For us petites, good style is important not just in our clothing choices, but also in our footwear because let’s face it, anyone looking at us can take in the whole picture in one quick up-and-down glance! That means not only making sure our shoes fit our feet correctly (suffering in pain is not sexy), but that our boots and booties play well with our outfits and don’t cause our legs to look stumpy. How to achieve that? Follow these tips from the ground up!
We all know that wearing a higher heel will make you look taller (because you actually are)! But because sky-high heels aren’t always practical, you probably have some block heels, kitten heels, wedges, and low heels. Block heels are on-trend and typically keep you from tottering. I count lug soles in with the block heel category because you can see a bit of space between your feet and the ground. Kitten heels are thin and low, so they show more of that space. That space can be a great thing (think of how elongated you look on tippy-toes vs. feet flat on the ground). But if there’s a lot going on above a kitten heel, it can look imbalanced and top-heavy. Wedges and low heels don’t have that clearance between the ground and your leg, so they're a little less elongating, but I say if they’re what you have and are comfortable, go with them. (And read on, because there are more steps—see what I did there?—you can take.)
Short Story Tip: Seek out the boots and booties in your closet that fit close to the leg and ankle without a lot of embellishment, which is helpful in terms of cutting down the bulk.
I’ll just dip into this briefly, as toe shapes don’t vary a whole lot. Pointy-toe footwear adds length to your feet, which many petites can pull off because they have petite feet. I do not, so I am holding fast to my square toe booties, which do put a horizontal line on my body (rules are meant to be broken, after all!), but on my feet, I don’t care so much because I practice as many of the other tricks in this post as I can so I don’t go broke buying boots and booties every year! Almond-toe styles are foot-friendly and more on-trend than round toes right now.
Ankles are the smallest part of the leg, so many people like to highlight them. Do this by rocking booties that aren’t too roomy around your ankle, then pair them with your favorite skinny jeans and roll them up to adjust if needed so that they do a meet-and-greet with your ankle booties. I like a skinny, imperfect roll about a scant inch above the top of the bootie to flash a little bit of skin at the most tiny part of my leg. If you’re wearing a dress or skirt, I cannot say enough about ankle booties that have the little v-shaped cutout on the outer ankle or front of the leg, vs. a pair with the opening cut straight across. The V creates a vertical line on your legs and that is key! Say it with me, “V for vertical!” Bonus points if your ankle booties are skin-colored and sport the V. You will have the proverbial legs for days.
Short Story Tip: I like dark bottoms with dark booties, and light bottoms with lighter colors, just to cut down on contrast that can visually cut your legs off between your boots and your hem, making you look shorter.
So, whether your calves are toned or not, I’m going to say that boot shafts that hit at mid-calf can be challenging to style in a flattering way. But I also know that combat boots aren’t going away anytime soon (yay!) and sometimes on us petites, mid-calf is just about where they hit (boo!). In this case, I like to match combat-style or chunky platform boots with black tights or at least knee-high socks. Tucking skinny jeans into sleek boots will always look fantastic, especially if you paid attention to the last paragraph and pair dark boots with dark bottoms, and vice versa. And don’t shy away from over-the-knee boots that fit you well – with this fall’s short skirts and skorts in a similar color family, they are amazing!
Short Story Tip: If you like knee-high boots, look for vertical stitching up the middle of your shin and weed out styles with lots of horizontal buckles, bulky extras and slouch.
Why are we talking waists when we’re talking footwear? Because high rises elongate legs. High-rise skinnies and a cropped sweater are fabulous with booties, and if your booties are low-cut, like a shootie, you can probably get away with not rolling up the jeans at all because you bought them at Short Story and they hit you where they should! ;) High-waisted, slightly cropped wide-leg pants or barrel-leg jeans are cool to rock with Docs, as are a-line floral dresses and skirts. Tuck in longer tops at least a little to keep your waist defined.
In Short (get it?)
Low contrast = high style. Keep horizontal lines to a minimum, sticking to a monochromatic partnership between your footwear and your bottoms. Do this by pairing dark bottoms with dark boots or booties and light bottoms with skin-toned or light boots or booties. A peek of skin above your boots is sexy, so let your hems air-kiss your footwear. Balanced, clean lines are a petite girl’s best friend, helping us put our best foot forward rather than looking like we are tents tethered to the ground. Now, go dust off your beloved boots and booties and tell your stylist about them. We’ll fill a box with pieces that rekindle your love affair with your shoe collection.
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*cover photo: Pinterest