Five Simple Style Principles

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5'9" & Under

When it comes to design and styling, things that look great on a mannequin tend to look completely different when seen in the mirror.  

Standing at 5’6, that exact scenario has played out more times than I can count. Over the years, I've developed a list of rules, or principles, which have helped determine how I choose my outfits and what to buy after the annual wardrobe purge. Here's my five styles principles for the shorter man.



At Napoleon & Co, proportionality is core to our design philosophy. Nothing beats the feeling of finding perfectly fitted clothing, but there may be some nuances that turn you away from really enjoying it.

Take an off-the-rack shirt from any major retailer. A tailor will have the expertise to shorten or taper most areas, but in areas such as the collar, cuff, or pocket size, these sections are rarely altered and it would be financially prohibitive to do so.

Before handing over your hard earned money to a brand name retailer, seek out clothing that has been scaled proportionally to fit your frame. This is why some people say "Oh, he looks taller in that picture than in person, but It may take more time to find that exact item you’ve been looking for, but it’s well worth the wait once you’ve gotten your hands on it. 

Monochromatic Colors

Large patterns and wide text tend to create an illusion of being shorter than you actually are, which is why I mostly wear monochromatic colors. (Hint: It's also 500x easier to get dressed!)

By varying hues of the same color, a shorter height is masked by drawing attention away from one specific area and blending the entire figure together to form a cohesive and complete silhouette. I've found darker colors to compliment my height better, while brighter colors have the opposite effect and isolates each body segment into their actual size. Experiment with various colors as you will encounter some which compliment your complexion more than others! Color perception is funky in that way.

Find a Great Tailor 

Taking on this endeavor is easier said than done, but it's well worth the effort. Finding an honest and respectable tailor should one of your top style priorities. (If you're reading this, I assume you are taking the reigns over your own style.)

Through the 18 years of dressing myself, I’ve only found two tailors in my locality who I completely trust in performing any type of alterations on my clothing. I don't have much of a wardrobe, so this was very important to me. This search transformed into a life-long learning process in setting my standards for what I deemed acceptable and what was just plain wrong. There may come a time when your favorite pants or shirt gets a blemish or becomes damaged. This is where an experienced tailor can provide the best remedy in most given situations.

It may take years to locate a competent tailor. But as a shorter man, this search has yielded much more happiness and satisfaction than the trouble in finding one. I suggest using Yelp, Google as your guides, but this decision will ultimately fall on first hand experience, so personal references and actually visiting each one out will give you the best "fit" for you as you move along your search. The key is to strike a balance between the cost of their service, the level of service you receive, and the level of expertise reflected in the finished product. Take your time and enjoy the process.

One of our loftiest goals at Napoleon & Co. is to completely eliminate the need for any alterations, so that you know that our clothing fits right out the box, each and every time. Our Signature Line already does an excellent job in providing a well fitted off-the-rack style, so just think of all the possibilities to come!

Hem and Taper Your Clothing

Pants are an easy win compared to other articles of clothing - that is, if you don’t mind spending some money in tapering them. It’s a travesty that more companies don’t start men's pant sizes at 26. 

When choosing your size, make sure the waist sits flush with your sides and is pulling in opposite directions around the front waist button. If it feels tight and looks like it’s pulling, we recommend trying a size up. Also, the drop allowance (distance from the waist to the split leg seam) will determine how snug you prefer the fit, which is another key consideration when determining your overall fit.

If the waist and drop fits, but the rest still requires a bit of work, take it to your tailor. Hemming and tapering make the world of a difference to complete the look you're going for. Some like slim cut, some prefer a straight leg, some prefer boot cut. It’s all up to you and how you want to achieve "that" look. Have fun with it! 

We do intend on making trousers and jeans in the future, but it’s a milestone we plan on reaching as we grow up a bit more. Give us some time and we’ll get there -  that's a promise. 

Wear with Confidence 

Last but not least, whether it’s a retro 80’s tie-dye ski jacket, denim overalls, or a banana suit - own it and wear it proudly. Clothing is a vehicle to express ourselves, but the underlying vessel is much more powerful. Confidence in your own skin is the ultimate appeal factor, no matter what you're wearing. So get comfortable with yourself if you aren't already, cause that’s the one outfit you can’t shed.


For more information on how our shirting fits, visit our Fit Guide for the sizing model and all important measurements.