Body Proportions and Petiteness: Why Do Some Petites Look More Petite Than Others?

It’s amazing how large a role body proportions have in making some people look taller or shorter than they really are. Case in point…here’s a little story:

In college, I became friends with a fellow petite. We were roughly the same height and weight, and quickly bonded over our experiences being so tiny.

Because I was a tiny bit shorter than her, I always assumed when people saw us together, I was the one that looked the smallest. However, I was always shocked to hear other people comment on how tiny she was. It didn’t make sense, I was the smaller one, and I wanted recognition for how awesomely petite I was! What was happening?

I think the reason lies in the differences between our body proportions.

As I’ve mentioned before in past postings…I have a short torso body type. What this means is, in comparison to the rest of my body, my torso is short, and my legs are long. This also seems to dictate the way body fat is distributed across the body. Because I have long legs and long arms compared to the rest of me, the body fat in those areas have more room to spread out…so they appear thin. However, because my torso is short, the body fat in that region has fewer places to go, so I’m a little thick around the waist.

My petite friend, on the other hand, has a long torso body type. This means she has a long torso compared to the rest of her body, and her legs are short. This also affects her body fat distribution, as her legs and arms are thicker than mine, but her waist is slimmer.

Now…from what I can gather, my long legged, short torso body type is the reason I don’t look as short as I really am, and why my short legged, long torso friend looks shorter than she really is. Take a look at the illustration below and see if out of the 3 figures, one stands out as taller, and one stands out as shorter:

It’s a little hard to tell, but even though each figure is the same height, the short torso/long legs figure looks slightly taller, followed by the evenly proportioned figure, with the long torso/short legs figure looking the shortest.

Ah ha! So this is why people never gave me credit for being the shortest! My body proportions are deceiving!

Has anyone else had experience with this phenomenon? Does your body type make you look taller or shorter than you are?

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image: Forecci

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  1. says: PetiteAsianGirl

    This is so funny. I didn't even see this post as it was hidden below the shopping links. My body type errs more on the longer torso/short legs, which is why I have to always wear heels!

    1. says: Summer

      I came across this article and can completely relate. I’m 5’7″ but EVERYONE thinks I’m 5’10. I wear flats everyday… Once In a while I’ll wear a heel. Even people the SAME height as me or taller think Im talked than then. (My boyfriends sister who is 5’9 though I was taller than her too). I think I’m proportional… So I wonder why I look so tall?

      1. says: Sammy

        I’m around 5’5-5’6 and people would say I look 5’4 , I have a long body but my legs are shorter than average lol. I have a big stomach as well.

      2. says: Louise

        I have the exact same issue. I’m 5ft7 female and people always comment on how tall I am and people taller then me
        Think we are the same height. It’s so weird. I’m thin with long legs. Like you I’m mostly wear flat shoes. Lately I’ve
        Been curious as to why I appear taller then I am.

    2. says: Summer

      I came across this article and can completely relate. I’m 5’7″ but EVERYONE thinks I’m 5’10. I wear flats everyday… Once In a while I’ll wear a heel. Even people the SAME height as me or taller think Im taller than them. (My boyfriends sister who is 5’9 thought I was taller than her too). I think I’m proportional… So I wonder why I look so tall?

    3. says: xoxoxo

      I cannot see any difference as a matter of fact at first I thought the completely even figure was the shortest but I think my eyes were playing tricks. However I do notice that the third woman’s hips look wayyy more curvy to me, maybe it’s trickery again lol. Unfortunately this doesn’t have everything to do with body size though because I have seen women who have extra large buns lol (meaning wide and bubbly) and their torso’s look really short. It seems it’s easy to spot the waistline of women with very healthy booty’s.

    4. says: Kathleenthekat

      I think having a short torso and long legs, if you’re petite, can be a bit of a pain. I’m 5’2 and a size 4 with a 30 inseam. Petite pants are always an inch too short, and regulars are two inches too long. Regular short length fit long enough in the legs, but rarely work in the waist and hip area. This is why I tend to shop for pants at thrift stores. If someone else already shrank them for me and they fit correctly, regardless of what size they were originally, I’ve found a winner.

      1. says: Kathleenthekat

        And yes, people do think I’m taller than 5’2 until I stand right next to them. I could never figure out why, and neither could anyone else. “Wow, I never noticed you’re so short. You must carry yourself like you’re taller. Something like that.” Mystery solved!

      2. says: Beth

        Oh my goodness I can completely relate to this! Unfortunately though I am only 5 feet tall.
        But yes I have the same issue with pants. With shirts they all go down to my knees!! I always thought the shirts I bought were just too big or something so I have always been shrinking them, but it is just because my legs are so freakishly long and my torso is insanely tiny. My legs are as long as people that are at least 5 inches taller than me.

      3. says: S.A.W.

        Yeah, I’m the same way. I’m 5’2″ and have very long legs and a relatively short/even torso, but when I take pictures of myself, I look very tall. On the contrary, when I’m with my taller than average friends, I’m still very short.

      4. It’s annoying that I don’t have long legs instead but I have a long torso instead of long legs which isn’t what I want so therefor makes me look like a dwarf I’ve been measured as 5,3

    5. says: B Bowman

      4’ 10”
      29” inseam
      38” 25” 38”
      Size 5 wide shoe (very high instep)

      Obviously short torso.

      119 lb.

      Nothing fits…I have a shirt seat as well.

      1. says: Morgan

        I have this issue. Except its nore drastic of a difference. I have an inseam of 26.5 so all pants are long on me. Lol. But I dont feel that my torso is long. But people tend to think I’m almost 4 inches shorter than what I really am. I’m 4’11 and a half and I get like 4’8 from alot of people, then again I have a bit of a stooped posture like youd see in a guy. I often find myself shopping for jeans in the kids department.

      2. says: Thea

        Girl same buying clothes is a pain I’m
        90 lb
        31.5”, 26”, 33”
        25.5” inseam
        And having long legs and short torso is horrible for the high waisted jeans they want to shove down every woman’s throats currently. Nothing fits and shirts are too long/big.

