How to dress when you are tall

by SylviaVDL

How to dress when you are tall

I have had an article on the site on how to dress when you are petite, but have never tackled the opposite: how to dress when you are tall. Let’s do that today. Anyone over 5ft 10 or 1.78 meters is considered tall and dressing when you are tall comes with its own set of challnges, even though you have fewer limitations as petites. Please note though that these are only lose guidelines. Every body is different, so trust your own instinct and see what works for you.

Dressing challenges for tall women

Although being tall can be a real plus when you are dressing, you may still find it difficult to get your outfit in balance. In general as a tall person you will want to achieve the following:

  1. Get your outfit well proportioned and create a flattering silhouette
  2. Getting properly fitted clothes.

1. Create a nice silhouette

If you are tall, you may need to work a little harder to create a nice balance in your outfit. Often, you will want to give it more shape. Here are some tips to achieve a flattering silhouette:

  • Work with strong blocks of colours to help define your body and break the strong vertical line.
  • Get clothes that give your body a clear shape like some of the below suggestions.
  • Wear tops with round necks.
  • Choose blazers with waist definition.
  • Opt for A-line skirts.
  • Although you can wear many kinds of trousers you will look particularly good with trousers with a slight flare.
  • Wear tops over your bottoms.
  • The current peplum style works very well for tall women and gives you more shape.
  • Bell sleeves will give extra shape to your arms.
  • If you like to tuck in your tops, combine with a longer tailored jacket or blazer.
  • Wear long chunky necklaces, which bring attention to your centre.
  • You are one of the lucky ones who can wear capris without any problems, but they will still decrease your nice long legs. Combine with shapely tops!
  • You will also look good in maxi dresses, but make sure they have the correct length. Of course these will make you appear very tall.
  • If your arms are long too, you can go wild with lots of big bracelets.
  • You can wear heels or flats. Most tall women will look best in shoes with shaped heels, like kitten heels.
  • Large bags look good on you as well.
  • Avoid: formless three-quarter length jackets, straight dresses, dropped waists, cropped tops, turtle necks, tiny bags.

2. How to find clothes for your long arms and long legs?

Being tall means that you cannot always find clothes that fit properly in the shops. Here are some tips on how to get clothes that fit correctly.

  • If you can’t find shirts with the right arm length, you can buy them with double cuffs and then wear them unfolded
  • Otherwise, if sleeves are too short, have them taken in to halfway length.
  • If dresses are too short, just use them as tunics or wear over pants.
  • Find stores that have special collections for tall women. Some stores that offer this include:
    Lucky Brand: offers long and extra long lengths for many of their styles.
    Gap offers a lot of options for tall women in both pants, dresses and tops.
    – Loft has a special section for tall women.
    Eddie Bauer also has a special tall women section.
  • Shop in stores that are especially created for tall women, like Long Tall Sally or Long Elegant Legs.

Famous tall women

Famous tall women include Nicole Kidman, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jane Fonda and Michelle Obama. Nicole often emphasises her height in dresses, which is a choice all tall women can make. But she looks more in proportion when she adds more shape to her looks as shown below. Nicole Kidman As a tall woman, it’s really up to you what you decide to do. You can emphasize you tallness even more or use some of the tips above to tone it down a little and create more shape. Some of the looks from the pictures above can be shopped below.

These are just some of my tips. Perhaps you are tall and have a few to share as well? Also, do you like to emphasize your tallness or do you follow some of the tips above and like to appear a little shorter?


1 Rita

I’m a short stuff, but I love those outfits you show…the colors are especially nice. 🙂

2 Sylvia

Thanks Rita. I’m always trying to make all the articles interesting for everyone 😉

3 Marla

I’ve been 5’10” since junior high. Pant length sometimes is a problem for me but luckily more and more pants have the option for tall sizes. Since my legs are so long I usually wear tunic length tops so my body looks proportional. I stay away from sleeveless shirts because they seem to accentuate the length of my arms. I really love 3/4 length sleeves. I am thin so I like fitted clothing like fitted jackets and shirts.

4 Sylvia

Yes tunics should serve you well. Thanks for your feedback Marla!

5 Renita

I am tall and disproportionately big on top versus the bottom. I typically wear a size 12 top (big busted) and a size 6 bottom (skinny legs and small behind). I find heels that are too high (over 3 inches) tend to make me look giraffish and accentuate the disproportion. I try to stay with a mid-height heel. Also, I find if I add a little bit of a flair or wide leg in a pant it balances me out.

6 Sylvia

Great tips Renita. Thanks for the feedback!

7 Red Tag Chic Los Angeles

What super helpful & fab tips Sylvia!!!


8 Sylvia

Thanks Rebecca.

