Vertical Body Shape

"How to Dress if You Have Short/Long Legs or Short/Long Waist"


Your vertical body shape plays a big role here (but not as crucial as your horizontal body figure). This is the proportion of the bottom half of your body compared to your top half.

Vertical body shape, vertical proportions
All 3 are at the same height but guess who looks shorter?


Figuring out your vertical proportions is important for identifying your best garment lengths (tops and bottoms) and determines if you should tuck-in tops or wear top garments untucked.

There are 3 vertical body types - Balanced, Short Legs/Long Torso and Long Legs/Short Torso:

Vertical body shape, vertical proportions


  • Balanced give an impression of great proportions, however, it is not considered ideal because the legs can easily be shortened with dress and make you look frumpy
  • Short legs & long torso give people the impression that you are short even though you may be an average or tall height
  • Long legs & short torso is considered ideal because long legs are more appreciated than a long waist because they can make a person look taller than they are. A person with long legs can trick the eye into believing that they're tall even though they're short to average height

The chic fashionista Anna Villaruel says Your vertical body shape can determine if you need to buy bottoms made for petite or tall women. So you can be average in height but you may still have to wear petite pants because your legs are short.


How to Determine Your Vertical Body Shape

The best and quickest way is according to Imogen of Inside Out Style - which appears to work well:

"A very quick and easy way to tell if you have a short waist is to stand up straight, and see if you can fit two hand widths under your bust to your waist (narrowest point). If you can fit more than two hand widths you have a long waist, less than two, a short waist".

If you're able to fit two hand widths under your bust then you have a Balanced vertical body shape.

Another way to tell if you have a short or long waist is to assess your body and way of dressing..

You're High-waisted (short waist) if:

  • You don't normally tuck your tops and blouses
  • You don't usually wear belts on your waist
  • You often find pants and jeans short. However if you're Petite you might find that average bottoms fit you

Click here if you are High-waisted

You're Low-waisted (long waist) if:

  • Your tops feel short. You might want to take your bust size into consideration. A full bust tends to use more of the fabric and make the top look shorter.
  • Your butt and thighs appear low
  • You often find that jeans and pants too long

Click here if you are Long-waisted


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Short Legs, Long Waisted Vertical Body Shape

Your legs are short compared to your upper body. You probably have a bottom that appears low and heavy. Your torso is long. Usually a low waist will be lower than your bent elbow.

Rachel Bilson (see image below) is an example of a body figure with short legs and long torso. Her waist is amazing but her legs are on the stubby side and take away all the attention from her torso.

Mini star icon Other famous examples: Mischa Barton, Alessandra Ambrosio, Nicole Scherzinger, Olivia Wilde, Bar Rafaeli, Jessica Alba

Balance It Out With:

  • Accessories and clothing that draw the eye up towards your face and shoulders
  • Vertical body shapes examples of celebs
    Courtesy of Splashnewsonline
  • Print tops, or tops that have interest
  • Tucked in tops to shorten your waist
  • Medium to wide belts
  • Color blend shoes to bottom, skin or hosiery
  • Straight or bootcut pants
  • Medium to high rise pants and skirts
  • Heels
  • Jackets and tops that end higher up on your torso (no longer than hip bone)
  • Short skirts and shorts to elongate your leg
  • Bags that extend at mid-section
  • Light colored top and dark bottom to elongate your legs

Outfit ideas:
Long torso and short legs outfits


1. Shoes blending with the jeans, and the short jacket exposes more of your lower body

2. Nude pumps blends with your skintone. Tucked in shirt shortens waist.

3. High rise pants to elongate your lower body, and top and earrings that add width to your torso.

Note: These are just guidelines and are not a gospel. You might encounter contradictions, especially if you are a inverted triangle shape. You're not supposed to wear short jackets, right? Just keep the bigger picture of body proportions in mind. Like for example, wear a regular top along with a pair of flared jeans!


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Long Legs, Short Waisted Vertical Body Shape

Your legs are longer compared to your upper body. You probably have a high waist that will be higher than your bent elbow. Danni Minogue is an example (see image).

Mini star icon Other famous examples: Cameron Diaz, Julia Roberts (just a speculation as her legs appear long even though she's an average height), Adriana Lima, Naomi Campbell, Mariah Carey, Nicole Richie

Balance It Out With:

    Danni Minogue long legs short waist
    Courtesy of Celebutopia
  • Tops with interest above bust (eg. ruching, interesting neckline)
  • Tops with vertical details to slim and elongate torso
  • Accessories and details that draw the eye down like for example print skirt, sash belt. If you're Petite go for vertical prints.
  • Medium long to long tops. If you are short, avoid going below knuckle length
  • Jackets and sweater that end at hip-level or below
  • Bras that keep your girl high and perky - making your torso look longer
  • Untucked tops
  • Low rise pants and skirts
  • Bags that end around hip-level
  • Dark colored top to elongate your torso and light colored bottom
  • Flats or shoes with low heel

Outfit ideas:
Short torso and long legs outfits


1. Black top elongates torso, and tail dip skirt brings attention to your fabulous legs.

2. Hip-length cardigan makes your torso look longer.

3. Blouse with interest (collar) raises your torso, and rounded flats de-emphasizes your long legs.

These are just guidelines and are not written in stone. You might encounter contradictions, especially if you are a pear body shape because long tops tend to emphasize your curves. Just keep the bigger picture of body proportions in mind. For example, wear the long top but add a pair of eye catching earrings to bring the eye back up :)


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Balanced Vertical Body Shape

Your upper body length is about the same as your lower body length. This is the ideal vertical body shape.

Kate Winslet hourglass shape
Courtesy of Stylehive
But in my personal opinion, I recommend putting an effort in making your legs look longer, especially if you're petite (5'4 or shorter) because it will help you look taller. So make sure to follow the guidelines for short legs as the incorrect outfit styling and bottom garment can easily make you look shorter.

How to Dress Your Balanced Body Figure

Decide if you want to keep your vertical body shape looking balanced, or if you want to dress to elongate your legs or torso. But I suggest to keep your horizontal body shape in the back of your mind when deciding your outfit.

Examples of why your horizontal body shape often determines how you should dress your vertical body line:

  • If you have a pear body shape you can appear less bottom-heavy by elongating your legs.
  • If you're top-heavy focus on elongating this area of your body.

Basically, if you want to slim down an area - elongating it will do the trick!

Also, if your lower half (hips, thighs and legs) is curvy/muscular, avoid wearing clothes that shorten (bring attention to) this part of your body - it'll make you look stumpy.

Instead, stick to clothes that elongate your legs:

  • Tops that end above hip bone
  • Mid to high-rise
  • Shoes that blend with your bottom, skin or hosiery

Simply follow my styling tips for Short Legs and Long Torso. Or simply add heels!


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How to Improve Your Self Confidence and Look Your Best in Clothes Guide to Petite Clothing and Fashion Guide to Womens Plus Size Clothing How to Take Your Body Measurements for the Perfect Fit



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