The average American male stands at a cool 5’9.” I know plenty of guys who clock in under this height, and almost all of them have complained to me at one time or another about how difficult it is to find clothes that fit. Because brands don’t always adjust their designs for different proportions, anyone who deviates from the “norm” (meaning: nearly everyone) may find shopping to be a bigger challenge than it should be.
That said, the rules for dressing well as a shorter man are the same as dressing well for any other body type – a combination of knowing what looks best on you and finding clothes that truly fit you.
Below, a few Do’s and Don’ts for putting an extra spring – and maybe even a few extra inches – in your short-statured step:
If you’ve got a long torso and short legs, go for pants that sit a little higher on your waist to elongate your legs. If your legs are longer and it’s your torso that’s tiny, find pants with a lower rise.
Those puddles of material pooling around your ankles in pants that are too long? Yes, ladies notice those, and they’re not impressed. Wearing clothes that are too big in an effort to seem larger just makes you look sloppy, and shorter to boot.
Good posture is an instant height builder. Plus, no one looks good when they slouch!
Avoid accessories that cut across the body – skip horizontally striped shirts and ties, and don’t bother using a belt if you don’t need it to keep your pants up. These sideways stripes disrupt the line of your outfit and visually shorten you. On pants, skip the cuff and go for a flat front pant. In suits and dress shirts, pinstripes are always a solid option.
Shopping for new clothes can get even the most “normal”-sized person down. Just remember that you have a tailor on speed dial (you DO have a tailor on speed dial, right?) who can help tweak the clothes you find that you like but aren’t quite perfect…yet. Find the right fit in the shoulders, waist, and rise, and your tailor can take care of the rest.
Women like to see a man who’s a bit more put together, and a clean look is even more important when you’re shorter in stature. Maintaining a streamlined visual helps lengthen your appearance. The easiest way to do this? Tuck in your shirt. When wearing a suit, keep your jacket buttoned (except for when you sit down).
Or even better, custom-made. While upgrading to custom shirts and suits will gouge your wallet at first, you’ll get used to the price tag when you feel the fit. After slipping on clothes that are made for your exact body – thick, short, tall, skinny, whatever – you’ll never go back.
If you are short, you’re short. No pinstripe suit or Chelsea boot is going to add more than a couple inches, visually or literally. So after you’ve taken all of the above into account, stop worrying and learn to love the exact size you are. No Napoleon complex here!