How to dress when you are 5 feet tall

Joyce’s thoughts on being 5 feet tall and how to dress to flatter

I have been in discussion with my friend Elinor Salter who is a style coach based in Gloucestershire and who helps ladies find their style and declutter their wardrobes “It’s about attitude not age” she believes.

Recently she has worked with a couple of ladies who are 5 feet tall and find it very difficult to find clothes to fit. This struck a chord with me as I am 5 feet tall and know exactly the problem of going shopping for clothes. Elinor takes style sessions in Italy and she finds that shops there cater more for shorter ladies but in the UK there is very little to suit without massive alterations. We are politely called “petite ” but of course everyone who is small in height it not necessary a size 8 or 10. It becomes more difficult to find beautiful clothes for small large ladies !

I’m approx 5 feet tall now used to be a proud 5′ 1 1/2″ inches but apparently have a fused disc due to a fall off a horse and have become a bit shorter. That one and a half inches was very imprtant to me !

Always one of the smallest in class it has never worried me being of short stature and to be honest growing up I never felt small.

I have worked as a designer from 21 years old and have always been around tall models . Models used to be about 5’8″ but now are nearer 6 feet. So maybe it’s not me getting smaller after all !

There are lots of ways to change your appearance ie hair colour , hairstyle, contact lenses, designer glasses , dieting and fake tan but there really isn’t a lot that you can do about your height. Platform heels and wedges ( I’m a girl of the seveties ) add a few inches but then everyone else wears high heels so it all evens out.

I was never really aware of my height …….until recently !  OK my first husband used to call me ‘short arse’ and ‘baw face’ (maybe that’s why he’s my first husband !) but really I wasn’t bothered about being short.

It’s only recently I have become more aware of my height. I’m a stone heavier than I used to be when I got married for the second time and although not more than a size 12 I feel that every pound matters at 5 feet. Anyway, I like my wine and gin and tonics too much to ever believe that I will get back into my size 10’s.

I’ve also learned that when someone has body issues or doesn’t like something about themselves there is no point of flattering them and rubbishing what they feel. We all have issues and sadly we home in on the parts we don’t like and don’t see the overall picture. We are all too hard on ourselves.

Nowadays, people seem to refer to my height a lot more. Clients want to take off their shoes so I can reach to fit them and refer to my height in all sort of endearing terms.

When it comes to finding clothes for those of us who are vertically challenged IT IS NOT EASY !  Dresses in particular are difficult to find as bust point and pockets and waist shaping all sit too low and give the impression of making us even shorter. Just shortening a hem isn’t the answer. Buying a winter coat is even more difficult as they can totally swamp you. Therefore, mainly we wear separates.

Personally, I wear a base of black and add tunics for variation. To give the illusion of height I wear black wedge boots with black trousers with cashmere jumpers. It’s an easy look to achieve if not very exciting. Being small I have to keep it simple, no fuss. Classic with a twist choosing statement jewellery and quality fabrics and when it’s not black I love beautiful muted colours.

I’m in a privileged position that I have a production team that can run up a new dress for me. Strangely enough though, I rarely get new outfits made as we are busy and our clients come first. I’m the last to get my outfit when there is a wedding or event to get dressed up for.

During the second lockdown I decided to extend our Casual Chic collection and create an online shop.
My passion is to design dresses and outfits that make us feel contemporary, feminine and flatter our very diverse shapes and sizes. Styles that make the best of our attributes and disguise or soften the areas we’d rather forget about. Most of the styles are fitted at the top to under the bust and skirt over waist and tummy which tend to be the most popular problem areas. These styles are cut to suit both tall and petite ladies. Simple well-cut flattering styles cut in a crepe that drapes beautifully.

Above are a few images of me at 5 feet in the same dress as our 5’6″ model and one of me fitting our lovely client who is 6 feet tall. We have the Stand Collar Wrap Long Dress pictured in Teal and is available to buy in-store and from our online shop.

What does the designer wear to a wedding ?

I spend my life dressing other people to go to weddings so when it comes to thinking about dressing myself what do I to wear? In September we were delighted to be out of lockdown and attend Maurice’s grandson’s wedding with no restrictions and no masks. It was our first step back to feeling normal again. Here are a few pictures taken the evening before travelling to London with my first try on of the two outfits. I’m a trousers person so loved wearing these palazzo pants with crop top and silk georgette tunic over. It felt relaxed but dressy at the same time. The silk georgette print dress was for the day after the wedding but guess what? I opted for trousers instead so still have the dress to wear for another occasion.

We had a wonderful day and I’ve popped on the video I made below. It poured all day but the rain did nothing to dampen the joy and happiness of the occasion. We love weddings!

If you would like to get an outfit designed by Joyce for any special occasion, please get in touch or book your appointment.


Body Measurement Size Chart

Product Measurements

How to Measure

Size guide

1. Bust
Measure around your back and the fullest part of your bust

2. Waist
Measure the slimmest part below your ribs and above your navel

3. Hips
Measure around the fullest part of your hips

4. Height
Get someone to help you with this and measure from head to toe