9 Greetje

Even though I am “only” 5ft 74 (1,75 meters) I have similar challenges. My arms and legs are quite long. Never knew that big busted would create a new problem, but over the years I had to add that to the list of challenges as well. So I am now very careful with blouses (rather not).
I don’t wear wide trousers with verical lines, nor a straight coat with a length halfway my thigh (that looks really ugly). I am always trying to create a waist, which is not always simple. Tops with a peplum look absolutely fabulous on me. Tailored jackets too.
I still make the mistake in thinking “Oh that looks nice on that shop assistant… I’ll buy that too”, only to find out later that the shop assistant is half my size, so obviously, what suits her will most of the times, not suit me. But, you live and learn.

10 Sylvia

I also think you should try flared pants some time Greetje. You are definitely getting better all the time in knowing what works for you.

11 Women Who Run It

Love your suggestions. The new trend with cropped sleeves in sweaters and jackets has been fantastic for tall women.

12 Sylvia

Yes, better make sure that you buy something now that it’s in fashion. It may all be gone next year…

13 Heather Fonseca

I’m only 5’9″ but I have many of the issues faced by tall women, though honestly I don’t really think about it. I just buy what looks good. There are a few silhouettes that I always gravitate toward, however. Capri pants, kitten heels (high heels can make me at over 6′!) 3/4 length sleeves, fitted jackets, sweaters and coats. I can also wear blouse drop-waist tops though. I also find that breaking up my body with color looks good.

Great post Sylvia!

14 Sylvia

thanks Heather!

15 Ulla-Marie

I am 1,83 and I do not think it’s no idea to try to hide this. My opinion is that it’s better to “use” the length. But when I was a teenager, I cried myself to sleep and fantasized about saw off my legs.

16 Monica

I also have been 5’10” since Jr high….. pants have been a problem, but if you are careful, you can find mens low rise jeans sometimes, that fit really well, and look fantastic. The pockets are better in size for my size 14-16 rear end. A problem I also have is that many empire waist tops, are not only too short, but the straps are not long enough. the bust portion sits too high. tunics that are not long enough are also a problem. I live in a rural area, without the tall shops of a big city.

17 Sylvia

Thanks for your great feedback Monica!

18 Morena

At 5’10” I used to like to emphasize my tallness and used a lot of your tips. But I’ve recently put on about 20 extra lbs. and find my old clothes draw attention to my weight. Any tips?

19 Sylvia

Hi Morena. That depends on where your weight has settled. Start by determining your body type ( and then follow the directions for that type. You may also find this recent article helpful:

20 Rodica Chelea

Thank you for the tips! The biggest challange is to find a sexy heels that are not more than 3.5 inch!

21 Debbie Whittle


I am 185cm, 6ft, I am a UK size 14, a triangle and very very long legged. I have had many of my pants made as I cannot buy long pants in the shops.. I can usually find pencial skirts long enough but not dresses. Because of my long legs and arms I find that I look best in pants that finish between my calf and ankle especially if they are patterned. I wear fitted clothing (tops and skirts and some dresses) which looks great but cannot find jackets long enough to wear with pants – too much leg and out of proportion. So my style is classic, feminine and dramatic and I love to wear wide leg pants, long flowy tops (break the guide of vol over vol), leggings and tunic tops, sleeves that are not too tight, long tops over Capri (7/8 for most but Capri for me). I have a long neck and face and so wear my hair to my shoulder and it is fairly curly so that softens my look. I do wear heels but only if I am doing corporate work, otherwise it is flats. I am a size 11 so find shoes a challenge to buy as they generally only go to a 10 in the shops. There are not a lot of great tall role models in the general public and so it is a treat to see a tall woman who has dressed appropriately for her height.

22 Sylvia

Lovely to read your tips and feedback Debbie! You may like to check out one of the sponsors of my giveaway next week Long Elegant Legs. They create clothes especially for tall women!

23 Kaye in France

Hello Sylvia. I was very happy to discover your site today. You offer very helpful advice. Thank you.
I happened upon these comments from tall women and would like to share my experience.
I’m 6’1 (1m86) and I live in France. Now THAT’S a clothing challenge because the average French woman is something like 5’5″!
I have hunted high and low over the years and have compiled a list of shops that specialize in clothing for tall women. Here are some of the places that help me stay fashionable:
1. Sumissura: made-to-measure and relatively inexpensive!!! ❤️

24 Sylvia

Thanks for the feedback Kaye!

25 yvonne

hi i am 1,90m and I am fat as well. Sometimes I feel so useless ..and I don’t know what to do with myself.

26 Sylvia

Hi Yvonne. Please realise that everyone is beautiful and useful. Perhaps try to speak to someone or visit a doctor for help? If you are struggling with your body image then this site has many very useful articles:

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