Can short women wear midi skirts?


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?

~ Louise

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 Рyou 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:

(Dolce Vita)

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!


  • June 30, 2011


    I’m 5″2 and almost all of my skirts are below the knee or midi. Never really had a problem with looking short in them, and I wear them with both flats and heels.

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  • June 30, 2011


    I absolutely hate writing comments that essentially pimp a post from your own blog, but I absolutely laughed when I saw this in my Reader, as I was in the middle of writing my own! I love midis and like Cookie I’m 5’2″. So much like the vast majority of the other fashion rules out there, screw it! (except for the toeless boots rule of course)

    If you are interested, the post is here:

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  • June 30, 2011


    lol I’m also 5’2! I wear all different lengths of skirts… I have great legs so I can pull them off.

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  • June 30, 2011


    I am 5’3″ and wear longer skirts all the time (with heels because I live in my Born heels though I have been known to wear them with my tennis shoes though in my case I stick with knee length skirts when wearing them with tennies.)

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  • July 3, 2011

    Hannah J.

    I’m 5’1″ (yes, fully grown) and I ADORE vintage fashion–think the curvy-figure-flattering full skirts of the 1950’s–so many of my dresses are tea-length (or “midi”). I alwaysalwaysalways wear heels with them, and I find ones with skirts full enough to not bring attention inward to my calves if the hem hits awkwardly. Works for me!

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