The Best Cocktail Dresses If You're Under 5'3"

The Best Cocktail Dresses for Petite Women



I've lived my entire life aware that I skew on the shorter side. Whether it was not being tall enough to ride roller coasters or inevitably never being able to see in large crowds, being short is an integral part of who I am. While working in fashion the last decade proved that height was just a number and I fearlessly wear seasonal trends, I've also learned that I prefer certain styles on my shorter frame.

I can say with sheer confidence that my height of 5'3" has never restricted me from trying statement dress trends. I've simply grown cognizant of the fact that there are design hacks that play to my advantage within the on-trend silhouettes. For instance, if I'm shopping for a midi dress, I opt for styles that accentuate my waist by adding waist seams, draping, or ruching details. While a tailor is most likely on speed dial, there are a plethora of cocktail dresses that exist for those 5'3" and under. I'm living proof. From sequined minis with exaggerated puff sleeves to sleek one-shoulder midis, keep scrolling to discover my cocktail dress picks.

Another design trick to look out for is the side split. It elongates the silhouette and eliminates any potential bagginess. 

Again, this unusual drape of the dress will hug all of the right points of the body. 

Note how the draping of the dress works upwards, which is perfect to elongate you when you're shorter.

A revealing back creates the illusion of length. 

High neck + side ruching = the perfect combination. 

Don't shy away from the length of this midi dress. Dresses that actually hit right above the ankles paired with the right shoe can be magic. 

Opt for a voluminous top that does all the work for the rest of the silhouette. 

A satin slip dress is a no-brainer.

If you're looking for a longer silhouette, formfitting, body-hugging dresses are the way to go. 

Another design ally: a tie front. 

Behold, a short girl's dream slip dress. 

Don't be afraid to go for a loud print.

Necklines are also a great guide when shopping for a dress. Look for necklines that both expose and accentuate your collarbones.

Something about the simple beaded bodice just feels so right.

The ruching at the waist that creates a silhouette proves to be very flattering. 

Velvet. Intricate draping. Need I say more? 

Another twist-front dress, another yes for me. 

The holiday season is quickly approaching.

I love the ruching in this one. When you're short, it's really all about playing with these understated design elements. 

The '80s-inspired mini of my dreams.

I love this soft, pretty look with intricate seam detailing. 

I think I have at least four versions of this dress.

Here at Who What Wear, we love a good blazer, so when it doubles as a dress, we're here for it. 

This high-low dress checks all of the boxes.

This was published at an earlier date and has since then been updated.

Up next, The Official Dos and Don'ts of Cocktail Attire for Women