short-girls-wear-maxi-dresses

Sarah Jessica Parker: 5’3″, Mary Kate Olsen, 5’0″, Lauren Conrad, 5’6″

Lately, I’ve been wearing a lot of long skirts. This is partially because I find them pretty, but also because I get sick to my stomach a lot and long, loose skirts take so much pressure off of it. On separate occasions, Amanda and Joanna individually remarked that they liked the look, but didn’t feel they could wear long skirts or maxi dresses themselves because they are on the petite side (Amanda is 5’0″, I believe, and Joanna is 5’3″). I’m 5’7″, and because clothes are often designed for women between 5’5″ and 5’9″ or so, I have admittedly not thought too much about how height can be a frustrating factor when purchasing clothes.

That said, I do understand the annoyance of feeling like your body doesn’t quite “fit” into specific looks. For example, I think any skirt or pant that falls between the knee and ankle on me looks ridiculous, so I never wear them even though I think they look fantastic on other people for work or special occasions, and it really makes me wish I wasn’t so self-conscious.

With maxi dresses and skirts, I think the main appeal is how comfortable they are. They’re not gowns or particularly fancy skirts most of the time; they’re just simple, easy and can go with just about anything. Plus, they look casual without being too…well, casual. Wear one with a long-sleeve shirt or pretty blouse and you look ready for work; pair it with a tank top or t-shirt and you’re ready for a party or a night of bar hopping; put on a maxi skirt and crop top and ridiculously ugly flower hat, and voila! Coachella.

Because of their ease, and because I firmly believe any body type can rock any look provided the garment fits well (and is possibly tailored, if necessary) and is accessorized properly, I think shorter women should feel free to wear long skirts and dresses whenever they please. Unfortunately, the majority of women on runways, editorials and even in film are on the taller (sometimes much, much taller) side of things — despite the average American woman being nearly 5’4″, most models are between 5’9″ and 5’11”, so we have internalized this idea that women who are taller are somehow more able to wear certain garments.

This height discrepancy is yet another reason the body ideal needs to be eliminated. We don’t need to change it to make it shorter or heavier or differently-shaped; we just need to remove it altogether so that women of all figures and sizes are able to feel comfortable wearing whatever they want (and also so Cosmo will stop running “9 Bathing Suits For YOUR Body Type!”).

This would also hopefully encourage clothing companies to stop designing for specific heights. Yes, there are petite lines for women and ones for those with longer legs, but they often do not have all the same garments that the “normal” sized clothing lines do. I have no idea whether it’s an issue for all shorter- or taller-than-average women, but in a brief, informal survey of my friends, this lack of sizing diversity was called “extremely frustrating,” “inconvenient” and “fucking annoying.”

So, if you’re short and are looking at maxi skirts or dresses, wondering if they will look stupid on you, just remember that honestly, people who harshly judge what you’re wearing based on your body are, well, total douchebags. Changing your mindset, particularly with preconceived notions on what women of your body type “should” be wearing, is very difficult — seriously, someday I’ll go through all the things I’ve finally started wearing since I stopped caring about what hourglass-shaped women are “supposed” to avoid. But it will affect your wardrobe positively because you will start buying more clothes you actually like, then wear them regardless of what you’ve been told by stupid magazines or shallow stylists. The freedom to wear what you want without inhibition? That’s truly beautiful.

Photo: Getty Images