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One woman's stilettos are another woman's stilts. Sure, as a petite petunia, you probably want to appear taller than you are. Who doesn't want legs that go on for miles? But too-high heels are not the way to go, unless you want to end up with chronic back pain and feet that look like they should be poking out from under a house in "The Wizard of Oz." When choosing heels, mix in a little sensible with your chic.
Let Your Body Be Your Guide
While you may fit into the "petite" category, no two petites are exactly the same, so there's no one-size-fits-all rule for heel height. Kathryn Lovell, the stylist behind San Francisco-based KKL Image Consulting, advises compact cuties to consider their body shapes when choosing heels. "A curvaceous petite woman can look unsteady on tall, spindly heels, while a slight petite woman can look potted in a heavy, clunky heel," she says. Lovell recommends wearing a heel shape that's counter to your leg shape. That means if you have fuller calves and love skinny heels, try shoes with kitten heels.
Pointy-toed pumps, aka tapered toes, elongate a petite silhouette by drawing the eye outward, so they should be your No. 1 choice for heels. Lovell says almond-toe shapes are a close second, especially if pointy shoes pinch your tootsies. Wear either with the highest heel you can walk in comfortably, and no, not for five minutes, but all day. Pair them with just-below-the-knee skirts to lengthen your leg line. Or wear them with pants, but hem those babies to about an inch off the floor. "Having pants hitting the ground is a sure sign of a shorter figure," Lovell says.
The Way to Go With Wedges
If you get foot cramps just thinking about pointy-toed pumps or you need a more casual heel, wear wedges, which are well-known for being comfortable. The key for petites is to find a slim wedge, according to Lovell. "Look for a wedge that curves inward under your heel so that the eye moves vertically," she explains. Again, height depends on your comfort level. Keep in mind that hobbling around is not a good look, even if you are 4 inches taller as you do it.
Platforms on Petites
Platform shoes can give your outfit a bit of summertime sizzle. But petites should avoid ginormous platform heels (picture Frankenstein's monster). Lovell recommends that petite women limit platforms to 1.5 inches or less. "Giant platform wedges can overwhelm a petite frame and make you look rooted to the ground," she says.
Color Is Key
Size isn't all that matters. Color choice can be the difference between stubby and stunning when it comes to petite heels. For a super-leggy look, go nude. But listen to the expert and choose a nude that matches your skin tone. "Shop for a nude shoe the same way you shop for foundation," Lovell says. "If your skin has pink undertones, you need a pink-based nude shoe."