Dear Fashion Police,
I read your post about Fashion Myths recently and was happy to hear you don’t think short women need to stay away from maxi dresses, because I’m 5″2 and live in them! I was wondering what you think about midi skirts, though? I love them, but keep reading about how they’re unflattering on short people because they hit at the wrong part of the leg. Is this true?
As with the maxi dresses, this has more to do with proportion, and with body-shape than with height. Yes, short women can wear midi skirts or dresses – you just may have to shop around for a petite fit, or have a regular one altered to make sure it has the same proportions on you as it would have on someone taller.
If you look at the photo at the top of the page, for instance, you’ll see that the skirt hits just below the model’s knee, rather than at the widest part of the calf, (This actually means that it’s not a true “midi” length, but this is the length most retailers seem to be referring to when they use the word “midi”, so it’s the one you need to worry about) which is perfectly flattering.
Thanks to ASOS and their diligence in recording their model’s heights and dress sizes (something we really love them for, because it can be so helpful when you’re trying to work out what length something is), however, we know that the model pictured is 5″9. That means that on someone whose 5″2, say, that skirt will look much longer, and will possibly be more like this kind of length:
Which can be a little more problematic, especially on a petite frame, which can easily be swamped by all that fabric, making you start to look like you’re in some kind of costume drama.
The answer to this issue is to look for midi skirts made specifically for people your height – or to have a skirt altered to the right length. Of course, this isn’t the easy option: as petite people know, ranges designed especially for us are hard to find, and tend to carry a limited selection, but check out places like ASOS, Topshop and Dorothy Perkins (if you’re in the UK), all of which carry Petite lines. Alternatively, it’s not hard to take a hem up, and if you can’t do it yourself, it shouldn’t cost too much to pay someone to do it.
There is one other issue in all of this, however, and that’s body shape. The reason many people are wary of midis is because if it hits right on the widest part of the calf, it can have a shortening effect, which will draw attention to the calves and will possibly (although not always) make them look wider. If you really don’t want to draw attention to your calves, but also really want to try a midi, the key is, once again, to mess with the hem, so it doesn’t land where you don’t want it. Basically, you want to avoid the “stumpifying” effect of drawing the eye right to the widest part of the leg, and adding or removing an inch from the hem can help you do that.
One other tip for you: wear heels. Heels elongate the leg, and create the illusion of height, and that’s exactly what you’re looking for if you’re a petite person looking to wear a midi skirt. As an added bonus, the demure length of the skirt gives you the perfect excuse to break out your tallest, most outrageous shoes: not that The Fashion Police need that particular excuse, mind you…
What do you think? Are you petite? Do you wear midi skirts/dresses? Tell us!