Sunday, November 29, 2009

Style Secrets: Le Petit Mademoiselle

“Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.”
Winston Churchill

I am convinced that I was aware of my expected short stature when I was barely knee-high; for at the age of three, I swiped a pair of my mother’s slingbacks from the hall closet while she was in the front-yard gardening, stuffed my much too small feet into the luscious nude leather, took two steps, and promptly tumbled down an entire flight of stairs, landing in a heap at the front door. It was at that precise moment, while many my age would have been shrieking in pain, that I vowed, no matter how short or tall I turned out to be in adulthood, I would embrace my height, and not rely on items such as painful pumps to boost my self-esteem and confidence, unless I truly felt the need – and I haven’t.

You see darlings, my thoughts were more synonymous with a prediction; for here I am today, not standing a smidgen over five-feet-one-and-a-half-inches sans shoes (please take note of the fact that we short girls will always tag that half-an-inch onto our height when asked “how tall are you?”), and I couldn’t be happier.

I’ve heard the complaints of others, but I wholeheartedly disagree. Being petite is not a problem. First and foremost, tall boys adore tiny girls; second, when shopping for clothes, our task is slightly simpler. Sure, many styles may be too long for our frame, but they require just a few nips and tucks to fit perfectly; while our taller female counterparts must seek out styles that will click with their height as is, or forfeit the look. Still, not every design fits our figure; therefore it is our responsibility to do tiny girls the world over justice by finding styles that make even the petite prevail!

Monochromatic Maven “You look tall.” These three words spilled from my younger sister’s lips just a few weeks ago. My younger sister whom I have not only seen every day for the entirety of my life, but who, in comparison to myself, is a virtual giant (she stands five-foot-five in bare feet). The reason for such a decree? As opposed to wearing a white tee, topped with a black cropped vest, paired with light wash blue jeans and knee-high cognac riding boots; on that particular day I had channeled my inner Audrey by going all black – black skinny jeans, black over the knee boots, and a long-sleeved black top. The only pop of color spotting my ensemble was a taupe Bop Basics Thick Knit Eternity Scarf which I had acquired a few weeks prior. The moral of the story is that the l'un numéroter way to appear taller to others is by streamlining your style, and sticking to one family of colors. This is not to say that you have to be matchy-matchy in any respect, but ensembles put together in terms of tones lengthen you in every way possible. Wear a navy blue shirt with dark wash skinny jeans; couple an eggplant sweater with a skirt in a similar shade. This serves as your basic palette; which you can then embellish with accessories in contrasting colors. Not only will this serve to elongate your body; it also gives you the opportunity to get creative with your look and truly make it your own by accessorizing!

Extreme Measures Something I have learned over the years is that when it comes to fashion and the short girl, there is no middle ground; meaning that mid-length styles often cut us in half and make us look shorter than we truly are. When dressing, go to the extremes. Search for minis that make your legs go on for miles, or maxis that cover your form and give the illusion that you’re taller than you really are. Keep in mind that you are petite; therefore, the flowy maxi dresses that look unbelievable on taller girls will swallow you whole. Look for something like Gypsy 05’s Maxi Organic Long Dress or bebe’s Cap Sleeve Maxi Tee Dress. These accentuate your waist and keep from looking too billowy or over the top; hence, they are your new best friend. Things are easier with minis; however, like with maxis, there are points to remember. The most important being that embellished pieces, like those with ruffles or tiers will often add volume to your derriere – something most girls don’t want. Bandage-type minis like those crafted by Herve Leger are the best choice, as they fit your body like a glove making you look taller; plus they have the added bonus of being ultra sexy. I adore skirts from Pleasure Doing Business. They are the budget fashionista’s answer to Herve Leger, and absolutely gorgeous!

