More Styling Tips for Short Girls

maxi dress for short and petite
You don't have to give up maxi dresses only because you're short! Tips on how to pull of a maxi dress for short girls and women, served by a 5"2 author

Petite ladies like me (5″2) have several fashion challenges, one of which is pulling off a maxi dress. In fact, fashion experts have been telling us to keep off maxi dresses because they are designed for tall women. Today, we are here to dispel that fallacy.

The likes of Nichole Richie, Eva Longoria, Kerry Washington, and Jenna Dewan have repeatedly proved that short girls can rock a maxi dress just as well as their taller friends. However, there are rules to make it work, so let’s start there.

One more thing before we start: by “petite” we mean short. You can be short and curvy, short and plus. This is what you are, and that’s awesome.

How to Select Maxi Dresses for Petite Girls

As a short woman, not all maxi dresses will do you justice. Some will shorten your frame even more, others will make you look wider, and some will be just perfect. So, what specifics do you need to look for in a petite maxi dress?

Maxi dress dress with prints and one without prints on petite girls

Solid color and pattern

Maxi dresses with solid colors, especially dark colors, make short people appear taller and leaner. If you are short and plus size, go for dark solid colors like black, navy, grey and browns since they are slimming and elongating. Slim chics can pull off brighter colors and even a bit of print as long as they are tiny prints.

If you want a dress with more than one color, go for monochromatic to avoid breaking your frame. For patterns and stripes, choose subtle diagonal lines and avoid bold repetitive horizontal or vertical lines.

Pick the right fit

Petite women require dresses that are structured and cut closer to the body. The dress should brush against your curves and accentuate your figure so stay away from voluminous dresses and balloons.

For structure, pick a dress that accentuates your waist- true or empire waist. Empire waists are better because they make your legs look longer and hide tummy bulges. If the dress has a true waist though, be sure to wear high heels to give the illusion of longer legs.

I like a structured maxi dress with pockets instead of a waistband. Pockets make everything look sexier and come in handy when you don’t need to carry a purse.

Watch the length

The ideal length for petite maxi dresses is between the ankles and the top of your feet. It should gently brush against the top of your feet when wearing sandals. Any shorter, and you will look boxy, and longer than that can trip you. Feel free to have the dress tailored to size.

Look for elongating features

The other elongating feature, besides solid colors and vertical patterns, is V-neck. The deeper it is, the better because it elongates your neck and makes your torso look longer. One-shoulder asymmetrical necklines are also a great option to give that long, slimmer silhouette.

Go for flattering designs

Again, not any maxi dress will look good on a short girl, even if it meets the above criteria. When picking a maxi dress for short girls, you want to minimize bulkiness and fabric overwhelm as much as possible. For that reason, designs like wrap dresses, high-low hemline dresses, dresses with slits, and A-line dresses with very light fabric are the best. Any of these maxi dress designs can have pockets to accentuate the waistline and add style.

Styling the Perfect Maxi Dress for Short Girls

Now that you know how to pick the best petite maxi dress, let’s put some oomph into it.

how to wear a maxi dress with a belt for petite women

Pick the Right Shoes

A maxi dress covers a whole lot of your body, so it’s best to leave the feet out and let them shine. This means donning some high heel stilettos, open wedges with some bling and open sandals. If the dress is too close to the ground, wear high heels to lift yourself up. It is possible to pull off a maxi dress outfit with sneakers, but this doesn’t always work well with short girls.


Maxi dresses are a boho-style attire, so you should accessorize the hell out of them. However, accessorizing for short girls does more than just bring pop and pizzaz to the outfit- it also helps elongate your frame. For instance, you should wear long jewelry (earrings and pendant necklace) instead of round ones. Stay away from chokers, hoops, round chunky necklaces and anything that will make your neck look short.

Depending on where you are wearing the dress, you can do either classy or boho-style jewelry. Leave the golds and the silvers for formal events and go all out with leather, pearls, and colors for casual wear.

Use a Belt Wisely

We do not recommend wearing a belt on a maxi dress if you are short. An ideal situation is where the dress comes with its own belt. If you must wear a belt however to bring structure to the dress, avoid contrasting colors because it will create a horizontal line and cut you in half. Instead, use a slim belt that’s the same color as the dress or close.

Even then, you might want to wear heels to compensate for the loss of height. A belt is also unnecessary if you wear a waist-cut jacket over the dress.

Dress Up the Maxi

Sometimes, dressing up the maxi with a chic moto jacket, denim jacket, or classy blazer is all you need to take it from simple to classy. Play with the length of the jacket by doing something crop, so the rest of your body looks longer and thinner. I like to wear heels when there’s a jacket involved in this ensemble just because it’s an elevated look and you want to maximize on height.

For formal events where you choose a blazer, pick one that’s dark-colored and long. The last thing you want is a blazer that cuts on your waist because it will make you look short and compact. If you can get a blazer with those big, gold buttons that serve no other purpose than decorating, get one. They are great for drawing attention to the blazer instead of your body.

Last but not least, stay away from chunky sweaters no matter how cold it is. These are a tall girl’s best friend on a maxi, but they do no justice to a short lady. If it’s chilly outside and you want to layer up, a long structured trench coat, preferably with its own belt, is best.

How do you wear a maxi dress if you are short?

Straight-cut dresses with an empire waist are the best because they give the illusion of longer legs and frame. You should also pick dresses with flattering styles like high-low hemline and wrap dresses.

How long should a maxi dress be for short people?

The ideal maxi dress should slightly kiss the top of your foot when you are wearing sandals. Any shorter than this and it will cut your height while a longer dress will trip you as you walk.

Lior Shapiro

I love clothes with pockets and dresses, and I think any woman can pull off a good maxi dress.
I believe women's clothes with pockets make the world a better place.