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What to Wear if You Are a Short and Curvy Woman

With an eye on fashion, art, music and movies, Jaynie keeps her finger on the pulse of pop culture. Why? Because it's fun.

There are plenty of dresses out there for short and curvy women.

There are plenty of dresses out there for short and curvy women.

Style Tips for a Sexy New You

Let’s face it ladies, no matter how hard we work out, how long we pray, or how much we will ourselves to be different, some of us were born short and curvy. We’re not super models—we’re normal, beautiful women that, while lacking in height, are not any less spectacular than our leggy counterparts.

That being said, there are a few fashion tips that we can use to minimize our curves and maximize our stature.

Even a small heel makes all the difference.

Even a small heel makes all the difference.

Heels Are Good

Heels are good. They were probably invented by male sadists who got off on the idea of having their dates tower precariously above them. I think it had something to do with having their eager noses at bosom level. At least that’s what I’ve heard.

Seriously though, heels about two to three inches serve to elongate the legs, stretch the calves, and accentuate the calf muscles. This makes the legs appear longer, leaner, and sexier. Heels don't have to be painful.

I tend to buy most of mine at Ann Taylor. They have a sexy, stylish selection and are moderately priced. If you’re not into spending roughly $180 for a pair of shoes, don’t despair. They have awesome sales on a regular basis and you can usually get fantastic shoes for about 1/3 that price or less!

A short skirt that shows off the thinnest part of your leg is quite flattering.

A short skirt that shows off the thinnest part of your leg is quite flattering.

Short Skirts

Shorter skirts are best on shorter legs. This sounds a bit counterintuitive, but it’s true. Most women who have stockier legs, like myself, will probably attest that their fattier deposits are located at the top of the inner thighs. The upper thighs also tend to be where cellulite forms, if you’re unfortunate enough to have some, which I’m betting most of us do. I mention this because a skirt that is cut about two to three inches above the knee will still hide these more unflattering areas.

If you show a little more leg, it gives you the appearance of being somewhat taller and shows off the more narrow, attractive part of the leg. Legs tend to narrow right above and below the knees but widen again at the calf muscle. If you cover everything except the wider calf muscle, you’re only showing the stocky part of your leg. Hence, you will appear somewhat heavier than you probably are.

When I first read this tip years ago, I was skeptical. My legs are short and stocky. I have some cellulite and no shortage of scars. I even have a new varicose vein, which is devastating! Nevertheless, I wore a new skirt (yes, from Ann Taylor) to my 25th high school reunion and one of the men from my class told me that I had beautiful legs. To be fair, he was wearing thicker glasses and I think he was a bit off his face (intoxicated), but hey, I’ll just chalk it up to my choice of skirts, and leave it at that.

Tapered (fitted) waistlines and solid dark colors work for you.

Tapered (fitted) waistlines and solid dark colors work for you.

Tapered Waistlines

Wear shirts and jackets with tapered waistlines. By this, I mean don't wear styles that hide the waist altogether, but rather opt for a style that accentuates the narrowness of the waist. If you have curves, you’re likely sporting a waistline that is significantly smaller than your bust and hip lines. I know I am. I have a very distinctive hourglass figure. Yeah, I know. I should stop bitching because that is supposedly the ideal. Yet those of us who boast the hourglass figure know what a train wreck it can be to go shopping and find clothes that actually fit all over.

I mean seriously. You buy a pair of pants to fit your curvaceous booty, and you’ve got like five inches of open space between the waistline of the pants and your actual waistline. As gratifying as it would be to be able to go out and chow on a double cheeseburger, onion rings, and a chocolate shake (only so that you can fill in your jeans, of course) the cruel irony is that your ass might spread, but your waist will remain anemic in comparison. Life isn’t fair.

But I digress. This isn’t about jeans, it’s about shirts and jackets. The tapered waistline is enormously flattering because it shows that you have a waist. Women with curves tend to wear boxier style shirts because they equate curvaceous bums and breasts with being fat. Not so! The properly-chosen attire can accentuate your assets without making them appear freakishly out of proportion. You can always refer to a style consultant if you shop in department stores, or ask the sales clerks or your best girlfriend for honest advice.

