For petite women, the key to successfully pulling off any hairstyle is focusing on the proportions. Most hairstyles work well on petite women with the exception of extremely long hair that is all one length, which can overwhelm smaller frames. The best hairstyles for petite women draw the attention toward the face and complement smaller frames by ending at defined points on the body such as the chin, the shoulders or the collarbone.
Some women can't imagine not having long hair, and there is no reason they should give up a hairstyle they love. A word of caution: Long hair can make petite women look shorter because the vertical lines of hair draw the eye downward. For petite women set on longer locks, the key is to attract attention toward the face using both face-framing layers or bangs and layers around the head that are 1 to 2 inches shorter than the longest layer. These tapered layers create movement so hair is swingy and full of body rather than long and limp. Vanessa Hudgens' and Sarah Hyland's long locks don't detract from their petite frames because both celebrities incorporate layers and textured waves to ensure movement and body.
Hair that hits at or slightly below the shoulders is a great compromise for petite women who want some styling freedom but also want to elongate their frame. The long bob, or "lob," has grown increasingly popular with petite celebrities such as Reese Witherspoon and Hayden Panettiere. The style is long enough to put hair in a ponytail yet short enough to be figure-flattering for petite frames. Paired with blunt, straight-across bangs or side-swept bangs, this versatile cut is flattering on all face shapes and fun to style. To avoid looking too '90s, avoid lots of layers at this length and go for simple, blunt ends.
Petite celebrities such as Nicole Ritchie, Natalie Portman, Emma Stone and Rachel Bilson have all embraced collarbone-length hair at various times, and it is likely because it is the perfect compromise between shorter bobs and longer locks. This is a perfect cut for petite women with oval and heart-shaped faces because the longer length frames both face shapes perfectly. For round faces, try a side part with longer layers, which will draw attention away from a rounder jaw line. Long enough to style into beach waves or more defined curls or to wear all or half up, this style provides endless styling options. Try a brighter hue of your natural hair color, go for a subtle ombre to create a more modern look, or stick to classic face-framing highlights.
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Jennifer Eblin has been a full-time freelance writer since 2006. Her work has appeared on several websites, including Tool Box Tales and Zonder. Eblin received a master's degree in historic preservation from the Savannah College of Art and Design.