6 Things a Short Person Should Never Wear

We all know that the true measure of a man has nothing to do with his height. That said, there’s nothing wrong with presenting yourself as if you were seven feet tall. After all, confidence is king when you’re a bit shorter than you’d prefer. No matter how tall you are, your style can still be inspired.

When you dress properly, you can stealthily add the semblance of a few extra inches to your frame. Plus, you’ll simply carry yourself in a taller fashion with the right outfits on your side. So be a master of illusion, and follow this guide for the wardrobe items to avoid and those that will enhance your stature. We assure you that you’ll be suitably dressed to impress.

1. Horizontal stripes

Folded colorful dress shirts, clothes

Striped shirts might make you look more wide than tall. | iStock.com

You may have heard women complain about the widening woes of horizontal stripes, and there’s some legitimacy to those concerns. It’s all based on the visual effect created when the eye travels naturally across the body, creating a broader look. For much the same reason, shorter men who want to look taller will benefit from avoiding the horizontal game and going vertical, so that the eye travels up rather than across the body.

Candy-striped shirts, consisting of alternating thin white and colored stripes, are a solid option that’s both trendsetting and refined. You can also achieve a similar effect with any type of textured fabric that has a visible up-and-down pattern, such as corduroy or narrow herringbone.

2. Baggy clothing

Male tailor by shirts hanging from wall, apparel, style

Wear clothes that fit. | iStock.com

A baggy fit is generally bad news on any man, and the effect is exacerbated if you’re on the shorter side. Baggy clothes don’t make you look bigger. In fact, just the opposite is true. The loose clothing draws attention to a more petite frame and simply looks sloppy, as if you’re playing dress-up in dad’s suit.

Turn that diminutive quality into downright dapperness by paying close attention to tailoring. For example, look for shirts with higher armholes to avoid extra fabric under the arms. Also, your new best friend should be the best tailor in town. A good tailor can work magic with off-the-rack merchandise. Hemming jeans and pants so that they break only slightly around the shoe to avoid excess fabric slouching at the ankles is a must. A tailor can also do more specialized work, such as adding a slight taper at the waist of a suit jacket to create a longer look for the legs.

You might also want to look into investing in a few high-quality, custom-made pieces such as a suit and dress shirts. It’s the best way to ensure the finest fit.

3. Long, wide ties

Woman browsing ties in a department store

Not just any tie will do. | Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Most men’s neckties aren’t exactly designed for the shorter among you. Both the length, 58 to 60 inches, and the width, 4 inches, are poorly proportioned. A tie that’s too long extends past the waistband of your pants, drawing attention to a shorter frame while lending a clownish spin. And if your tie is too wide, you could look smaller and more stout than you’d like.

It’s important to specifically seek out ties that are designed for the non-average height. A tie that’s a shorter than 56 inches in length and narrower in width, closer to 3 inches, will generally be a solid option and yield a far better look for your frame. Again, it’s all about creating the right visual effect.

In fact, don’t stop with the tie. Other accessories, such as your belt and watch, should be smaller and more narrow. 

4. Pants with cuffs and pleats

Man posing in jeans

Cuffed pants make you look shorter. | iStock.com

Avoid cuffs at all costs when it comes to your pants. The goal is to create long, lean lines, and cuffs only serve to disrupt that streamlined profile, making your legs look shorter. Nine times out of 10 you’ll also want to kick pant pleats to the curb. They work against that smooth silhouette that flat-front models will maintain. For extra credit, channel a monochromatic moment and match the color of your belt and your shoes to your pants for an uninterrupted line that creates a longer look.

5. Clothes with heavy patterning

Man in a overly patterned suit

A simple suit will never go out of style. | iStock.com

Strong patterns are a tough look for many men, but they can become particularly problematic for shorter guys. The impact of a super-loud print can be overwhelming. Even a hyper-textural fabric can add visual clutter that won’t work in your favor. Small, subdued patterns, from gingham to checks and stripes, are best.

If you’re craving a bold pop to add an exclamation point to your ensemble, focus on a brightly colored, and properly proportioned, tie or a pocket square. It will help draw the eye upward. Otherwise, stay in a more streamlined lane with a unified color palette for the most cohesive, lengthening effect.

6. Platform shoes and risers

shoes, clothes, apparel

Don’t make yourself look desperate for height. | iStock.com

It may be tempting to take the easy way out and buy yourself an inch or two with platform soles or “risers,” which are shoes designed specifically to add inches. But don’t subscribe to this style cheat; it’s not worth it. You’ll only end up looking desperate rather than confident in your stature. Leave the heels to the ladies and wear normal shoes. It’s better to embrace whatever height you are. Just make sure you don’t wear any of the aforementioned pieces, and you’ll take your handsome style a long way.