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Look Thinner

Look Thinner and Taller in Clothing with Vertical Lines



Petite star Shakira wears a gown with vertical sequin spangles to an inaugural charity ball in Washington DC, January 20, 2009.

Michael Loccisano/Getty Images
Short women can create a thinner, taller appearance by wearing clothing with vertical lines. Vertical lines draw the eye up and down rather than side to side, and thus make the wearer look leaner and longer. There are four ways that vertical lines may be created with clothing:
  • Stripes
  • Seams
  • Fashion details that appear vertical
  • Vertical panel of fabric

When wearing striped clothing, take into consideration that stripes that are too wide may not be in proportion with a petite frame. Also, too many stripes may appear too overwhelming for petites. You wouldn't want to wear a striped blouse with striped pants, for example. However, a striped dress, if the style is right for your body type, may work very well. Suits in neutral colors with pinstripes can be good investment pieces because you can wear the suit pieces either together or as separates to expand your work wardrobe.

Although vertical lines in clothing may be created by stripes, vertical lines can also be created by seam lines in clothing that run up and down. Look for seam lines, such as princess seaming, that are not interrupted by other fashion details unless the details, such as pockets, are well placed for emphasis on something you want to emphasize. For example, if you wear a jacket with vertical princess seams that end in pockets just below the waist, and your tummy area is something you want to conceal, rather than reveal, this style of jacket wouldn't be your best choice.

Sometimes fashion details, such as a print fabric or trim applied vertically to a garment, can create the illusion of vertical stripes. Ribbon, cord, lines of sequins or beads all may be applied effectively to create vertical lines on clothing.

A vertical panel of fabric sandwiched between other fabric panels can also create a vertical line. This type of panel frequently extends down the center of a dress or blouse and stands out because it's a different color, texture, or fabric. Maternity clothing often uses this technique because it distracts from focus on the baby bump, but this style is also used in other clothing, including elegant eveningwear.

Diagonal lines can also help create a flattering fashion illusion, although usually it's a softer, curvier feel, which can be very effective, depending on the style of the garment. Chevron stripes work well because they create a series of flattering V-shapes, which makes petites look longer and leaner.

We tend to follow the lines of the stripes so that with horizontal stripes, we're looking from side to side, rather than up and down. This results in the illusion of width. So it's usually a good idea to avoid horizontal stripes because, just as vertical stripes make a person look thinner, horizontal stripes make a person look wider. The only exception might be when the horizontal stripes are confined to a small area on a garment and are framed on each side by either solid color and vertical stripes. For example, a camisole with horizontal stripes might be worn under a solid colored V-neck sweater. Although very slender runway models and very tall women, such as Michelle Obama, can often get away with wearing horizontal stripes, short women will look better in clothing that emphasizes vertical lines.

Related Video
Dress to Look Taller
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