Damn Girl Ya Look Good

Clothes for the wee; experimenting with makeup.

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.

Clockwise from top left: 1969 Denim Jacket, $69.95 via Gap; Heartbreaker Dress, $60 via Unique Vintage; Britt Low Rise Skinny Color Jean, $39.50 via Delia’s; Vintage 1960’s Blue Gingham Mod Dress, $32 via Etsy

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.

Clockwise from top left: M.A.C. 217 Blending Brush, $22.50 via M.A.C.; Urban Decay's The Fun Palette, $32 via Amazon; BB Cream, $13 via Garnier; L'Oreal's Magic Perfecting Base, $8 via Amazon

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


  • MissKnowItAll February 21st, 2012 7:28 PM

    Thank you so much!!! I’m 15 but I have the height and body of an eleven year old.

  • Chloe Elizabeth February 21st, 2012 7:29 PM

    YES! I’ve been preaching BB Cream to everyone. Skin 79 is the way to GO! Actually has freakin awesome coverage too. Love it!!!

  • MissKnowItAll February 21st, 2012 7:38 PM

    Can you suggest any good eyeliner brands. I usually use a NYX one, for my top lid only. I was going to buy the Bobbi Brown gel liner but it’s too expensive. Any suggestions?

  • queserasera February 21st, 2012 7:48 PM

    haha, bb cream, the staple of korean moms. the makeup tips were very helpful. Thanks!

  • ladyjenna February 21st, 2012 8:02 PM

    Okay….I have a huge round face and pale skin, how can I draw attention to my eyes/lips without looking like a panda???

    • fullmetalguitar February 21st, 2012 8:37 PM

      My small suggestion for the eyes is to wear brown eyeliner. I personally can’t wear most black eyeliner (without toning it down). And perhaps wear a pink tinted chapstick? That what I do for school.

    • Arabelle February 22nd, 2012 1:33 AM

      don’t line both your upper lashline and your lower lashline if you decide to wear eyeliner. upper lashline and lipstick and bam you’re done.

  • pobody February 21st, 2012 8:16 PM

    you can also make your own brush cleaner at home. i found a recipie and tutorial on youtube that uses distilled water, dish soap, shampoo, leave in conditioner, and some rubbing alcohol to disinfect.

  • brynntheredonethat February 21st, 2012 8:43 PM

    I love the crap out of Biosilk. It’s like Jesus Juice! It’s a bit expensive, but you can always get little samples of it that aren’t so much money, and they last for ever, so you shouldn’t need a very large bottle unless you want about five years’ supply of it. It makes hair so soft and shiny. I have super-curly hair, so I always put Biosilk in on the rare occasions I straighten it.

  • firstcomestherain February 21st, 2012 8:57 PM

    Thanks so much for the make up tips. I’m 13 and started to wear makeup this year and wanted some tips on how to spice up my look. And this article has given me all the tips I need.

  • admiralpantzlady February 21st, 2012 10:36 PM

    To the petite reader: Get into petite fashion blogs! Yes, they exist, and they’ve changed my life. Start with (she’s my favorite) and check out her blogroll for more. There are definitely some bloggers out there who are your height.

    As a fellow petite, my advice is not to obsess over rules about hem length and such. Wear things you like that look good on you and, most importantly, GET STUFF ALTERED! I’ve read that petite women are often better dressed than women who can fit into clothes off the rack, because they have to get things altered. Buy stuff on sale and pay $10-$20 to have your local dry cleaner hem it or take it in. You’ll be amazed at how your sartorial world can expand!

    Oh, ps, about the modesty thing: there are a lot of Mormon fashion bloggers out there whose clothing preferences may be similar to yours. is a really good one, and she has a whole blogroll of other Mormon bloggers.

  • rachele February 21st, 2012 10:54 PM

    i, too, am a couple inches short of five feet and i am no twig. it’s incredibly disheartening to find only pants that are the right length (i.e. extremely short) but the wrong width (i.e. extremely slim). i’ve found urban outfitters’ bdg grazers to be a great fit for me; they’re meant to be worn cropped but they fit me as full-length jeans/pants. be on the prowl during these winter months–sometimes you can find a leftover summer pair marked way down and lingering on the clearance rack.

  • Colleen February 21st, 2012 11:30 PM

    Okay, so I am about 5′ 3″ and have a large tummy area that I HATE. I guess you could say I’m…apple shaped? I can never find things to fit well, or look good! Can someone please help me? I am terrible at this.

    • ladyjenna February 23rd, 2012 10:26 PM

      MAKE FAKE WAISTS with two-tone dresses, high waisted pencil skirts, whatever….and get a skirt that sits on the very smallest point of your waist, then falls delicately/femininely/non-fruit-shapedly down.

  • kitterfly February 21st, 2012 11:59 PM

    After reading this article I felt it was necessary to infringe my two-cents upon y’all…

    The makeup tips were great, accurate, helpful, etc. but excluding the introductory paragraph there was no reassuring “You’re fine just the way you are.”

    It was mostly the bit about foundation and concealer that pushed my buttons– As much as you may swear by BB Cream or whatever other product, it isn’t necessary. Your target audience is very, very vulnerable and prone to USING MAKEUP VERY WRONG. I have friends who pile on the cake every day and it only further irritates their skin, which reinforces the driving insecurities.

    Your skin is absolutely fine the way it is. Even if you have the occasional blemish, no one will ostracize you if you don’t rush to cover it up.

    Whew! Okay, serious business over.

    Thank you, Rookie. Your articles are phenomenal, keep it up!

