How to Command Presence (Even if You’re Short/Young)

I’m around 5’3, slim, and have a rather youthful face.

I’ve embraced my attributes, but they’ve occasionally presented professional and social challenges.

People can dismiss your feedback, nit-pick your performance, or even plainly jeer. I’ve experienced all three.

Dressing won’t absolutely fix this, but I think it will benefit the way you’re treated and respected.

This advice applies to everyone, but is especially important for the vertically-challenged and youthful-looking, I think.

  • Do: Dress subtly — avoid overdressing too. Too many dandy-like colors and accessories can almost look like costume, especially on shorter people who have less surface area to work with. Try to dress smartly and appropriately; conservative colors like navy, grey, and brown work well. I find that my other differences fade away with time.
  • Do: Wear fitted clothes — Wearing oversized, long clothes will make your legs and overall height look shorter. Properly fitted clothes makes you look more experienced and competent.
  • Do: Get a proper leather bag — find out what works for you. Currently, I use a messenger bag. You’ll look sharper and more organized so no backpacks.
  • Do: Groom yourself — it’s another check-point people observe. Consistency is good.
  • Don’t: Underdress. You might be mistaken for a teenager (e.g. probably inexperienced and incompetent).
  • Don’t: Decorate your merch with stickers because college students do this too!
  • Don’t: Recount your crazy weekend party — this is more etiquette, but i’ve heard complaints about this from friends!

“Have you ever seen a short CEO?”, a friend asked me.

We live in a society where taller people have the advantage. While it’d be difficult to change that, shorter people can leverage that bias by impressing competence through dress.

That means eliminating signs of inexperience and dressing yourself as a confident professional.

It’s something you consistently prove every day and continually revise.

I’d be curious to hear your observations, if any!

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