How To Make Your Legs Look Longer While Wearing Flats – Part 1

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 “Though she be but little, she is fierce.”


My Hermia impression.

Anyway, a couple of months ago, I received not one, but four different emails from readers asking this exact question:  How can I make my legs look longer while wearing flat shoes?

So I googled it.  And the number one answer?  Wear heels.

Um.  Ok.  Thankyoufornothing?

Leaving Google behind me, I started playing around.  And I think…I THINK…I’m on to something here.  There are a few styling tricks and a few key pieces I keep coming back to.  Per usual, I’ve created something ponderous (on par with a dissertation, because YES I take all of this fashion stuff very. seriously.) so I’m breaking it up into multiple parts in the hope that one can actually read it over morning coffee.  At this point, it’s looking like a three part series?  Hopefully not more, but no promises.  Sometimes I think I should’ve named this blog ‘an engineer’s approach to fashion’ just so there were no surprises, and I could then feel free to use charts.   

But enough blathering.  First up, the key pieces….

Key Pieces



Clockwise, from top left:

1.  High-Waisted Denim (or Shorts)

Nothing will visually elongate your legs faster than high-waisted denim.  Of course, you’ve gotta show off that waist, so tuck (or half-tuck) your top.

Featured: MiH Nouvell High Rise Straight LegLove Culture Denim Shorts

2. Nude Ballet Flats

In general, the more of top of the foot you show, the longer the leg line.  So ballet flats are a better choice  than, say, loafers, simply because they show more foot.  Nude ballet flats kick the illusion up a notch further, and are like leg-lengthening magic shoes when wearing shorts or skirts.  The key is to find a pair of nude flats that are in the same color family as your skin.  I’m a sunburn-easily kind of girl, so I had more luck with a blush pink than with a true nude.

Featured: Tieks in ballerina pink

3. Trapeze Dresses or Tops

The trapeze silhouette is perfect for leg lengthening because the swing starts above your bustline, completely obscuring where your waist actually starts.  Perfect for the short-waisted – especially with a pair of high-waist denim.

Featured: Topshop Chiffon Tank, Mango Chiffon Panel Dress 

4. Drapey Cardigan To Create a Long Line

A cardigan that creates a sharp vertical line has overall elongating powers.  Just be sure (if you are on shorter side) that it doesn’t overwhelm your ‘small but fierce’ self.

Featured: Llove Short Sleeve Geometric Cardi (currently 40% off for a grand total of $28)

5. Two-Button Blazer

You are trying to fool the eye into thinking your waist is higher than it actually is, to give the impression of longer legs.  Buttoning the top button of two-button blazer does this perfectly.

Featured: J.Crew Schoolboy Blazer

6.  Black Sneaks, Black Laces

In general, sneakers are not leg lengthening.  They cover up the entire foot and add bulk.  However, sneakers are sofreakingpractical for Mamas trying to chase their kids around a park that I had to figure something out.  Here it is:  Skip the contrasting laces.  Black sneaks with white laces?  No.  Red sneaks with white laces?  No.  But…if you can find cute sneaks with laces that are the same color – BAM.  It’ll work for leg lengthening.  I like the black/black combo.

Featured: Onitsuka Tiger by Asics (lots of non-contrasting laces options – the lighter pairs would be perfect with light wash denim for spring) 

7. Over-The-Knee Flat Boots

Not only does this trick work, but it works really, really well.  And it almost doesn’t matter where the boot hits – anywhere between above-the-knee and mid-thigh makes your legs look longer.  The trick is to  make sure the boot is sleek, and fits well (slouchy boots should be avoided for leg-lengthening purposes).

Featured: Chinese Laundry OTK Boot (if price is no object, the boots you really want are Stuart Weitzman’s 5050 in any color.  I like black suede.)

8. Disco-Band Tops and Dresses

Those tops and dresses with the elastic waistbands sewn in?  Some – some – will hit slightly higher than your actual waist, making your legs look miles long.  However, some won’t (maxi dresses often are too heavy and pull the elastic down).  But keep your eye out – it’s worth a shot, right?

Featured: Ruffle DressFloral Dress

9. Peplum Tops

Some peplum tops are fitted through the waist, flaring out at the bottom.  You don’t want those.  Look for peplum tops that flare just above the waist.

Featured: Petunia Peplum Cami

10.  Accessories 

Use accessories to draw the eye up towards your face.  A little cleavage, a stunning statement necklace, a scarf or a cool hat will lift eyes up.  This whole feeling of up will help to elongate your body.


Try This:  Sneakers With Non-Contrasting Laces

Sneaks aren’t the best for lengthening your legs, so pair them with leg-lengthening powerhouses like high-waist denim and trapeze tops.  Use accessories (and/or a little cleavage) to really pull the eye up.





hat: Target (old)…also loving J.Crew’s canvas leopard-print baseball hat (on sale for $34)

sweater: J.Crew (old)…similar

bra: Splendid Longline Bralette

tank:  Stylemint (old)…similar from C&C California

belt:  J.Crew (old)…similar at Target

jeans:  MiH Nouvell High Rise Straight Leg

sneaks: Nike Free



Next up will be an ode to my very favorite leg-lengthening magic shoe:  the nude ballet flat.









