How to Wear Long Skirts if You’re Short

Let’s talk about something us short girls have to deal with when shopping the latest trends: our height. Standing at 5’2”, I have spent my life trying to make my short frame work with certain clothing. Back when flared jeans were the hottest style, those of us on the short side got used to owning jeans that would just hang on the floor. Thankfully, the denim landscape has a variety in style right now so it’s much easier to avoid that problem. But, we’re not here to talk about denim today. Instead, we’re talking about skirts.

As someone on the shorter side, I’ve noticed we can get away with wearing shorter than average mini skirts because they look proportionate to our body. What about when we want to wear a maxi or midi skirt? Or a maxi or midi dress? If you’re into fashion and you’re short, you’ve likely heard at some point in your life that shorter people should shy away from long skirts and dresses. Why? Because it can quickly look like the skirt is wearing you rather than you wearing the skirt.

As much as I love denim, dresses are my jam in the spring and summer. I particularly love long skirts and dresses because I don’t have to worry about the wind creating a wardrobe malfunction. Being 5’2” and hearing that “avoid maxi anything” rule was a pain because let’s be honest…Maxi dresses are basically the cute version of sweatpants. Who doesn’t want to walk around in pure comfort?! Luckily, I found a few styling tips that have helped me wear longer pieces without shrinking my frame and I’m going to share them with you today.

how to style long skirts for petite girls

Outfit Details: Forever 21 top | Who What Wear skirt | Aldo shoes | Zara jacket

1. Be selective with prints.

Printed skirts are a lot of fun and a great way to add some interest to a graphic tee outfit, but you want to be selective when choosing the print. Prints naturally break up your body’s proportions, but this is especially true with horizontal or large, choppy patterns. There are two options to choose from when it comes to prints in long skirts: skip them altogether or know the prints that work for your frame.

If you choose to skip them altogether, your shopping list will simply consist of a solid skirt. Browse the shops for a color you feel comfortable in and you’re good to go. When shopping around for solid skirts, places with affordable basics like Nasty Gal or Boohoo are your best bet. The solid skirts tend to have a bodycon fit and will give your frame shape while elongating your lower half. This style pairs well with a vintage graphic tee for a balanced weekend look.

When prints are still on the table, the trick is knowing which prints to purchase. As a general rule of thumb, vertical or small prints work best. What this means is instead of selecting a skirt with horizontal stripes, shop for a skirt that has thing vertical stripes. The vertical lines create a long, lean focal point which will naturally make you appear taller. Horizontal stripes avert your eyes from side to side and can break up the body into sections, causing your frame to appear shorter.

Patterns that have a small print like the polka dots featured in the skirt I selected are an optimal choice because the tiny pattern is consistent and evenly spread throughout the skirt. The same goes for an animal print skirt like leopard or snake print. The colors within the pattern are kept to 1-3 tones so the skirt has a cohesive appearance and your eyes aren’t darting around like they would with a choppy print.

how to style long skirts for petite girls

2. Splits and asymmetrical hems are your best friends.

A few seasons ago, I picked up a maxi dress from Forever 21 that was a vertical print so it didn’t accentuate my short height, but it lacked a split. While not a complete dealbreaker, a split in the dress would have made it much easier to walk in and it would have elongated my frame just a bit more than sticking solely with the print trick.

Wrap skirts and skirts with buttons down the middle are great options because you can customize the split to your liking. The skirt I featured in the post has working buttons that provide flexibility, allowing me to show a bit more leg if I want to. This adds movement to your skirt and doesn’t swallow your frame since you have peeks of skin popping through as you walk.

Splits within skirts also hide where the hem hits against your body, which is what typically makes you appear shorter if you aren’t careful.