    6. says: Savannah

      I have a short torso and long legs and I’m 5’2 in a half and everyone thinks I’m 5’3-5’4. It really is amazing and how different the body can look depending on lengths of your actual body.

  2. says: Jennifer

    I have a friend who's 5'4 and we're the exact same size in clothing yet everyone comments how petite she is! I have a longer face though so I think it attributes to that.
    I think I have short legs and a longer torso but I'm not sure??

  3. says: Jen

    I think I'm more in the "evenly proportioned" camp but seeing as I'm only 4'10", people always think I am taller than I am especially in photos.

    Not to disrupt your theory, but I wanted to bring up an example of proportions in my experience. My sister is only an inch taller than me but her legs are way longer than mine and she has a shorter torso. BUT she carries her weight in her upper body so she tends to look more "petite" than me in pics. She has size C cups while I am only an A, she has broader shoulders than my slight ones, and has more of a straight waist while mine curves in. By your theory she should seem taller than me in photos but I find that not to be true. She would indeed seem taller than a long-torso'd person but my proportionate upper body actually leans in my favor. ;)

    Just thought I'd add that in! Love the blog, keep up the great work!

  4. says: Alterations Needed

    Hi Jen!
    Hmm…that's interesting…by your description of your sister, it would make sense to me that she would look bigger than you. How strange!

    Do you think the way people carry themselves can make a difference in this?

    Or maybe the way people photograph (some people are very photogenic…others…not so much)?

    So many questions! =)

  5. says: Alterations Needed

    Hi PetiteAsianGirl & Jennifer!
    Heels definitely help to lengthen the leg line…and make you look taller & leaner. There are certain tops that I hate wearing unless I have high heels on..something about the proportions just scream for longer legs!

    I also have a more oval shaped face, so maybe that helps the illusion as well! Hmmm.

  6. says: Anonymous

    Hi everyone. I love your blogs! I think it's all in the head. People with larger heads compared to their height look shorter than ppl the same height who have smaller heads!

  7. says: Alterations Needed

    Jen –
    I might have an explanation for the difference between you and your sister. Since she's broad shouldered and busty…she probably looks wider than you. Width makes people look shorter than they are (hence the desperate avoidance of anyone short to look "squat").

  8. says: Wendy

    Strange, I was just looking in the mirror today. I got a really cute LBD a few weeks ago that's too long, so I was seeing where I should get it hemmed. Unless I make it so it barely covers my butt, my legs look REALLY stubby though. :(

    I also have a very large/round face, which I think makes me look shorter due to the bobble-head effect. My friend is only an inch taller, but very lean with long legs, so she doesn't look that petite at all until you see her up close.

  9. says: stylepint

    I think I'm evenly proportioned. When I'm with my petite friends, I have a wider frame which makes me seem taller and bigger (and sometimes fatter). They're more slender, leaner…and seemingly more delicate. It's interesting how body types can make you seem taller or shorter.

  10. says: kiraling

    I just read about how to calculate your leg to torso ratio! I wonder if it's true?

    You need your inseam and height in CM. Calculate by going inseam/heightx100 = you'll get a two-digit number which is your 'leg percentage'.

    Supposedly, if it's 45%, you're average. If it's lower, your legs are short compared to torso. If it's higher, your legs are long.

    Mine is 73.66cm/150cmx100=49%

    Just thought this would be interesting! :)

  11. says: HM63

    Body proportions definitely make a difference in height perception. Alterations Needed has great proportions IMO. In pictures, I wouldn't assume you were small if you didn't say so.

    I'm short waisted and I think short legged….maybe my legs are just thicker than I'd like. I'm not sure. And I'm a C cup. I'm 4'l1 3/4" (but I lie and tell people 5')and I feel like if I could stretch out 3 or 4 inches I'd be perfect. I get compliments for being curvy but I just feel stumpy.

    Alterations Needed…I totally understand the "thick waist". That's where my extra weight accumulates as well. Now that I'm in my 40's I have to work super hard to keep that area trim. It makes such a difference in how I look.

  12. says: Anonymous

    I'm 4'9, very short, but my boyfriend's wife is much shorter than me. The funny thing, when my boyfriend's family saw me for the first time, everyone seemed to be impressed by how tiny I am. I've heard many people making fun of my and my bf because he is much taller. But my bf's brother is also tall and his wife is much shorter than him, but it is like nobody notices, it seems she doesn't have any problem with people making fun of them. I always knew it was due to our body type. She is very curvy and the chest much bigger. I don't know if my legs are the shorter kind, but my whole body looks very skinny, although my nutricionist have told me I have normal fat levels in my body. Plus, my breasts are super small, so I look like a 13 years old girl although I'm 25. Looking short and younger has much to do with the body types and proportions, and I've always knew that was why I get these stupid jokes about my appearence all the time.

    1. says: Anonymous

      I’m 4’11” and I get negative comments like crazy. I know other short women who don’t and I’ve always wondered why. I believe I’m proportioned but maybe it’s because I’m not the thinnest thing around. ☹️

  13. says: CynthiaC

    @petiteasiangirl: You definitely DO NOT have short legs. With an inseam of 28" at just under 5' tall, your proportions come out to be about 47% leg.

    I'm similarly proportioned, but people *STILL* think I'm tiny.

  14. says: PetiteAsianGirl

    @CynthiaC: LOL! I've never calculated percentage wise. I just looked at the three little green images above and picked out the one that looked most like me without heels (this is key)…and it's the one on the far right.

    Just had to whip out my measuring tape to confirm. 28 inches…but that's really odd, then. AN's posted inseam is 28 but her legs look way longer! But maybe they are just slimmer?

  15. says: Alterations Needed

    I just had my boyfriend measure my inseam again, b/c I tried measuring by myself last time. He says I have a 29inch inseam, instead of 28inch. My measurement was a little off. =)

    I need to just have my tailor measure me for accuracy b/c apparently I didn't do a very good job. =P

    PetiteAsianGirl – you're probably closer to being evenly proportioned than tong torsoed. You lucky girl!

