So the story goes a little something like this: tall girl grows up and cannot ever find cute clothes that fit. Tall girl protests by wearing nothing but team branded athletic sweats all through high school and college. Tall girl has to then grow up, get a job and has no idea how to dress herself because she never learned anything besides what oversized hoodie matches her oversized sweatpants.
Does that sound vaguely familiar?
I think I was really behind the eight ball for a long time in understanding how to properly dress myself in styles that were most flattering to my build and proportions. And I truly believe that a lot of other tall women are probably in the same boat.
But over time, I started to get a better understanding of what was flattering to my build and my tall proportions and cuts/fits/styles that I knew were more of a disservice. So this is the Style Guide that I really created for myself as I honed in on styles and looks that I feel are also the most flattering! But I wanted to share it because a lot of times I read various style guides online that are allegedly put together for tall women, but then really aren’t even about dressing longer proportions at all. They are filled with DO THIS or AVOID THAT, but for reasons that aren’t height related in anyway. Like, don’t tell me because I’m tall that I should wear a statement necklace, LOL. Give me actual tangible feedback and advice that has to do with clothing and my specific proportions. So that’s what this is all about. It’s everything that I have learned over the years working to dress not only my 6’4” frame, but helping other tall women put together outfits as well.
Balancing Proportions is Everything
This is frankly my golden rule. And this means a lot of different things and is accomplished a few different ways, so let’s break them down individually. But proportions are the ticket to everything, and you’ll probably be sick of me referencing them by the end of this! 😊
Be Intentional About Where the Waistband Hits You
Here’s what I mean by that: there are SO MANY times when I see tall women in pants and then rise of the waistband is disproportionately low. I personally believe that’s because *most* tall jeans or pants that are on the market (especially by the big box retailers) are designed on a shorter person and then they just add length to the bottom to make them a tall. So while that pair of pants might be a mid-rise on someone who is 5’5”, it’s closer to a low-rise on someone who is 6’. But when the waistband is too low on the abdomen, it can make the torso look disproportionately long and unbalanced. Personally, I much prefer when the waistband hits at my natural waist (versus down closer to my hip bones) because I think it balance my top and bottom out much more. But if you are someone who has a shorter torso, you may prefer a shorter front rise. Start by looking in the mirror and identifying where you like your pants to hit you to even you out. If you have a pair of pants in your closet that hit you at the perfect spot, then take note of what the front rise is and then use that as your guide in the future. To read more about pant rises, give this article a read!
This is a perfect example. This pant is marketed as a mid rise jean. In fact, it hits their model about an inch below her belly button in their photos. It has a front rise measurement of 8.5" inches, which is generally a mid rise on a lot of women. But on me, it's almost below my hip bones and a true low rise jean. I wore styles like this for a really long time, though, because "technically" it fit and it was long enough. It took me longer to realize there was more to a flattering fit than it just "fitting" your body.
Now this is a true mid rise fit on me, even though the particular front rise measurement of 10.5" is usually considered a high rise. So we have to all be super aware of the measurement itself & NOT what someone calls it in a product description.
Be Careful with Empire Waists
Personally, I am not much of a fan of empire waist anything. The reason for it is because a style like that where the line is so high up, makes me the rest of me below the line look like it goes on for days. And not in a good way or flattering way. I also often feel that it makes my hips look big and it’s just not my jam. I’m not saying that they can never ever work, but I do think they can be tricky. So whether it’s with a dress or a blouse, I think a person has to be mindful of the proportions a style like that creates. That’s at least the case with a dress. Tops might be a little easier, but I think the bottom half must be balanced out in some way too. So maybe pair it with an ankle pant and booties to balance it out a little.
Bold claim here, but I think that layering as a tall girl is HARD. Like way harder than if I was around the 5’5” mark. Here’s why: successful layering is dependent on a few things, one of them being that all the styles actually fit correctly. That goes for both the body length and the sleeve length. If you try to layer items that are too small/too short or also too big, then usually you just end up a hot mess on your hands. Things just don’t work together like they should when everything actually fits.
