As the owner of my very own set of stumpy-looking legs, this is something I’ve been dealing with for as long as I’ve been dressing myself, so while I do have some tips of my own, I’ll also be really interested in what everyone else has to say to this one! My usual method of lengthening the leg is to wear heels: in fact, I’m pretty sure my long torso/short leg combo is one of the main reasons I got interested in heels in the first place, and why I still swear by them.
With that said, as Tanya points out in her question, not everyone can wear heels comfortable, and not everyone WANTS to wear them, either, so here are some other ways to make your legs look longer, without forcing yourself into a pair of stilettos…
01. CHOOSE SHOES WITH LOW VAMPS AND NO ANKLE STRAPS
Your shoes don’t have to have high heels to have leg-lengthening properties. The basic rule here is that the more of the foot and leg you expose, the longer your legs will look, so that means choosing shoes with a low vamp (the ‘glove’ shoes I wrote about last week, for instance, would be a bad idea here, as their very high vamp will make short legs look even shorter), and, ideally, without an ankle strap, or any other feature that essentially draws a line across the leg. You’ve probably heard that “nude” coloured shoes help lengthen the leg, and that’s true of flats as well as heels, so if you do need an ankle strap to make your shoes feel more secure, choose light colours that don’t stand out too much against the ankle. Can’t find a good “nude” for your skin tone? I find that metallics like gold, silver or rose gold can make a good alternative: no, they won’t match your skin (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing), but they’re neutral enough to have a similar kind of effect.
02. GO FOR HIGH WAISTS IN TROUSERS AND SKIRTS
One of the reasons I like retro-inspired looks so much (especially when it comes to buying trousers and skirts) is that they tend to have higher waists than more contemporary styles. This is less of an issue now than it used to be, because higher waists are becoming more fashionable again, but for a while there it was hard to find anything that wasn’t low-rise, which was a big issue for the short-legged amongst us! Waistbands that sit on the hips, rather than at the natural waist, can be really unflattering on people with short legs, because they make your entire lower body look much shorter than it really is. In my case, a pair of low-rise jeans, for instance, will make my body look even more out of proportion than it already is, with an endless torso, finishing in short, stumpy legs. To avoid this, simply avoid low-rise waists, and choose ones that hit at your natural waist instead – your legs will appear instantly longer.
03. AVOID CROPPED LEGS
Just as low waists will make legs look shorter, so too will cropped legs on trousers and jeans. Those styles will always make the leg look a little shorter, so if your legs are short already, you might want to avoid them. I have to admit that this is one “rule” I generally break: I love capri-length trousers, and ankle-length jeans are normally the only styles that will fit me, so when I do wear cropped trousers, I try to balance out the effect by wearing them with heels and making sure the trousers in question have a high waist. Obviously the heels won’t work in the context of this question, but luckily many cropped trousers already come with higher waists, so you don’t have to avoid them altogether!
04. WEAR SHORTER HEMS
Just as exposing more of your foot will make your leg look longer, so will exposing more of the leg itself. Now, I’m not saying you need to wear mico-mini skirts here (although they will make your legs look fantastic!), but simply that it’s a question of proportion. Skirts and dresses that hit above the knee will make my legs look longer, and my body more in proportion: I, however, like midi length styles, so I normally have them tailored, so they’re a bit shorter than they’re technically supposed to me, and therefore more flattering to my figure. Ultimately, though, if you really want to wear something, then my final piece of advice is this…
05. JUST WEAR IT
Seriously: while these tips are ones that I like to use to make my legs look a little longer, I just want to emphasize that they’re TIPS, not “rules”, and that if you really love a particular item of clothing, there’s absolutely nothing to stop you wearing it, whether it makes your legs look shorter or not!