  16. says: HM63

    Hmmmm….I hem my pants to 28 1/2" and I'm just under 5'. I feel like my legs are short but according to you girls, maybe not. :) My thighs are thicker than I like so, once again, maybe it's just proportions.

    Anonymous said, "I look like a 13 years old girl although I'm 25. Looking short and younger has much to do with the body types and proportions, and I've always knew that was why I get these stupid jokes about my appearence all the time."

    Hang in there girl! I was just the same…always looking way younger than my age and always getting stupid comments. But lots of "older" women would say one day it will be a good thing. Now, I'm 46 but look much younger and I get compliments all the time. It's fabulous to have have the mind of a 40 something and the face of thirty something. So, be patient. Your day will come and it will be awesome. :)

  17. says: CynthiaC

    ^^ It may be great that you look 30-something at 40-something, but it doesn't help when you're a 20-something or early 30-something climbing up the corporate ladder. Because you look young no one at the office takes you that seriously, so you're stuck at a level LONGER than you would if you looked older. It sucks when you're 30 years old and everyone else you graduated with is a manager and you're still an associate.

  18. says: Jackie

    Interesting post. I think I'm pretty even…actually my legs are a lot longer than I thought but being 4'10" getting stupid comments is a given. It does seem that I get them more than other petite girls. I never knew why. I think that having a larger (for a petite but not at all large in general) chest may have something to do with it. I'm a full B cup if you go by normal sizes, It's actually more like 30 C because my torso is smaller. I've also heard people say that my face makes me look young, that it's not necessarily my height. I agree with Cynthia. Being 20 something as a petite is not so good in work situations. That's one of the many reasons I work for myself now =)

  19. says: HM63

    Cynthia and Jackie…..I feel your pain. It IS hard. No doubt about it. Just pointing out that there's a flip side to looking young. Unfortunately in our society we deal with ageism as well. And women will do just about anything to stay young looking. I still get the occasional "short" comment but mostly things like "why can't you just age like the rest of us!". Women actually covet something that little old me has! :) We don't get to have everything at once in life….there are positives and negatives at all of life's stages.

    I've gotten more comfortable in my skin as I get older. The comments just roll off my back at this point. My only real issue now is finding stylish clothes that fit well which is why I scour these blogs looking for tips and advice from other women who understand.

  20. says: Alterations Needed

    Great insight…thank you for that comment! While it's easy to harp on the negatives of being a short girl in a big girl's world…it's important to remember all the good things we have going for us. =)

  21. says: Jennifer

    Body type definitely plays a part. I'm fairly well-proportioned myself (think Kristen Bell body type, but my calves are a bit slimmer…I'm a dancer), and at 5' 1.5" I'm petite but don't always look it unless I'm standing next to someone. My inseam is only 27.5" inches all the way to the floor, yet pretty evenly proportioned to my torso. I have a longer head, which accounts for some of my height! It's funny how the brain perceives things visually, even when exact measurements can tell us otherwise.

  22. says: Anonymous

    Hi, I am 4'8" with a US size 2 foot (size 13 in the UK). Thank god for Cinderella of Boston – the only place I can get heels that fit. Things seem to be getting easier in the UK to get small sizes, but maybe thats because I'm getting bigger (not taller just wider!). Having had 2 children my 23 inch waist has expanded to 25 and my hips to 33 inches. Just for the first time started working out and dieting to regain my size 00 figure. love the blog, it made me smile. Its comforting to know I am not the only one out there cutting the Barbie label off the merchandise!

  23. says: Trina

    Alterations Needed: you're dead on with your theory on the illusory power of the short torso/long legs. I, and many of my clients, have your friend's body type – long torso, short legs – and with this body type you quickly learn how to create visual magic and the live by the "elongate my legs" mantra. Platform heels, high-waisted skirts, belts and empire-waisted dresses are our best friends;)

  24. says: Anonymous

    When I read, "I'm a little thick around the waist…" I had to check whether I was still reading the Alterations Needed blog. You are NOT thick around the waist, girl! You have a tiny waist. You know those 24" pants you keep having taken in at the waist? That means you have a SMALL waist.

    Ahem. I and many of my friends are trying to regain our smaller dimensions (okay, I'm not working THAT hard, but my friends are…). It's SO funny that you call yourself thick waisted. I will need to keep that blog post away from my friends who've lost 40 POUNDS. They will hunt you down, sit on you, and make you eat butter until you fit into those 24" jeans without alterations, lol.

  25. says: Anonymous

    I forgot to add that besides the long torso types looking shorter, the above comments about shoulders, chest, and head size affecting perceived size are totally true. Other factors that influence perceived size are how wide your frame is, how big boned you are, and your overall shape (hourglass, inverted triangle, etc.) A GREAT book on this topic is The Triumph of Individual Style. They go into a more detail about how to analyze whether you're long or short waisted, long or short legged, etc. I wish every woman could read this.

    And to Anonymous who corrected her comment to, "my boyfriends brothers wife"–whew! That first comment of yours was really somewhat alarming. :-)

    1. says: Ticia

      My daughter is now an inch taller than me at 5-1 but I am always perceived as taller unless we literally stand back to back. She is a big boned large chested hourglass with a long torso. She also has sloped sholders. I am small boned short torso, longER legs, long neck, tiny head ( look like a dang pencil eraser) rectangle shape body with very straight sholders. There are really so many little things that can tilt perception.

  26. says: Alterations Needed

    Anonymous (12:19am) – LOL. I'm using "thick" in terms of proportion, not weight.

    What I mean by thick in the middle is that because my torso is short, there is less distance between my rib cage and hips. This means there is less room for a waist to form. I know other petites with similar height/weight to me, but with longer torsos. Because there is more length in their torso, their rib cage is farther away from their hips, and so they have more room for a waist to "dip" in between the two bone structures, giving them a very shapely hour glass waist.

    My waist, if not for visual effects with clothes, is not very pronounced, thus, I'm a little thick in the waist compared to someone with a more proportionate body proportion. It's my body type to be thick in the middle, and a common issue short-waisted women face. As I get older and gain weight, it will most likely settle in my waist, and whatever little "dip" I have there will slowly disappear.

