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The Tall Girl’s Guide to Fall’s Fashion

For designer and stylist Irene Agbontaen, her tall-girl moment of truth arrived when her South London secondary school announced that girls could wear pants. “All the girls went out and bought Lycra stretchy, tight trousers,” says Agbontaen. “And I was like, ‘They’re all going to be ankle swingers.’ ”

This early realization taught Agbontaen that dressing her 5-foot-11 frame would require some finessing. “Brands think that just adding an extra five centimeters at the end of a garment makes it a ‘tall’ fit,” says Agbontaen. “They don’t actually take into consideration a woman’s frame.” The years that Agbontaen spent trying to navigate shopping for herself—and dressing leggy models in her role as a stylist—inspired her to create TTYA, a line of wardrobe essentials tailored to the needs of taller women.

Agbontaen, a playful and fearless dresser in her own right, reaffirms that proportions are the key to pulling off even the most daring of looks. “I don’t shy away from trends,” she says. “I feel like I can always wear what I want. There’s a way to make it work.” Here, Agbontaen tackles this fall’s major trends and shares some of her time-tested styling tricks for dressing a taller frame.

Consider the tracksuit.

“Of late, tracksuits have been popping up on the runway, but they’ve always been popular in London. I like my tracksuits to fit oversize, and I like the sleeves to drop a bit longer. I tend to buy a lot of men’s tracksuits, but I make them feminine by wearing [them] with a sock boot. The good thing about men’s styles is that everything is kind of tapered and tailored, so the fit will still be a slim line. I usually get a men’s medium or a women’s large. I’ve found that it’s just about toying with sizes to fit your frame; that’s how I get around the struggle.

”Maxi dresses are a cinch—but be sure to make a statement with footwear.

“I’m still waiting for the day that I find a maxi floral dress to the floor—that is, unless I make one myself. Most of them will stop just on the cuff or above the ankle. But since that’s kind of in at the moment, I’ll wear them with a little sock boot or sneakers. In terms of fit in my torso, I tend to size up, nip it in at the waist with a belt, and pair it with a slouchy vintage boot to style out the shorter length.”

Embrace the midi length.

“Midis can be a funny one to pull off. Thankfully, it’s almost as if the awkwardness of things not fitting is on trend now, so it’s a lot easier to make things work. Some brands have specific fits now for our height—places like H&M and ASOS, and of course TTYA. But if you can’t find that specific fit, you can get a regular maxi skirt, which will fit like midi length on a tall person.”

Try the velvet trend—just add layers.

“Velvet can be a tricky trend because you usually can’t find it to specifically fit a tall frame. And you’re definitely going to want to wear a lot of velvet for the upcoming holiday season. The best way to get around it is to layer. When I can get a velvet dress, I pair it with something that is tall-specific, like a turtleneck with longer sleeves to camouflage the sleeve length. Or if I’m wearing a velvet skirt, I’ll wear it with sneakers and an oversize sweater on top to play up the cropped proportions. For me, velvet is really winning.”

The puffer is a perfect slouchy statement piece.

“Oh my god, I love a puffer jacket! Cropped puffer jackets have been a popular fit for fall, so I don’t have to worry about where the jacket hits my waist. The problem here is that the sleeve lengths never really fit. My styling trick is to buy a slightly bigger size and wear it off the shoulder. At the moment, I have this massive cobalt blue jacket. It’s a size 14. I just slouch it over my shoulders and wear it like a shrug. I like to wear all black and then top it off with this striking blue puffer coat. I just make it work by turning it into a statement piece.”

Find designers who cater to your shoe size.

“It’s a no-brainer that tall girls have bigger feet. Like, who in the world is going to make a thigh-high boot that actually comes up to my thigh? So it’s important to know which designers and brands produce a full-size run. I really love the Saint Laurent glitter boot that’s been everywhere. Topshop did an amazing version of it, and their footwear sizing goes up to U.K. 9, which is a U.S. 11. So I’ve literally been living in that glitter boot. We’re moving in the right direction, but things have a long way to go.”