How To Wear Shorts When You Are Short

Summertime is here and no matter our age or size one thing that we all want to do is stay cool. Shorts are the natural go-to for all of us. Some of us feel more comfortable wearing them than others. Personally, I love to wear shorts and most days you will find me in them. Since I am 5′ 1/2″ I do consider myself quite the expert on how to wear shorts when you are short and feel confident in them.

Before we dive into the subject of shorts, I have a few other posts you might want to check out about petite fashion.

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Post updated April 2024.

petite woman wearing hot pinks shorts when you are short and white top 02

Top (old) | Shorts (previous season size zip) | Sandals (use code SAS10 for 10% off)

Look Great and Feel Comfortable in Shorts as a Petite

We always want to look great and feel confident when we are dressed. Whether we are wearing shorts around the house or if we are out and about. Even if the only people seeing me all day long are my furry kids, I still like to know that I am looking my best. So let’s dive into some do’s and don’ts for wearing shorts when you have short legs.

Do’s for Wearing Shorts When You Are a Member of the Short Girl’s Club

One thing about being short is that we are always wanting our legs to appear longer. I don’t know one member of the short girls club that doesn’t wish for this. So here are some things that will help with that illusion.

  • Wear high-waisted shorts. This will instantly make your legs look longer.
  • Wear a longer inseam. Usually 3″- 5″ looks best. You need to play around with the lengths based on your height and comfort zone. Once you know what you feel best in, then most online shopping sites list inseam lengths and your shopping will be so much easier.
  • Do wear a monochromatic look. A column of color is always a short girl’s best friend for looking taller no matter the season.
  • Wear a neutral shoe with your shorts if possible. A neutral-colored sandal will help elongate the leg.
  • Wear your shorts with a low heel or wedges for a little extra added height.
shorts when you are short 03
J.McLuaghlin Masie shorts. My favorite long shorts to wear with heels. So comfortable and worth the splurge.

Don’ts When You Are a Member of the Short Girl’s Club

  • Wear short shorts. They do not make your legs look longer.
  • Legs that are too tight. We don’t want our legs to look like sausages.
  • Wear large prints or patterns. This is just a general rule of thumb for petites. Patterns should always be to scale with our smaller proportions.
  • Wear long shorts with flat shoes. Sometimes we all like good longer shorts, but make sure that you wear them with wedges to give height and create that illusion of longer legs.

General Styling Tips for Wearing Shorts

  • Wear a little self-tanner or bronzer with your shorts. You can read about my favorite self-tanners here.
  • Style your shorts thoughtfully. You want to make sure you keep them youthful and modern.
  • Dress your shorts up. Make sure you take the time to put on some accessories, cute sandals, and a fun summer bag.
  • If you feel like you are baring too much skin, add coverage in other areas. I love to wear a thin long-sleeved linen button-down with shorts. Just roll up the sleeves. You could also throw on a longer sleeveless sweater or duster to cover some of your lower half.
  • For chilly air-conditioned spaces or cool evenings, this linen jacket is a great option and comes in several colors. Think of it as your summer denim jacket. It will go with shorts, sundresses, skirts, or pants.

Short Styles That Look Great on Short Legs

One thing that I love about shorts season is that I don’t have to have my bottoms hemmed. Shorts are always available in a variety of inseams. Once you find the inseam length sweet spot that looks good on you and you feel comfortable in, then shopping is much easier.

So as a short lady who is a shorts lover here are styles and colors that I find help make legs look longer. At 5’1/2″ my preferred inseam length is 3″-3.5″. If you are a little taller than me or if you have long legs and a short torso, then you may want to go as long as a 5″ inseam and still give the illusion of a longer leg.


Tailored shorts are great for those days you want to feel a little more dressed up in your shorts. A classic side zip short is one that I love to wear with low-heeled sandals and a nice top during the day. Tailored shorts are also great with a wedge and a dressier top in the evening. They usually have a high waist which makes the legs look longer. Always a great summer staple.

Paper Bag or Self Tie

Paper bag shorts are high-waisted shorts that usually have looser-fitting legs. The cinching at the waistline on this style of shorts sits at the slimmest part of your waist. Many also have self-ties which are great for petites. Keeping everything the same color doesn’t cut us in half. They come in all sorts of fabrics and colors thus pairing with many types of tops.

Mid to High Rise

A great midrise short usually hits petite at the belly button or just above. This is a good spot for a waistline to hit petites in shorts or pants because it keeps the body looking proportional and is more slimming than a low rise. High waists are just a dream for petites as long as they don’t come up too high. You will need to figure out is a 9″, 10″, or more rise works for your body.

Personally 9-10″ is about the max that I can handle. If not, I feel like the waist is at my ribcage. Making them uncomfortable and the proportion is thrown off. You can’t see my top the way you should be able to. This J.Crew chino is a favorite of mine for casual looks. It is a midrise that hits just at the right spot, not too high and not too low.


Sailor shorts are a great classic style of shorts to have in your wardrobe. They are good for petites because the button draws the eye upward. Some will have the buttons in a vertical pattern, while others will have the buttons on an angle. Try both styles to see which flatter your shape the best. As an hourglass, I prefer the angle that these shorts have. Just remember that you will need to tuck your shirt in with this style of shorts.

Shorts Styles To Avoid When You HAVE SHORT LEGS

There are a few styles that are not flattering for petites. When there are so many options out there that help give us the illusion of longer legs try your very best to avoid these styles.

  • Baggy shorts – they will make you look heavier
  • Low Rise – they will make your legs appear shorter
  • Cargo shorts – the pockets will draw the eye to a horizontal line which makes you appear shorter.

Thanks so much for stopping by my post. If you are a member of the short girl’s club, then I hope this post provided you with a few tips and reminders that we can look great all summer long.

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    1. Thanks Nipa. I’m a shorts kind of gal so I’m always on the lookout for ones that will look great on short ladies.

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