    Also, size 24 jeans don't necessarily mean they fit a 24" waist. Perhaps it did at one point, but, especially with low rise jeans, the actual waist on a pair of jeans is often sized up under the assumption they will sit low on the hip. I'm taking in a regular pair of jeans (cut to sit on the hips on a taller woman) to sit on my high hip. If anything, I'm taking in jeans to fit my hip, which is shallow, as the largest part of me is really the thigh (commonly called "saddle-bags").

    That book sounds like a great read! I love body proportion guides. Maybe I can snag it for a good deal on Amazon. Thanks for the tip!

  27. says: Anonymous

    You are so right on this.
    Technically at 5'4 100 lbs I am a petite, however I am all arms and legs and with a very short torso. Put me in 3 to 4 inch heels and people think I am 5'10. No one has ever pegged me as a petite until I take my shoes off then it is like some sort of magic trick when I drop what looks like 6 inches.

  28. says: Anonymous

    This is such a great resource that you are providing and you give it away for free. I enjoy seeing websites that understand the value of providing a prime resource for free. I truly loved reading your post. Thanks!

  29. says: Petite Chic[k]

    I'm with you! I think I have the long legs/short torso body type, even though my legs aren't super long, but they're only a few inches shorter than my sister's, who is 5'5. I'm only 5'1 and about 90 lbs and I'm basically curveless. I am so flat-chested (32 A) and straight waisted so my hips are only a few inches larger than my waist. I can fit into juniors size 00 and 0 so I have about a 24 1/2 inch waist, but I've always felt like it's thick compared to others who have an hourglass figure!

  30. says: inocenbebe

    Hello. I am looking for a place that sells dress pants that would fit me. I am having a hard time finding one that fits. I went to Loft, Banana republic, black and white, express. They are too long and it's really big on the thigh and it doesn't fit on my butt. I am about 5 feet, 87lbs, and I think I have a proportional body.Does anyone have any suggestions.

  31. says: Anonymous

    I am 5´0 and I think that my legs are short. Also my upper part is not so tiny I have big boobs.
    the main problem is that I cant´t wear high heels to even my proportion!!!
    No way I can do that.
    Sugestions please!

  32. says: Anonymous

    inocenbebe – Have you tried Anthropologie? The clothing runs a little narrower in the butt but length will need alterations regardless. I usually go a size up for skirts to accommodate my large rear and thighs. I haven't tried their pants though.

  33. says: Anonymous

    I THINK I'm the middle one! jesh its so hard to tell really :/ I'M 5'1 and I DEFFINATLY think my torso is short…but I'm NOT so sure about that I have long legs… I mean I always need my jeans hemmed up or either shop in the "petite's section…it would'nt make sense for a petite person to have long legs really would it? I always thought my body was very kinda 'stubby' looking…lol

  34. says: Anonymous

    @HM63 I have ncredidly small breasts too… I look 13 also.. and I'm 26 yrs not to mention I have lost about 30 or so lbs and I that that high forhead thing that makes me look like a kid and with my shortness… I get mistaken for under 18 alot its umm not always a good thing :/ and frustrates me…

  35. says: Anonymous

    well jeesh now I am just eyeballing it…maybe i DO have long legs?? @_@ but HOW long could it be?? considering I'm still considred a'petite' lol hmmmmmm….does this mean i have long arms as well? WHY does everything look stubby on a petite woman tho?…I have a size large boys 10/12 yr old, raincoat that I bought for myself that I've been wearing..and its perfect on me….The arm langth is ok and the cut is good. ACTUALLY the cut and fit is better on me then really anything else has ever

  36. says: Kyle

    I definitely have a long torso/short legs and I can’t stand it. I’ve been insecure about it ever since I was… 13 or 14 and some other girl told my friend that I had and I quote “The shortest legs I’ve ever seen.” Luckily or un-luckily there’s not much you can do about it. Just have to deal. I try and remind myself that I’m lucky to have 2 functional legs and should not complian about such trivial things, but it’s always on my mind. I do my best to englongate my legs but somet things you just can’t fake.

  37. says: may

    I’m just starting to discover these petite fashion blogs, I feel like I’ve been missing out! Love it!

    I think perceived size has more to do with being proportional. I’m on team long-torso, but throughout my life, people have commented that they are surprised to hear what my actual height is (5’2″) because I seem much taller. My theory has always been that I “scale up.” I have thin/small bone structure, so from a distance, I appear to scale up to what a normal-boned person would be like in the 5’5″-5’7″ range (not my numbers, just what other people have told me I come across as). Also, when I’m seated with taller people, I’m more likely to see eye-to-eye with taller people than some of my friends of the same height because of my longer torso; this also contributes to the illusion that I’m not a short as I actually am… at least when I’m seated at the bar as opposed to standing by it :)

    Long story short – short + slim seems to help short girls appear less short. :) 

  38. says: Evey

    I think am short torso and long legs. I am 5’2.5″ and I can’t wear petite pants they are not comfortable (the inseam in awkward) but I wear and get a perfect fit in petite dresses, skirts and tops. For pants I have to get regular size like in BR, Expess, GAP, AT

    1. says: Rehnat

      I have the same experience as I have the same body type. I usually buy regular pants and hem them whereas I fit perfectly in petite tops and skirts.

    2. says: Andrea

      I also am short 5’0 but have a short torso and longer legs.
      Sometimes petite or short pants depending on the brand are a little too short they can get to ankle length when they should be longer but then I always have to hem regular lengths.

      1. says: Jeana

        Andrea, I’m also 5’0″ and long legged and have that same problem. People do think I’m taller than my actual height, but I’m normally pegged at 5’2″-5’3″ because of it. My sister is 5’6″ with long legs, and normally wears tall/long pants.

  39. says: Jimmyladanvino

    Agree 100% Im’a skinny-ish 5’8 dude and my brother is a broad shoulders/lean muscles 5’9. When we stand next to eachother, he looks 6foot I look 5foot6. He has super long legs and Im the opposite, I have a super long torso compared to my legs. Also body type(small frame vs big frame) matters and posture.

