Case study: Rachel Bilson

The lovely Rachel Bilson became a Hollywood starlet at a young age, and since then, millions of girls have been wishing they looked like her. Hers is a gorgeous, petite [157 cm or 5'2 in], fragile frame, and although her legs are short compared to her torso, she is slim and athletic, with beautiful, shapely calves. Let's see which clothes make her look her best.

Boyfriend and skinny jeans, as usual for this body shape, are not Rachel's forte. Especially not with flat shoes and tight/overly short tops [as the top two images show]. Showing some ankle with cuffing, or wearing a looser top [second row] help a bit, but really, heels or clever layering on top are needed to make her carry them off:

Straight or wider leg jeans and trousers, especially if worn with heels or with blazers, are a better choice. Note how roomy the first two blouses are at the waist, this is crucial to appear more balanced.

Rachel, young as she is, is often spotted wearing shorts. A controversial look, and in some cases more successful than in others. The loose top and short blazer combo works despite the harsh ankle boots [only the young..] but the black shorts with black tights and heels are the most flattering version.

However, short skirts and dresses are Rachel's best look, as they conceal the hips and at the same time show off her legs. She only needs to be careful not to choose too voluminous skirts [which break the legline], shapeless dresses [which drown her and cling in the wrong places] or too body-con ones [which highlight shorter legs]:

Could be better:

Brilliant - note the structured skirts, asymmetric solutions, and added help of the lower necklines, all of which make Rachel appear much longer-limbed than she actually is:

Rachel often wears blazers and short jackets, and look how great they look on her. The first one balances her hips, the razor-sharp tailoring on the one in the middle gives amazing structure and style, and the third one completely camouflages her shorter legs:

Since she has given birth, Rachel is more often seen in comfortable, longer skirts and dresses. Length usually means longer legs, but there are pitfalls here too: the fishtail skirt is too tight on the thighs, whilst the black frill skirt overwhelms her [a more fitted top would also have been better]. However, the nipped in floral dress is elegant and the red skirt shows off her tiny waist:

Rachel unfortunately has a fondness for chunky footwear which cuts inches off her legs. I have a lot of sympathy for this: shoes are a key way of adding some grit to outfits that otherwise appear girly [and even boring] on petite frames. However, she often goes too far: look at the first two images below [as well as several others in this post], the shoes kill the outfits. Simple heels, either nude to go with bare legs [as seen above with the floral dress], or black to book-end her dark hair [last image], are a much more flattering choice:

And finally some more, especially stunning outfits for inspiration - note the clean lines in all of these silhouettes. Don't we all wish we looked like her?