Casual young man walking through the streets of an urban area

Dress for Success – The Short and Skinny Man’s Guide

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As a young man in the burgeoning early days of the internet, I immersed myself in online support groups for short men. As a slender being of only 5 foot 2 (157.5 centimeters) and weighing no more than a modest three-wire bale of hay, I’ve heard every derisive quip and utterly hilarious short joke that has ever been conceived by a world of giants. There have certainly been some tough times being this vertically challenged, but a wise man once told me, “Rock what ya got.” That simple phrase has always inspired me to maximize my potential in any way I can. To be a powerful package in a compact, well-dressed, and confident form.

A reoccurring question I’ve found most intriguing was: What makes short, skinny guys attractive to women?


Unpacking Stereotypes

Little and Big couple and the sunset

You don’t have to go far to find nearly endless studies and articles that profess how the dominion of tallness rules the roost; how every living female on Earth only fancies the tall and powerful. But if you peer through all the self-aggrandizing content out there, you’ll find that the stereotypes wilt under scrutiny; the world of women’s wants is incalculably more complex than what you’ll find in any magazine, blog post, or article; this one included.

That being said, one fairly common denominator between the disparate desires of over half the world’s population is confidence. Not manufactured or illusory confidence, and certainly not machismo, but an innate, subtle swagger; an aura of effortless, natural confidence. This can be a product of several factors like bearing, personality, and wit, to be certain. But also, and not to be understated, fashion choices play a significant role in overall “sexiness.” This applies to men of virtually every size and shape. But this article will focus on the more diminutive end of humanity’s size-o-meter.

These are a few important steps I have followed in my lifetime quest for relevancy with the opposite gender. Not every tip needs to be followed to the letter, mix and match the suggestions that work for you and your fashion choices. They are more guidelines than rules. Incorporate some of them into your own journey, and I promise you will feel better about yourself AND your chances with the fairer sex.

1.) Wear Close Fitting Clothing

-a-man-standing-in-desert wearing Fitting Clothing

This is the most important thing I can think of when making fashion suggestions. Loose clothing on a small frame looks like a child playing dress-up with daddy’s clothes. Either that or it implies you don’t care to spend the effort to find clothes that fit. It’s a bad look any way you turn. When I shop for clothes, I pay extra attention to where the clothing sits on my body. I avoid pants with too much slack in the crotch or jackets that hang loose in the armpits. Anything that appears baggy will only emphasize a petite frame. People’s eyes will always err on the side of small when in doubt, don’t give them the option!

A good rule of thumb is to shop for sales of designer clothing. Savvy shoppers will notice designer clothing is often built for a narrower variety of body sizes. Once I found a brand that consistently fit me, I was always on the lookout for sales. Before long, I had a closet full of outfits that fit me like a tailored glove. And speaking of tailors, use them! If you find pants or a jacket that fit nearly perfectly but have something amiss, a tailor can work wonders to bring the piece up to spec. This extra effort will subconsciously speak of your attention to detail, one aspect of many that will make you stand out in a forest of tall but generic trees.

2.) Dark & Simple Color Themes

man in white shirt and black pants -sitting-backward-on-chair-

The first thing people do when a new human shape appears in their field of vision is to do a lightning-quick appraisal. Taking steps to control this appraisal is key to making an excellent first impression. I always try to wear darker clothing on my lower half and lighter clothing on the upper. This tends to draw first-impression eyes down to start and then move upwards, creating a lengthening effect. Conversely, dark shirts and light pants will have the opposite effect, making you look shorter as the eye initially moves downward.

Monochromatic color themes suit me well. I tend to minimize visual clutter and overly contrasting color in my outfits when possible. This doesn’t strictly mean shades of grey, though that is an option. It primarily means if you’re going blue, go shades of blue on a gradient. If you’re into green, go dark to light as you move up your body. Keep it all within the same wheel of the color palette. Once you research current seasonal color varieties on any search engine, you can form a better idea of what colors to shoot for. Reds work with browns; yellows work with greens. Every color combination has a season. That sort of thing. It all feeds into the idea that you care about your appearance. Most people, including women, like it when you care.

3.) Vertically Oriented Patterns

positive-young-male in Vertically Oriented Patterns shirt-crossing-road

If dress shirts, stripes, or corduroy are your jam, make sure they have complementary, vertical patterns. Unlike horizontal designs that make the wearer appear wider, vertical patterns complement slight frames and make the wearer appear taller. You will want to choose shirt patterns that provide unbroken vertical designs of some kind, with stripes wide enough to be seen at a glance but not so wide that large areas of empty space are present. Paying attention to details like pant seams meeting up with vertical patterns on a textured shirt is very helpful to a unified look. It doesn’t always have to be stripes; many new and unique patterns are available for those who dislike the stripey life.

Even diagonal patterns work in certain situations, as long as they’re more vertical than horizontal. What’s important is to create long, unbroken lines from your head to your feet. This, paired with the color scheme previously mentioned, will make eyes scan you from the ground up. I think you can see a common theme here, right? Controlling where viewers’ eyes roam when they look at you. Eyes follow lines like they follow color. Make those lines work for you by ensuring they all work together in a vertically oriented fashion.

4.) Smaller Proportions

What does this mean? Let us imagine a man who is 6 feet tall wearing a sports coat. Traditionally, he would want roughly half an inch of visible shirt cuff to extend beyond the coat sleeve. On a small frame like mine, I would much prefer as little as a quarter-inch of shirt cuff visible; it fits my proportions much better. Adhering to fashion suggestions geared towards larger men would simply make me look all out of balance. Again, somewhat like a child wearing adult clothing, not a look I am going for.

