Standing Tall


Workarounds for the Vertically Challenged

Petite women have a few advantages over tall women, including approachability, longer life expectancy and more legroom on airplanes. But being petite can make getting noticed and taken seriously much more difficult, which is not good for business.

In Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking, Malcolm Gladwell reminds us that there is an array of evidence suggesting that height triggers a variety of positive unconscious associations. And that these positive associations can confer a significant advantage over the course of a person’s life. Tall women more easily stand out in a crowd and take up more space – both of which contribute to making more positive and memorable impressions. Without a doubt, it is helpful for a short woman to appear taller. Here are my favorite vertical-enhancing optical illusions:

  • Perfect Posture. Slouching is so common that most people don’t realize that they’re doing it. You can add almost an inch to your stature by straightening your back and pushing your shoulders back ever so slightly.  Not only will you look taller, but also more healthy, confident and attractive.
  • Take a seat. Face-to-face communication at eye level is quite powerful and effective. People are generally closer in height when seated than when standing. Level the field by inviting your audience to sit down and talk with you.
  • Dress in one color. It is somewhat counter-intuitive, but you are more easily noticed in monochromatic ensembles than those with multicolor print or top and bottom of two different colors. Jackie Kennedy wore outfits of one color to standout, particularly in pictures.
  • Avoid loose draped garments. Big, loose fitting clothing makes big people look bigger. Oddly, loose fitting clothes make small people look smaller – like they are drowning. Clothing that is tailored close to the body lengthens the frame.
  • Opt for shorter hairstyles with height in the crown. You would be surprised how much shorter a woman appears sporting a long hairstyle, tight ponytail or classic (flat on top) bob. From the back or profile view, it is easy to mistake a grown woman with long hair for a teenager.

With these and your high heels, you may just be mistaken for 5’8”!


About Kali Patrice

Kali Patrice is the founder of The Image Studios, a Chicago-based firm that specializes in branding and image communication. She blogs through “Successful Expression” to share fresh ways to share insights about image, personal branding and self-expression.