  40. says: mili

    yeah  i am 5’1 but i appear shorter than i am and it is all because of the body proportion–i have a very short torso and i guess average legs. but it is so painful and embarrassing when people say that i am tiny or change their face expression when they see me—get surprised. and i am so ooo tired of this expressions that it hurts me inside but i dont know what to do. sometimes i feel like i should do some excercis to reduce my thick west or even try to wear dresses that conceal my short& thick torso. anyone with suggestions…?

  41. says: mili

    i am 5’12 with short, thick torso and long legs and i really appear shorter than i am. i think the body proportion thing plays a big part in ones appearance. people make fun of me and i really hate it. so i should work on making my waist thin and also dress up clothes that conceal my short torso and make me look not as short. any suggestion especially with what kind of dresses or heels i should wear? plzzzz

  42. says: Anonymous

    i am 5’12 & 114 lbs with short, thick torso and long legs and i really appear
    shorter than i am. i think the body proportion thing plays a big part in
    ones appearance. people make fun of me and i really hate it. so i
    should work on making my waist thin and also dress up clothes that
    conceal my short torso and make me look not as short. any suggestion
    especially with what kind of dresses or heels i should wear? plzzzz 

  43. says: Anonymous

    There was a girl I knew who was the exact same height as me and we were within five pounds of each other in weight. In pictures, I always look really short and people always think she’s really tall. We’re the same. I have even proportions, and she has a long waist. When we met some online friends in person they commented on how surprised they were at my height, and how short she looked. It’s good to know I’m not alone.

  44. says: Babymama

    Yes! I have always had this problem. It made me feel bigger, when i wasnt recognized for my “petiteness” i was always jelous of my friends for being recognized as being much more petite than i, when in fact i was much tinier

    1. says: Eva Seyller

      SO can relate to THAT,I’m only 5’4 as well and believe it or not,this 6 FOOT WOMAN thought I HAD to be 5’8…most people actually assume I have to be 5’7 and I’m one of those people with SHORT legs and LONG torso but yet they ALWAYS compliment that my LEGS are LONG!

  45. says: Trkitr

    Hi I am 5′ 3″ and wear a 31 inch inseam for flats – I always say I have monkey arms and legs –
    Thanks God for whoever brought back the low waisted pant – Rock those legs short waisted people – they are ususally skinny too – by the way – the only thing I can buy in the petites is skirts and short sleve dresses – anything long sleve the sleves are too short and paints are way too short – but the skirts/short sleve dresses hit at just the right spot on my thigh for no alterations. Never wear long skirts – rock your legs!!!! 

  46. says: Ransompa

    WOW. I am 5’2″ and most of my life people assume I am much taller. I always thought that I just had a taller persons attitude. I only recently realized it is becuase I have a a short torso and longer legs. I wish I would have realized this sooner because I have been dressing all wrong. I have always tried to make my legs look longer because I am short. lol

  47. says: Anonymous

    When I was 13 years old, 5’3″, and playing volleyball, parents used to guess my height at 5’6″, even 5’7″. People used to be SHOCKED when I revealed my actual height, since height is a huge factor in playing volleyball. Now, at age 16 and around 5’5″ (still growing!), people STILL peg me around 5’7″-5’8″, and refuse to believe I’m any shorter than 5’6″. I weigh 110 lbs. with measurements 31.5 – 24 – 34.5 but also have muscle and tone.

    I literally have NO idea how I manage to look AND feel that tall. When I’m next to my 5’8″ – 5’9″ friends, I feel like I see eye-to-eye with them – yet, whenever I get measured, its the same 5’4.75″ – 5’5.25″. 

    I am evenly-proportioned, yet at the same time have a short torso and long legs. I don’t know, maybe I have similar proportions to people taller than me? It’s really weird! I don’t even know how to classify myself! I feel tall in social situations, even appearing tall in pictures, next to friends that are the same height as myself….It’s a pretty weird paradox.

    Does anyone have any similar situations? 

    1. says: Jeana Vettraino

       YES! LOL! I’m 5’0″ but I was always the tall kid, and am able to lift over half my weight. Everyone looks at me as 5’2″ and 100 something lbs, but I’m really 5’0″ and 137.

    2. says: rebecca

      YESSS!!! i am 5’5 but people think i am taller than that (like 5’6-5’7, or even 5’8). I have long legs, i am skinny. but people just don’t believe it that i am really 5’5. I honestly think if you have long legs, and skinny or slim, people see you taller than your height. their was this girl l know and we look kind of the same height, but she is only an inch shorter and everyone things she’s really tall. I even get people who are the same height as me or taller, think they are shorter than me.

  48. says: PetiteMommy

    I’m definitely the long torso, short legs one. I’m 35 and people think I’m 15 all the time. I’m also pretty thin. I’m 4’9 and 85 lbs. I’m so glad I found this site! :)

  49. says:

    I am petite and so are some of my friends. we have had this discussion too, and our conclusion is (and dont laugh) that this also  has to do with the size of your head. some petites  have a larger head in proportion to their body, which makes you appear more petite…

    1. It sounds funny, but I bet you’re right! It probably helps give the appearance of youth as well. Young children (and baby animals) have proportionately big heads and eyes, which is part of the reason why we think they’re so adorable. A short adult with a proportionally big head would probably appear to look young, and we associate youth with shortness. I’m sure there’s an anthropology paper just waiting to be written in this post and comments…LOL. =)

  50. says: alexapharm

    I’m terribly short-waisted (my bottom rib is only about an inch and a half away from the top of my pelvis) and it’s absolute murder to find things that don’t make me look boxy and squatty.  Blerg.

    1. says: Juzabro2

      You think that’s bad? Try having less than one inch between them haha! And relatively wide hips, with quite big ribs. I basically have to starve or look like a fatty! Life -_-

  51. says: lothelena

    Yes, my husband and I are the same height exactly but *everyone* thinks I am taller, he is long waisted and my legs are several inches (like 5″) longer than his.  Plus my frame is abnormally narrow from shoulder to shoulder and I am a shapeless rectangle, he is average build.  (And I confess I am a tall (but not as tall as people think) person who is stalking this blog for help in making extra-petite sized clothes for a friend).

