Finding the Right Skirt Length (Petite Edition)

In your opinion, which of the skirt lengths below look best on me?

A. 2 inches past the knee; B. at the knee; or C. 2 inches above the knee:

Please, please excuse the zombie expressions and gnarly hair in this post. I couldn’t bother to get dolled up for these photos.

A while back, one of my readers (thanks Elaine!) emailed me a link about determining one’s ideal skirt length. The formula seems complicated, but the concept is simple: the most visually appealing skirt length shows 50% skirt and 50% leg. I will now walk through the “formula” …

 This will be the cover of my first book, titled “How to Look 10 Years Old.”
Formula to find your ideal skirt length:

Step 1. Measure from your hipbone (that protruding bone) to the middle of your kneecap. This is A. For me, A = 17 inches.

 

Step 2. Measure from the middle of your kneecap to the middle of your anklebone. This is B. For me, B = 13 inches.

 

Step 3. A-B = discrepancy between your leg proportions. For me, this is 17-13 = 4 inches. 

Step 4. Divide the number from Step 3 by 2. For me, this is 4 / 2 = 2 inches. 2 inches is my “Magic Number.”

Now, if you have short calves (A is greater than B), your ideal skirt length should be kneecap minus Magic Number. Per this formula, my ideal skirt length is 2 inches above the knee.

If you have long calves (A is less than B), your ideal skirt length should be kneecap plus Magic Number.

Do I personally follow this formula? Loosely, maybe. There are some “variables” that the formula does not factor in, for example:

– Heels. 3 inch heels elongate the lower leg visually by at least 2 inches.
– High-waisted skirts versus low-waisted skirts. The formula has you measure beginning at your hipbone, assuming that is where the skirt will be slung.

To mitigate these variables, I wore flats in all three photos and wore ninja black to distract from the waist of the skirt. I do agree that above the knee looks best on me, but knee-length should also be okay with heels. A brief look into my skirt history…

Above the knee
(17.5″ H&M; on left, 14″ H&M; on right)

 

At the knee
(20″ Theory on left, 21″ Ann Taylor Petites on right)

Hope this wordy post wasn’t too boring. For those who actually did the “formula”… do you have short calves or long calves? Where do you prefer your skirt lengths to hit?

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76 Comments

  1. jenniebean wrote:

    Is there a post for the best length of pants? Struggling a bit with finding the best length of slim dress pants for work. Skinnies & wide leg pants seem to be ok…

    Posted 1.17.17 Reply
  2. You look good at knee but if i di that lega look stumpy so for me be above knee.

    Posted 9.24.16 Reply
  3. Anto wrote:

    Seems like the classic proportional rule that the shorter the skirt, the higher the heel and the converse that the longer the skirt the lower the heel. And it seemed to work.
    The calf skirt with flats looked nice, so the mini with heels.

    Posted 4.7.16 Reply
  4. elm2003 wrote:

    I am very petite, at only 5ft. I believe in dressing modestly (only wear skirts), but still want to look stylish. I have really struggled with this issue. According to this, I should wear skirts about 2.5 inches above the knee. 2 inches below the knee is the shortest my convictions will allow me to go. I can see where your legs do look longer in the shortest skirt, but I really dont think the one 2 inches below the knee looks frumpy or anything. I still think it looks fine

    Posted 8.17.15 Reply
  5. kosarin wrote:

    I think above the knee is the most flattering, but at the knee looks really good too! Personally I think at the knee is just a touch more professional, so if that is a priority then definitely go for the slightly longer length.

    But I think you look professional in a mini-skirt too, particularly that image of you with the black tights! I think some of that comes down to weight. I'm a curvy girl, so a mini-skirt emphasizes the size of my behind and shows how curvy my thighs are – I happen to think I look hot in a mini skirt, but it's definitely not a work appropriate look for me, even in tights, hah. But you look great in it!

