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How to look taller and slimmer (no matter your weight!) with clothes

How to look taller and slimmer (no matter your weight!) with clothes

Some days we just want to look our best, and your clothes are obviously a huge part of that.  But, what you may not know is that clothes and styling techniques can teach you how to look taller and slimmer.

This post is not about dieting or endorsing a culture that praises the skinny body type.  But rather it is taking your body shape, and your clothes and giving you the most flattering outfit inspirations and style tips. 

I use these tips fairly regularly, but let’s not forget there are days where our outfits just won’t be picture-worthy and that is ok too.  So before I teach you how to dress to look slim and tall, let’s accept ourselves for exactly how we are day-to-day. 

I want to look taller and slimmer, is that ok? 

Yes, absolutely!  Just like makeup enhances your natural beauty, the following style tips will enhance your style and body shape.  I am not endorsing losing weight, fad diets, or any exercise program to look taller and slimmer. 

These are styling techniques that will give you a streamlined look that highlights your best assets and keeps you from making fashion mistakes that are aging your or unflattering. 

Look at these tips as building upon your natural figure, and giving you some extra confidence, rather than any sort of deceptive practice. 

And, even if you don’t want to specifically dress to look tall and slim, these tips will help you improve your style by highlighting your best features, and avoiding frumpy proportions. 

NOTE: There are before and after images to show you how to look slimmer and taller. However, none of these outfits are “mistakes” or “bad”. It is just to show you how certain styling techniques can help you appear taller and thinner. So please don’t try to judge one outfit as “better” than the other. Some of these outfits are more trendy, some are more classic, and they are all shown as examples so that you can see the actual proportion changes.

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How to look taller and thinner with the right clothes

1. Wear heels 

wear heels to look taller and slimmer

Let’s start with an easy step first! You want to look taller? Great, throw on a pair of heels. 

Duh!  But in all honesty, wearing your heels does more than just make you taller. It also helps add some length to your lower proportions, therefore making you appear taller.  

Nude heels are a great option as well because they make your legs seem endless and really draw out the lower half of your body.

Another great thing about heels is they often help your posture, so you stand up straighter, also helping you look tall and slim.

I know what you’re thinking. Heels! Ugh, my feet just can’t.  But this tip is not about adding a 5 inch stilettos into your closet and killing your feet on a daily basis.  But rather, finding a heel or heel option that works with your lifestyle. 

Everything from a kitten heel, wedge, or even a platform can help with the desired effect.  

My favorite comfortable heels are these by far!  And they are worth the investment because you will have no qualms about wearing them regularly.  Your feet will not even notice the change.  

That being said, if the traditional high-heel doesn’t work for your style or lifestyle, here are some other options:

Also, keep in mind what type of heels you can walk in.  We want these shoes to help us feel more confident, and not look like a deer trying to walk on ice.  If you struggle to walk in heels, try a block heel, or a heeled boot for an easier alternative.  Or shoot for heels in the 2” and below range. 

2. Add a belt to highlight your waist 

We will get into what bottoms are best for looking taller and slimmer, but almost every body shape can benefit from adding a thin belt to highlight their waists. 

Adding a visual cue to focus your outfit helps draw people’s attention to your waist which elongates your legs, gives your outfit definition and makes you appear slimmer by adding focus to this thinner part of your body. 

For this styling tip to work best, opt for a skinny or thin belt, something under 1.25” in height.  A wide belt can throw off your proportions or make your middle appear thicker than it naturally is. 

Belts also assist in getting those pant gaps to disappear, and to literally cinch in your waist. And if you don’t want your belt to be a focal point, but you want the slimming effect, opt for a belt that matches the color of your pants for a more discrete iteration of this tip. 

In the above image, you can see how much the thin black belt helps define the waist and give some definition to an outfit that has a lot of baggy pieces.

3. Column color dressing and/or monochrome

side by side comparison of style tip to look taller and slimmer. left side: all black outfit that makes you look long and slim. versus a multi-colored outfit that doesn't extend your proportions in the same way

Monochrome is a style secret that not enough people talk about. Tonal dressing, monochrome, or column color outfits are some of the easiest outfits to pull off.  

Dressing to look tall and slim is about layering properly (avoiding those bulky layers that widen you) and about color. Using color to elongate your body shape and keep your outfit distraction-free is key. 

Darker tones and black work very well to slim you out. They provide less opportunity for wrinkles or pulling to show, and they create a streamlined silhouette.  Because your outfit is all (or mostly one color) there is nothing distracting the eye when the outfit is being taken in.  

While I love an all-black ensemble, that is not your only option.  Navy, burgundy and any darker hue would also work well.  However, if you have areas in your body you want to be more discreet about ( think a belly you want to hide or thighs you want to slim out) avoid tans, whites, or high-saturation colors.  These colors will tend to show off those areas more because the shadows easily created on lighter color backgrounds.  

If you have your heart set on a lighter color monochrome outfit, make sure the pieces are less body-conscious and it should work successfully. 

If you look at my example image, you can see both outfits work. However the jean outfit, with many colors and textures creates stops for your eye. Because of this it does not have the slimming and lengthening effect like the monochrome outfit.

