Under the Radar: Two anecdotes and styling tips for very tall women. Dedicated to Jill.

Susan Rasmussen

Susan Rasmussen

  • Our popular columnist Susan Rasmussen is back with her weekly take on life
  • She shares her memories of ‘tall’issues
  • And offers tips on how to stand proud
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Name dropping alert. I was once in St James’s Palace at a jolly reception hosted by HRH The Duke of Edinburgh.

Nothing I had done to warrant an invitation of course, just that sometimes I hang around with the sort of people who do.

Standing chatting in a circle of friends I was startled to see the tallest of them suddenly fold up. This wasn’t a wildlife documentary and she wasn’t a giraffe hit by a tranquillising dart, but that’s all I could think of.

It was a second or two before I realised that she was curtseying at the approach of the royal party – not a smart move for a very tall woman to attempt without warning, if she wants to keep dignity and fabulousness intact.

This is related – read on.

Recently I went to Bath to see an old friend whose work was being exhibited in Quercus Gallery. (Am I allowed to advertise?) (NO. Ed) just round the corner from the gallery is a narrow sloping street with the original 18th-century paving.

I can’t look down it without remembering my father and the day he bent down, took the hand of my five-year old sister and skipped down this street with her.

He was a taciturn Nordic giant, 6ft 5 without shoes, and when he put his khaki army uniform and peaked cap on he was so tall that to us children it was like living in the shade of a well-grown pine tree.

Not generally given to joyful spontaneous displays of any sort, this gambolling was as surprising as a set of golf clubs coming to life and cantering off down the street. You get the general effect.

In other words, if you are tall you will be noticed more than if you are short, whatever you do.

It’s hard to do graceful, but you will certainly be able to do elegant.

Other women standing beside you will envy you or feel unaccountably inferior in some vague way, so do try to enjoy that.

If by any chance you want to diminish the visual impact that your height inevitably gives you, though, follow this advice: every distinct change of colour will effectively take an inch off your height.

Instead of wearing one colour head to toe, break it up into blocks. Each horizontal line will arrest the eye of your beholder on its slide downwards, or upwards. For instance, think of wearing a contrasting collar over a jumper, a jacket in a different colour, a short patterned skirt ( a long one will seem sooooooooo long) coloured tights, and boots with details or buckles around the calf.

Give your audience something to linger over as they take you in. I bet your legs are fantastic so get them out at every opportunity. Take the advice your mother gave you to stand tall, chin up, preferably in heels, and be proud.

When they ask what the weather’s like up there, treat them with the contempt they deserve. No curtseying.