Style tips for the shorter man
Updated: Oct 9
My advice, as Baz Luhrmann put it, has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience.
Dressing as a short man does hold numerous challenges, on top of those which are inherent in trying to look good without looking like a tool. Alongside navigating the obvious pitfalls and occasional faux pas which begin to surface the moment school uniform is revoked, styling for the short man adds the complication of not finding anything you can wear or always looking like you have borrowed something from your dad.
I can’t pretend to be a particular expert in this, but I have been trying – with various degrees of success – to dress a fairly short frame since I stopped growing at 5’5” about 17 years ago. That means I have stumbled into (and gone out showcasing) most of the style errors it is possible for a vertically challenged man to wear.
Here are a few things I have learned.
|HEIGHT IS NOT EVERYTHING
You cannot apply one rule to all short men any more than you can to all tall or average sized people. You need to know your body type. Are you slim? Is your body longer or are your legs? Are you narrow shouldered? Do you have a butt? All of this matters and is going to be as important as finding clothes which cater to diminutive stature.
Being short is not the only style challenge you face. Sorry.
|FIT IS KEY
It is the obvious one here, but your clothes have to fit. That does not mean they have to be tight (see below), but if you have less frame to carry them around then you have less leeway to get away with ill-fitting items.
|FIND YOUR BASICS
Unless you have got Short Man Styling mastered, I cannot impress upon you enough the importance of good basics. Find brands which can supply you with items which you know fit and are reliable for a number of purposes. If you have this then you know you have something you can throw on if you need to and you have somewhere to build from as you get adventurous. There are high street options out there: River Island do short-leg jeans in most cuts and UniQlo and H&M both do decent options for simple, plain tees.
If, on the other hand, you have got Short Man Styling mastered then please drop me a line, I could use the assistance.
|DON'T GET HUNG UP ON STRIPES
“Wear vertical stripes, they make you look taller.” Sure, they can elongate your silhouette, but they are not actually fooling anyone. No one sees you in a striped shirt and thinks you are 6’4”, an ill-fitting suit does not suddenly work because it has pinstripes and striped trousers will probably still make you look like a clown.
|DON'T BE AFRAID OF BAGGY
I will talk a lot here about the benefits of slim fit clothes, but that is as much personal preference as anything. I like a close-cut fit for everything from suits to jeans and t-shirts. But that is not to say you cannot do baggy, if you do it right. Two things to bear in mind though:
- A straight-cut suit will always be a challenge and will probably swamp you unless you get an actual tailor involved
- Generally keep to one baggy item and one fitted, otherwise there is a tendency to look like what my better half would describe as “a bag of washing”.
|DO BE CAREFUL WITH TURNUPS
As a kid, most of my jeans were normal length then turned up for effect. This will generally make your legs look shorter. A skinny or slim-fit chino with a roll-up at the bottom has a similar problem. If you are slim yourself then you can get away with it: get the roll-up about half an inch above the shoe break and snug to the leg – if it’s baggy or crashing into your shoe, then you are in dodgy territory.
|BODY-LENGTH IS KEY
While trousers are the obvious danger are for a short man, the length of your clothes on the top half will make or break the silhouette. Trousers which are the wrong length is an issue which can arise for everyone, but taller chaps can generally find tops which are the right length. You do not want t-shirts, jumpers and jackets which dangle below your hips – it cuts off what little leg we have to play with. Finding items with the correct upper-body length is vital. I have a Topman denim jacket which I essentially live in because it site just right on me (XS obviously).
|FIND SOME EXAMPLES
There are some seriously well-dressed short men out there. They have access to funds, stylists and tailors which you do not, but I am not suggesting you wear exactly what they do, just take notes. Jamie Cullum, Daniel Radcliffe, Aziz Ansari, James McAvoy, Bruno Mars and Giancarlo Esposito all dress well despite being relatively short in stature.