When I was in my younger 20’s, I was always told I was a “petite”. Yet, I didn’t feel like the clothes fit me the way I had hoped. Or the pants were juussssttt long enough, yet after one wash, felt too short!
Petite is Defined As…
To get technical, and according to Wikipedia, you are petite if:
- you are at or under 5 foot 3 inches tall
- are “small and dainty”
Number 2 is a lie….
The problem with number 2 is that when you are petite, you are not always skinny or dainty, so it’s kind of unfair for a number of women to be left out of that category. Since Petite typically refers to height, and is for “shorter” women, that is not the only difference between it, and missus and regular sizing. We are also talking length of skirts / pants, length of sleeves on jackets, the rise in your trousers / jeans / shorts, and the width of the shoulders.
Styles for Petites
To wear a higher waisted pant for petites can do alot for giving you a longer line and adding the look of height! To ensure that happens, I would discourage a petite woman, from wearing a longer blazer or top. Should the hem of your top go much further down than your natural waist, you can take AWAY from the longer leg look. Alternatively, you COULD wear a duster or long jacket that goes all the way to the ankle…that will have you lookin’ long and tall girl!
When it comes to skirts, the length that will be the most flattering on a petite frame will be just above the knee. Shows a bit more leg, making you look taller! Also, avoid a shoe that has an ankle strap. It will interrupt the line of the leg and have you broken up into smaller sections. Does that make sense? So, imagine you have a shoe, then an ankle strap, then a hemline of your skirt, then a belt, then your neckline. Minimize the “horizontal lines” in your look, to enhance your vertical line.
Tops will have a shorter hem, shorter sleeves or straps, less material across the shoulders to accommodate a smaller frame. Not only that, you know how I always love to encourage you to look for details that set a piece apart? Those will also be a small scale, to make sense to the overall integrity of the piece! So petite sizes will have smaller pockets, or cuffs, or collars.
Proportion also applies to the accessories! When we are petite, making sure that our handbag doesn’t get so big it swallows it up. We all love a great tote to carry it all; but carrying something a little smaller is totally in keeping with your overall look!
Is Partially Petite a Thing?
Oh yes!! You can be taller than 5’3″ with long legs and a shorter torso. So you may need regular sized / length pants, with a petite top! Or vice versa….so if you’ve been discouraged in the stores, this might be why. The fit for petite sizes, as mentioned above, is very different from regular.
Regular tops on a petite frame, will be too loose. Straps too long will show off too much skin or cleavage. Hemline will be well past the waist. A quick trip to the petites section, even just to test this theory, might get your shopping back on track!
I came across this really great video by The Petite Shop that does a great job of explaining this body style and I wanted to share it with you!
How I Dress Now
What I’ve learned about my body is that once a fully grown woman, I’m not petite. Even though I only stand at a whopping 5’4″, my legs are plenty long enough for regular cut. As well, if I want to wear a higher heels with my classic or straight leg cut trousers, I don’t mind a little longer than regular. That said, I love the shorter length of the amazing cigarette pant I got at Zara recently. It totally depends on the look you are going for!
Also for me, I feel I prefer to wear things that have a drop waist, not at my natural waist, because it feels too high. While it may look very nice, my preference is a lower waist line, (or no waist line at all with dresses). For me, the lower waist allows for my top half to be more proportionate with my bottom half!
Plenty of Style for Petites
There is just so many options for petite or partially petite ladies to find their style! I hope these tips prove helpful for the next time you are out and about shopping for that perfect piece to add to your wardrobe!