Horizontal Lines

Learning that almost 27,000 of you have subscribed to my newsletter was a thrill. Sharing lessons learned is the purpose of this site. It might be shopping for the basics you may wear hundreds of times or eating a lunch that makes you feel your best. Over the years, I’ve completed numerous courses, read many books, and studied the styles of countless different women so that I could share tips and tricks that are never just my opinion. The first 2024 tip I want to share is also one of the first I learned.

Horizontal lines on the body draw the eye.

Avoid placing a horizontal line at your widest part. This could be hips if you’re a pear, middle if you’re an apple, shoulders if you’re an inverted triangle, mid-bust if you have a large chest, etc.

The 1/3 to 2/3 rule gives the most pleasing proportions to the eye. Adding the belt to define the waist and changing to a black tank gave me 1/3 on top and 2/3 on the bottom. Adding the open gray cardigan accentuates the most flattering column of one color.

Higher rises with shorter tops and jackets draw the eye upwards and lengthen the legs. Shorter torsos benefit from longer jackets/tops and lower rises to lengthen the body.

The same rules apply to footwear, so avoid lines or edges at the widest part and know that shoes that end lower down the foot will lengthen your leg. Round toes are more casual, square toes look wider, and pointed toes elongate.

That’s one of my favorite necklaces since it gives me a pleasing V-shape over a crewneckline. The necklace is here, and you can get $10 off when you use the code SAS10.

Where your sleeves finish is an easy way to manipulate your leg length visually. Shorter sleeves visually lengthen the legs. Petite women always benefit from getting the sleeves shortened to the wristbone. I nearly always turn up my sleeves and often wear one color from top to toe to look taller and to create the illusion of longer legs. Another tip from the look above is to partially tuck in your sweater so that the hemline is closer to your waistline than your hips.

Notice where the clothes start and finish and use it to your advantage. In this last example, I untucked the sweater and added an open shirt over it in a longer length. It is okay for a very casual look, but you must admit it makes my legs look shorter, and I look heavier.

I’m wearing black ponte pants over eighteen years old in all these photos. The gray merino wool sweater is at least five years old. The denim shirt is about three years old. The cashmere cardigan is two years old. The round-toe dark gray shoes are my house shoes. I’m telling you all this because I wanted to prove you don’t have to keep buying new things. You can use what you have in endless ways if it is classic and basic in neutral colors that flatter you.

The cute flats with the buckle are here. The heels are here. Similar items are linked: PantsSweaterShirtTankCardiganBelt.

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  1. Happy New Year! Thank you for continuing to reinforce that we don’t need to rush off to buy new things but learning to style what we have is so realistic. Now if I can just curb my shopping in 2024 it will be a win for me!

  2. Happy New Year! I always learn from your posts. I have short arms even though I’m not a petite. I can second your advice about the sleeves. It’s not flattering to have sleeves half way down your hands.

  3. A year ago I asked for recommendations for a mother of the bride dress and felt like a queen. Now an invitation has come for “black tie optional”. I was going to beg you again, but came across an old (maybe May, 2022?) post. I have my answers! So this is a note of gratitude for your continuing efforts. For reminding, educating, offering suggestions and guidance to help me be better! Looking forward to another year of Susan!

  4. Thank you for the great info. I especially appreciate the photos as I am a visual learner. I wore a black sweater and black slacks with a camel blazer to dinner on NYE. The column of black was slimming and the blazer was just the right length so that it didn’t make my legs appear shorter. I’m 5’2″ so the info on proportion is especially helpful.

  5. I love the column of black with grey sweater combo – it looks so sharp on you! The side by side comparisons are also very helpful. It really drives home the point you are making. Thank you!

  6. I cannot tell you what a help you are to so many of us. Congratulations on your subscription milestone! The tips on proportion, horizontal lines, etc. are so important for us petite ladies. Thank you!

  7. So good to find your post this morning as I continue to think about goals for the new year. The black outfit with gray sweater certainly illustrates a way to look svelte and put together. I especially like the belted waist that elevates the outfit. One of my goals is to create some similar outfits by shopping my closet and then only purchasing any items that fulfill that look. I am tired of being a consumer of too much!
    Have a creative and joyous week!

  8. This is a good way to start off the new year. Learning something is always helpful whether it is new material or reinforcing what we already know.
    I’m looking forward to reading more throughout the year. What I especially like is that nothing is new. This was all in your closet and most of this is probably in mine.