About Author

Shana founded The Mom Edit in 2008. She lives with the love of her life (his name's Mike) and their two crazy boys in downtown Philadelphia. She loves a good styling challenge (her engineering side shows eventually), appreciates kindness, and usually picks scotch over wine, sneakers over stilettos, and denim-underwear, always.

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  1. I love this look because it’s just been so HARD to get back into heels after the birth of my baby. Um, 2 years ago. Also,I’m a total half-tuck zealot and I have started randomly trying to half-tuck my friends because it has CHANGED MY LIFE. Not even exaggerating — I’m a busty girl, so if I size up for a top it goes into too schlumpy territory, but if I use your (patent pending) half-tuck, suddenly I’m not sloppy but sexy-stylish. LOVE!

  2. I’m fairly tall, so leg-lengthening has never been my foremost fashion concern. However, I wanted to pop in and say OH MY GOD I WOULD DEVOUR A FASHION BLOG WITH CHARTS.

  3. Another vote for charts on the blog. From a physicist! I always see everybody looking so cute in their drapey cardigans, but I’m a severely pear-shaped creature, and nothing seems to emphasize that more than a long drapey cardigan. Alas.

  4. Shana, pleeeeeeeeeease talk to me about half-tuck and the low-sitting pooch. I *adore* your half-tuck magic, but unless my jeans are extremely low slung–like several inches below my belly button, therefore allowing my shirt to drape where the pooch sits–I cannot make it work. Even then, I find it uncomfortable because if the wind blows just right, I am conscious of my fluffy belly pushing against the shirt. Post-babies, I have gravitated towards higher waisted jeans to structure and control the pooch a bit, but no one knows they’re high waisted except me, and it’s not something I can show off. Thoughts? Or is the half-tuck just destined to elude me? (I also have disproportionally long legs and a non-existent torso, so perhaps leg lengthening is not something I need to worry about all that much…)

  5. I’m interested in the Trapeze situation. I have huge boobs on a small frame and think that stuff that hangs straight down off my chest makes me look matronly. Perhaps the half-tuck is the antidote. In my bathrobe right now. Will report back. 🙂

  6. Another call for more information on the half-tuck for grown women (as opposed to barely pubescent fashion bloggers), especially as regards to pooch-hiding vs. highlighting! The look is way too casual to pull off at work, but I can see myself rocking it at the playground, if done right.

  7. Love all the tips! I never realised why two button blazers look great on me until now… 😀
    I have to say though… that I disagree with the high waisted jeans thing. I am tall(er) (5’9″)and thin but with relatively short legs (30″ inseam) and a long waist. I am obsessed with making my legs look longer and high waisted jeans are a disaster because they only highlight that enormous sprawl between my waist and my crotch and make my bum look really long and low-slung. 😀 Attractive, yes. 😉

  8. Yes, yes, yes! The long waist / low butt conundrum is exactly my challenge. For some reason it works with trousers with a menswear vibe (a la Katherine Hepburn) but with skinnies it’s disastrous. Is there a chart for that, S?!? (Love the charts, btw!)

  9. I’m among the legions of half-tuck fans and am crazy enough to say it miiiight work at work! Casual office or creative fields only, I guess? Tuck the front and center (only) of a tuxedo shirt into skinny black pants or coated denim or even flares? Add some combo of jacket, show-off shoes and jewelry? Does this work or do I just think it does? 🙂

  10. Argh, where’d my post go? Trying again…
    Huge fan of the half tuck and think it might even be work-able. Casual or creative fields only, maybe? Tuxedo shirt half tucked (front and center only) into skinny black pants, coated denim or flares. Plus some combo of jacket, show-off shoes and jewelry. I think (hope!) this works???

  11. Another half-tuck fan, but I think (hope) it can work at work. Casual office or creative field only, maybe? Tuxedo shirt half tucked (front and center only) into skinny black pants, coated denim or flares? Add one or more- jacket, jewelry, show-off shoes. I think? I hope because I’ve worn it to work!

  12. I try to think of myself having a long slinky back instead of a low butt when times get dark. 😀 LOL
    I find I can manage *some* skinnies (but not many) as long as they a) have a long enough rise (camel toe is also an issue, yes?!) b) don’t have knees that are too tight or c) ankles that are too tight. But usually I go for straight legs which balance out the long waist/butt conundrum.
    I would like charts too! 😀

  13. Does anyone have experience with these M iH high rise jeans? I find the legs very snug….want to know if they do stretch with wear?…Shanna ..what are your thoughts?

  14. Love the half-tuck and submit that it miiiight work at work. Creative field or casual office or both, in my case. Tuxedo shirt half-tucked (front and center only) into a) coated denim b) skinny black pants or c) flares? Add a jacket and/or jewelry and/or show-off shoes. Maybe? Sure hope so, because I’ve done it! 🙂

  15. These are great tips! I’m a little (okay, a lot) top heavy as it is but with number 3 on the way, heels are my enemy and all things stretchy are my best friend for the next few months!I could use all the help I could get in looking less round so I’m sure I’ll be using some of your techniques very soon!

  16. Woo! I’m 6” but with incredibly short legs. I’m currently in South Asia and it’s stinking hot. Do you have any suggestions for warm weather?
    My calves are really skinny and my thighs fats and gross and I’m quite overweight so I have zero clue… I’m going out to buy nude ballet flat now though

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