No man likes to feel small.
No man likes to be looked down on.
Are you 5'6″, 5'5″…5'2″?
You want to dress taller, right?
You want to walk into a store and find clothing that FITS.
But it's hard to find clothes that fit and flatter the man of modest height.
Because a lot of clothing brands make NOTHING for men under 5'8″.
Get it wrong, and you'll look shorter than you really are. Worse still, you might end up looking like a little kid.
So I want to share three very quick and dirty tips that you can start following today to maximize your perceived height.
I'm 5'9″, so for this article I've teamed up with a man who feels your pain – my friend Brock from The Modest Man. He's 5'6″ in shoes – and you'd never guess. When you look at him. you don't see short.
You see sharp.
Want that for yourself? Then read on for three powerful secrets to dressing taller.
#1. Wear Clothes That Fit.
I know you've heard this a million times, but it's REALLY important for shorter men. You've got to make sure your clothes fit well. For most guys, this simply means sizing down. I see a lot of shorter guys out there wearing size medium shirts when they'd look a lot better in a small or even an extra small.
But even if you size down, the unfortunate fact is that the major clothing brands usually don't make clothes for men under 5'8″. What's the solution? Get your clothes tailored. If you don't take your clothes to a good tailor regularly, that is the number one thing you can do to dress to look taller right now. With well-tailored clothes, you'll look better than 90% of men out there, regardless of your height.
The most common alterations that shorter men need are:
- getting your trousers hemmed.
- getting your sleeves shortened on button-up shirts and jackets.
- getting your trousers tapered (narrowing the leg opening).
- getting your shirt taken in (If you're short and slim, rock it. Don't hide it in boxy shirts that make you look shorter).
If you've never been to to a tailor, start small. Choose one trouser from your closet that needs hemming, maybe tapering as well. Take it to the tailor and see what happens. You'll be hooked.
Keep your accessories smaller too. That way, they'll look more proportional to your build. For most men, the best tie width is about 3.25″ at the widest point. If you're shorter, you can go down to 2.75″ or even 2.5″ without looking like you're wearing a skinny tie. Also, use smaller tie knots, like the Four-in-Hand, the Oriental or the Victoria.
Another thing to avoid is big, clunky shoes (Floppo the Clown: NOT a good look!). Also, if you have small wrists (6-7 inches around), choose the right size watch. You want a thin case between 38 and 42mm in diameter, with smaller hands and numbers. Opt for a narrower strap in leather instead of metal.
Tip #2. Wear Colors That Make You Look Taller.
When thinking about colors that will make you look taller, remember that it's all about how you combine them. If, for example, you're wearing a white shirt and black pants, that's a stark contrast that cuts you in half visually, making you look shorter than you actually are.
Instead, minimize contrast by wearing shirts and trousers that are closer in color. Instead of a white shirt and black pants, try a gray shirt and navy pants. This makes a whole world of difference.
You can still include contrast elsewhere in your outfit, like a contrasting pocket square or tie, or a patterned shirt (bonus: vertical stripes boost your height). Just avoid horizontal contrasts that cut you in half.
This also means that if you like looking sharp, you have a great excuse to wear suits more often. The matching jacket and trousers really elongate the line of your body.
On the other end of the formality scale, skip the shorts. Linen trousers are just as cool in summer, and they don't cut your legs in half.
Avoid statement belts, and consider going without a belt when you can. Jeans look odd without one, but smarter chinos and trousers can be worn beltless as long as they fit well. Alternately, wear suspenders: their vertical line will make you look taller, and they have a dapper, old-school vibe that's quite attractive.
There's also a third option for suit pants: side adjusters. You can get trousers made with these at bespoke and some made-to-measure tailors, or your tailor can sew side adjusters into trousers you already own if there's enough spare fabric in the waistband.
Tip #3: Wear The Best Brands For Short Guys.
There are a handful of specialty brands out there that make clothes specifically for shorter men. Brock keeps a running list of clothing brands for short guys over at The Modest Man. Some of them are online, some of them are brick and mortar, some of them are both. I highly recommend checking out his website. He's got some great tips and a vast collection of style inspiration for all seasons.
If you're not particularly short, say 5/9″ or5'10”, and you still want to dress a bit taller, his wisdom will help you too. The Modest Man is not just for those of you under 5'8″. Brock's advice applies to men of all statures.
Your other option is to go custom, especially for dress shirts, suits, and blazers. I recommend that all men try made-to-measure or bespoke clothes, but it's especially important if you aren't of average build. You will NEVER know how good you can look until you try clothes that are made to fit YOU. Give custom clothes a chance if you've been frustrated with what you're finding off the rack.
When getting your clothes custom made, you have much more control, so keep the details proportional to your size. Choose shorter jackets with narrower lapels, and shirts with a narrower collar spread (no more than 120 degrees) and shorter collar points (no more than 2.5″). Skip the chest pockets on shirts and patch pockets on jackets. They'll just break up your height. Most importantly, choose pants with a crotch that sits high, rather than halfway down your thighs.
No matter what your height, details like these will set you head and shoulders above the men around you and allow you to OWN your body type. Your body isn't wrong for standard menswear. Standard menswear is wrong for YOU. Make the extra effort to dress in clothes that are right for you, and you'll realize that most of what you thought of as “looking short” had nothing to do with your height. Short men don't look awkward. Badly-dressed men do.