8 Top Tips to Dressing a Short Waist

A lovely reader asks:Please can you do something for dressing a short-waisted H too? I’m like super short – there’s about an inch between by ribcage and my hip, so I tend to stick with dresses, but that’s not always practical for chasing two young kids.

top tips to dressing a short waist


To start with, think about dressing using a column of colour.  But if you don’t want to do that try these 7 top tips:

Having a proportionally short waist (small distance between rib cage and top of pelvis/hip bone can make you look boxy and squat, so how to make it appear longer, and give the illusion of having a waist?

1. Low to mid rise jeans and trousers

2. Empire waist tops and dresses

3. Avoid belting at the waist, instead you can belt at the hip if you want to belt and don’t contrast belts

4. Avoid gathered (dirndl) waist skirts and dresses

6. Don’t tuck tops

7. End tops around your hip bone or a little longer

8. Look for tops, cardigans and jackets that don’t have any detail or pockets around the waist area to avoid drawing attention to your lack of waist

Comments

  1. Hi Imogen,

    I don’t know if it’s just my broswer (Safari) but there’s an ad right over top of the written content of this post.

    For we big-busted, short-waisted gals, empire tops that accommodate our bust are often difficult to find. Can one get the same effect with a slightly flared tunic top?

    • Pseu, yes you can do the same with a fitted/flared tunic top. Pepperberry.com is a source of clothes for the big busted and I know they do empire tops. The empire line is just the only horizontal line that a short waisted woman can really get away with on her torso

      • Great post Imogen. My ribcage practically sits on my hip bone, I’m a H shape with a post baby jelly belly :) I have been looking for some empire line tops that aren’t gathered under the bust. I just saw a heap of empire line tops on a site called bravissimo.com they have 3 types of fit from curvy to super curvy. I have not ordered anything yet but it looks quite good. Does anyone have any online recommendations for petite 16-18 casual style blazers?

  2. Hi Imogen, this post is great, thank you! Although I am short with a short waist and large bust, I am an 8 shape rather than an H shape. Would your short waist suggestions also work for me? I have also thought about ordering a couple of tops from Pepperberry but have been turned off by some of the reviews of particular tops on their website…

    • Holly, I’ve bought a few things over the years and they’ve been fine. It may just be some items aren’t as good. As an 8 shape you may be able to do more waist definition than an H and look for jackets with a peplum on them.

  3. Thank you Imogen!!!! I needed this.

    • Tall & slim anon says:

      Oh, I had no idea how nice it is to have a long waist. I mean anything is fine if you know how to use it, but it just makes me feel better about deal with shortish legs, and encouraging me to enjoy my long back and waist.

      – tall & slim anon

      • Olga – you are so lucky – a long waist makes you appear more feminine, so all us short waisted women have to do a whole load of illusion/disguising things to make ours look longer.

        • Tall & slim anon says:

          Oh, now I will always look at my long waist in the mirror and think with pride and joy: “Imogen said it makes me appear more feminine”! :) Thank you!

  4. Love this post…I’m a short-waisted…something (I haven’t decided what yet).

  5. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! I have been searching your archives for exactly this type of post!

    What do you suggest for short waisted women in terms of coats? (I’m an X shape.)

    (FYI This post doesn’t display properly on my browser (Firefox) either. I am also on a Mac, however, so it might just be a problem with Apples. Unfortunately, it means I can’t read the whole post, so I will study the pictures. :) )

  6. Thank you so much for this wonderful post! That pretty much describes me, and looks like it will be my daughter as well. I am short waisted 8 shape; I have to take in pretty much every woven top at the waist, otherwise I look dumpy-all boobs and legs, and no torso to speak of. I am so glad I found your site. I have a notebook where I keep wardrobe ideas, and I always get great ideas from you! Thank you so much!

  7. milibella says:

    i am 5’12 with a short and thick torso and shorter and fat legs as well.i guess i am a mix of short V and I. people always make fun of me so can u help imogen i think u got lots of ideas…..plzzzz

  8. RoundIsAShape says:

    I have a short waist, small breasts and am not so much petite as Dwarf-like since my bones are enormous and tend to build a lot of muscle quickly. Seriously, if the dwarves of Middle Earth had a football team, I would be on it. It’s very hard to find flattering clothing and I long ago gave up on “stylish” and my entire wardrobe consists of jeans and T-shirts. Thank you for specifically bringing up short waists!! This is the first time I’ve seen it targeted.

    • Short waists can be hard to dress, particularly if you are petite as well. Think about keeping your body as plain as possible in clothing, wearing a column of colour and less detail, but using necklaces, brooches or earrings to draw attention away and up to your face.

