Reader Ilujna e-mailed me this request:
You’ve done balancing a long torso and downplaying hips but I was wondering if you could do something on short torsos? I’ve got “great” hips (ie they’re quite large), long legs, no torso and broad shoulders. I seriously look like a Sailor Moon character when I wear pants (because my navel is just that high and due to my hips I can’t wear pants lower than they’re designed) so I just don’t wear pants. Since my torso is so squat and I have those annoying internal organs jammed into a small space, there’s no definition to my waist. If it weren’t for the hips, I’d have no curves at all. I also have trouble wearing wide belts because my lack of a torso means if I wear a belt with anything that has a waistband the belt ends up squashed, unpleasantly, between the waistband and my breasts.
As always, choosing to mitigate or balance your figure is your choice. (Always consider playing up your assets as an important priority.) Ilujna has a great, playful attitude about being all legs, but is hoping to find some ways to balance out her bod. Here are a few basic tips!
First off, if you’re unsure of your torso length, you can do a few things to figure it all out. Imogen offers this handy measurement-based method for determining torso length, among other proportions. As a visual thinker and gut-truster, I actually find this graphic incredibly helpful:
Assuming you have noticeable hips, you can note where along your body line your hips fall. If they’re close enough to your bust to make your top half appear shorter than your bottom half, you’ve got a short torso. If they’re close enough to your feet to make your top half appear longer than your bottom half, you’ve got a long torso. No hips? Use your crotchpoint as a marker instead.
But another good way to figure this out is to note how clothing fits your body. If high-rise pants don’t reach your natural waist and/or regular length tops are too short, both are indicators of a long torso. If petite tops fit you best but you’re not petite and/or you take a long inseam but aren’t particularly tall, both are indicators of a short torso. (Just a few examples – there are loads.)
NOW. The order of the day is short torsos, so let’s dig into some ways to balance out those proportions.
Try low-rise pants
Ilujna has said quite specifically that she can’t do low rise pants due to her hips, but I’m throwing this one onto the fire regardless because some of you short-waisted gals probably CAN do them. Observers will believe that the waistline of your bottoms matches your actual waistline, so a low-slung pair of pants or jeans will visually elongate your torso. This trick works especially well if you can tuck in your top, as Kelly has done in the photo at the top of this post. (See her tips for tucking for the short-waisted.)
Sport skinny belts
Wide belts work best on long torsos, which have enough room to balance them out. Skinny belts, on the other hand, are great for short torsos as the narrow width of the belt gives the impression that the torso supporting it is long. If you’re belting a dress and have a figure that allows it, consider belting a bit below your natural waist to further elongate your look. (Won’t work as well for women with pronounced curves.)
Experiment with tunics
If you’re all leg and little torso, a style of top that masks your thighs a bit will create some balance. Tunics worn with leggings, clamdiggers, or skinny jeans can flatter certain short-waisted figures. Try throwing a skinny belt on, too, if you need some waist definition.
Leave most tops untucked
If you opt for tops with finished hemlines – sweaters and button-front shirts are two typical options – you can trick the observing eye into believing that your torso is much longer than it truly is. This is especially important when wearing skirts, which typically sit higher on the torso than pants. Now, this doesn’t necessarily apply if you’re sporting a pair of low-rise jeans. In fact, tucking into low-rise bottoms can create balance, as mentioned above. Use your judgment.
Consider long sleeved or sleeveless garments
This is definitely a loose guideline since very few of us are gonna do long sleeves or bare arms year-round. That said, the eye is drawn to the ends of sleeves, so short and 3/4 length sleeves will bring eyes to your torso. Long sleeves give you a longer overall look, and sleeveless garments do the same. Something to consider, not abide.
Utilize long accessories
Though not as effective as some of these other techniques, keeping necklaces and scarves nice and long will help draw the eye up and down your figure. They can also help ease the break between your top and bottom halves.
Naturally, you can feel free to play up those legs and have fun with a tiny torso: Wear high-waisted pants, towering heels, and short skirts. Also there are more types of short-torsoed women than can be covered in one post, so remember to take what applies to you, discard the rest, and assume positive intent.