Nikki’s Inbox: Tall Tales

I’m Korean-Chinese, but I grew up in a rather “tall” family. I’m 178 cm, rather slim, and have legs that are constantly compared to bean poles. Many people don’t understand how big of a burden it is for me to find a pair of jeans that don’t stop at 2-3 inches above my ankle. Because my torso is shorter to my legs, I look very awkward in many of the tops sold in Korea because they’re made for longer torsos. I don’t have time to have someone tailor all of my clothes for me, and I’ve been wearing the same two pairs of jeans for the past month. What should I do to find clothes for my height and body proportions?

Victoria, 19/Seoul, South Korea

Hello from Ohio! I absolutely love ultra-feminine looks, especially cute mid-thigh length dresses and skirts (preferably in pale pink!). I adore the huge variety of feminine clothes available on, but there is a problem: almost everything is too short. What was a mid-thigh length dress on the model becomes a long-ish shirt on me. I could never wear it without being totally indecent. 🙁 I’ve measured, so I know! I’m 5’7 and measure 32-24-34. Do you have any style suggestions for girls my size who want to pull off the cute feminine look without accidentally flashing anyone?

Joulia, 19/Ohio, USA

I’m currently a teacher in South Korea. My measurements seem fine at 34-29-38, but the problem is that I’m too tall – I’m 5’6″. My torso is somewhat short, but my legs are really long. So, I have an issue with co-teachers and students assuming that my skirts and shorts are too short. What should I do? I considered buying leggings, but if there’s an inset skirt or shorts, wouldn’t those be too short, too?

Shin, 23/South Korea

I’m 5’11 (180 cm) and I feel too tall to be allowed. I’m also very thin (115lbs), especially for my height. I usually wear skinny jeans but I feel like they make me look even taller and more awkward. Do you have any tips to help complement my tall, lanky figure?

Audrey, 15/Toronto, Canada

I’m a half-Japanese and half-Russian girl who’s extremely tall and gangly (seeing as I am partially Japanese) at 5’9. I’m very thin on the upper half of my body, but I have muscular legs from many years of playing soccer. I’ve been trying to spend more time focusing on my Japanese heritage, and will be visiting my relatives in winter. I feel extremely insecure about my legs when compared to my skinnier, smaller cousins. My main concern is: will I ever be able to wear Asian clothing, or am I simply too gigantic? Do you have anything in mind that might work for me?

Rima, 15/USA

Dear ladies, I truly feel for you. While I do wish that I had supermodel height, your pleas make me thankful that I don’t have to worry that much when it comes to clothes. As I mentioned to Dave a month ago, it’s easier to have clothes shortened rather than lengthened.

Of course, not all tall women are created equal. Like Victoria and Shin, some have shorter upper bodies compared to the length of their legs, others may be more proportional, and some are both tall AND curvy. So Rima darling, be proud of those muscular legs and don’t call yourself gigantic. You worked hard for those beautiful legs and if you were truly gigantic, you’d be in the Guinness Book of World Records (I checked and you’re not listed).

So let me try to address some of your concerns, girls, and I hope to replace those frowns with smiles!

Counter length with length — the right length
Ladies, please don’t fall into the trap of wearing slouchy or baggy clothing because you think fitted pieces will call attention to your height. Too much volume in the wrong areas will make you look disproportional and awkward. Instead, match length with length. How? If you have a shorter upper body and longer legs, look for tops, jackets and cardigans that hit just below your natural waist. These include the oft-mentioned peplum hems, blouson or billowy tops, and tunics. For dresses, I declare that only tall women like you ladies can pull off the maxi dress with aplomb. Get some empire- or Grecian-cut dresses for spring and summer and belt them for instant shape.

Make it high-cut
When it comes to pants and skirt waistlines, height is also might. High-waist trousers and skirts are worth looking into, Rima and Victoria, especially wide-leg pants and A-line skirts, as they give you a more fluid, balanced silhouette, whatever your shape. Skinny jeans are okay, Audrey, but alternate them with boyfriend or boot-cut jeans for the illusion of curves. Mid-rise jeans and trousers are way better than low-rise ones as they hug your hips and bum better. If you’re rather flat on the hind side, look for pants with detailed back pockets for extra “enhancements.”

Menswear … with a twist
One of my favorite tall women is Scottish actress Tilda Swinton. Her height plus androgynous style equals a smashing success. So Shin, Victoria and Joulia, how about taking a leaf out of Tilda’s book and trying menswear? Choose flat-front trousers if you’re curvy while pleated ones add shape if you’re slim. Try a waist-skimming blazer or leather jacket for distinction and a pretty blouse with a bow or ruffles adds a very feminine element. Finish with low heels or oxford pumps plus minimalist jewelry and you’re set for the campus or office!

Yes, you do need a tailor
Victoria my dear, I believe this is an absolute especially in your situation. It’s not only tall people who need tailors — everyone does! Knowing a good, reliable tailor (preferably in your neighborhood for convenience) means your clothes will always fit well because they are true to YOUR size — and yours alone. Another plus is that instead of buying it off the rack, you can have your outfit made in the fabric, cut and style of your choice, minimizing the risk of someone else wearing the exact same outfit (like in ‘Who Wore It Better?’) and suffering the embarrassment. So yes, take the time to find and cultivate a good business relationship with a tailor. Consider this a long-term investment.

I wish all you ladies a happy ending to this “tall tale!” Meanwhile, watch out my closet inspection next week and if you’d like a true-blue analysis of why you have “nothing to wear,” write to me with photos!


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