For some ladies out there, shopping is something that is only fun in theory.
As a 5’5” girl, shopping in Boston has been pretty easy. I take an average shoe size and don’t usually find that dresses run too long or too short for my height. While the search for perfect-fitting jeans haunts us all—if you don’t fall into the average height category, finding the right clothing is much harder and can make shopping a stressful and disappointing endeavor.
When you’re struggling to find clothing that fits you properly and hits you in all the right places, it’s challenging to look your best. I’ve done some research and touched base with a pair of Boston-based style bloggers to give you leggy and vertically challenged ladies out there some tips to make shopping fun again.
I caught up with Kacy Karlen (6’4”) of Height of Style and Kristen Uekermann (5’3”) of The Boston Fashionista who, despite their 13-inch difference in height, have a gamut of style tips for both the tall and short women out there.
There are a lot of different body types out there and not a lot of variety offered sizing-wise. No matter your height, you will look best when you can take your limb, torso, and leg lengths into account to balance out your body shape.
“One of the most common proportional challenges is tending towards ‘all legs,’” says Karlen, “Tall women—as a general rule—are more limb-y than tall men.”
“40% of American women are petite, and it’s incredibly difficult to find petite sizes,” says Uekermann, who recommends making friends with your local tailor. “There’s a lot they can do besides hem,” she says.
For tall women, Karlen recommends finding pieces that balance you out. “I myself am really short-torsoed,” she says, “and I find that the best pieces to balance my figure are tops that are closely body-skimming or structured and fall over the high hip, plus pants that are full-length.” She also suggests staying away from tunic tops or anything that fits loosely and “buries the waistline.” So it turns out that being tall doesn’t mean you automatically look like a model, it clearly takes a bit of work.
Surprisingly, short girls have it relatively easy when it comes to shopping options. There are plenty of brands that offer petite sizing, Uekermann tells us, and stores like LOFT, Banana Republic, Old Navy, Target, Zara, and Talbots all carry a good selection of petite and short sizes, as well as Lucky Brand for jeans.
There are a lot of ways to make regular sizes work for petites as well. Uekermann likes shopping at Zara and H&M and making them work for her. “It’s fast fashion—you’re not keeping it forever; so see if you can buy a size down and then just roll up the sleeves to three-quarter length. Finally, when shopping non-petite sizes, keep your eyes out for mini dresses, [which] will be a more regular length on a petite woman. “
Even Karlen knows where her short friends should shop. “For petite women, I particularly recommend Saks for denim—Saks offers dedicated, designer denim for petites specifically—and both Anthropologie and J. Crew offer a small selection from in stores but a bigger selection online of petite offerings.”
Shopping in-store for very tall ladies is a bit harder, and for large shoe sizes, you usually have to head to the interwebs. When it comes to shoes, Nordstrom rack offers up to a size 12-plus, which is pretty exciting, and if you’re willing to spend a bit more, Karlen tells us to check out Saks, Theory, and J.Brand for pants and jeans in long lengths up to 36”.
As it turns out, being tall is much harder when it comes to finding perfect-fitting clothing. But don’t bother feeling bad for Gisele any time soon. There are pros and cons to both sides of the height spectrum, and no matter what your size, should help you manage your wardrobe.