An asymmetrical hem works well for solid, fitted skirts. The high-low hem that was trendy a few years back will keep you from looking too short because the skirt will essentially look like a mini from the front. Alternately, there are skirts that have a higher hemline on one leg and dip down to maxi length on the opposite leg, which is my personal preference over the traditional high-low hem. Much like the split, the asymmetrical hem exposes one leg so your body isn’t lost beneath a ton of fabric.

how to style long skirts for petite girls

3. Be intentional with your heels.

Of course, I couldn’t write a post about being short without incorporating heels. Trust me, I know that not everyone enjoys wearing heels with outfits as a way to keep your height in check. I choose comfort over everything on most days even though I do love wearing a heel more than I did in the past, so I get it. That being said, heels will give you a boost in long skirts that is more advantageous than any other outfit. With long skirts, it’s extremely easy for your legs to appear shorter so you want all the help you can get.

Does this mean you can wear any heel and be good to go? Absolutely not.

When pairing heels with longer skirts, shop for heels in a shade that matches your skin tone for optimal results. As shown in my outfit, I styled a very strappy heel with my maxi skirt. Because it was close to my skin tone, the busy details from the straps don’t catch your eye immediately. Instead, my legs appear a bit longer. Had I worn the same shoe in a bold color like yellow or black, your eyes would immediately recognize a new pattern and chop my legs off where the shoe begins.

If you’d like to style a strappy heel with your long skirt, stick with one that is close to your skin tone. If you’re looking at heels that fall outside of the skin tone hue, pick a classic and minimal style like a pump or single-sole sandal. The bulk of your foot should be exposed to keep your proportions even. In the cooler months, you can style a longer skirt with heeled boots that are no taller than your ankle. Those of us with shorter legs have to be careful with those mid-length boots. Much like horizontal prints, they divide the body in a less than flattering way. Stick with a short ankle boot or go all the way with a fitted over-the-knee style.

how to style long skirts for petite girls

4. Snatch that waist.

Yes, this is something I’m sure we all like to do in general, but it’s particularly important with longer skirts and dresses when you’re short. As much as I love an oversized dress, there’s no denying that when it’s also long it can swallow your entire frame. If you’re sitting poolside or heading to the beach, this isn’t a concern. Any other time, adding shape to your outfit will make your frame reappear and pull the whole look together.

Most maxi dresses come with an optional belt, but I recommend picking up a thin rope belt in a tan shade and a thin black belt as well. These two belts are universally flattering and the thin width won’t create a distracting division in your outfit. Be sure to wear the belt at the smallest part of your waist, as some dresses will have the belt resting too high or too low. A belt that sits too high will make you appear wider than you are, and one that sits too low will shorten your legs.

If you’re wearing a skirt, you can still accentuate your waist! I have always been more of a mullet-tuck girl myself (tuck in the front and leave the back out), but I recommend doing a complete tuck with skirts. If you’re wearing a blouse with the skirt, billow it out just a pinch so the top is slightly relaxed. Of course, you can also accentuate the waist if you’re wearing a t-shirt by tying the extra fabric together into a cute knot in the front.

how to style long skirts for petite girls

5. Handle calves with care.

The last tip I have when it comes to wearing longer skirts as a short person is to be careful with your calves! Midi skirts are still going strong and as a short girl, they are the biggest thorn in my side. I absolutely love them on other people and think they’re a great option for cute office styles, but they take a bit of extra prep to wear.

When you’re short and shopping for longer skirts, it’s important to make sure the hem hits you at the right length. For maxi skirts, this isn’t terribly difficult as you just have to find one that doesn’t drag on the floor when your shoes are on. With midi skirts, you need a skirt that falls slightly above mid-calf. As a short girl, this typically requires additional work because skirts aren’t designed to fit our frame unless shopping in the petite section. If you buy a midi skirt off the rack, take the time either to get it tailored or hem it yourself so the hemline is a few inches higher than it’s original length. The midi skirt should hit 2-3 inches below your knee. If it falls in the awkward point between midi and maxi length, the proportions will be off and shorten your legs.

how to style long skirts for petite girls

5 Tips for Wearing Long Skirts as a Short Girl

To recap, these are the 5 tips to help you wear long skirts if you’re short:

  1. Stick with solids, small prints, or vertical prints.
  2. Find skirts with a split or asymmetrical hem.
  3. Style skirts with a nude or minimal heel.
  4. Accentuate your waist.
  5. Be mindful of hemlines that should stop mid-calf.

What tips do you have for wearing long skirts and dresses?

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