Short Legs?

“You don’t look like you have short legs!” Someone will always comment similarly when I mention dressing to make my legs look longer. The numbers don’t lie. I am sixty-six inches tall. The top of my head to the crotch measures thirty-four and one-half inches. From the crotch to the floor, the measurement is only thirty-one and one-half inches.

A photo below from 2012 proves that I had much to learn about the magic of dressing to flatter my proportions. I bought whatever was on sale or trendy and rarely styled my clothing to suit my shape. Blocks of color seemed like a good idea then; however, nothing in this look worked in my favor. Tunics and slim-leg jeans were all the rage in 2012, but that combo wasn’t the best choice for my shape. The low-slung bulky bag also drew attention to the wrong area.

Fast forward to 2023. Let’s apply some of what I have learned in the past decade. A shorter shirt and jeans with a high waist and full-length, wider legs make a tremendous difference in the proportions. Wearing pointed-toe boots, turning up the sleeves, and opening the neckline also make me look taller. A similar color from top to toe also elongates since it keeps the eye moving.

Bold earrings and a smaller, more structured bag carried above the waistline also make the legs look longer. Moving the focus to the upper body means the legs are not noticed so much.


The shirt in the 2023 look is here. The jeans are here. The earrings are here. A similar bag is here, and similar boots are here.


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76 Comments
  1. While you always look lovely, the proportions are totally off in picture number one. Visual proof that you are absolutely correct! Thank you for this reminder.

  2. Thank you for this article, Susan. I can see how you the methods you have put in place really work for your shape. I’ve tried the shorter length tops, but my problem is that, being an apple shape, the hem hits my widest part, which is just below my waist. Do you have any further suggestions?

    1. Getting a regular, longer shirt tailored to suit your shape might be your best option. Remember that shirts with embellishments around the neck and shoulder areas accentuate them. Another good option is tops that wrap at your natural waistline and flare at the hip to conceal the tummy.

  3. Hi Susan. Your outfit looks modern and beautiful. When I look at the top on the Gap website, it appears to be rather wide. Please comment on this aspect.

  4. thank you for your great information, I think I have been following you for at 6 years maybe more….learned so much and your always look marvelous!

  5. Love when you teach! I learn so much from you. It is interesting to see how fashion “in thing” influences choices. We were all wearing the tunics and leggings back then. I like the maturity and knowledge of what is right for my style and fit. No more wasting money !

  6. Very good advice. One question- what shoes do you suggest if a heeled boot is not an option? My old feet need something flat with support. I do like the more pointed toe. It seems to elongate the leg. Thanks!

    1. Pointed toes add about two inches visually, so they are usually my first choice. Wear shoes that are comfortable in a color similar to your pants (or legs). There is no break in the flow when we wear socks, hose, or tights in the same color as our pants and shoes.

  7. I am 67 inches and I agree tapered legs, slim fit jeans make a difference. New hair style is great it shows the essence of the Silver Fox. Brad

  8. Curieusement,les chemises courtes que j’ai pu essayer ,sont trop larges a la taille ,et me donnent l’impression d’être un cube . J’ai sans doute des hanches trop rondes !
    Je n’ai pas accès aux articles de Gap depuis la France .Dommage .
    Vous paraissez plus jeune sur les photos actuelles qu’il y a une dizaine d’années, les vêtements que vous portez étant beaucoup plus seyants .

  9. A picture is worth a thousand words. The outfit in the picture is perfect for your body shape. Too many times we wear garments that are too large, which in turn doesn’t flatter us at all. Have you considered writing a book?

  10. I could not resist purchasing this denim shirt. I have several denim shirts in my closet; they have been a wardrobe staple since I retired. This will be my first in a cropped style, though. I am a little nervous about the length, but I bought some higher waisted jeans earlier this fall and am hoping the cropped style will work well with them.

  11. What a difference there is in the two pictures. Wearing clothes according to your proportions really helps. And your comment about buying things just because they are either on sale or trendy is so true. It might not be a good look for me. Some more useful information.

  12. This is a very informative post. Sometimes I get dressed without thinking about how something looks or how it flatters or doesn’t flatter my shape. Thanks for this. Keep these coming.

  13. It’s always great to read your posts. I work in an upsale boutique in Naples, Florida. Last season, the owner told me never to use the word “crotch”.:) She suggested that instead, I say “rise”. I have to admit that it does sound more refined. Enjoy your holidays, and, keep posting, please.

    1. Rise sounds so much better, but I wonder if people would understand exactly what I meant since rise is often used to describe the length of pants from the waist to that word your manager doesn’t like.

  14. Another great post. I love that you showed a photo and say why it didn’t work. Thank you for all the tips they are so helpful Please do more like this one.

  15. Thank you Susan ….. I have short legs 29 inches so this article is brilliant.
    Comparing both photos says it all! Thank you so much for being my inspiration.
    I get dressed more quickly these days and look more put together! … and it’s all down to you!!