  52. says: Funny-bunny98

    Yes I have definitely experienced this. I am a 4’11” 14 year old and I have a 5’0″ friend. Although she is taller than me I look slightly taller because I have long legs and a short torso, unlike her that has shorter legs. It makes me upset because when I entered high school I was 4’9″ with an evenly proportioned body. Since I became a cheerleader in h.s. I had to stretch my legs a lot and I think that was why my legs got longer. So now I am left with the regret of stretching my legs and the longing of being shorter.

  53. says: Abby

    Yup. I have along torso and shortie legs (24″ inseam!). People always think I’m shorter than I actually am. They also think I am lighter…and try to pick my up…and hurt themselves. I am onl 4’11” but I weigh 103-105lbs. I am built more like a gymnast than a waif, I guess. Or, I’m just dense! :)

  54. says: Jeana Vettraino

    I’m the long torso/short legs. I’m 5’0″ exactly, but I can appear 5’2″ or 5’3″ (5’4″ in all black). I have a hard time with the legs, but I can fit normal misses tops. But if you saw me next to someone who is only 5’1″, I am clearly shorter. I am very thin around the torso area, but I am very bottom heavy. So I’m always going to have those meaty thighs, and a big butt. If I were really 5’2″ or 5’3″, my longer torso, would be more obvious, and I wouldn’t be bottom heavy, with meaty thighs, because I’d be streched out. But being only 5’0″ even, it’s not like my long torso sticks out, like it would on someone say, 5’4″, it just looks like a proprortioned 5’3″ person.

  55. says: Short Fat Chick

    This explains why I don’t look as heavy as I am.  Short legs with a thick body (aka Short Fat Chick).  My teen daughter is shorter than I am, but I think she ended up pretty proportionate.

  56. says: Levitamite

    I have short legs and a long torso so i look super short but I’m also really short too. 4 ft. 11. I hate trying to buy jeans and pants and skirts because they’re always so big on me.

  57. says: Sommer

    I have this same issue, I’m 5’2″ but people always assume I’m 5’5″ or 5’6″, even my husband didn’t believe me until he saw me measured by my doctor!  I never thought my legs were long, my inseam is 30 in flats, but maybe that is long for my height.  However, people think I’m younger too, so maybe I have a big head too?  I’m almost 29, and I have a 7 year old and 2 year old, and so many times people seem shocked my daughter is her age because I “look so young” like I had her when I was 12 haha :) 

  58. says: sweet potato

    I think this is spot on…I am 5″ 1.5″ with about a 30.5″inseam in pants- as my mom would put it, I look like my supertall (6’0″ !) aunt drank the shrinking potion from Alice in Wonderland. I did some some print/face modeling as a teen, and in photographs it was almost impossible to tell that I was so tiny- My boyfriend was even a bit surprised when he saw my height on my driver’s liscense! I had been getting by in xs/2/0 clothes in the regular/junior size range for some time, because my legs and arms are borderline long enough, but after reading this blog for awhile, I started buying petite sizes and jackets and tops and my work wardrobe is now much more flattering than it had been in the past…thanks! I’ve had some great luck with ASOS denim lately – the inseams are not quite as short as some other petite lines, so I still look fine if i want to wear my jeans a little longer than ankle.

  59. says: Chaliiska

    I look like im way taller but im only 5’2 but llok taller then that because mi legs are long i feel like i giant

  60. says: Rrrrr88245

    that image really is bad at showing proportions. A normal person has their elbow to the very narrowest point of their torso – I would know! Because of a spine surgery, my torso actually IS shorter than it should be, because it couldn’t really grow in length with the rest of my body, so my waist and elbows aren’t aligned, and yes, at 5’4″ I do look WAY taller than I am, because of my long thighs and legs and arms. (and at 94lbs, I really am petite, yes.) 

  61. says: Janina

    I’m 5’8″ and most people think I’m taller. A co-worker who is roughly the same height as me thought I was at least 5’10” until we stood next to each other. Yes I have the short torso-long legged body type and I’ve known this since I was a teen. I have to buy jeans in “long” (35 inch inseam) just so it’s long enough to wear with flats. Most of my height is in my legs.

  62. says: Hachachacha

    I just found this post searching for something on this phenomenon. I am 5’1 and 3/4″ and have a short torso and long legs. Despite the fact that I am pear shaped and carry my weight in my hips and thighs, they don’t look as thick or big as they probably are because of my long legs relative to the rest of me. People have told me that I don’t look like a petite, especially when I’m wearing heels. I usually have to buy trousers in regular misses sizes and tops and jackets in petites! I actually don’t mind looking taller and thinner than I really am. Interesting post, it squares with my experience.

  63. says: Nicole

    I am tall with long legs and arms and a short torso. So I look taller than my already tall 5’10. I am finding out now, though, that I also have a small frame which poses a challenge in finding clothes to fit properly, as even the “tall” garments are typically cut for a broader frame with a long torso- not me.

  64. says: Chloe-Monet Ramirez

    lol SOOOO ture yes I am a victim of the longggg daddy long legs and the short torso..I am petite also…thin tiny bones! I am 5’2 ina half lol yet people are always denying my height lol :)

  65. says: Tami Pruett

    I’m 4’6″ and I have really long hair. Plus I have a short torso and short legged. I’m really not blessed in the height area. I actually despise it. Anyway to help me out any? I’m only 91 pounds and I’m 27 years old. Thanks. ^_^

  66. says: marymary

    You don,t look petite in pics, I’m nearly five three so not that petite anyway but VERY short waisted so skirts can be a problem. I can wear regular pants without hemming. My arms are freakishly long.
    People tend to think I, m a couple of inches taller. I wish!

  67. says: Leila

    I’m 5’4″ with the short torso, broad shoulders, & long extremities that you have and people always assume I’m a few inches taller until they stand next to me.

    Once I mistakenly thought someone else, another dancer in the group I was in, was the same height as me… I asked if she was 5’4″… she was very offended, “NO, 5’6″!” Obviously she would not have felt and acted that way if she knew that she was in exchange dissing me back; I just wanted a dance partner of the same height, and no, I’m not 5’6″ or whatever.

