No man likes to be looked down on.
You’re 5’6″, 5’5″, 5’2″… you want to dress taller.
You want to walk into a store and find clothing that FITS.
When most brands make NOTHING for men under 5’8″… that’s a tall order.
It’s hard to find clothes that fit and flatter the man of modest height.
Get it wrong, and you’ll look shorter than you really are – or worse, look like a little kid.
So I want to share three very quick and dirty tips that you can start following today to maximize your perceived height.
Now, I’m 5’9″, so for this article, I’ve teamed up with a man who feels your pain – my friend Brock from The Modest Man. He’s 5’6″ in shoes – and you’d never guess. When you look at him you don’t see short… you see sharp.
Want that for yourself? Then read on for three powerful secrets of dressing taller.
#1. Clothes That Fit Make You Look Taller
I know you’ve heard this a million times, but it’s REALLY important for shorter guys: you’ve got to make sure your clothes fit well. For most guys, this simply means sizing down. I see a lot of shorter guys out there wearing size medium shirts when they’d look a lot better in a small or even an extra small.
But even if you size down, the fact is that most major clothing brands don’t actually make clothes for men under 5’8″. The answer? Get your clothes tailored. If you don’t take your clothes to a good tailor regularly, that is the number one way you can dress to look taller right now. Do it and you’ll look better than 90% of men out there – regardless of height.
The most common alterations that shorter men need are:
- getting your pants hemmed
- getting your sleeves shortened on button-up shirts and jackets
- getting your pants tapered (narrowing the leg opening)
- getting your shirt taken in (if you’re short and slim, rock it – don’t hide it in boxy shirts that make you look shorter.)
If you’ve never tried going to a tailor, just take one pair of pants from your closet that needs to be shortened and maybe tapered. Take it to the tailor and just see what happens… you’ll be hooked.
Keep your accessories smaller too. This will look more proportional to your build. For average guys, the best tie width is about 3.25″ at the widest point, but you can go down to 2.75″ or 2.5″ without looking like you’re wearing a ‘skinny’ tie. Use smaller tie knots like a four-in-hand or a double four-in-hand.
Another thing to avoid is wearing big, clunky shoes. And if you have small wrists (6-7″), choose the right size watch. You want a case that’s between 38 and 42mm and not too thick, with smaller hands and numbers, and a narrower, less chunky strap – try leather instead of metal.
Tip #2. Colors That Make You Look Taller
It’s not about which colors you wear, it’s about how you combine them. So for example, if you’re wearing a white shirt and black pants, that’s a stark contrast that cuts you in half visually – there’s a top half and a bottom half. This makes you look shorter than you actually are.
Instead, minimize contrast by wearing clothes on the top and bottom that are closer in color. So instead of a white shirt and black pants, wear a gray shirt and navy pants. This makes a whole world of difference.
You can still include contrast elsewhere in your outfit, like a contrasting pocket square or tie, or a patterned shirt (vertical stripes will give you a height boost.) Just avoid that horizontal contrast that cuts you in half visually.
This also means that if you like looking sharp, you have a great excuse to wear suits more of the time. The matching jacket and pants really elongate the line of your body.
On the other end of the formality scale… skip the shorts. Linen trousers are just as cool in summer, and don’t cut your legs in half.
Avoid statement belts, and consider going without a belt where you can. Jeans look odd without one, but smarter pants can be worn beltless if they fit well enough. Or wear suspenders – the vertical line will make you look taller.
There’s also a third option for suit pants: side adjusters. You can get trousers made with these at bespoke and some made-to-measure tailors, or you can take your existing suit pants to the tailor to be converted to side adjusters if there’s enough spare fabric in the waistband.
Tip #3: Best Brands For Short Guys
There are a handful of specialty brands out there that make clothes specifically for shorter men. Brock keeps a running list of clothing brands for short guys over at The Modest Man. Some of them are online, some of them are brick and mortar, some of them are both. I highly recommend you check out his website – he’s got some great tips and outfit examples for all seasons.
If you’re 5/9″, 5’11”, and you still want to dress a bit taller, his tips are going to apply to you too. It’s not just for the individual who is shorter than 5’8″. Brock’s advice can actually be applied to anybody out there.
The other option is to go custom, especially for dress shirts, suiting, and blazers. I recommend that all men try made-to-measure or bespoke clothes, but it’s especially important if you don’t fit the stereotypical ‘average guy’ template. You will NEVER know how good you can look until you try clothes that are made to fit YOU. Give custom clothes a chance if you’ve been frustrated with what you’re finding off the rack ready to wear.
When getting your clothes custom made, you have much more control, so keep the details proportional to your size. Choose shorter jackets with narrower lapels, and shirts with a narrower collar spread (no more than 120 degrees) and shorter collar points (no more than 2.5″). Skip the chest pockets on shirts and patch pockets on jackets – they’ll just break up your height. And very importantly, choose pants with a short crotch drop (a crotch that sits high rather than halfway down your thighs.)
No matter what your height, details like these will set you head and shoulders above other men and allow you to OWN your body type. Your body isn’t wrong for standard menswear – standard menswear is wrong for YOU. Make the extra effort to dress in clothes that are right for you, and you’ll realize that most of what you thought of as “looking short” had nothing to do with your height. Short men don’t look awkward. Badly-dressed men do.
Want to meet Brock, me, and other men’s style influencers in person? Do some networking with top entrepreneurs at a conference just for men?
Menfluential is a motivational event I put together with my good friend Aaron Marino of IAmAlphaM. February 23rd-24th, Atlanta, Georgia. Click here to check out Menfluential.