I need some styling advice: I’m 17 and 4'9". I have a very difficult time finding clothing that I like in my size. The same with shoes. I really don’t want to end up dressing like a 12-year-old. I’m always in the mood to wear something fun or different, but in the end I just throw on a T-shirt, jeans, and sneakers. I’m also pear-shaped, which I’m very self-conscious about, and I don’t wear short shorts or skirts due to personal beliefs. Do you think you could give me some tips? Please and thank you!
I come from a family of small women—both my mom and niece are 4'11" and I’m 5'2"—so I can understand what you have to deal with. I’ve always had to hem my jeans, which is probably why I mostly wear dresses! Since I can’t take you shopping in person, I’ll do my best to guide you in the right direction. First of all, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with being pear-shaped! Look at Shakira and Jennifer Lopez.
Now let’s start with what you are into. I’ll throw some examples out and you can apply them to your own tastes. There’s no shame in wearing jeans, especially since you can easily spruce them up. With dark denim, you can add a cute cardigan and throw some rollers in your hair for a rockabilly look. Invest in some simple flats, too!
If you want dresses with a longer hemline, you might want to consider a retro-pinup style, with dresses like this or this from Unique Vintage. You can also wear something like this with tights, so that you won’t be showing too much leg.
Basics look cool with some WILD accessories. For instance, on my “casual days,” I wear black leggings and black oversized shirts from Target and then just pile on the jewelz. Put on some flashy earrings (I own a beetle-wing pair), multiple necklaces, and bangles to spice it up. When I was in my Salt-n-Pepa phase a few years ago, I used to be really into stacking TONS of gold bracelets onto my wrists and wearing HUGE gold doorknockers. You don’t have to be an all-out, Funky Miss Thang like me, but hopefully it will inspire you to find your own favorite accessories to make a casual outfit more exciting.
Shoes can be a bit tougher to find if you are smaller than a size five. It is possible, though! Doc Martens come in a variety of sizes. If you are into them, consider saving up for a pair since you can wear them with all sorts of outfits. One upshot to being petite is you can find a lot of amazing vintage, so scour thrift shops, flea markets, and vintage stores for deals on clothing and shoes—ladies had way smaller feet back then, which you’ll notice if you ever visit Marilyn Monroe’s footprints at Mann’s Chinese Theatre in Hollywood.
If you want to try shoes that will give you some height, start with cute wedges like these (five is the smallest here), which can be worn with a pair of red jeans and a blue sweater for a nautical look (my favorite). Also, a denim jacket is always a good investment. Hope this helps! —Marie
I’m a junior in high school, but I’ve never really given much thought to my appearance. This is the first year that I’ve started to wonder how to use hair products/makeup/etc. I’ve figured out mascara, eye shadow, and lipstick, but everything else just confuses me. Are there other important things I should know how to do? Things to avoid? Teach me the mystical ways of being a “real girl,” Rookie! Please?
Well, first things first, my love—a “real girl” doesn’t have to wear makeup. You’re already plenty real! You exist, don’t you? Wearing makeup is not a requirement for being a girl. Don’t ever let anyone tell you otherwise. I think it should be fun, not a burden. Experiment with different eye shadows, colorful lipstick, whatever. But know that if you’re going to use colorful eye shadow, it’s only going to look good if you BLEND, and that takes practice. It’s not hard—it just requires patience and a good blending brush. I have multiple blending brushes, and this is my favorite set. It’s super affordable compared to just one M.A.C. brush (the M.A.C. 217 is famous, but if you have smaller eyes, it isn’t the one to use.)
Being young and lovely lets you get away with wearing colors that might look really weird otherwise. One of my favorite palettes is the Urban Decay Fun Palette. It has easy-to-use shadows for a work-appropriate, foolproof eye—seriously, just smear Sin all over your eyelid, apply some eyeliner, and you’re done—and also more casual colors like pink, purple, and blue. They’re not BAM, in-your-face, neon highlighter-style shadows, so anyone can work with them. However, if you’re ever in the market for bolder, obnoxiously pigmented shadows, I recommend Sugarpill. I love mine.
I want to emphasize the importance of finding the right base makeup that works for you: consult with a professional at Sephora or a makeup counter as to what skin type you have in order to find the right concealer or foundation for your needs. It’s so, so important to invest in ones that matche your skin color because what’s the point of putting on makeup if it doesn’t look good? If you’re wondering why I’m saying foundation OR concealer: not everyone needs foundation—some people have really nice skin and a BB cream or a tinted moisturizer is just fine! I recommend BB cream to everyone. It’s all-in-one foundation, concealer, moisturizer, sunscreen, and rainbows. If you have decent-to-good skin, this is all you need—unless you have an occasional zit, in which case, use concealer. I recommend this one, though it’s a bummer that it only comes in one shade.
If BB Cream is not your thing or it doesn’t come in your shade, which is unfortunately common, I like these foundations by Smashbox and Bobbi Brown. I have dry skin and these work for me. Now, you want to blend your foundation into your jawbone and further down your neck, too—you don’t want your base makeup to look like a mask. It ruins the flawless illusion. To make your base makeup look mega good, use a primer or moisturizer beforehand: Palladio has a great primer (and drugstore cheap!), but this one from L’Oreal is more accessible.
Remember to let your skin breathe several days a week. If you wear makeup every single day, it can clog your pores and make your skin dull. And take your makeup off before you go to bed. I’m using my stern grandmother voice right now because I am very, very serious about this. Other than that, just a friendly reminder: CLEAN YOUR BRUSHES REGULARLY! That is if you use brushes, which you should because sponges absorb a huge amount of the product and thus breed bacteria and grossness. You can use baby shampoo for a deep clean on a weekly or biweekly basis. You can also use store bought cleaners, like Sephora brand or e.l.f., but I think baby shampoo does the job best.
As for hair products: I am all for sulfate-free shampoo and conditioner, especially if you have color- or heat-treated hair. It’s so much better! It’s more expensive than, like, $1, but it is so worth it. I’ve been using the L’Oreal Everpure line for more than a year. I’m not good at styling my hair, so I focus on having it look naturally good and healthy. For voluminous, Bardot hair, I use volume foam and brush it out. Arrojo’s is the best. Lots of people tout the benefits of dry shampoo, like Pssssst and Oscar Blandi, but I haven’t found a dry shampoo that I really love enough to recommend. Anyway, this should be a good place to start. Have fun! —Arabelle
Got a style/beauty question? Send it to [email protected].