  68. says: Christina

    I have a short waist too and my gawd I hate how my body looks so thick and pudgy even though I am NOT overweight!! BUt people do get surprised when I tell them I’m 5’1, apparently I look way taller than that, so I guess that’s a plus.

  69. says: steve

    my girlfriend is 4feet 5 inches tall and can buy younger girls clothes but she won’t because she said it’s like she is cheating the market on clothing and I’m telling her she’s not . Who’s right? Me or Her?

    1. I wouldn’t worry about cheating the market…but if I were your girlfriend, I’d be more concerned with cheating herself out of the styles, fabrics, and fits that adult clothing offers versus the poor quality and styles offered in young girls clothing. Glitter smiley sunflower t-shirts ain’t cute on anyone over 12…I don’t care how well they fit.

  70. says: Me

    I am 4’10” with a very short torso and relatively long legs, and I am very happy with this body type; it is aesthetically proportionate. However, I want to say to the short leg/long torso women to be happy too, because often a longer torso means a more hourglass around the waist – a smaller waistline when viewed from the front and back, which is also charming.

  71. says: Me

    I also wanted to mention a funny experience – I have two friends close to the same height, within an inch of me. One of us is always perceived as much taller than she is – people usually think she’s 5’3″ or 5’4″ when she’s only 5’0! because her bones are much bigger. She has broader, thicker shoulders and jaw and overall is much thicker, and even us three were shocked to realize she’s about the same height! That showed me how much difference bone size can make.

  72. says: Candy Joelle Varvel

    Absolutely! I have the same thing going on. That is how I am able to do print modeling. I am 5’2″ but when photographers see my portfolio, they think I am a 5’8″ model and are shocked when they look at my stats, so they book me for print anyway regardless of my height.

  73. says: Mary J

    I have a very short waist (due partly to having mild scoliosis) and very long legs. I’m 5’7″, so pretty tall. I wear petite tops (if the arms are long enough, which they usually aren’t) and tall pants. The only way I can wear a pantsuit is if I can buy separate top and pants. I gain all my weight around my middle and hips. When I gain, I still have very thin arms and legs and a long neck, so I look like a beach ball with five toothpicks sticking out of it. I am comically out of proportion and can only disguise it with long, slightly fitted tops. If I wear a top tucked in, I look like a little old man with my pants under my armpits.

  74. says: anon

    this is so true. im on 4’11 but on pictures my friends and a lot of people say that i look taller in pictures. once, my friend’s cousin and i met for the first time, he was so shocked to discover that im SO SHORT. not even exaggerating. he thought my height was around 5’5. all throughout the conversation he was insisting that i looks so much taller in pictures, well i guess it all comes down to body proportions. and as you have said, long legs makes someone look taller. and i do have long legs and a short torso. i have a short torso because of socliosis.

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  76. says: AP

    I have the exact same body type as you. I’m short with a short torso but a lot of my friends have told me that when they first saw me standing alone, l looked so much taller. I’m always having trouble with fat in my waist/torso, even though I have thin arms and legs.

  77. says: Hallie

    I am 5’1 according to the doctor, and everyone thinks I’m taller than I really am, or at least until I stand up and compare myself to them (I have long legs, obviously..) When I see pictures of me, I look really tall from a distance compared to the others, even though they are like 4 or 5 inches taller than me.. It’s really weird and annoying, because I’ll say I’m 5’1 and they will be like no, you look 5’4 or 5’5. I wish I had short legs… :(

  78. says: Kim

    When you are petite everything makes a difference. Your weight (every ounce makes a difference), posture (always stand as if someone is tugging your ears up and back with a string and keep your shoulders from rounding forward), hair style (try a short style with added height to the crown), clothing and accessories (lots of tricks out there). To the working women striving for higher positions, why don’t you put it out there that you sense a prejudice, because that is what it is. Others who are victims of prejudice voice their opinions and advocate for themselves….

  79. says: Freya

    I am 5’3 and even my friends taller than me think I’m taller than them. It may be because I’m skinny or something, since my legs are a couple of inches shorter than my torso? I always feel like the tall lanky kid in my class even though I’m the fourth shortest haha

  80. says: Natalie

    I am 5’4″ and wear a size 2. Everytime I go into the store, the associate always tries to direct me to the petite section. But I can’t wear petitie pants because my legs are too long. I could never explain why I could wear petitie skirts but never pants and shirts (beyond the obvious observation) but looking at the chart was very helpful. I am, though, thankful for the brands that sell short, average and tall pant lengths. It shows that they are tryng to understand various body types.

  81. says: lucy

    Oh wow can I relate. I am 5’3 3/4….Rounded to 5’4″ of course. I have been called “tall” my whole life. Perhaps it was justified in my early days; I do think I was a tall child. However, I stopped growing and stalled at my current height. When I was 18 and measured at 5’3 3/4″, I anticipated the “tall” comment to stop. I have been waiting for 20 years for it to stop and it simply has not. I have had women my height and much taller (5’7″) remark on how “TALL” I am. They only shut up when i tell them my height, and stand next to them. My latest doctor, I made him measure me again at one point to see if a growth spurt has occurred for me after 18. Nope, still 5’3 3/4″. Tall is never something I wanted to be….so now that I am NOT tall, statistically speaking, it would be great if I could enjoy it, and just be someone whose height is never even noticed. The way these people act, I might as well be a foot taller than I am. It’s very annoying, to me any how.

  82. says: Robin

    I am 4’11”.i hv relatively long torso but short legs.i can’t wear heels at work.what should i do.if I try to wear heels what type should i wear so that I can stand long and my feet doesn’t hurt?

