All our lives we’re made to believe that to look good you need to be tall. But who’s to say that the shorter gentleman can’t curate his wardrobe to optimize his look and be every bit as dapper and dashing as his taller peers?
Michelle Horne is a certified image professional based in Ottawa who has been running her own company, Putting It Together, since 1999 with clients across Ontario. We took some time to pick her brain about what shorter gents can do to get the most out of their wardrobe. Here’s what she suggests.
Get a Good Tailor
Speaking from personal experience (I’m 5’5), nearly every pair of pants I’ve ever owned has gone through the extra step of being taken up. It’s also not uncommon to find the sleeves of my shirts are too long. All is not lost, however, as Horne reminds us that you can always take away fabric, you just can’t add more on.
“Have a really good tailor, like, an exceptional tailor,” says Horne. “You want to establish a relationship with somebody who knows you, and knows your body.” This will go a long way in customizing your duds to your specific size.
Know Your Colours
The colours you wear have a huge effect on your look. “Knowing your best colours is another critical piece because that helps with where you put the lightest and where you put the darkest,” says Horne.
You want to wear lighter colours on top and darker colours on the bottom. People’s eyes will be drawn to the lighter colours, so putting those nearer to your head will create the illusion of more height. If the heavier piece is on top, you’ll experience the opposite effect.
“Balance and proportion are so critical with colour,” says Horne. “People forget that and just look at what’s fashionable as opposed to actually looking at their body, and how their body might fit into what’s fashionable.”
The Right Stripes
If you’re going to wear stripes, there are a few things to take note of so you can be sure you’re doing it right.
“When you wear a stripe there is a communication side to the colour and the texture,” says Horne. “Stripes tend to make you appear slimmer. Sometimes a horizontal stripe, depending on the width of it, can almost create an effect where it makes the shoulders and hips look bigger. You’ve got to be careful with that. If the stripes aren’t perfectly symmetrical all the way around, then you can maybe get away with a thinner one at the waist and a wider one at the shoulder.”
“With vertical, you want to be careful of how thick the stripe is,” Horne adds. “The thicker the stripe, the wider the body is going to look.”
On Collar Width
This one might come as a surprise. “The spread of the collar at the neckline is going to have an effect on vertical height, believe it or not, because that’s the horizontal width of the neck and the face,” says Horne. “When you have someone with a round face and they put on a wide collar, they are going to look wider, or potentially shorter.”
With this, it’s all about alignment and proportion. You want to balance everything with the silhouette and dimensions of your body to create a lengthening effect.
On Suiting Up
Shorter men should always pick single breasted suits over double breasted since they will make you appear wider, and therefore shorter. Horne also adds that the closure of the buttons should be higher up. Wherever that closure is, that’s where the eye is going to be drawn too, so putting it higher up is another lengthening illusion.
She adds that even though ties have become thinner these days, it’s important not to go too thin. This is another width-height issue that need to be balanced with you individual proportions. “Someone who’s wider, or shorter, might not be able to get away with that really slender tie,” says Horne.
It’s worth mentioning that perfecting your look can be a challenge for any man, no matter how tall he stands. Nobody is perfect. Customizing your look takes some doing but hopefully these tips can help you get there.