  16. So I am 37 inches from my crotch to my head and my legs are 28 I/4..so yep short legs!, Short waisted and big bust…
    Oh my, so I figured out tunics are horrible, jackets are best at the top of my hips or moto jackets…crop tops have been difficult to put together but will keep in mind…I find if I tuck in sometimes it not the best….
    Any other ideas…I have given up flats need the length in my legs!….

  17. This is so interesting and informative.
    I cannot wait to measure myself to find out what my proportions are.
    Based on your numbers…what would constitute long legs? Would the measurements be equal? Or would the distance from crotch to floor be greater than head to crotch?
    Thanks for everything you do.
    Sharon

  18. I’m SOOOOO glad it was a technical problem. I was worried that you and Mr Mickey were experiencing worsening health problems. I’m glad that’s not the case. I’ve missed you !! Connie

  19. So glad you are back in my inbox! Very happy to read the news on your health. I went back and got caught up on everything I missed, just thought you were taking a break! You look even more beautiful! Hope Mr Mickey is doing well, also

  20. Wow! you look like two different people, that said in your photo in 2012 you still look trendy and I loved your short style haircut, fast forward to now and you look sleek and very glamorous and very youthful it definitely shows you’ve been on a journey to find a look that reflects who you are and I so love your blogs giving us all ideas to improve our style, thank you.

  21. Thanks for this article on short legs.

    With flare legs the backside pockets appear to have moved up. This is a much better look.

  22. Susan, I m so glad you pointed these things out. But, my problem is I am 5’5 (short legs too) and have a little ” belly ” which makes it hard –no almost impossible — to wear shirts inside my high waisted pants. I do have some shorter jackets but I’m wondering if I could wear a longer, slightly more fitted shell and add the jacket which is shorter? Would that be ok? Always appreciate your thoughts.
    Molly

  23. I have very short legs – 30 inches lower body and 36 upper !!! I had no idea !! Thank you so much for this post . Knowing this will really help me with fit
    All I can say is wow !!

  24. I thought “but you don’t have short legs, Susan!” when I saw the top photo with your chambray/denim shirt!

    Then as I scrolled down to the older photo, I saw the huge difference you made simply by changing up your clothing choices! Wow! Lesson learned! :-).

  25. I am the exact same height as you! But I’ve always assumed you were 5’6″ or 5’7″! Amazing how dressing well makes a difference. Not only do you look taller in your outfits, you look youthful. Thank you for the advice. The only tip I cannot do is the shoes. Having had 2 broken toes in my youth, I cannot do much of a heel nor can I have a pointy toe.

  26. Hi Susan, you look lovely and make a good point. I’m only 62 inches tall myself with a longer torso and short legs myself.

    I have longer tunic tops and have wondered about having some of hem shortened .

    Did you dispose of your tunics or have any altered?

    I like the tunics but they are too long to tuck in my jeans.

  27. Hi Susan,

    You look great as usual.

    I have tunic tops and thought of having them altered.

    Did you dispose of all yours? Do you feel they could be shortened?

    Thank you for your posts.

  28. You look younger in 2023 than in 2012!
    I too have short legs. Just purchased high waisted jeans , extra short, from American Eagle; tucked in my tee shirt and now I look taller, yay! ( I’m 5ft 1 inch ).

    Madeleine

    1. Your best style might include tops that wrap or cross over in front, giving the illusion of a lower waistline. A V-neck might also flatter you. Avoid crew neck and shapeless tops that fall straight from the most significant part of your bust.

  29. Good Morning
    Wow, wow, wow……. Thank you for this email. I’m amazed! You look so different and most importantly you look healthier in your 2023 pic. What an incentive to read the Eat to Live Book and also how to dress if you have short legs. Thank you so much. Have a wonderful weekend.
    Kind regards
    Gayle

  30. Awesome how you showed the contrast of the two looks. You perfectly proved your point. I pray you & Mr. Mickey and your parents are doing well.

  31. I enjoy your messages. I have a question about pants. I am noticing women wearing shorter pants now. Is this a new trend? Are you wearing shorter pants? What do you do about socks?
    Thank you

  32. I found those jeans as well and was so excited – but they didn’t work for me, unfortunately. I am too round in the tummy even though I am slim, and the front pockets looked terrible on me. I was so sad! I wish they made them with the smaller notch type jean front pockets, because they were very nice looking jeans. Thank you for all the ideas and reviews that you post, its so helpful for all of us!

  33. Also helps you have narrow hips. I have a more rounded rather than straight hip which also shortens the look of the leg.

  34. Thank you, so much, Susan for addressing this topic of short legs. I’m average height but often wonder how to make my legs seem longer. But I admit to preferring narrow leg pants, so could you do an article on wearing narrow leg/skinny pants if you have short legs?
    I have really enjoyed your recent series of “how to”. Please continue to do this sort of thing. Maybe do one on how to eliminate frump in a curated wardrobe.

