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Whether you've got a narrow shape or a curvy one on your petite frame, the length of your dress is the No. 1 factor that can make you look shorter than you are. Choose a hemline that falls right around the knee; slightly below is fine, especially when paired with a high heel in a professional or formal setting. For a more casual look, just above the knee works well, too. For a day at the office, choose a fitted knee-length sheath dress paired with heels. For a day out on the town, a sundress with a full, flared skirt that hits just about knee length looks equally cute with sandals or flats. A fitted cocktail dress that comes just below your knees provides style and sex appeal for a special date night.
When it comes to fabric, pick a print that works with you, instead of against you. Choose any print that is small, as a huge print can overwhelm a petite person. Opt for vertical stripes that make you seem taller by encouraging people to look up and down. Any horizontal stripe or pattern will have the opposite effect, making you appear wider and shorter.
A dress with a high or empire-style waist, where the waistline of the dress falls just under your bust, will make your legs look longer and make you seem taller. Choose a dress that is naturally cut to curve in high on your waist, or add a belt to a dress that doesn't have any shaping, to create the desired effect. Avoid dresses with baggy or flowing fabrics and no real shaping; they will swallow you up and make you appear smaller.
Anything that draws the eye upward on your outfit will make you seem taller. Opt for a dress that has some sort of detail around the neckline, such as a plunging V-neck, embroidery or beading, or even a brooch that you add to the top of the dress. Color blocking is another clever trick of the fashion industry. Choose a dress with a light color on top and a darker one on the bottom. To mimic this look in a monotone dress, pair a light-colored cardigan over the dress, or wear a bright camisole underneath it to bring in that secondary color on top.