    Posted 7.5.15 Reply
  6. I love this blog. I'm a little under 5ft myself so I find it hard to find clothes that fit/are in proportion… it's good to know there are lots of other petite ladies in the same situation! xx

    Posted 4.24.15 Reply
  7. This is an awesome post! very helpful 🙂

    Posted 2.9.15 Reply
  8. Fantome wrote:

    This comment has been removed by the author.

    Posted 3.11.14 Reply
  9. Olivia wrote:

    Very helpful post, thank you! I've been trying to figure this out as I'm starting a new job and have been trying to find work appropriate clothing that also doesn't look frumpy. I find that skirts a few inches above the knee look best on me, and the formula says 2" is my ideal. Most work guidelines I've read online advise wearing knee-length skirts, but I don't think they take into account the fact that this doesn't really work with petite proportions. (For the record, my workplace has no guidelines on this and I work with other petite women who seem to favor skirts a few inches above the knee as well.)

    Also, to clarify — if the formula calls for 50% leg and 50% skirt, then the skirt will need to be higher above the knee if the skirt is high waisted, yes? For example, if my measurement from belly button to knee is 21, and my knee to ankle is 14, that would mean that I need to go 3.5 inches above the knee to keep the proportion correct.

    Posted 3.4.14 Reply
  10. Iv wrote:

    Wow – an oldie but a goodie. I just came across this post through SewPetiteGal (I do read your blog, but this post escaped me!). I haven't done the formula yet as my measuring tape is back home, but I will! xo Ivche

    Posted 2.26.14 Reply
  11. Oli Ma wrote:

    This is a great post! I was searching for dress suits for an upcoming job interview and the skirts all seemed to look odd on me. Do the same rules apply for mini dresses? I think they are more forgiving when it comes to length.

    Posted 1.7.14 Reply
  12. Anonymous wrote:

    i also think at the knee looks best on her too. this is very helpful! thanks!

    Posted 8.11.13 Reply
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    Posted 2.5.13 Reply
  14. I'm late to the party here, but thank you for your wonderful post. I'm 5'3", almost 60 (yikes), and fashion-challenged. Your info and formula are a big help. I like both skirt lengths on you. The above-the-knee skirts look fun, and would be great for going out. The at-the-knee-length skirts make you look sophisticated and elegant. At my age, my length of choice for myself will be middle of the knee.

    Posted 1.7.13 Reply
  15. Shannon wrote:

    I loved this post! I have short calves — 14 inches. My "magic" number is 2.25, but personally I like the look of my skirt hitting right in the middle of the knee. (And I thought that was the most flattering on you as well) I rarely wear a skirt without heels so I think that helps the overall look. Thanks for the post!

    Posted 11.30.12 Reply
  16. Eliquid wrote:

    I prefer at the knee. That is really good for you. You look prettier with that length.

    Posted 11.26.12 Reply
  17. Unknown wrote:

    Your blog is so necessary, I thought the knee length looked best on you and I noticed how your demeanor/attitude shifted in different skirt lengths as well. To me the shorter skirt length made you look childish, in a way, if you want to look younger than you already are. The knee length skirt made you look sophisticated and the clothes looked better. Wear more dresses!

    Posted 11.3.12 Reply
  18. Anonymous wrote:

    This is interesting…Are most people's A-B measurements a difference of 4"? Mine are and so are my friend's sister's and mom's…

    Posted 11.3.12 Reply
  19. Anonymous wrote:

    At the the knee or just above looks best. As a rule of thumb, higher the skirt, higher the heels.

    Posted 7.31.12 Reply
  20. I've gotten taller since you first posted this but it still holds true. My thigh and my calves measure exactly the same, 18", and I really do look best with knee length skirts.

    Posted 5.23.12 Reply
  21. I've gotten taller since you first posted this but it still holds true. My thigh and my calves measure exactly the same, 18", and I really do look best with knee length skirts.

    Posted 5.23.12 Reply
  22. Anonymous wrote:

    I agree. I like the at the knee on her best. She is so cute, though, they all look pretty good.

    Posted 4.29.12 Reply
  23. Alice wrote:

    Thank you so much, this was very helpful 😀

    Posted 4.19.12 Reply

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