Straight from the Hip Tunics may be fun and flirty, but they can also be quite hazardous for the petite in the sense that they immediately lengthen one’s torso which, in turn, creates a domino effect by making your legs look shorter; and when legs look shorter, you look shorter. The type of top that looks universally flattering on any body type – though especially on those of us who are quite tiny – are those that hit right at the hipline. The Harrie Top by Calvin Klein Collection, and Lucca Couture’s Mia Pocket Tee are ideal representations of this look for their hemlines hover around the top of your waistband, which ultimately makes your legs look longer. An exception to the rule is cardigans. Long cardigans plus a top that hits at the hip equal style perfection. Splendid is a good place to start. Their collection of cardigans is one of the best I’ve ever seen because they feature so many different cuts, colors, and materials, making it simple for the petite to play around and see which works best on their body.

“Even the smallest person can change the course of the future.”
J.R.R. Tolkien

Delicate Layers I see layering as one of the most entertaining ways to highlight your individuality. The key is not to go overboard. When you’re petite, it’s easy to overwhelm your frame with pieces that add too much bulk to your body. Fashion editorials may make ten scarves, four sweaters, and two jackets look chic, but in the real world, these will only overpower your style – if you’re even capable of walking out the door after being weighed down by so many different designs. The tiny girl looks best in delicate layers; meaning just a few pieces will take your look a long way.

It is best to start with a thin tee. Kimberly Ovitz is the master of paper-thin tees. Her Maxwell Tunic is one of the best for layering, for it is virtually weightless and cascades over your skin in a fashion more synonymous with a cool breeze than a piece of clothing. A cardigan is the second layer you should consider. Since I have a tendency to layer bomber jackets over my sweaters for optimal warmth, I prefer sheer items like the Pointelle Cardigan by Missoni, as they are extremely lightweight, and won’t make you look bigger if you decide to toss on an extra bit of outerwear. If you don’t plan on wearing anything over your cardigan, a thicker piece is the best choice. I like the LC Lauren Conrad Cocoon Sweater myself – it has an extremely unique shape which provides a sophisticated silhouette; plus the braided detailing in the knit is a gorgeous touch. If you feel compelled to layer anything else, try a brightly colored Love Quotes scarf. A scarf about the throat adds character to your look and allows you to let your perky personality shine through!

Skyscraping Boots There was a time when I was of the impression that knee-high boots were the absolute worst choice of footwear for the short girl. I couldn’t have been more wrong. There is something about tall boots that gives the illusion that one’s legs are longer when donned by the petite. Those which stop right below the knee are a matchless selection, as they lengthen one’s legs without overwhelming them. While you may find leather’s in ravishing reds, suede’s in bright blues, or snakeskin in punchy purples to be eye-catching choices; they are just that…eye-catching. When seeking to appear taller, you want to avoid cutting your body in half – perusing these shades, while a chic choice, will make you appear shorter. Stick with blacks, grays, and browns – dark colors that will make like a chameleon and take on the hue of their surroundings. A neutral color is universally classic and will forever work in your wardrobe. Two of my favorite knee-highs at the moment include Diane von Furstenberg’s Weekend Suede Flat Boots with Ankle Wrap in Black, which are ideal for someone searching for un petit peu of bohemian whimsy as they have the same type of construction as a moccasin without the distracting bead or fringe embellishments; and Steve Madden’s Brio in Grey Leather, as the folded cuff at the collar adds the slightest dash of volume and dimension for that extra oomph!

The Alphabetical Tee It’s quite simple to get caught up in thinking that any type of neckline found on a top is flattering; unfortunately, quite the opposite is true. I’ll admit it myself; years ago I wore crew and turtlenecks all the time. It was only when I really looked at myself in the mirror that I realized that such a cut was unflattering for my shape. Crew and turtlenecks manage to stump one’s neckline, which instantly makes you look shorter from head to toe. When you’re tiny, it’s best to embrace tops which proffer a v-neckline – such a style elongates the throat and neck, which, in turn, serves to elongate your entire body. It also gives you the chance to allow a subtle amount of décolletage to peek through seductively. Splendid’s Very Light Jersey V Neck Tee and Bop Basics’ Long Sleeve V Neck Tee are perfect examples of the ideal v-neck, for they are form-fitting, semi-sheer, and dip just low enough to give the illusion that you’re taller than you really are. If you don’t have a v-neck handy, don’t panic. Use vests, shawls, cardigans, and halter tops to mimic a v-neck. For instance, top LnA’s Crew-Neck Tee with a cardigan that you’ve buttoned up to about the chest area. This plays a trick on the eyes by making it appear that you’re wearing a v-neck, even when you’re not.