  9. Hmmm. I guess I am odd because I am an “I” with a technically short waist. Belts work really well for me in my opinion (are often necessary for my bony figure), but I do have to be careful to make sure I look like I have a longer torso (like belting a longer shirt or sweater so the entire outfit doesn’t “stop” at my waist but continues past the belt). Sometimes I belt jeans at the hip (almost always wear pants resting on my hip but have gotten major compliments on jeans at the waist too??? Is it perhaps just an illusion from being an “I”?). So far, so good. I do wish my torso were longer though. :)

    • Sarah – I’ve seen both long and short waists on I shapes. This is why body shapes and body proportions are treated separately. You are a conglomeration of all your unique parts and these factors all need to be taken into consideration.

      Belting at different points just creates different proportions and I shapes can usually wear a few options really well.

      • Rebecca says:

        Imogen, like Sarah, I am an “I” shape with a short waist. I have been wondering about how to reconcile the suggestions you have given for “I” shapes with the suggestions you’ve given for dressing a short waist, as these sometimes conflict. For example, belts around the waist are helpful for “I” shapes because they create a waist, but not so good for short waists because it draws attention there. Trench coats are another example. How can I balance my body shape with my proportions? Thanks!

  10. Thanks, Imogen, I love your website and IMO you explain the body shapes the best. This info is really useful. Why are bolero backers or longer than hip jackets not good for my short waisted H shape? What is the most versatile jacket for me to wear with skirts and trousers? I find yoked tulip skirts and yoked pleated skirts are flattering, but not pencil or gathered skirts.

  11. Hello Imogen,

    Excellent Website! I have just come across it. I have a question. Is a short waist the same as a high waist? I ask because I thought empire lines were not flattering on a short torso?

    Can you please clarify this for me, I feel I may be missing something? Jo.

    • Jo, Empire lines are flattering on short waists as they don’t show where the true waistline is – so if you have a short waist it will appear high (and out of proportion) and empire waist (which is just under the bust) is expected to be high, and then the fabric bypasses the true waist.

  12. I’m shortwaisted (I think) and found that high waisted skirts work well for my figure as do empire tops and dresses. Also long waisted straight lined shirts that end at my hip look good too. If I wear something at my natural waist I look boxy and frumpy. Plus, I have stomach issues so I naturally stay away from anything that binds me at the waist. Come to think of it, I’ve never worn a tucked-in shirt…it makes me look all of 4′ 11″ tall. :)

  13. Im a short-waisted hourglass… Is that possible? And I DO have a waist!!! It’s just short! Why do they say ‘lack of waist’ in this article?!?

    • Absolutely – short waists can still be hourglass – in fact many 8 shapes have short waists. Though more people who have short waists don’t have a defined waist – so you are one of the lucky ones!

  14. Sometimes it is necessary to wear a collared button down the front top or blouse for work or in a more formal setting where it would be considered unkempt to wear the shirt untucked. Is there any way a short waisted person with long legs could do this without looking out of proportion and thick around the middle.

  15. I’ve always known I was short waisted but recently discovered that buying petite tops makes all the difference in the fit. Even though I’m 5’8″ tall (you should see the looks I get in the petite dept!) the cut and fit of petite tops really makes an outfit more wearable.

  16. For me personally, wearing a belt around the high hip is a disaster. It just accentuates the shelf in a really unflattering way and makes it look as if I have no waist at all. A skinny belt, or a wider elastic belt, worn around my waist (which is naturally very high) accentuates it. This looks best with empire waisted dresses and blouses (if you wore a belt this way with a form fitting top, it would accentuate not only the waist but also the “lumps” below it. But if the “lumps” are covered by loose fabric, it creates the illusion that the area under the cinched waist is slim).

  17. I am an 8 shape and my waist, while well defined, is also slightly short – now I know why tucking in my shirts always looked kind of odd! my question is, though, it’s not extremely short, and I do love to highlight my small waist in my clothing. how would you suggest doing this? (I am petite, so I also want to keep my legs looking as long as possible)

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Carol enjoyed Imogen’s tips on dressing a short waist.   [...]

  2. [...] discussion of proportion and fashion rules in the context of being short-waisted. Imogen offers tips for dressing a short waist generally, as well as tips for the short-waisted [...]

  3. [...] 8 Top Tips to Dressing a Short Waist | Inside Out StyleAug 29, 2011 … A lovely reader asks:Please can you do something for dressing a short-waisted H too? I’m like super short – there’s about an inch between by … [...]

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