How to look taller and leaner if you have short and stocky legs

Updated on September 6, 2022 by Sarina Tariq

If you carry more weight in your lower half or if you have short or thicker legs, ankles, and calves compared to your torso, you may want to look leaner and taller – these tips are for you. 

Some tips used in this post meant to make your legs look a lot longer and leaner maybe the same as that of this post for Petites to look tall. And then some more .

Clothing choices if you have short stocky legs

Trouser choices

trouser choices to elongate the look of short legs -flared ones are better than short cropped trousers

These are your choices – pants that flare slightly from knees or straight-leg pants. Straight pants, and jeans give this long vertical line – so does bootcut (not flared) jeans but the flare of the bootcut should only be very less. If the bootcut is too much flared the thigh area can look unbalanced. Levi’s Women’s Classic Bootcut Jeans is a good recommendation.

Related post: Names of different types of pants; Names of different kinds of jeans.

Avoid Tapered short pants.

You need a long vertical line along your legs to make them look lean. If it is in fashion, make use of the stripes along the seam.

Cuffs at the hem are one feature that should be avoided. The cuffs cut off the length of the pants and make the area look broader and shorter.


trouser hem length choice for short legs to look tall - ankle length better than mid calf

For skirts and dresses, either a long length or one just under the knee are the right choices. Choose pants that skim your shoes or cover half of your shoes.

Avoid any clothing that ends between mid calf and ankle. If you want this length, choose an asymmetrical cut at the hemline. Asymmetrical cut at the hemline of skirts can break the straight horizontal lines which cut across your body.

A high-waisted style can provide that extra length. Just make sure that it is not too baggy or wide.

If you want to make your legs look taller go for long pants. If you want to really wear shorter pants (like those that end at the ankles) look for one with a thinner hem than a flared hem.  When wearing long pants the hem of your jeans should cover a little bit of your shoe.

long skirts are better than 3/4 length skirts to elongate legs

Longer skirts can also give an illusion of height. You can wear them with high heels and people will be left with an impression of long long legs. If you do not like the coverage, choose ones with long slits starting from the knees.

Colour and prints

Darker colors make you look taller than lighter colors

Dark-colored clothes are the best bet. If you do not want the same colors for top and bottom, wear darker pants or jeans than your shirt or t-shirt. This will make you look taller and leaner.

Neutral colors in a dark shade for the bottom wear can be winning. If you want color go for Navy or a dark grey. these colors are an improvement on stark black and are slimming. You can also go for deep red, maroons, etc. Lighter colors will make the legs look bigger.

You need to create an illusion of length – for this choose the same color for the top wear and bottom wear.  Or if you want different colors, choose darker bottom wear than the top. But do not make it too contrasting.

As for prints, go for small prints rather than big, bold, and busy prints. Those cute small chequered pants are better than the ones with windowpane checks.

Choose vertical fashion lines on your clothing and accessories – vertical lines elongate.


For short leg dressing, choose heels over chunky sneakers

This need not be said, it is understood – heels give you extra length – literally as well as perceptively; pointed narrow heels make you look leaner,taller. It is better in the same color as the bottom wear. But avoid short kitten heels.

Low heeled sneakers is not a good choice. A chunky loafer is better than this. 

If you want to go flat, go for simple thong style sandals, with the strap just between the big toe and the second toe.

Your shoes should not be exposed too prominently if it is a different color than your pants – it can be half-covered with the hem of your pants. You will look naturally long. And it should also not be unnaturally high. Moderately high heels can give you height and make your legs look longer. Too high and it will cause an imbalance.

If you have thick calves and ankles or prefer a more safe option to heels you can try wedge heeled shoes. 

If you want to wear belts with your dress, pants, or skirts, use one in the same color as the lower part of the clothing.

Avoid these

Avoid too-tight pants, leggings and stretch denim (these jeans are always too tight on the legs over emphasizing the form in an unflattering way). But dark leggings under tops that are just over the knee is a nice look. 

Avoid wearing bottom wear with embellishments or decorative trims or attractive prints near your problem area. If you want to divert attention from your heavy thighs and hips, do not have anything that brings eyes to those areas – so out goes big flashy pockets, light washes on the thigh area of jeans (very attractive looking on a thin leg). Avoid any sort of embellishment, embroidery, beadwork, severe ripping, etc.

Images :  Engin Akyurt from Pixabay

Related posts : How to dress if you have thick and flabby arms; How to dress if you have a pear shaped body

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Hi, I love sewing, fabric, fashion, embroidery, doing easy DIY projects and then writing about them. Hope you have fun learning from sewguide as much as I do. If you find any mistakes here, please point it out in the comments.

3 thoughts on “How to look taller and leaner if you have short and stocky legs”

  1. The wide leg pants, even though they have some spandex , slim the cankels and chunky calves and balance big thighs making them seem less out of proportion.

    Her advice is spot on.

  2. Sorry, as a 67 yr old moderately overweight women I disagree with your advice about stretch denim. I can not wear ANY pants that don’t have a significant amount of spandex as my belly/waist is much bigger than my legs and thighs/but so i have to have that stretch to get those denim on and fastened!!!!

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