4. Crop Tops or Cropped Jackets

example of side by side tip: wear cropped tops or cropped jackets to dress slimmer and taller. Gabrielle arruda in cropped jacket versus longer, oversized blazer

When dressing to look taller and thinner, it is all about making your legs look long and your upper body appears petite.  So crop tops and cropped jackets will be a huge asset. This does not mean you need to show your stomach (totally your call).  If you want to have a more modest iteration of this, a crop top could also be paired with a high waist pair of pants to avoid any skin reveals. 

You’ll see in this example above how the cropped jacket makes my legs appear longer and highlights the vertical notes of my outfit.  Whereas the longer jacket (while stylish) does not make my frame any taller or thinner.  

Remember that each outfit you create does not HAVE to make you taller or thinner.  These are tips to use to enhance an outfit, or boost your confidence when you need it.  I would still wear both of the outfits in the above example. 

And in the above image you can see how the use of a crop jacket makes my waist appear higher than it is, and my torso shorter, which gives the illusion of height.  For reference I am 5 ft 6 in. 

gabrielle arruda in crop top and high waist trousers to show how wearing a crop top can make you appear taller/slimmer

5. Vertical prints or stripes

vertical stripes to help you look taller and slimmer

How people process an outfit has a lot to do with the visual cues of the outfit.  Where there is detail or emphasis, the eye will stop to take in it.  So any vertical stripes, seams, or prints help the eye to move from top-to-bottom of the outfit, as opposed to horizontally.  This helps with appearing thinner and taller. 

My favorite option to do this is a wide-leg pant with vertical stripes. They are classic, can be dressed to match many fashion styles, and can still be a foundational piece to your look (instead of the focus). 

6.  Higher-rise pants

how to look taller and slimmer using a high waisted pant/bottom. side by side of gabrielle arruda wearing high waist black jeans versus low rise leather pants

As much as we tried to avoid it, Gen Z has brought back low-rise pants.  And if that is your jam, by all means, go for it. 

However, if your goal is to look thinner and taller, low-rise pants are not your friend.  Not only do they make your torso appear longer, and your legs short, they often cause your stomach to be more prominent and kind of spill out of the waistband (even if you have a very flat stomach).  

Low-rise pants are just hard to style for length or svelteness.  See the image above on how different my body looks with low rise versus high rise pants.  

I would suggest doing (at a minimum) a mid-rise pant to achieve this lengthening effect.  

7.  Tuck in your tops

Tucking in your tops, or doing a french tuck will help define your waist and upper half. This is one of the easiest ways to appear slimmer and let your body shape shine.  It will also help you dress in the ideal proportions, and not cut your body up in half.

tuck in your tops to help lengthen your legs and give definiton to your waist. side by side of tucked and untucked top on gabrielle arruda

8. Pointed-toe shoes

Pointed shoes, especially pointed heels, help your feet have a definitive stopping point.  The sharp end to your outfit coming to a point feels conclusive.  Whereas a round or square toe does not create a visual stop.  

You can see this in the above image that also references tucking in your tops. While my square-toe heels have triangular straps, which help to draw the eye downwards, the pointy toe is more lengthening overall.

A pointy heel is like a sentence that ends with a period.  A round toe is like a sentence that ends with a…..  

A pointy heel with a low vamp also makes your legs appear longer.

low cut vamp on heel. where the heel stops and your skin starts to show

9. Flares

Flares are just flattering.  Their proportions make your legs look long and thin, and they draw your eye up.  It’s a jean style that never seems to fade from popularity because they make your waist seem small ( in relation to the wide flare hem) and they look fantastic with a pair of heels or heeled boots.  

Because flares always hit the ground, they draw your eye down to the floor, whereas a cropped ankle might disrupt this.  

Notice how tall and lean I look wearing flares: 

how to look taller with flares

I am also using the pointy heel, v-neck and higher-rise pant to help me dress taller and thinner.

You could also try a jumpsuit that has slight flare. Jumpsuits, when they fit correctly, can help elongate your body and give that column-color approach we discussed.

jumpsuit with flared hem to help elongate body and look taller, column dressing

 

10. Avoid large-scale prints and busy prints

While I love a good print, large-scale prints provide multiple places for you eye to lose focus.  Which means they do not embrace a vertical impression. 

As you can see in the image below, the large-scale print has your eye darting back and forth horizontally to take in the print.  Whereas the fine stripe (or no print) outfit has your eyes take things in from top to bottom seamlessly. 

side by side of busy print dress versus pinstripe dress so you can see how the stripe dress lengthens my body and the busy print (while cute) tends to overwhelm

While the printed dress is flattering, because both the body and sleeve is fitted, the pattern is so busy it is hard to focus on anything else. I want to stress again, that none of these outfits are inherently wrong, and this before-and-after is to highlight clothes that help you look slimmer and taller.

11. Form fitting dress with accentuated waist 

business casual wrap dress with leather detail and white heeled boots

Fitted dresses or wrap dresses that accentuate your waist are some of the most flattering dresses out there.  They help highlight your body and give your outfit definition. Slits can also help you achieve this effect.

