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CNA Lifestyle

The denim guide: Tips for short people to find the perfect pair of jeans

In this edition of CNA Lifestyle's guide to good jeans, practical advice for both guys and girls to give the illusion of extra height – and what not to do so you don't look like a Hobbit.

So you're short. You can barely buy jeans off the rack without alteration required (in the adult section, at least). Those tall people will never understand your retail frustration.

Don’t get mad – get even by adopting some nifty wardrobe strategies that fool everyone (yes, even yourself) into thinking you’re more lithe and leggy than you actually are.

READ: Back to black: The modern little black dress reigns supreme in all occasions 

Here’s CNA Lifestyle’s guide to standing tall(er) in your denims.


Go for slim straight or slim tapered styles that fit relatively close to the body to create a sleek, smooth body-lengthening silhouette. 

Guys, when you're petite, you'll want slim and tapered jeans – not super skinny. Nobody wants to look like a Christmas elf. (Photo: Unsplash / Cedric Wilder)

Guys, avoid baggy, flared, bootleg or wide-legged styles that can make you look stumpy. We’d also recommend steering clear of any super-tight/ultra-skinny/jegging styles as they have the effect of making petite men look like Christmas elves.

Ladies, you have more leeway because women’s fashion offers way more options. For example, try bootleg jeans with heeled boots or stilettos to add extra inches to your height. Or capris with a skin-baring camisole and platform sandals for a slim, gamine effect. Or jeggings with anything. Just put that camel toe away.

READ: Fresh inspiration: 5 chic, flattering ways to pull off an all-white ensemble 


This refers to the distance between the jeans’ waistband and crotch. A standard or medium rise helps to keep your proportions looking balanced.

Guys, too high a rise will make you look like a kid waiting to grow into a pair of oversized jeans, and make your torso seem shorter.

Go for slim straight or slim tapered styles that fit relatively close to the body to create a sleek, smooth body-lengthening silhouette. 

Ladies, high-waist jeans can give a charming 50s effect if you’ve got a tiny waist and pair the jeans with a cute cropped top or tight tank.

Both genders: Too low a rise will make short legs look even shorter.

Don't stuff anything into your back pockets or you'll draw attention to the fact that your butt isn't that far off the ground. (Photo: Unsplash / Frank Uyt den Bogaard)


This refers to the distance between the jeans’ crotch and hem.

Zero in on the petite range. This reduces the chances that you'll need to send the jeans to the tailor to get the hems taken up, which could ruin the line of the jeans. But if your jeans are indeed too long, altering the hems such that the break sits just below the ankle, without bunching up above your shoe, is essential.

READ: Level-up your basic fashion game by layering smart with style and personality


Any solid wash or colour will do, but avoid details such as rips at the knee, whiskering, faded patches at the thighs, and embellishments such as patches or embroidery. These things just  distract from the long, lean line you’re trying to create.

Do not go for jeans with rips, whiskering or embellishments when you're short – they distract from the long, lean line you’re trying to create. See what's happening in this picture? Nothing good. (Photo: Unsplash / Diego Rosa)


Pockets that are too big, and too low, draw attention to the fact that your butt isn’t that far from the ground. As far as possible, do not add bulk by stuffing anything into the pockets for the same reason we’ve just stated.


Clockwise: Light wool waistcoat, by Gucci. Checked gold-tone cufflinks, by Burberry. Saffiano leather zip-around pouch, by Prada. Slim-fit printed denim jeans, by Off-White. Fisherman Nevada leather sandal, by Church's. Cotton shirt with leather pocket, S$950, by Berluti. (Art: Chern Ling, co-ordination: Serene Seow)

Guys, whether it’s a tee, a casual short-sleeved shirt, a long-sleeved shirt, a sweater or a jacket, tops should be close-fitting, sit right above your hips, and in monochromatic colours.

Clockwise: Hardware wrap necklace, by Tiffany & Co. Denim Western-style cropped shirt, S$650, by Saint Laurent. Spiked leather shoulder bag, by Gucci. Camisole with peplum, by COS. Cord wedge sandal, S$790, by Loewe. Mid-rise skinny jeans in black stretch denim, S$650, by Saint Laurent. (Art: Chern Ling, co-ordination: Serene Seow)

Ladies, do as above and keep things close-fitting. Play around with footwear since heels, wedges, platforms and boots can add extra valuable inches. Avoid anything above 5 inches as you’ll look like you’re trying too hard. Plus your feet will probably hurt.

READ: The return of bleached denim and other Spring/Summer trends to wear right now

Source: CNA/yy