TOP TEN Fashion tips for PETITES
Updated: Sep 14
Let's start with the deets...I'm 5'2" therefore I qualify as a petite. Technically anyone under 5'4" is thought of as petite. Height is the defining element in petite sizing, weight is irrelevant even though there are assumptions that petite implies "tiny" in all regards. So what makes petite clothing options better? Well most clothing is made with the height of an average female in mind - therefore clothes are modeled on a woman of around 5'5" or a bit taller. The cut of petite clothing is often narrower in the shoulders, shorter in the arms and torso and of course shorter in length of pants. While I'm not limited to purchasing petite clothing I do find that when I am able to buy a piece that is specifically made for petites it feels as though it is much more tailored to my frame, and therefor, more flattering.
So my TIP 1: would be look for PETITE sizing and brands especially for things like jeans and pants. For me, I can get away with wearing regular sizing in most tops and even some dresses. When it comes to blazers, jackets, midi dresses and maxi dresses, petite sizing really helps!
Some of my favorite places to find great PETITE fashion are:
...they have a variety of inseam lengths and free alterations and they make some of the best denim around!
...the work wear options at Loft are beautiful and well made. They have a great selection of petite pieces!
...from denim, dresses, athletic wear and work wear, I love Old Navy styles, prices and their wide array of petite fashion!
...a great resource for trendier styles. I don't shop here often, but when I was younger and had just started working out of college, I loved their dress pants.
...many different brands at Nordstrom carry petite - I love Halogon, Caslon, Wit and Wisdom, 1901, Top Shop, Vince, Eliza J, Gibson - they also have in house tailoring!
...my all time favorite leggings and yes they come in short!
...this is one of the only stores that I know of that carries EXTRA SHORT! My daughter is 4'11" and these are the best jeans for her!
...great denim and jackets all in petite sizes!
Some other favorite stores that offer petite sizing:
Neck Line - While none of these tips are strict rules, generally speaking a v-neck will be more petite friendly. The goal is to elongate the body and often showing more skin will achieve that goal.
Sleeve Length - if you can't find a sleeve length that hits at the wrist and don't want to pay for tailoring, I recommend 3/4 length sleeves or rolling your cuff to show skin and elongate the arm.
Maxi or Midi Skirts - while often these skirt lengths will be challenging on shorter legs they aren't impossible to find. Often I find longer skirts with a split hem to be flattering as they show some leg. I also like to knot longer maxi skirts to shorten the hem a bit and add some extra style. I also recommend considering mini-skirts - which are often a perfect length when you are petite - more like a nice above the knee and not really very mini at all!
Rise - I prefer higher rise pants, jeans and skirts. However, some rises can just go too high when you have a short torso. I find a 9"-10" rise to be ideal on my frame but going to 11" means they end up touching my bra! Not good! Higher rises will again, elongate your frame!
Pant length- Inseam is so key here. If you don't know your preferred inseam, find a pair of pants you love the length of and get out a tape measure and find out the inseam. Use this when you are shopping to help find the best fit for you. I always find that showing a little ankle is flattering. When jeans bunch at the bottom - it's no good! The raw hem trend is your friend - I've cut many pairs of jeans to have a raw hem and the perfect inseam.
Kid Sizes- Now if you are petite and thinner than you may be able to shop in the kids department! Not only can you find clothing more proportionate to your frame, but sometimes you can even save money on similar styles. Stores such as JCrew have great kids clothes and you'd be surprised what you can find to fit. If you are normally an adult XS, kids L usually fits well. If you normally wear an adult S, you may be better off with a kids XL. I have overalls from the kids department at Old Navy and a dress from the Target girls department that I love!
Shoes - Kids shoes are another place to find similar styles at affordable prices. I have kids Hunter Boots that were a fraction of the cost of the adult pair and hit my leg at a much more comfortable place!
I also recommend wearing nude heels when you are trying to appear taller. When you match your shoe to your skin, it fools the eye into making the leg look longer. If you are wearing tights, opt for black opaque tights and black booties to trick the eye again! I also find platform sandals and sneakers to be a great boost for petites! Pointy toes can also help with elongating the lines!
Tailoring - Never underestimate the power of a good tailor when you are petite. A simple hem on a pair of pants, or the sleeves of a coat can go a long way toward making a petite frame look way more elegant and together! If you don't want the expense of a tailor consider using hem tape that you can iron on yourself or even fashion tape for more temporary fixes!
Spaghetti Straps- If you are looking at thin straps on a blouse or dress, always look for adjustable straps. As a petite, you may find that the length of straps can be way too long and make pieces unwearable. Even in regards to one piece bathing suits - I find adjustable straps to be a lifesaver!
Remember - these are just some tips I've accumulated after years of trying to elongate my figure and dress in a more flattering way as someone who is 5'2". I don't believe in rules or saying DON"T EVER WEAR any style! Embrace your height and your body and the most important thing you can ever wear is your confidence!