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Do long pants over heels really make me look taller?

Stock photo | Thinkstock/Stock photo | Thinkstock

The question

When magazines give tips for how short, stocky women (like me) should dress, they often suggest wearing long trousers that go over and completely cover high heels or platforms. The idea is to create an illusion of longer legs. Does this ever look anything but silly?

The answer

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The only way for this to work physically is for your trouser legs to be quite wide, so as to fit over the shoe and drop right to the sole. So, if you try it, you are, whether you feel funky or not, embracing a 1970s wide-leg aesthetic that is itself quite bold.

This association with the thrift store and the faded album cover might explain why wide-leg women's trousers so frequently look cheap, even if they aren't. That and the fact that if you wear them so long as to touch the ground, they are likely to get dusty. I always fear that they are going to make their wearers trip.

Furthermore, it's a great waste of feminine power to cover your shoes. You're going through all the discomfort of wearing tall heels but no one can see this dramatically sexy part of your ensemble. And you know, in general, all these tips for creating optical illusions – vertical stripes to make you thinner, wide collars for wide faces – don't really work. A skirt or dress, even with flat shoes, will always get you more attention than the illusion of height will.

Russell Smith's latest novel is Girl Crazy. Have a fashion question? E-mail

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