    1. Maintaining dignity without a tunic over the skinny pants we’ve been seeing over the past fifteen or so years is challenging.
      It takes a while to get used to a new silhouette, but current styles are much more flattering. Long dark-colored pants that fit close to the body above mid-thigh before flaring to a fuller leg worn with a shorter jacket or sweater make one look taller, more slender, and more elegant.

  35. Wow what a difference in those two photos. Also you look much younger in the 2023 picture and love your hair longer. I’m 74 and can copy most things you suggest but cannot wear high heeled boots or shoes. So I do buy similar jeans but wear with sneakers, but sometimes the jeans are too long. Also I have a bit of a tummy so don’t feel comfortable tucking in shirts. I do like the idea of same or similar colour top and bottom to look taller.

  36. SUSAN,
    You are so gorgeous! You look younger in the 2023 picture than in the 2012 one.
    Thank you for sharing your ideas about style for older women.

    Have a blessed day,
    Zoeanne S.

  37. I am 69 y/o and 5’11”. Can you tell me the name of a tall influencer that I can see how she styles her clothes.
    Thank you!
    Gwen

  38. Hi

    Curious about this.

    I’m shorter than you at a bit less than five feet. Our leg length is proportionately about the same. But when I stand next to someone the same height or even a bit taller, my legs are almost always longer than theirs and my waist higher.

    From crotch to waist is ten inches and there is so little space between the top of my hip bones and the bottom of my rib cage that I have no discernible waist.

    When I was younger, what worked for me were tunics which ended more or less at crotch level. The shape of the pant legs didn’t much matter. Straight up and down dresses also worked well.

    Now that I’m older and, alas, a bit wider in the hips such things don’t work anymore. Wondering if you have any advice?

    Love your blog. You are an inspiration to me!

    1. Try different styles and combos on to see if you like the results. You may now have a rectangular shape, so focus on styles that nip in at the waist a bit, such as an A-line or fit-and-flare style top or dress.

  39. Wow! What a difference! I learn so much from your photos. I’m only 5’1″ now, (have shrunk an inch), and for sure have short legs. But…the big difference in why I cannot follow your lead in how I dress, is my stomach. I look for tops that flow over the stomach. I love the cropped top you’re showing, but no way could I wear that! It’s frustrating to have to wear tops and sweaters that don’t cling or define anything. I love your jeans, but again, a flair, even a small one doesn’t seem to be my best look. You do inspire me though and I am striving to lose the stomach weight, but it’s slow going.
    Keep inspiring us Susan! Always love your posts!

  40. What a great post! Even the different shape of your hair makes you look taller! Did you consciously change your hair style to elongate your face? Either way, it really works! Photos speak louder than words, and you really nailed it. Thank you so much for showing how to style the new silhouette, and how it can work in our favor! Also, you look great!

    1. Thank you, Mandy. I didn’t consciously change my hairstyle to elongate my face, but I’m glad it does. The current simple layered bob style is easier to maintain.

  41. I love your latest hair style! I tried growing out my bangs but it didn’t work with my long oval face so I had them cut again. Thank you for fixing the email issue as I had been missing post notices also. Now they are back.

    Btw, I saw your image on a paid ad that appeared in an article I was reading on the New York Times website (the link was “20+ Fashion Tips for Older Women”). It looked like click bait which I don’t normally click on so I don’t know where it linked to. Anyway, I was concerned that someone was using your image without your permission.

    1. Thank you for telling me about the image theft. It happens often, and unfortunately, there isn’t much I can do to stop it. I’m glad you didn’t click on it since it was likely a scam.

  42. Susan! You look lovely, and I’m so glad you are doing well. Thank you fo sharing your life with us. I identify with the short legs (I’m 5’3″) and agree with the styling you suggested. I can’t wear shorter or cropped tops. My trouble area is exposed and embarrassing. After having four children, at 64 I’m left with what I’m seeing is called an apron. Right above my public bone area is a gross lump of fat that shows when exposed by a shorter top. I need 24 12″ to cover it. Any suggestions? I’m not heavy and weight is 112 lbs. Last spring I got very sick and had to have emergency surgery in the middle of the night and almost died. When I was admitted I was 89 lbs. That was the only time that lump went away. I’ve worked hard to gain my weight back, but the excess skin came back too. No amount of exercising has ever minimized this and I’m very self-conscious about it, I just wear tops long enough to cover it. I do wear shapewear briefs to try to make it less noticeable, but it is noticeable. I hate this.
    Billie

    1. Creative layers and longer tops can work in your favor, Billie. Try a longer sleek top (here) under a shorter jacket or cardigan to achieve the layer you prefer with a modern, shorter element over it.

  43. Hello Susan,
    To my eye,the picture from 2012 had only one real
    style correction needed and that was the red leggings. If they were black the whole outfit would have been pulled together. You looked fab then and fab now!
    Thanks for the fun take on dressing!

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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.