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 new, statement dress trends. I’ve simply just grown cognizant that within the on-trend silhouettes, there are design hacks that play to my advantage. 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.

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

Note how the seam at the waist and the drape of the top work together to highlight the waist. This is the golden ratio for dress shopping when you're shorter.

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. 

A revealing back creates the illusion of length. 

Mock neck + balloon sleeve = the perfect combination. 

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

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. 

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

It's all about the twist-knot detail. Style hack: I look for this key design detail in my blouses as well. 

Behold, a short girl's dream slip dress. 

I bought this dress, and it actually hits about three inches longer on my frame, which I love. 

The smocked bodice that creates this ruffled mermaid silhouette proves to be very flattering. 

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

Quick style tip: Layer a sheer dress over a fitted slip dress. I promise it won't drown you out. 

This '80s-inspired mini has the embellishments in all the right places. 

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

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

The right way to do a strapless number. 

Feel like I could've really used this dress over the holidays. 

Another design ally: a tie front. 

Something about this plunging neckline and smocked body really works. 

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