    • AYAtheOUSH April 12th, 2012 9:23 AM

      i agree completely on the foundation topic. i think it’s so much fun wearing makeup and stuff, but in my opinion, no teens (or anyone else) need foundation,tinted moisturizer,bb cream or any other base. you may argue that many teens have acne and are uncomfortable revealing something as personal as their face, but that is only because of how society forces our minds into thinking we are meant to look like fucking porcelein dolls (however that is spelled). makeup can be so much fun, and i enjoy wearing it a lot, but it shouldn’t be used to cover up who you really are. no offense meant to anyone who uses it or anything like that, but at no point in the article did you mention maybe not wearing any base at all. that should be an option as well. i am such a big fan of every article you have written on this site, arabelle, and i don’t want to offend you in any way at all, i just thought it was really important to bring up this point. to each her own, but i think you should have at least mentioned that wearing no base is still an option and it isn’t necessary to wear every time you wear makeup, which is what it sounded like.
      sorry about my essay, you guys. i’m not a hater btw, just voicing my opinions to the world of rookie.

  • Karen February 22nd, 2012 12:14 AM

    Both of these advice bits are suuuper relevant to me and equally helpful! Thank you so much, Marie and Arabelle!

  • Bieb February 22nd, 2012 12:38 AM

    I’m small with a weird body shape as well, and my advice is to get clothes from family members with the same shape. I have gotten a lot of beautiful vintage clothes from my grandmother that she already altered to fit her. This only works if you have generous family members though

  • Jessica Vixenelle February 22nd, 2012 12:49 AM

    Just thought y’all should know the BB Cream link leads to a 404 Error– I think it’s because there’s a bracket at the end of the link… just thought you should know! :)

  • Susann February 22nd, 2012 2:09 AM

    Great tips!

  • Uthilda February 22nd, 2012 9:32 AM

    To the first person: Do you know ‘The Fashion Citizen’ on YouTube? Both girls are only about 5′ tall and they have amazing style, mostly wearing thrifted clothes. I love them.

  • Libby February 22nd, 2012 11:43 AM

    BB Cream makes me break out (even more). I don’t know if this is thre right place to ask this, but… I apply two different prescription acne creams & also take an antibiotic for my skin. This dries out my skin to a degree where it is very flaky, almost like eczema. It’s not hugely severe, but it’s flaky and dry. So if I was to buy any makeup/skincare product, would I go for the oily skin or the dry skin? My skin is naturally oily but dry after my prescriptions.

    • Arabelle February 22nd, 2012 4:47 PM

      I’ve been in your shoes! Next time you’re at your dermatologist tell them about the flaky and dryness, they’ll most likely prescribe you a lotion to counteract it. I use Clindamycin Phosphate Topical Lotion and it balances out the flaky and dryness I get from the acne cream I use. If you don’t do that you can always try using Clinique’s Dramatically Different Moisturizing Gel or Aquaphor. Until then, try a honey & olive oil mask (I swear it’s good), it’s naturally moisturizing and will help with the dryness.

  • ai-ai February 22nd, 2012 12:07 PM

    Wonderful advice. Lately I have been wearing only mascara and concealer, but this really made me want to spice it up! Also, I was quite surprised to see a pic of Manapyon (the Japanese girl with pink dip dye) on Rookie! I recently discovered her blog and she has been a huge inspiration for my style.

  • oriana February 22nd, 2012 1:28 PM

    I was a huge fan of turquoise eyeshadow, purple glitter eyeliner, and shimmery lipgloss in middle school. Slightly embarrassing, but extremely fun :)

  • Kaede February 22nd, 2012 5:17 PM

    Great article!
    For petite girls: While I’ll be 18 next week, I am 5’2 and very small, so I often find it’s helpful to shop in the girls’ section for certain things. Yes, most of the stuff is covered in glitter, unicorns, and/or rainbows, but I have found some really great stuff, while avoiding looking like I’m just out of elementary school.
    Mostly I look for simple tank tops for layering, tights, and even jeans! I discovered that girl’s Levi’s fit me better than a lot of my other jeans. And they’re the right length!
    Anyway, sorry for the super-long comment, but I thought I’d share :)

  • mamacass February 22nd, 2012 6:12 PM

    I did a closet invasion for my friend with a curvaceous pear shaped body (although she isn’t petite).

    I tend to lean towards European brands (if you can afford it) for petite sizing. Shoes definitely have more options online for the dainty 5s.

    Great article! I love helpful guides like this.

  • irini February 23rd, 2012 1:30 PM

    Okay, just a little help guys: my eyes are kind of uneven, my right eye seems to be a little higher and not so “open” as the left one… What should I do?

  • ronnielle February 24th, 2012 8:24 AM

    petite girls just have to be confident and happy that they will always look younger :)

  • KayKay February 24th, 2012 1:51 PM

    I’m also extremely short, but actually I’ve come to terms with my height.
    I have a friend and she’s tall and pretty and skinny (you know, the kind of friend you secretly have a love-hate affair with because they can eat as much as they like and still look like a model straight out of Vogue). I’ve always envied her for her long, slim legs and general tallness. So it came as surprise when she said she’d rather be short than tall, because it’s embarrassing when you’re taller than all the guys. And apparently (according to all the girls I know), guys like short girls better anyways – although doubt that guys have a height preference, really.

  • FashionTake-Out February 24th, 2012 2:26 PM

    I would suggest going with long angular fashion pieces…they make you look taller…GEO OR SOME STRIPES.

    Try adding a maxi skirt with some wedges..



  • crashy May 22nd, 2012 6:15 AM

    Hey, for all those that are vertically challenged [like myself] and aching for clothing that actually works with your size, check out some online asian fashion stores!
    Sizes run very small, and they have so many cute clothes ~ also extremely affordable!

    You have to be a little careful of the quality of some brands, but if you look around, there are some great deals :3y