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But trust me. Do not downplay your sex appeal. Embrace it!! You rock!

Dark Colors

Solid dark colors are often more flattering than bold patterns. I’ll admit, I bought a lovely dress from Ann Taylor (yes, I know, I should buy stock!). It was sleeveless, cut about two inches above the knee, and had a swirled black-and-white pattern. I loved it and I thought it looked pretty good on me. But when I saw myself in pictures later, I thought “Good Lord!! I look like a Rorschach blot!!” Had the dress been plain black, I would have been better off.

Choose Your Patterns Carefully

If you are going to wear patterns, consider the following tips:

  • Polka dots really don’t flatter anybody. If you’re going to wear polka dots, at least have the decency to accessorize properly. I’d recommend a pair of size 22 red shoes and a red ball on your nose. Maybe throw in a rainbow wig. Seriously, polka dots are just ill advised. If you just have to have them, go for the smaller dots. The bigger ones will just make you look like you’ve failed miserably in a game of paint ball.
  • Stripes are less offensive than polka dots, but only if they’re pointing in the right direction and are of the proper width. Wide stripes in a vertical pattern will make you look like a referee. Wide stripes in a horizontal direction will make you look like an escaped convict or a television with bad reception. Slap some rabbit ear antennae on your head and you’ve got a clever Halloween costume. Thin vertical pinstripes have a lasting classic appeal that never goes out of style, so they are your safest bet.
This dress carefully mixes patterns in the most-flattering manner.

This dress carefully mixes patterns in the most-flattering manner.

Avoiding "Spillage"

Low riders, hip-huggers, or full-length jeans? That is the question.

Of course if you’re 21 or younger, it’s not really a question at all. Anyone under the age of 21 who isn’t wearing low riders was probably found on the doorstep of a convent in infancy and raised by a bunch of nuns. Okay. Maybe that’s not fair. One never knows what the nuns wear under those habits!

I’ve tried on countless pairs of jeans in my lifetime and I can tell you that I consistently get the slimmer, more streamlined look with a boot cut, low rider style. They admittedly don’t make my legs look longer, but they do make my upper body look a bit longer and they tend to make the butt look great. Just be sure that you do a bit of bending and stretching before you buy to make sure that you have just the right fit: Accentuating your beautiful hips is good, but showing your thong and/ or butt crack is just plain icky. Especially if you’re old like me. At my age, the tramp stamp you used to show off no longer looks like the tight, bright piece of artwork it once was. Now it looks more like someone tossed a bucket of paint at your backside and it is making a desperate attempt to flee south of the border!

And for heaven's sake, don't get your jeans too tight. Every self-respecting woman needs to beware of the dreaded camel toe, but don't forget to also be aware of spillage. What is spillage, you ask? Spillage (aka a muffin top) is that inevitable stuff that hangs over the waistline if you buy your jeans too tight. Even the fittest among us needs to be careful. Spillage is not attractive on anyone, skinny girls included.

French-Cut Bottoms

Another trick for elongating the leg is to wear French-cut panties and swim suits where the leg hole cuts higher on the hip rather than falling right at the hip joint. Most of us don't think about that because the only pictures we typically see of women in French-cut bottoms are those that gallop about on long and lean stilt-type legs. But a nice French cut can add inches to your legs.

Give it a try. Wearing sexy underwear, even if you're the only one that sees them, can boost one's self confidence. So get your radiance on and try the French cut!

Wonder Woman knew how to maximize the length (and power) of her legs.

Wonder Woman knew how to maximize the length (and power) of her legs.

Accessorize Wisely

Accessories are as important as clothing. For a thinner, more appealing look, try the following:

  • Wide belts instead of thin ones help to minimize the appearance of large hips.
  • Thin, dangly earrings can help elongate the neck.
  • Shorter haircuts can actually draw attention to the subtle nuances of your face and make the face and neck appear thinner.
  • Supportive bras help to keep the bust and waistline separated—if they are too close together (as they are on so many short-waisted gals), you will appear heavier. Hoist the sails and you'll be amazed as you rediscover your midriff!

