You're built more like Gidget than Garbo? Small can look elegant too

You are under 5 feet, 4 inches tall and would like to appear taller. You have also noticed many of your clothes do not feel comfortable. Here are some tips that will help solve both problems. Your delicate figure will look its best in light- to medium-weight materials that feel soft to the touch. Avoid coarse, bulky fabrics such as tweed. They will weight you down.

Make sure clothes fit properly. Junior and Miss Petite garments are designed for those 5 feet, 4 and under. Junior Petites are sized for those 5 feet to 5 feet, 1. If you are large-boned, full-busted, or have long arms, however, these sizes will pull in all the wrong places, look skimpy, and feel uncomfortable. Junior and Junior Petite clothes have the additional drawback of being very youthful. Misses' sizes often give a better overall fit and more sophisticated appearance even though they require shortening.

V- and U-shaped necklines give the illusion of greatest height because of their elongating effect. Also attractive is the jewel or plain round neck. If collarless garments don't flatter your particular face shape, be sure your collar is small enough not to be overpowering. Avoid cowls, mandarin collars, and turtlenecks. All cut down on height because they shorten the face and neck.

Short sleeves with plain caps are the most attractive style for the small figure. If you need the warmth of long sleeves during the winter, keep them as tapered and free of gathers as possible. Avoid contrasting cuffs.

Solid-color garments make the wearer appear taller, because there is no distraction to the eye. If having a closet filled with monochromatic clothes doesn't appeal to you, look for checks and prints that are small enough to be in proportion to your figure.

One-piece garments cut on vertical lines lengthen the figure. Dresses with princess seaming, shirtdresses, and single-breasted coats and coatdresses fall into this category. Also flattering are narrow, vertical stripes, tucks, front panels, and contrasting-color plackets that run from the neck to the hem of a garment. Avoid clothes with belts, gathered skirts, and dropped waists. These styles shorten and widen.

Wearing skirts and blouses of contrasting colors cuts the figure. Either vests and skirts of the same color or jumpers are much more flattering. This is especially true when the jumper has a zipper in the center front seam.

When buying suits, look for matching skirts and jackets with Chanel styling. These V-necked, collarless classics are cut on the vertical lines most flattering to the petite figure. If the suit you favor has a blazer-type jacket, make sure it has princess seaming and narrow lapels for the illusion of height.

Slacks tend to shorten the figure. To appear taller when wearing them, avoid cuffs, pleated fronts, gathers, wide legs, and high-rise waistbands. Also, look for those labeled ``petite.'' These require less shortening and give a better fit in the crotch than those of average length.

Avoid extremes in hemlines. Very long garments make the small person look as though she is either all skirt or trying to grow into her clothes. Miniskirts shorten and widen the figure and call attention to legs. Far more flattering are skirts that cover the knee.

To make your legs appear longer, avoid strapped shoes, oxfords, and very high heels. Spikes are uncomfortable, do not noticeably increase height, and make the petite person look as though she is walking on stilts. You'll also find plain-knit, skin-toned pantyhose more flattering (and versatile) than textured, white, or opaque nylons.

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