Short Man Style: 7 Reliable Style Tips for Short Guys

Time to Stop Looking Like You Robbed Your Daddy's Closet
Time to Stop Looking Like You Robbed Your Daddy’s Closet

What follows is a guest post by Brock from The Modest Man. He shares some great tips for the shorter guys among you. 

The vast majority of men’s clothing companies make clothes for the average man, who is 5’9” and slightly overweight.

Your problem is that you’re shorter than average, so finding clothes that fit is a total pain. Sleeves are way too long. Dress shirts billow out at the waist. Pants always bunch up at your ankles.

You put on a suit for an interview or wedding and feel like a kid who got into his father’s closet. Your favorite Saturday-night button-down looks like a hand-me-down from an older brother.

And this sucks!

Because even if you’re ready to take your first steps to restart your style, you can’t find clothes off the rack that fit. So you’re at a disadvantage from the get go.

I feel your pain.

As a 5’6” guy, I struggled my whole life to find clothes that fit well — clothes that I felt confident in.

A few years ago, I decided to solve this problem. I hunted down the best clothing stores for short men and explored custom clothing options. I taught myself about alterations and starting getting my clothes tailored for a better fit.

It paid off.

Today, I love every article of clothing I own. The clothes in my closet all fit perfectly, and getting dressed in the morning has gone from a frustrating chore to a genuine pleasure.

I want you to experience the same delight getting dressed, so today I’m gonna give you seven simple style tips for short guys that you can use right away to step up your style game.

Hemmed Pants
Hemmed Pants

1. Get Your Pants Hemmed

When you are below average height, almost every pair of pants you find in stores will be too long.

When your pants are too long, they puddle at your feet and make you look like a child.

The good news is, solving this problem is cheap, quick and can be done at almost any tailor or dry cleaner for 10-20 dollars.

Whenever you buy a new pair of pants, just tell your local dry cleaner you need them shortened.

If your pants have a hem (the extra material at the bottom of the pant leg), ask the tailor to keep the original hem. This is especially important for jeans!

Slim Tie
Slim Tie

2. Pay Attention to Proportions

Ever wonder why even small and medium sizes don’t fit well?

They are sized down from the larger cuts, but the proportions aren’t altered for smaller body types.

Try these three easy ways to use proportions to your advantage:

  1. Wear slimmer ties. If you are shorter than the average male, you are probably also smaller in general (narrower, thinner limbs, etc.). Thick accessories, like ties and scarves, will only make you look smaller. I recommend slim ties — not skinny ties — for a balanced look. (Bonus Tip: Try the Four-in-Hand knot instead of the standard Windsor and Half Windsor.)
  2. Avoid thick belts and large belt-buckles. Same concept here. A thick belt with a large buckle will look too big for your body, thus making you look shorter than you really are.
  3. Try medium or short-rise instead of low-rise pants. Low-rise pants make your legs look shorter by lowering the perceived waistline. If you have long legs and a short torso, this is fine. But if you have shorter legs (in proportion to your torso), you’ll want to avoid low rise pants (despite their current trendiness).

These tweaks can work wonders for your perceived proportions.

3. Stop Worrying About Dressing Taller

Most style tips for short men focus on dressing taller. They assume this is your goal, so they tell you to wear pinstripe suits and avoid horizontal stripes.

While some of this advice can help elongate and streamline your profile, most of it should be ignored. If you see a shirt with thick horizontal stripes that fits well and makes you happy, buy it and wear it proudly.

4. Avoid Heightening Shoes (a.k.a. risers).

Heightening shoes have unnecessarily thick soles to make people look taller. These shoes are very ugly and low quality. Avoid them at all costs.

Risers
Say NO to Risers

You can’t fool anyone. Height is genetically determined, and we can’t change it.

So embrace it. Find confidence elsewhere, despite of what you’ve been given physically.

You’ll feel much better about yourself in a sweet pair of polished Oxfords than a chunky pair of black risers.

5. Shop at the Store, but Buy Online

Have you ever found a great pair of shoes at the store, but the smallest size was an 8, when you needed a 6.5?

Next time, write the model number down, and buy it the right size from Zappos or Amazon.

Same goes for pants. Most stores carry jeans down to size 30×30, but they have smaller sizes online. Be patient, go home and order the correct size from your comfy chair.

Most companies have free returns these days, so stop fearing that it won’t work out and you’ll suffer buyer’s remorse.

You won’t. You’ll be glad you took the extra effort.

6. Use Specific Colors and Patterns To Your Advantage

I said you shouldn’t dress to look taller, but you can use certain patterns and colors to downplay your shortness.

You can do this two ways:

  1. You can use solid, similar colors for a unified look. Dark pants and a dark shirt always work well. Or, if you prefer lighter colors, tan chinos with a white shirt. Another great option is dark blue jeans with a lighter blue shirt.
  2. You can use vertical stripes to create a heightening effect and draw people’s attention toward your face. For best results, look for narrow stripes or herringbone patterns.

Try it, and see the results for yourself.

7. Go Custom

When all else fails, you can still have something custom made.

I still remember the first time I put on my first custom dress shirt. I had never before experienced such a feeling. Wearing a shirt that fit perfectly not only felt great against my torso, but seeing myself in the mirror shot my confidence through the roof.

Since then, I’ve become quite comfortable with the world of online, made-to-measure clothing.

I highly recommend that you give this a shot. Companies like CottonWork, Blank Label and Indochino make custom suits, blazers and pants for very reasonable prices.

Once you go custom, you will never buy another dress shirt or suit off the rack. You’ll avoid hours of sifting through the racks at crowded, overpriced department stores.

Parting Words

Following these style tips for short men, you will be able to find clothes that fit your body perfectly. Some extra effort is required, but it’s worth it to look great and feel confident.

You can find more style tips and advice for short men at my site TheModestMan.com, a blog dedicated to men under 5’8” who want to dress sharp, regardless of their height.

  • Moe says:

    hi, my name is moe and from Seattle, i just wondering will you pls give me some advices for how to buy the right clothes, shoes and proper dresses…etc. I understand it is a long shot but i would be really highly appreciate for your reply. thnx!
    PS: i’m 5.6″ and short legs.

  • Vu says:

    Well written article! As a 5’5.5″ men in Vietnam is not really an issue, but when I go abroad to places like Singapore or Taiwan, my height started bother me.

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