So once you have the various items that fit well, the next step to piecing them together is to assess where they all land on you and what that visual line looks like. If you have a longer layer, like a cardigan or even more dramatically like a duster, then make sure you have a piece under it that is a shorter length. I personally never feel confident pairing a long layer over a long base layer. It’s just too much going on. But if the piece you want to wear under this long duster or kimono is also pretty long, just give it a front tuck or even knot it. Having a defined waistline under the longer layer does a great job of breaking up that long visual and restores some balance. Long pieces like dusters or kimonos also look AMAZING with shorts. And that’s again because the visual of something longer with something shorter is straight fire.
The key to layering is breaking up the proportions and using styles of different lengths together to keep it all balanced.
The last thing to note with layers is if you can’t rely on tucking something into a waistband to break up the line, then another trick you should keep in mind is to tie a belt around your waist.
Manage the Flow
I love a gorgeous flowy dress as much as the next girl. But, I also know what works best for me and as someone who is just shy of 6’4” in height, I typically feel it’s most flattering to have my waist defined in some way, to control just how much flow is flowin’. In my experience, if I don’t have a waistband or a belt to reign it in, then I prefer it to be a midi length or shorter so the fabric doesn’t become visually overwhelming.
Our Baja Maxi Dress with just a simple elastic waistband to create definition.
Rock the Jumpsuit
Maybe you think you’re not a jumpsuit kinda girl, but I’m going to have stop and reflect on why you think that is. Because nobody rocks a jumpsuit better than a TALL GIRL. If you’re hesitant to try one on, then start by looking for one that is more understated in style. Look for something that is in a neutral color and a simple style. There are a lot of versions of jumpsuits out there, so you can almost be rest assured you’ll find an aesthetic that appeals to you. Sidenote, this also applies to rompers.
6'4" and love myself a good jumpsuit or romper.
Focus on Fit
True, we tackled this point a little bit earlier in the layering section, but it is SO important that I’m going to hammer it again here. I know every trick in the book to try and adapt clothing that is too little or too short to work, but I also learned that none of those really, genuinely work. Something is always short-changed and usually it is your own self-confidence. You’re constantly tugging at things, readjusting things, and when you do that, there’s always nuggets of self-doubt in the back of your mind. So an easy way to combat that, is to focus on only buying items that fit you correctly. When I made a commitment to myself that I would no longer buy or wear anything that didn’t have an appropriate fit, it was a massive game changer for me. I just FELT so much more confident. And things are way more flattering when they fit your body how it should.
The other part of finding the right fit is understanding your measurements and learning how to take them. You can learn how to quickly do that and read up on some other helps tips in this blog post.
Some “Rules” Aren’t Serving You
Here’s what I’ve learned after almost six years of dressing tall girls and women: the vast majority are boxed in by rules that need not apply. Here’s an example: a lot of tall women are scared of the color yellow. Do you know why? Because they think it makes them look like Big Bird. And that just makes me sad!! I know yellows are polarizing, but it can be a very flattering color and should never be eliminated as a possibility because of a fear like that! Another example? Some women are fearful of vertical stripes. And that I truly don’t understand because I honestly think they are insanely flattering for long legs! In fact, you may have noticed we use them all the time in our designs. The key to everything (stripes & beyond) is balance! But if you’re holding on to these old adages and it’s keeping you from rocking some fun stuff, then friend it’s time to make like Elsa and let it go.
Vertical stripes are extremely flattering for long legs.
I have actually read other styles guides that proclaim tall women SHOULD wear big loud prints or they should NEVER wear polka dots or whatever crazy other things people come up with. That is insane. The types of prints you wear (or don’t wear), along with the colors you wear (or don’t wear) should have nothing to do at all with your height. Instead, it should have everything to do with your own personal styles and what resonates with you. And if you aren’t quite sure how you would go about defining your personal style, we actually talk about how to do that in this blog post. It’s actually a very worthy thing to spend some time doing, to ensure that you are buying clothes that actually speak to you and that you like to wear.
In summary, many of these tips and tricks all relate back to balancing proportions and breaking up the visual line. It’s a simple thing and easy to implement, but it makes a huge difference for me feeling super confidence in my clothing. It’s the same equation that you just mix and match different things day after day, but end up with different looks all the time.