A common misconception is that all petite women are skinny and don’t have curves, however that is simply not true. Petite women come in every shape and size, they are simply just petite in height, usually less than 5’5″. So the best petite clothing isn’t just smaller, it also needs to create appealing proportions (1/3 top to 2/3 bottom) and visually elongate the wearer.
In this blog post, I will cover the key styling tips that compliment your petite height and make you feel you can stand tall in any situation!
Many times, when we see famous faces on the big screen, we may not even realise that they are pushing 5 foot, because they are being shot upwards, are dressed well and sometimes even are using a box to stand on. It is only when we see them in real life or they are standing next to someone else that it becomes obvious. Check out the list of famous faces who are all under 5’5″.
- Anna Kendrick
- Eva Longoria
- Sarah Jessica Parker
- Hayden Panettiere
- Ariana Grande
- Kourtney Kardashian
- Kylie Minogue
- Jada Pinkett Smith
- Marie Kondo
- Kristin Chenoweth
For everyday women, you don’t have the benefit of clever video angles, but the good news is that you can use your wardrobe and my style tips to look and feel your best every day.
TOP STYLING TIPS
1. Go one peice
By choosing a dress or jumpsuit, you will have one continuous peice of fabric from top to bottom, making you automatically look longer and taller. More points if the dress or jumpsuit has a nice high waist band so your legs look like they go for days! A playsuit can also fit into this category although overall, it is not as long.
2. Tonal dressing head-to toe
The next best thing from a dress, is continuing the same colour from head to toe. The less horizontal colour changes, the longer and more columnesque you look. You can play around with slight variations in tone or texture to keep it interesting.
3. Vertical details
Anywhere you can add vertical details, do it! Whether its princess seams, open vests, a long-line necklace, or vertical stripes themselves, you will find your way to stretchville by adding a few to every outfit.
4. End tops above the high hipbone
If you decide to wear separates, take a good look at the length of the top. You want the hem to fall to the high hipbone, at the lowest. Ideally, you can tuck it at the waist, better still on your lower ribcage (Empire). This will extend your natural leg-line and make you look taller overall.
5. Above the knee hemlines
When you have shorter legs, the good thing is that you can wear much shorter skirts, dresses and shorts than other women without it looking like a floozie (This is why that old Catholic school rule about skirts being 2 inches above the knee was so unfair) By raising the hemline, you will create a beautiful proportion and extend your leg line.
6. You can still wear midi/maxi skirts
Despite what I just said, you can rock a midi or maxi length skirt if you select a high waisted design and tuck your top in. For further elongation team it with a pair of heels or blend your tights or boots with your skirt colour. A spilt (which is a vertical detail) also helps with a longer skirt.
7. Turn the volume down
Voluminous design features like frills and draping can be really appealing and have been on trend in recent years however for the petite woman, you want to try and keep the overall silhouette fitted and streamlined. By keeping the side seams of your outfit parallel with the sides of your body, you will keep the eye moving up, increasing your visual height. If you must wear volume, offset it with super short shorts, miniskirts, nude pumps or OTK boots!
8. Keep your details up high
Wherever you put the shiniest, brightest, most interesting details in your outfits, is where peoples eyes will be drawn to. As tempting as it is to wear blingy shoes, why not flip that inspiration and pop in some collar detail, hair accessory, statement necklace or earrings. The more you can get people to look upwards, the taller you look.
9. Nude pumps are your friend
I always preach on the value of a nude pair of shoes but for my petite friends, you are going to want to invest in a high quality, pointy toed, low vamp pump. Tone it to your particular skin colour and they will go with every dressy outfit you own. For those that don’t do heels, a nude pointy toed flat is a great alternative.
10. Flash some décolletage
Another quick way to elongate your neck and overall length is to choose a deep v neck, plunge or OTS neckline. The exposed skin up high draws the eye up, lengthens the neck and flatters your proportions.
11. 3/4 sleeves
Petite women benefit from a shorter sleeve, not just because they don’t want to have their hands covered, but because the exposed forearm extends your limbs and the eye is drawn up to the natural waistline, making your legs look longer. Experiment by turning up a sleeve once or twice and see the difference!
12. Check your print size
The scale of your clothes is not just about the way it is cut but also what is on the fabric. Generally speaking, as a petite woman, you are going to want to avoid prints the size of Jupiter. Opt for small to medium prints or prepare to be dwarfed, no matter what the silhouette is like. I have noticed a lot of well known petite brands that continually put out dresses in giant prints (perhaps for the petite women with bigger personalities?)
13. High smaller armholes.
The position and size of your armholes has never been more important. If your sleeve holes are larger or low, your entire torso will be dragged down to the ground visually (death by batwing). If you are handy on a sewing machine you may be able to make this alteration but the better move would be to go for tops, dresses and jackets that come ready made with an armhole that follows your natural arm line.
14. Shoulder placement
Watch out for wide shoulders, which are a fatal to a jacket in the land of petites. In tops and dresses, you can get them altered but it is expensive so why waste your time with something that doesn’t sit high and dry on your shoulders to begin with?
PETITE STYLISTA’S TO FOLLOW
We all need style inspiration that relates to our unique wardrobe needs and for the petite ladies, you are spoilt for choice on stylistas to follow:
1. Stylish petite- Annie Maithai
This babe has a beautiful warm palette and having recently had a baby, showcases all the low maintenance mama friendly styles!
2. Walk in wonderland- Sheryl Luke
I just adore her laid back Cali vibe. If you are after an outdoorsy, relaxed chic, she is your girl!
3. Poor little it girl- Cathy
With a focus on affordable, everyday style, Cathy is the insta bestie you never knew you needed. She is such a down to earth petite beauty and here you will find all the denim, knits and striped Tees.
4. Wendy’s look book- Wendy Nguyen
Now for a dive into dreamy fashion editorial land, Wendy has all the high end looks covered. She epitomises elegant chíc style, and I kinda suspect she gets a lot of freebees from designers because let’s face it, owning a Birkin is a thing most of us prolly wont do in our lifetime. Still, style for dayyyyyyysssss.
5. Extra petite- Jean Wang
I love Jean. I get the feeling if she were my next door neighbour, we would be swapping lemonade and casseroles. She is down to earth, yet oozes that relaxed feminine feeling. A mama of 2, she still knows how to rock a dress without looking like she tried at all.
WHERE TO FIND PETITE CLOTHING IN AUSTRALIA?
The following brands either carry ranges specifically for petite women or run smaller in proportion.
- Banana Republic
- Miss Selfridge
- Lauren by Ralph Lauren
- All About Eve
- Miss Shop, Myer
- Ted Baker
- Freddy Store (online- jeans)
- Witchery (cropped jeans)
- Forever New
- French Connection
- General Pants Co (multiple brands)
- Miss Shop
- Regatta Petites
- Jane Lamerton Petites
- Basque Petites
- Veronika Maine
- Simply Kate
- Target Petites
Be aware that just because the tag says petite, it does not necessarily mean that it will flatter you. Always check to see if the proportions and other details work for your body. If all else fails, make friends with a fabulous tailor so you can get your waists, sleeves and hems altered to fit you like a glove!
If you would like further help creating your own petite style strategy and sourcing outfits, you can catch me in the Style Talk FB group where you can post photos and get peer support & encouragement or if you would like 1:1 attention, why not book a free style chat ask me a style question.
All the love,