    1. says: Alterations Needed

      Hi Robin! First of all, try not to worry about other people’s thoughts or reactions about your height. All that does is hurt your own self confidence, which shows in your posture and body language. Stand confidently, work on having good posture, walk confidently, and your own personal attitude will shift towards confidence, which will effect people’s perception of you more than your height! As far as outward appearances go, pay attention to the way clothing fits you, and take items to a tailor if they need a little help fitting you better. Clothes that don’t fit make you look shorter! Also, I like shoes that are almond toe or point toe instead of perfectly round. Perfectly round shoes tend to look like they are from the junior department, and make you look younger. When I was working in biotech, I couldn’t wear heels either, but I found a few pairs of really comfy kitten heels that I could wear and walk around in all day. They didn’t add much height really, but the shape and feel of them made me feel more confident, so I walked better and more confidently. I hope that helps & best of luck to you!

  83. says: Jackie

    This is hilarious!
    Exactly my story.
    Extremely short torso-
    Extremely long legs (for 5’2″).
    I’m 5’2″ ish- no one believes me, they never find me particularly small, even though my height and weight are obviously small.
    I actually hate pictures of me sitting, I look quite large!!
    The most frustrating part for me are buying tops/sweaters.
    I have almost everything hemmed, and it’s difficult if you aren’t working with a good tailor.
    Cropped shirts often fit me like a normal top would fit an evenly proportioned body type!
    Good thing there have been a lot out lately.

  84. says: Miss Cellany

    I’m actually evenly proportioned but I’m muscular (I’m mesomorphic so it’s natural, I can’t lose the muscle without starving myself and as soon as I eat all the muscle goes back on with no exercise) so I look shorter than I am. I’m 5’4″ which is average female height where I live but most people call me “short” – while there are girls my height who are slimmer (ectomorphic – i.e. low muscle mass and very slender bones) with short torsos and long legs who people think are taller than me.

  85. says: crys

    Hi, thanks for the confirmation.
    My sister is one inch taller than me and looks shorter. She has shorter legs and I longer. We used to think that I looked taller because I had less body fat visibly which I think works as well as the torso and leg proportions.

  86. says: A

    I have always wondered why people didn’t think I was short, when am I really (5ft 2). I have really do have a short torso, and this explains why I find it SO hard to loose fat off of the tummy/hip area. Thanks for sharing, made me feel a little better about my body

  87. says: long legged girl

    hi i’m 4’11 weigh 98 lbs but I have long legs compared to my body BTW i’m 11 years old so this might not apply to me

  88. says: Chia maria

    I’ve been told several times that I look taller than I am, even when wearing flats. I’m 5’3″ and weigh around 96 pounds. My barefoot inseam I found out is 30″ when I was in the US (we don’t do sizes in terms of inseams in my country. I kind of wish we did). My legs aren’t particularly long, but they’re in good proportion to the rest of my body. Being thin and not slouching helps to make one look taller. Also clothes play a factor too. If you wear a dress that falls well above your knees as opposed to one falling around the knee area, it can give the impression of making you look long-legged. At least that’s my opinion. I love wearing such dresses. Of course, it depends on the style of dress too. A long dress can also make a girl look taller too, but it has to be a specific type.

  89. says: Felecia

    I’m 5’3 and I’m the middle body type. People think I be lying when I tell them my height,but no I have long limbs and a short torso.and it’s not until I take pics with ppl that I see how short I really am!!!

  90. says: Livia

    people are always surprised when I tell them that I’m 5’3 because I look a lot taller, probably because I’m a little chubby and i would say that I am fairly evenly proportioned

  91. says: Peter

    Another way to look at proportion is through scale. At 5′ for instance a figure is on the order of one ~.85 x 5’10”. If anatomically proportional w/no reference standard it looks the same. So a petite figure appears to be of greater stature. But this really can be an advantage, all the esthetics at more efficient size, what a true model is.

  92. That’s funny because I experienced the complete opposite! I’m pretty evenly proportioned and quite thin at 5’0 tall, but I have friends the same height who have shorter legs and appear more curvy than me (like your friend) and everyone designates me as the tiny one. Even my friends who are the same height “call me little one”.

  93. says: Vanessa

    Yup. I’m 5’2″ but I have a 32″ inseam… I have a super short torso! Most people think I’m 5’5″ or 5’6″ it’s super weird.

  94. says: Caroline

    A friend who is 5’3 offered to lend me a dress, and mentioned to our other friend that she would be too tall. The other friend and I are both 5’9. That’s actually how I came across this because I was searching for why. It makes sense! I have a super long torso and shorter legs and the other friend has long legs

  95. says: Samantha

    Oh my gosh!! I have totally experienced this!! All my life, I’m I’m photographed alone or even if I’m seen alone, not standing next to a “normal sized” adult, people assume I’m much closer to average height. I’ve even had people tell me I “look tall.” And, just like you, I have a short waist but long arms and legs! Crazy

  96. says: Yas13

    Omg I thought I was the only one! Lol, I am 5’4 (been measured SO many times, at the doctor’s/hospital/gym etc.) but most people comment on how I look 5’6-5’7, my ex boyfriend was certain I was 5’7 and wouldn’t believe me that I was 5’4. Even my dad said I look taller than my height.
    I realised my arms are long and quite slim, so definitely proportions coming into play here.
    It’s awful as it’s made me feel so self conscious about my height!! I feel like a giant with how people always comment on it. But deep down I know I’m actually 5’4!

  97. says: Kate

    Thank you for helping us clear this up! With a short torso, it’s so hard to find tops! Would you help us figure out how to alter clothing to better fit our shoulders because our waists are higher up?

    Most tops are really saggy in the shoulders and droopy in the upper back. My clavicle-to-waist measurement is 12 inches, and my waist is 31 inches around.

    Are there brands that fit short-waisted women particularly well? It’s so hard to find tops that don’t sag above the waist! Sick of all this excess fabric! Thank you!

  98. says: Francesca

    Yeah that makes sense!! But also head to body height ratio also matters. My friend and I are the same height but her head is a bit bigger than mine and everyone sees her as the shorter one. And I’ve got comments from people who haven’t seen me in person and thought I was 5’7″ when I’m 5’1″ lol. I looked into it more, and it makes sense if you compare a baby, a child, an average adult, and a super model, the head-to-body-height ratio changes and the head gets smaller compared to the body height. If you look it up there’s usually charts for them. One chart says, a baby is 4 heads tall, a child is about 5 heads tall, and the average adult is 7.5 heads tall.

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