While I love dresses with volume or looser options, they tend to not help you look slimmer or taller. So decide on your goals for the outfit when selecting your dress. 

12. V-necks 

woman wearing a wrap dress with v-neck. v-necklines help draw the eye down- which has a lengthening effect and helps you appear taller

Vertical, vertical, vertical.  Are you tired of hearing me say it yet?  While, I’m not saying you should ditch every neckline and only wear v-necks, they are a great option to help slim your frame. 

They create a visual point towards the floor which draws your eye downward.  See the image above for a visual representation. 

It does not need to be a plunging neckline to have this effect.  Leaving a few buttons undone on a shirt, or having even a small v-neck will help.  

13. Watch your proportions 

Dressing for your proportions is incredibly important.  You never want to cut your body up in half, because you will always appear shorter this way. 

You want to cut your body up into thirds, or if you’re really skilled in style into sixths.  

This can be 1/3 on top, and 2/3rds on the bottom- which is an ideal proportion to look taller and slimmer.

And while the alternative, 2/3rds on top, 1/3rd on the bottom helps less with appearing taller, it is still an ideal proportion to work with.  And you can add a pair of heels if you want to make this proportion more slimming. 

If you don’t believe me that proportions will make or break an outfit, just check out these examples:

golden ratio dressing, 1/3 top and 2/3 trouser to appear more stylish
how to dress using the golden ratio
showing how cutting your body up in half with your clothes makes you look shorter and fatter

14. Fitted sleeves 

I love a great statement sleeve or puff sleeve, and they certainly have their place.  But, they can also be a major distraction to keeping your looks streamlined and vertical. 

Because they create a horizontal detail at the top of your look, they can distract your eye and eliminate that length we want to create.  

Longer sleeves, and 3/4 sleeves also create vertical space in your outfit, which can help your eye travel vertically.  

15. Try shape wear

So, these tips are all about using fashion styling techniques to give your body length and create a vertical illusion.  However, not every outfit you wear will fit into these tips.  And that is totally ok.

Shapewear is a totally acceptable alternative to give your outfit a little slimming boost. They are especially helpful to smooth out bulges in silk dresses or light fabric pants that can highlight curves and bulges more easily. 

16. Longer jewelry 

Longer necklaces achieve a similar effect like the v-neck does. It draws your eye down, which helps keep your outfit vertical. 

It can be  an easy jewelry addition if you like these types of necklaces.  Avoid anything with a large pendant or statement piece that will stop the eye from continuing down the outfit. 

17. Try a nude shoe or matching your shoes to your trousers 

The fewer breaks you have in the outfit, the easier your eye will travel down the outfit vertically.  Nude pumps (or shoes) help your legs look long and continue that nude tone down vertically without a stopping point. 


Similarly, matching your shoes to your trsouers or pants can help keep that line long and reduce any visual breaks.  Bonus points if you use a pointy toe! 

18. Cropped trouser (use this one with precision)

So cropped trousers can be your friend when trying to dress taller and slimmer.  However, you have to use them carefully and really pay attention to where the trouser hits. 

If it is cropped too high, you will get too much calf skin showing and that will create too much of a break between your pant hem and your heels.  And if you don’t have enough space between your pant hem and your shoes, it will appear like your pants are too long for you and shorten you. 

So what is the magic number?  I like to shoot for between 1” and 2” between the top of my shoes and my hem.  I would also opt for a higher rise pant to create the illusion of longer legs.

19. Mini-skirt 

black skirt suit with graphic tee, logo tights and combat boots, showing how a mini skirt can help you appear taller

I save this tip for last because just like crop tops, mini-skirts are certainly not everyone’s cup of tea.  But they do make you look taller. 

Opt for a high-waisted mini-skirt that hits a few inches above your knees (4 in or more is best).  This will lengthen your legs (even if you don’t wear heels), and give focus to your long bottom half.  

I have a lot of people mention their weight as a roadblock to their style, and that is a very complicated relationship to overcome.  I have styled many body types, and have always found that weight is not a determining factor for good style. 

So, I wrote this post to hopefully help you narrow in on some mistakes you might be making, and give you a bit more confidence in your look.  

Styling tips to make you appear taller or slimmer, are NOT about being a different shape than you are, rather it is about using more precision to highlight your shape and give your more confidence. 

Just like any baking recipe uses precise measurements to achieve the desired taste and texture, precise style tips can help take a frumpy outfit to style gold.

If you still struggle with your style and your wardrobe just doesn’t seem to support your goals, check out my Craft the Closet of your dreams playbook, here.  It’s a proven step-by-step guide on how to find your ideal style, audit your closet for your lifestyle, and put those style goals into real life (and not just on your Pinterest board). 

Now, go be a vertically-dressed queen! 

19 style tips to how to dress taller and slimmer no matter your weight, before and after style images to show how to dress taller and slimmer

Claire A Taylor

Wednesday 15th of September 2021

This is really useful and your down to earth approach is very calming!

Gabrielle Arruda

Monday 20th of September 2021

Glad it helped!!🥰