Last week I met up with a friend who recently moved to Norway. At 5ft 8" he'd never considered himself short, but since moving his height has become an issue. In a country where the average man stands over 6ft, that's understandable. So when he asked if there was anything he could do about it, I told him exactly what I'm going to tell you.
I want you to banish any ideas about Cuban heels or padded insoles. They are to short men what the comb-over is to bald men. No, I cannot make you taller, but I can make you appear taller. How? By understanding the power of proportion and flowing vertical lines.
Now proportion has a powerful effect on how people perceive your height. This is because, generally, short men have shorter legs and longer bodies while tall men have longer legs and shorter bodies. So, if you have short legs people perceive you to be shorter than you are.
A simple way of tackling this is by choosing a shorter jacket. A tailored jacket will reach the curve of your bum, but for many this is too long. Choosing a jacket reaching half way down your bum gives the illusion of longer legs, which in turn makes you look taller. You'll be amazed at how a couple of inches off the length of a jacket can affect how you look.
Shortening your jacket is only half of the solution, you also need to maximise the length of your leg. This means avoiding turn-ups or cuffed trousers. They shorten the leg, cancelling out the effect of a shorter jacket. Instead, try matching your shoe colour to your trousers. This doesn't have to be exact, but if you wear black shoes with dark blue jeans the colours blend and trick the eye in to seeing a longer leg line. If you don't believe me, try it standing in the mirror.
Having rebalanced the proportions of your outfit, it's now time to create long flowing vertical lines. These are another way of manipulating the eye so you seem taller. Let's start with the jacket, which type should you choose? Double or single breasted? One, two or three buttons?
The perfect choice is a single button jacket with lapels creating a V that fastens at the waist. The single button means fewer interruptions as the eye travels down the body, creating longer lines and the illusion of greater height. For the same reason, avoid unnecessary details that clutter the jacket. That means no flap, patch or ticket pockets. Keep to the more discreet slit or besom pockets.
An often-overlooked way of creating strong vertical lines is by wearing a three-piece suit. I think many men are put off by them, but the continuity of the same material means your body and legs blend seamlessly creating a long flowing line. Worn with a shorter jacket, this is an outfit that's hard to beat.
The final thing to consider is your choice of patterns. Now some stylists recommend shorter men avoid patterns. Frankly, that's rubbish. What you need to know are small patterns exaggerate size while large patterns reduce scale. So avoid large Plaid designs and opt for something smaller like checks or narrow pinstripes instead.
As you can see, the art of dressing taller is all about understanding proportion and vertical lines. You've seen how something as simple as a shorter jacket will make your legs look longer. That a single button jacket is preferable to a three-button jacket. Now it's time to put it in to practice. Try one tip at a time and find what works for you. This is a small step to building your own style, but it's an important one.