Here are some suggestions on how to dress a short-waisted body type from someone who is actually short-waisted and has to deal with this dilemma every single day.
I’ve noticed that a lot of style guides suggest that you “hide” your short waist under long shirts and blazers, empire cut dresses and accessorize with belts that fall at your hips in an effort to give the appearance that your waist is longer… hmmmm.
Many of the styles they suggest (or confine us to), in my opinion, are some of the most unflattering looks! (Unless you’re into wearing casual, boho chic every day!)
The “standardized” suggestions out there do not translate well if you’re in a professional environment. Many of the items they steer short-waisted women to are unstructured looks that cover-up your figure instead of enhancing the positive. You can only look so evenly proportion with this body type. To tell you the truth, I don’t want to really concentrate on “fooling the eye” to look like I have a longer waistline with waist hiding outfits. I think it’s more important to focus on looking well put together, showing off your curves and those great long legs that short-waisted women are blessed with!! Even though a woman has a short waist line; what you can get away with depends on your height, your weight, bone structure, large bust line vs. small bust, fuller hips vs. boyish hips, flat / small rear end vs. a healthy rear end.
So my suggestion is to try everything on and be very critical and honest about whether it compliments your body type or not. I have listed a few things that work for me that may help you in your decision making process, but it’s all relative….take what you can use and see how it works out for you.
- If you’re “top heavy” because you’re short-waisted (bigger breast, broader shoulders and back, thicker arms). Wearing darker colors on the top and lighter colors on the bottom works miracles! You obviously don’t have to always wear a black top but try wearing a top or jacket in a darker hue or pattern then your skirt or pants.
- When wearing separates, pairing the same color top and bottom will give you a clean, classic look and “unifies” your appearance. Making you look longer, taller and slimmer – without any apparent differences noticed in the height of your upper body to your lower body. That’s a very good thing in my book!
- When wearing shirts and tops. Get them altered (hemmed/shorten) so that they hit you right at hip line. Most store bought tops and shirts will be entirely too long for women with short waist lines. Alterations is a great way to make sure these items look neat on you, compliments your figure and hide any tummy issues you may have, without looking sloppy and ill-fitting. The shirt will lay on your body nicely without looking all bunched up because it’s too long. If the sleeves are also too long have the cuff area removed or shorten. The main idea is to have the top or shirt altered to fit your specific body type instead of “wrestling” with a top that is too long because it was designed for an person with a longer waist line. (Note: If you are small boned or short in statue you can also purchase shirts from the Women’s Petite section or from the Juniors department.)
- Beware of tops and shirts with an excessive amount of large ruffles and over embellishment. Best practice is to wear tops with clean and basic necklines. Scoop neck tops that end around the collar bone looks great. (Note: Too low of a neckline for women with large bust can appear to take away inches from your upper body area, so be careful, ladies.)
- Belts and belt loops. If you purchase a dress or top with a belt and the item has belt loops. Move those suckers! In my best Joan Crawford impression…“take those belt loops off and move them where they are suppose to be!!” You can remove them entirely with a seam ripper and/or move them UP to the position of YOUR natural waist line and sew them back on. Many style guides tell you not to wear wide belts. That is a no-no for short waisted women. Glad I didn’t listen to them. Do not shy away from waist cinching belts. I love them and they give me the appearance of having an feminine body with womanly curves when in actuality I have boyish hips. I try to keep my belt height under ’3 inches. You can wear the same color belt as your top or jacket to keep the appearance of a longer waist line. Low hip slung belts do not work! They will hang low in the front but will sit up too high when the belt meets your behind in the back, not a flattering look for anyone who doesn’t have a flat ass! Bringing even more attention to the fact that you have a short upper body – only from the back! It’s better to have the belt rest at one even position on your waist, then to wear a low-sung belt that hangs low in the front, but high in the back. When using waist cinching belts, keep the fit comfortable and not so tight as to look confined or have “muffin top” going on.
- I encourage women with a short-waist line (like myself) to have your tops and blouses shorten by a seamstress, tailor or alteration shop and wear them out instead of tucking them in. Tucking in your shirt, blouse or sweater will only make the unbalance between your upper and lower body more apparent. This is something I try hard not to do. Once you alter your blouses to sit at the right position on your body, they will look fabulous and neat and there will be no need to tuck them in!
- Buy your size! This is very important for women with a short upper body. A comfortable and non-tight fit makes you look neat and well put together. Most short waisted women have problems with their weight accumulating around their middle, stomach, back and arms since there is a limited amount of room for the upper body fat to distribute. Even more reason to make sure any tops, dresses and jacket you buy are your size and not two sizes too small.
- Buy skirts that are no longer then below the knee caps. Wearing super long skirts make the upper part of the body look even shorter! Well, let me just say this…..IMO longer skirts look better when the blouse is the exact same color or print. (I just prefer knee-length myself)
- Wearing low rise jeans or trousers are great for women with a short rise area (distance between top of hips and the start of your thighs). An average low rise pair of pants will fit you exactly where it needs to. Old Navy makes some good ones. I think it’s a good idea to stay away from pants with front pleating, side pockets that could gap, flaps on back pockets and, a lot of pocket detailing or buttons on the pant pockets. Keep your pant silhouette clean and simple.
- I think form fitting dresses, especially wrap dresses are great for women with a short upper body. The suggestion is for us to wear empire dresses. Now, empire cut dresses are fine when the occasion suits the reason for wearing a style like that; but I don’t think short-waisted women should be bury under layers of free flowing fabric just to hide their short waist line! I want my dress to be slimming and well structured, not make me look like I’m pregnant!
- I don’t like long men style blazers unless they are paired up with trousers or Jeans. Don’t think they look right on short waisted women who are short in statue (5 ft to 5.4) when wearing skirts or dresses, but that’s just a personal preference. It can help to visually elongate your frame. Short-cut or shrunken blazer are great because they fit our body type to a “t” without needing any alterations. When shrunken blazer were the trend a couple of years back, I bought a ton of them.
- Shoes. If you are short in statue (and also short waisted), most guides will tell you not to wear ankle-strap shoes. Women who are short but have long legs because of a shorter waist-line can wear ankle straps and not have to worry about the strap making their legs look shorter. The best part about having this body type is we have legs for days (this includes short women) and more likely then not, the slimmest part of our bodies are our “great” legs, so go ahead and rock those ankle-strap shoes because we have the body type to pull it off.
I encourage you to try everything on, especially if you really like it! Try it on and see if the style will flatter you.
Not every short waisted women is built completely the same due to height, bone structure, weight and physical assets (bust, hips, rear, thighs). Don’t feel like you have to live in style “box” because you have a short upper body. Remember the positive to this body type is you have legs for days! Your legs should be one of your best assets, so show them off!
Article written by Budget Chic © All Rights Reserved 2009. Written permission to republish in any form is required from author.