You are currently viewing Styling secrets to look balanced when you are short-waisted

Art and culture have developed various ideals of how a woman’s body should look like. This image changed over time. The good news is that when your body fails to meet the ideal, styling permits pretending to have it. This post is one of severals devoted to dress for your shape. It covered the styling secrets to give the illusions of a balanced body when you are short-waisted.

  1. How to know you are short-waisted
  2. Styling goal for short-waisted women
  3. What to wear when you are short-waisted
  4. What not to wear when you are short-waisted

Disclosure: There are affiliate links in this post.

How to know you are short-waisted

You are short-waisted when you look relative petite when you sit and relative tall when you stand. Or in a more scientific way, determine the distance between your waist and the bottom of your bum as well as between your armpit and waist. If the latter measurement is shorter than the former, you’re short-waisted. If the opposite is true, you are long-waisted. Alterntively, you can use this free online body shape finder to identify both, your horizontal and vertical body type (opens in a new tab for your convenience).

Btw, I am long-waisted. Therefore, I always strive to elongate my legs.

Styling goal for short-waisted women

When you are short-waisted your lower body looks leggy. To balance your body you want to elongate your torso.

fashionover50 mature woman in a military inspired shirt dress

street style blogger in utility jacket
Great Northwest suede utility jacket with shirt dress from summer worn with GNW tight and Nine West camouflage pony hair booties (all own)

Please feel free to pin the photos to your Pinterest post.

What to wear when you are short-waisted

Here I share with you a couple of tips that I give my short-waisted friends:

  • Go for tops that fall below the waistline with hems on your low hip.
  • Pick your belt in a color similar to your top or when your top is darker than your bottom go for a dark belt, and a light one if the opposite is true. See this guide how to best accessorize with belts.
  • Wear your belt below the waistband of your pants and skirts.
  • Go for thin belts less than 3/4 inch (1.91 cm) in width.
  • Lower the loops on your pants, skirts, dresses, jackets and coats to get the illusion of a slightly longer torso than it actually is.
  • Go for deep V-neck sweaters, unbutton the first two buttons of your shirts, go for oblong scarves and long necklaces or pendant necklaces. These items all lead the eye up away from your waist. See this guide how to up your look with scarves.
  • Look for tops with vertical stripes (see post banner for an example). The stripes like vertical lines and seams keep the eyes moving and provides the illusion of length.
  • Try Princess seams.
  • Keep your shirt untucked.
  • Wear printed tops. The break between the top and bottom provides the illusion of a longer waist than it actually is.
  • Make tunics your best friend.
  • Try flat over-the-knee boots in a color different from your pants/jeans. The horizontal line on your legs gives the illusion of them being shorter than they actually are. Yes, you can look stunning in over-the-knee boots over 50. See the guide at the link for styling ideas.
  • Go for a low rise in your jeans/pants, but make the sitting test. You don’t want to expose the Y! 😉
  • Sheath dresses and shifts in knee-length are great options too. There are many ways how to style a sheath dress differently.

What not to wear when you are short-waisted

Here is a list of items that are not flattering on short-waisted women.

  • Wide belts
  • Dresses with waistbands
  • Prints on the bottom
  • High-waisted pants, jeans or skirts
  • Super high heels and/or plateau footwear
  • Cropped jackets
wide belt
Zoom-in on the belt.


The belt shown in the photo above illustrates why wide waistbands and belts are wrong for a short-waisted women (and right for long-waisted women like me). A wide belt makes the torso look smaller in comparison. That’s not what you want. While the vertical lines and the v-neck of the outfit shown earlier in this post would be great for a short-waisted women, she should go for a belt no wider than 3/4 inch (1.91 cm) or so with this shift dress. She also looks best wearing the belt lower than her natural waist, best on her hips.

Don’t let your outfit be a random thing. Wear the right look in every situation by looking up what to wear when in How to Dress for Success in Midlife. Buy the book now.

over 50 years old woman in a boxy leather coat
Boxy leather coat over the casual work outfit shown in the photos above and Camel bag (all own)

Are you short, long or “equal” waisted? What do you do to balance your body appearance? What are your body shape challenges? Let me know, so I can help you.

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Photos: G. Kramm

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