When it comes to shirt collars and jacket lapels, seek out options that do not have much spread. Sections of excessive visible width on any aspect of clothing, including pockets, lapels, and collars, will make you look squashed. Narrow collar points that face downwards create favorable lines, as no narrow jacket lapels. They also side skirt the issue of looking dated, as wide lapels are considered old news these days. Also, choose neckties that are on the small and slim side; many standard choices are far too broad for a thin frame. If you are slim but your torso is on the larger side (work out much?), avoid overly narrow ties as they will look undersized on you.

Remember, there is no shame in using a tie or other articles of clothing designed for children and teenagers if they look good on you. It’s just the other end of the same spectrum where growing youths occasionally must select articles of clothing tailored for adults. All that matters is choosing the right proportions and rocking what you’ve got!

5.) Attention-Grabbing Details


I don’t mean light-up LED soles on your shoes; that would keep people’s eyes firmly planted on your novelty sneakers and wondering why you were trying to bring back early 90s kid’s fashion. Try to keep the focus up high with accents that draw vision upwards. A colored pocket square or bright tie are great options. For more casual dress, epaulets on a shirt’s shoulders or a contrasting vertical zipper are good choices. Just be mindful not to overload the area with clutter. A bright tie, pocket square, lapel pin, and glasses would be bordering on distracting in all the wrong ways. Less is more.

As for hats, they are a supremely double-edged sword. It is very, very easy to wear a hat badly. First off, they create a lid on you that stops the viewer’s gaze. I don’t wear them personally. Being relatively short, people tend to see the top of my hat more than what’s beneath, which is not something I want to advertise. It just looks bad if I wear a cap with the brim turned up to mitigate this. However, if you’ve always worn a hat and it feels natural and comfortable, go for it. Being confident in your clothing is all part of the charm. Just ask yourself why you’ve always worn a hat. If it’s because you like hiding your gaze and having your features obscured, then you’re doing it wrong.

6.) Pants & Jackets But No Shorts


Jackets aren’t for everybody, true, but they look so good when they work! Nothing makes a slim torso look as snappy and professional as a perfectly fitted jacket. Suit and sports jackets also build up the shoulders a bit and create clean lines to your form. If you’re wearing a suit, make sure your pants are the same fabric as your jacket. If it’s more casual, like a sports jacket or open hoodie, ensure the colors are complimentary. Remember, dark on the bottom, light on the top. The position of where you wear pants is essential as well. Wearing them low on your hips creates the illusion of stubby legs, which is not what we’re going for. Wearing suit pants and other legwear higher on your natural waist area will give you longer leg lines, precisely what will complement the vertical effects we’re looking for.

The way your belt interacts with your trousers is also important. Wearing your pants higher means your belt doesn’t have to be cinched as tightly as if it were at your hips. This avoids the awkward “pinched in the middle” look I’ve noticed many men of all heights fall prey to these days. However old-fashioned, trousers without belt loops and suspenders can be a unique way to add a bit of flair to your ensemble if you can get away with it. You’ll never know if it looks good until you try!

Try to avoid shorts and short-sleeved shirts. This can be particularly hard in the hot summer months, but there are plenty of breathable fabrics out there that help with the heat. As my arms and legs are rather short, being proportional to the rest of me, I don’t want to draw attention to how short they are by showing them off. For the arms, at least, what works well is to roll the shirt sleeves back to the mid-forearm. This casual and classy look works very well with many types of shirts.

7.) Shop Internationally

If you’re an American or Canadian, being small and shopping locally is especially difficult. I have found much more success looking for fashions online from countries like Japan and some regions of Europe. There, the average-sized male is much more in tune (physically) with your truly. They also tend to place a higher emphasis on up-to-date fashion and give me great ideas about how to stay ahead of the curve. I’ve found that unique styles, much like unique accents, have an overall positive effect on connecting with women. Many conversations have been struck up over simple acknowledgments of a funky jacket or pair of shoes from across the big blue seas. It’s not much, but icebreakers are icebreakers!

If you are lucky enough to be able to visit the countries you’re shopping at, you might be surprised at how well the clothes fit you. Unlike your run-of-the-mill big box stores in North America, which are so focused on XL and up, the options from overseas are several sizes smaller on average. Perfect for finding a wide variety when shopping instead of settling for ill-fitting domestic options. Be aware that many of the best online stores may not be in English. Google translate works for some things, but sizes can be tricky. Try to find a business with good customer service that can help you find the correct dimensions.

Putting It All Together

Now that you’ve upgraded and streamlined your wardrobe, you will find dozens of women swarming you wherever you travel. Well, maybe I’m kidding just a little bit there. What I keep getting back to is confidence. What makes short, skinny guys attractive to women? Confidence. How do you cultivate confidence? A well-fitted wardrobe works wonders as a start. Your personality, charm, wit, and quirky mannerisms are all tied in, of course. I cannot say any one thing is most important because everybody is different. What’s important is that you try and put in the tangible effort to look good. There’s no shame in trying harder to stand out when the cards are stacked against you. I like to think of it like a blade against a whetstone. The harder I get ground down, the sharper I get. Dressing sharply lets me focus my charms elsewhere, like speaking honestly and genuinely listening when it’s time to listen.

Change With The Seasons

Lastly, one should always be cognizant of the changing seasonal and even yearly fashions. Your body changes as you get older; mine certainly has. I change my wardrobe appropriately. Letting things stagnate and become threadbare is a major turn-off for many women. You want to constantly appear new and evolving on the cutting edge of your own style. That doesn’t mean you have to break the bank by regularly buying clothes every month; just keep adding a few things here and there over time. Look for sales and pounce on them — order clothing from overseas in bulk to save on shipping. Stay appraised of fashionable seasonal colors and seek them out as they change. Stay an active and interesting dynamo no matter your size!

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