How Do I Dress: For Short Guys
In part one of this guide, we outlined some general guidelines and techniques that should be applied when dressing a shorter body frame. These tips can be applied whether you are slim, overweight or well-built, because the aim remains the same: focus on streamlining your appearance to visually extend your silhouette.
This streamlined appearance can be achieved by experimenting with various cuts, styles and colours. All of these will be outlined in today’s article, along with a full break down of the key items that belong in every short man’s wardrobe.
When all these tips and techniques are combined with your unique personal taste, the result should be the ability to produce stylish and original looks that flatter this common body shape.
Jackets & Blazers
Jackets and blazers can look great on all men, if the fit is correct.
For shorter body frames, a slim fit is ideal. This type of cut will help elongate your upper body and subsequently make your torso appear slimmer. Ensure the fit on the shoulders and length of the arms are correct as this will further emphasise this visual effect.
Whilst it’s entirely possible that you have longer legs and a shorter torso, or vice versa, it is advised that the length of the jacket or blazer remains the same: finishing at the bottom of the buttocks. This again will streamline, and also smoothen the appearance around the waist.
Anything much longer than this, such as a full length mac or overcoat, will have an adverse effect and shorten the legs, leaving your proportions out of balance. Instead, stick to cropped versions, Harringtons, denim jackets, single-breasted pea coats or on trend bombers for optimal results.
As for colour choice, in part one it was highlighted that navy and black will help provide a lengthening effect. Not only that, when they are layered over lighter hues it can create a definitive vertical line that will elongate your torso.
Whilst both navy and black are timeless and effortlessly stylish, if another colour is desired ensure you take into account what you are wearing on your bottom half – large variances in tones will break up your vertical lines and only shorten your frame.
Formal wear in similar hues or slightly lighter shades on top will draw the eye upwards, therefore helping to lengthen. Colourful blazers with darker bottoms will work to the same effect, but avoid stark contrasts.
Single-breasted cuts are the most effective on this body shape, with no more than three (one or two is ideal) buttons being advised. If double-breasted is unavoidable, ensure all buttons are fastened.
As was the case in part one of this guide, it is important to note that the fashion industry is dominated by tall, lean models and therefore the lookbooks included within this article should be utilised solely for inspiration.
For example, although the jackets shown below would flatter the shorter man, styling touches such as turn-ups, going sockless and the like should be avoided:
Contrary to popular belief, for the shorter man it really is the skinnier the fit the better. We’re not suggesting you go out and buy ‘spray-on’ jeans; so tight that you subsequently feel inclined to start up an indie band (unless that’s something you want to do). However, you should consider slimmer tapered fits, as these narrow your frame instantly and give shape and definition to your legs.
Classic black and indigo slim fits are endlessly versatile and will see you through many a season, and many a look – yet it is important that you experiment with other colours so your look doesn’t become stale. Just remember to stick to darker hues on the bottom so the eyeline is drawn upward. With slim fits having remained consistently popular for many seasons, the choice is vast, with most chinos, jeans and other trousers now readily available in this style.
In winter, try a pair of corduroys – the vertical cords offer a similar effect to that of pinstripes.
A mid-rise will flatter better than low as it naturally lengthens the leg. Turn-ups, giving your trouser hems a roll, excessive breaks around the ankle and bold, contrasting socks are generally all ‘no nos’ as they will only help break up your vertical line and shorten the appearance of your legs.
For those who like to sport a summery short, stick to a length that finishes just above the knee as this will reveal enough leg to keep proportions balanced.
Tops & Shirts
If out shopping for a new shirt you should consider both fit AND length. Satisfied in the knowledge that it can be tucked in, many men will overlook length and simply reach for the slim fit. However, a shirt that is too long will bulk out the top of the trousers when tucked in, therefore widening the hips and weakening any attempt to streamline.
Look for shirts that finish just below the waist and reveal a quarter inch of cuff if worn under a jacket. The colour of the shirt can be entirely dependent on taste, although lighter and brighter colours will create a lengthening effect in relation to the rest of the body. If intending to layer, ensure the shirt is lighter than the jacket on top so the torso appears slimmer.
Alternative necklines on tops and tees provide an instant way of changing the overall visual. V-necks are the most effective for shorter men as they will define and streamline the appearance of that particular area of the upper body.
In relation to colours, prints and patterns, the top half of the body is where the most experimentation can take place. Bearing in mind part one’s tips on layering and avoiding contrasts that are too bold, you can wear lighter and brighter colours confidently.
Detailed, intricate prints sit well on shorter men, whilst vertical stripes (and vertical patterning/prints in general) are a must when attempting to lengthen. Light to dark dip-dye pieces are almost designed for this body shape too, as they complement it so well.
Knitwear choices should be dependent on fit and fabric. Stick to slim fits as opposed to oversized or slouchy – merino wool or similar lightweight v-neck sweaters are well worth your consideration. Available in a range of colours from brands such as John Smedley and AllSaints, these pieces work extremely well as layering pieces, yet are strong enough to work on their own over a tee/shirt with jeans.
Cable knits provide texture and warmth in the winter, with the vertical detailing actually working to help elongate and streamline. Cardigans are perfect for framing a lighter coloured shirt or tee underneath when left open (creating the strong vertical line highlighted in part one).
Don’t forget that knitwear varies in neckline size and detailing from season to season, and is a great way of adding physical height particularly around the neck – try hooded styles or those with a heightened collar.
Overall, remembering to steer clear of the bulky, shapeless fits will set you on the right track.
Accessories can be integrated effectively into any wardrobe, including that of the shorter man. In this instance the aim is to use those that complement and strengthen the desired look or overall silhouette – ultimately, continuing on the quest to streamline and lengthen.
In terms of top half accessories, bow ties should be avoided. Instead, opt for narrow ties in a block-colour. Long necklaces and slimmer scarves help to streamline whilst adding a touch of individuality and some welcome detailing, but steer clear of snoods or any widening pieces that will appear to shorten.
Hats are a great way to instantly add a few inches and with so many styles to choose from, all that is left to decide is whether you feel confident enough to pull one off.
When considering belts, go for thinner styles in black, brown or tan that will complement (rather than contrast against) other colours within your outfit. Bold printed and coloured versions will split the body in half instantly, ruining any attempt to draw the eye upwards and creating a focus point at the centre that also widens that area.
Pocket squares and watches are great for adding pops of colour too but remember not to apply this to your sock choice.
Choice of footwear is an important decision when it comes to any outfit build. In this particular wardrobe the focus should be on shape and fastening type.
Shoes with a slight heel will instantly add height and improve posture, which is crucial to appearing taller. A pointed toe, particularly on formal footwear, will also lengthen and alter the direction in which the eye travels.
In terms of casual shoes, Converse styles with contrasting toe caps offer much the same effect as pointed styles. With contrast soles a hot trend right now, play with colour combinations in an attempt to appear heightened – white soles are extremely effective at this.
Boots can still work on shorter men, especially if you tonally blend them with your trousers/jeans and cover the extra height with your hems. This ensures there’s no clean break at the ankle, which means the eyeline will travel down the length of the leg and to the end of your toe in one fluid motion, deceiving the eye into thinking they are longer than they actually are.
You could also try tucking in your trouser leg into your boots, so long as the result creates one fluid line with no bunching or sharp contrasts in colour (think black/charcoal boots with black skinny jeans).
Finally, remember that no matter what footwear you choose, tucked in laces will elongate whilst untucked or buckles will widen.