  9. I have loved bright, bold colors in years past, but find now that they complicate my clothing and shopping.
    I found that I was always searching for the correct color of pink or blue, etc, but black & white are easy, and always available.
    So, I’m going to start to pivot to the neutrals that look best on me, black, white and dark navy, with beautiful scarves.
    I can’t tell you how often your tips come to mind for me.
    Recently, it was the realization that you are right….denim is WAY more flattering than knits, even if the knits are the right color.
    I thought I would never be able to find a pair of jeans that were comfortable, but I was wrong, I just had to try and try again! I’ve finally found the pair that is right for me! They’re great!
    Thanks, Susan!

  10. Thanks for great tips. I appreciate how you instruct not just for your body shape but all body shapes. We all benefit from your research. Happy New Year to you and Mr Mickey

  11. Thank you once again, and over and over, Susan! Your tips and visuals are wonderful and I think I’m finally “getting it”. I’m getting ready to move and looking forward to dumping a lot of my wardrobe and replacing with only quality basics a la Susan! Please continue sharing your style! THANK YOU!!

  12. Congratulations! You are an amazing person and an inspiration to me.
    I have been keeping an eye on the “column of color” concept and am happy with the result. I have struggled with color selection but I think I’m going in the right direction now. EST to you and Mr. M this year!

  13. I love it when you explain everything and add pictures. It’s so informative. Thank you and please keep them coming.

  14. Excellent advice! Fantastic ideas to copy! Love to get dressed with your ideas in mind! Many thanks!

  15. Thank you Susan for your great tips. I am ‘hippy’ and always wore longer jackets to cover them .., but that made my legs look short …. I now understand proportion! Thank you and Happy New Year from England!

  16. Hadn’t realised the trousers were the same pair! Different tops, accessories made such a difference. This year is a concentrate on a variety of accessories & a couple of new casual jackets for Tasmanian winter (Aussies coolest island state). Enjoying two new black linen pants one straight & other wide leg. They are worth the search for fit comfort & quality basics. Your advice reaped benefits. Thank,you.

  17. Thanks once again for the great information and the always helpful photos. I so appreciate the research you have done and that you share it with all of us. Wishing you and Mr. Mickey and wonderful new year!

  18. “ Shorter torsos benefit from longer jackets/ tops and lower rises to lengthen the body.”

    What do you mean by “lower rises”?

  19. I am still confused about the 1/3-2/3 idea. Do you know any influencers that are tall ? I am 5’11” and would like to see how they style their clothes in a picture.


    1. Look at the outfit with the belt, which is the horizontal line. The top half of my body takes up 1/3, and the bottom half takes up 2/3 of my shape.

      I found one tall over 40 influencer here.

  20. Great post Susan. Thanks for these tips.
    The side by side photos really drive the point home.
    The ‘visual aid’ helps us understand.

  21. Happy new year – peace, health and contentment for you both in 2024.

    I look forward to your posts and thank you for the generosity of sharing your experience and wisdom

  22. Susan,
    Thank you so much for the explanations and visuals-as we age, we change and what once worked, now needs to be reconsidered. I’ve learned so much as a Susan after 70!

  23. This article is certainly a keeper!
    I am of similar shape to yourself so I felt like you wrote it for me!
    I am semi-retired so budget friendly advice is much appreciated.
    You my dear Susan, are a treasure. Bless you,

  24. Susan,
    Your “visual aids” are always priceless. Thank you. I’d love to be able to wear a belt, but I am 5’5″ and approx 150 lbs (depends on the day!) and most of my weight is in my stomach and thighs. I have a short torso and long legs, but because of the weight in my stomach, I don’t like the look of tucked-in shirts, so I tend to wear them over the tops of my pants to disguise the belly. Any suggestions? Thank you!

  25. No necklace with the cardigan? Do you think a short necklace or choker would be OK. I have no problem with worrying about looking shorter cause I am just under 6 ft. I do agree that outfit with the cardigan is most flattering. I use that belt “trick” since I first saw it on your blog. Always look forward to your newsletter. It is often a “why haven’t I thought of that.”

    1. If the necklace is minimal, you could wear one. As I showed in the middle photo, a bold necklace can change the neckline, so if I added a short, bold necklace, the benefits of the low square neckline would be diminished.

  26. Dearest Susan,
    Tks for these reminders!!!
    Since I am opposite of your body frame, very short (petite) and high waisted, longer legs, I cannot wear well the long necklaces without looking “Dumpy!” Even most finer jewelry caters to your body, longer chains……. and such small clasps!!!!
    Your reminders are treasurers, as are you pics and advice over the yrs.!!!!
    Happy New Year from Texas!!!
    Lots of love,

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I share tips and inspiration for using what you already have in contemporary ways. Defining words include effortless, classic, refined, discreet, and elegant. My style is chic, minimal, and timeless with a bit of edge.