthetics which are a little outdated.

61 AK December 29, 2013 at 10:30 pm

I have a website for selling apparel in the works. Can I create a link for the above article in the blog section for my website. Is there a copyright issue if I were to provide a link for your article.

62 Giovanni March 3, 2014 at 4:43 am

Many interesting points in the article and in the comments.
I’m short at 5’6 but I have always had the feeling that horizontally-striped polo shirt were ok for me. Probably the pattern that should be really avoided at all costs it’s squares / checks.
As some of you rightfully say, it’s CRITICAL to avoid any extra inch/pounds at the waist. This is even more true for us. And I agree that lifting weights to get broader shoulders helps – although I’m not sure about bulk in the legs. As any average Italian I played a lot of soccer in my days; now that I’m 45, I think that slimmer legs are better.

63 Raka April 7, 2014 at 9:55 am

This article is both interesting and helpful to me. I found myself rather short at slightly over 5’5 (that’s 165 cm in metric). I’ve tried some of the tips, and it worked wonders.

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