My Story

Before anyone gets carried away, let me be clear: Curves are awesome! They are sexy and guys love them. I love them, too. But after a couple of kids and nearly a decade after achieving certified “couch-potato” status, my once hot curves had begun to roll in all directions, making me appear a bit more like a Cabbage Patch kid than the sensual woman I was meant to be.

I am proud to say that I got that under control quickly with a moderate regime of exercise and an improved diet. I didn’t go crazy on the diet end. I love to eat. But I did transform my life and worked it so that I was typically burning more calories in a day than I consumed.

Over the years that I have been back to my (almost) goal weight, I learned a lot about how I should be dressing and accessorizing in order to make the most of what I’ve got and minimize the areas that aren’t quite what I’d like them to be.

These are a few of the things I’ve learned. Hopefully some of these tips will work for you. Then go out and rock those curves!

So ladies, I hope you’ve found my tips helpful. Now go out there and do your part to stimulate our economy. Your sexy new wardrobe is waiting! Happy hunting!

© 2010 Jaynie2000


chi on August 27, 2019:


Awelsome article!!! on November 10, 2018:

These advices were exactly what I needed.

A young reader :) on September 30, 2018:


Your article is great and you have really nice tips! Just that, it has a bit of content that’s very judgemental of a lot of kinds of people.

Honestly, that’s offensive.

I don’t belong to any of those categories and don’t have those characteristics that you mentioned. I just wish you opted a kinder tone and had less judgemental jokes.

For example, most people who grow up with nuns do not choose that life- they’re fashion is what they’re exposed to.

You mentioned you’re a mother. So I’m sure you wouldn’t want people to judge your care about. I’m only suggesting that you opt to do the same. :)

Wish you the best for your blog!

Rose Harris from North Carolina on March 16, 2018:

Thanks for sharing this helpful tips for all the curvy woman. The pattern on outfit have lots of matter in related to looks.

Narnia on August 16, 2016:

I believe, stripes are the worst on clothing, just makes a fuller women look ten times bigger...I avoid them like the plague! Great site!

D on March 22, 2015:

I agree with everything par the french cut thing....with masssive thighs and hips it emphasises their width as well as leg length too much and makes me appear wildly out of proportion

Jaynie2000 (author) on December 23, 2014:

Yup. You're just like me!

swati on December 22, 2014:

I am 5 feet...curvy..will it suit me???

Jaynie2000 (author) on November 28, 2013:

Glad you like it. Some people can pull off anything!

Sumner on November 27, 2013:

I disagee about the polka dots. I have a black shirt with small white polka dots, 3 buttons on the chest with little frills. It is from Old Navy and it makes me appear slimmer. It is one of my most flattering shirts.

Jaynie2000 (author) on April 29, 2013:

I am so right there with you, which is kind of why I tried to put a humorous spin on the article. The advice is sound, but I figure if we can't laugh at ourselves once in awhile, we're sunk. As you said, many of us are on the wrong side of the hill with many imperfections. But we're all beautiful in our own way. Thanks for reading!

Tee on April 29, 2013:

Hi, loving your hub :). I am (un)? fortunately one of those who is on the almost extremely curvy side...while I gaze longingly at the slim beauties, I have, with time learnt to embrace my curves and am loving this new midi dress fad! I cannot stomach the thought of dresses shorter than knee length as I feel like a lamb in sheep's clothing ( not a great look for those of us who are rapidly descending down the wrong side of the hill...with our cellulite and thickness firmly in tow!)

Jaynie2000 (author) on June 15, 2011:

Excellent point! I completely agree. Thanks for sharing.

Neil Sperling from Port Dover Ontario Canada on June 14, 2011:

with two sisters - no brothers --- four daughters - no sons and my ex was an awesome dress/maker designer .... all your tips are bang on.... one thing must be added.... when a lady has a great attitude and just a little self confidence (no matter her body shape) ... that with your tips will radiate sex appeal.... without the self confidence and smiling attitude... no change of cloths makes a difference. Great Job!!!