Say Hello to Heels! Let’s face it; one tried and true trick all of us petite pretties know about is perusing heels for instant gratification in terms of height. Don’t feel the need to don such footwear styles if you’re uncomfortable doing so; but if you’re doing it for yourself, and it makes you feel more confident, then go right ahead. The one thing to take into consideration is that, even with heels, there are limitations. Heels such as those crafted by the hands of Georgina Goodman Shoes are perfectly fine for damsels of any height. It is ankle boots which are the true problem for the pint-sized. Now, I adore ankle boots just as much as the next girl, but even with such an amazing source of shoe, there are rules that one must adhere to – if only to make oneself look better. Ankle boots with a blunt, straight cut across the ankles have the ability to make legs look both thicker and shorter; therefore, it is best to search for ankle boots that feature somewhat of a slant, which creep slightly higher above the leg, such as Dolce Vita’s Viva Draped Suede Booties with Open Toe; or go in the opposite direction, by choosing a style that hovers slightly below the ankle, like Stuart Weitzman’s Cover Up High Heel Booties. The key is finding something that will keep you looking sleek and stylish, without compromising your quest for that extra bit of height!

“The little things are infinitely most important.”
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Waist Management Short girls the world over should worship Brigitte Bardot for the sheer fact that, not only did she make high-waisted bottoms hip, she also donned them in such a fashion that made them appear glamorous, whether you’re short or tall. Of course, for the petite, such a style is monstrously beneficial as they create a fool’s paradise by making our legs look much longer than they truly are. The main thing to keep in mind is to purchase pieces that hit at your natural waistline, such as Joe’s Jeans’ Visionaire Skinny Jeans with High Waist or Pleasure Doing Business’ High Waisted Skirt. Going higher than your natural waistline will ruin the effect and make the entire look unnatural. And darlings, there’s nothing that looks worse than being unnatural. Unleash your true, natural beauty for the world to see!

Perfect Portions Dolls, I know how difficult it can be to get ready in the morning when you’re petite. So many different thoughts flit through your thoughts regarding whether or not you’ve chosen a look that will make you appear lean, lengthened, and lovely. Cast those worries aside; here are a few ensemble recommendations made with you itty-bitty ladies in mind:

A fitted v-neck top (long or short-sleeve, whichever you prefer), classic tailored wide leg pants (I favor those crafted by the hands of Lela Rose), a stacked heel – perhaps one with a hidden platform like Dolce Vita’s Trinity Studded Pumps.
A mini dress (I recommend a neutral toned frock, but if you insist on wearing a print, please adhere to the “fist rule,” which states that a print should always be smaller than the size of your fist), paired with black tights, and tucked into black pumps, booties, or ballerinas.
A thin tee layered with a bomber jacket (both of which hit at the hip), black or dark wash skinny jeans, and knee-high boots (I myself am currently incapable of resisting Belle by Sigerson Morrison’s Knee High Cuff Flat Boots in Cannella).

“Good things come in small packages.”

Fashionably yours!

Thanks to Couture in the City, Fashion Under $100, I Am Style-ish, Le Perla, Celebrity Bag Styles, La Vie Boston, Purse Page, OMG I Love Her Style, Livejournal, Pop Sugar, InStyle, Bauer Griffin, and Inside the Fashion for the pictures.

Don't forget to enter the Shawl Talk Giveaway for your chance to win a Charlotte Scarf from The Shawl Shop.

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