@cocobella90: I have this problem – I am 4’11” (barely, in shoes)
It was annoying while student teaching, but I was in a middle school, so it was more obvious that I was not a student. When I interned in high schools, I CONSTANTLY got people doing double-takes in the hall, thinking I was a teenager. I had one particular obnoxious male student try VERY hard to find out how old I was!
I have been slowly adjusting my wardrobe to an older-looking professional one. I must wear petites, and I have had some luck recently shopping the online sales at Kohls (the physical store here has a tiny, pathetic petite section, but there is a lot more online). I love Ann Taylor and Banana Republic, but I am too poor to shop there right now!
You definitely need:
– A fitted blazer. It will instantly make a dress or pants/shirt outfit look polished. Don’t buy a junior’s style, either. Buy a grown-up blazer in a nice material that fits you well (have it taylored if it doesn’t).
– Wear simple, jewelry that is either bold or understated, and not flashy, trendy, or cute.
– Do not buy flared or skinny pants. Wear trousers that fit you well in the hips/butt. Wide-leg ones flatter everbody and will make you look taller too!
– I try to stay away from anything cute/overly “girly” or flowy, even though I like those styles outside of work. It just makes me look young. And, as much as juniors clothes often fit me better, they just say “teen/college student” to everyone else.
– Wear classic, simple, high-quality accessories like leather hand-bags and belts. Paired with less expensive wardrobe, they help pull it together and make you look more mature.