Whatever our height or shape, we should have the right to wear whatever we want to because we can and we should BUT as petite women there are just some things we’ve discovered over time and through many trials, errors and cringeworthy photos later, that there are just some things that do absolutely nothing for a petite frame.
Knowing what to avoid is winning half the battle. Many brands fail to use real petite models for their petite ranges online and this is extremely misleading since we rely on these online images to judge whether that petite shirt dress would look just as flattering on the 5’6″ model vs our actual petite bodies.
So since the sartorial woes of petite ladies are many, we’re striving to make fashion easier for petite women and why not? Life is already complicated as it is!
As a rule of thumb, we have found 6 key things to avoid as a petite:
1. Large Prints
Big, statement prints are visually dominant so the difference between your petite figure and the print size would be even more noticeable. It’s all about proportion and with big prints you could look smaller than desired!
2. Giant Handbags
Guilty as charged on this one. The beauty of a big handbag is the amount of stuff we can cram into them! But smaller bags are best for petites. Big handbags can hide a lot of your body and the proportion factor comes into play again – they can make you look shorter. Smaller totes and crossover body bags suit petite frames better.
Extra Petite blogger, Jean illustrates this petite struggle perfectly – check out her detailed article on Longchamp bags.
3. Oversized Anything
Our taller counterparts can pull off an oversized coat or sweatshirt with a super cool, chic vibe but when regular size clothes are already too big for us petites, oversized garments can make us look smaller, giving off a child-like vs that ‘off-duty’ vibe we were after. As much as we love the Olsens (at 5’1″, they’re one of us!) and their creative fashion sense, they often swamp themselves in oversized coats and jumpers.
4. Low-waisted Pants
This goes for boyfriend jeans, low-rise trousers etc., this type of cut shortens legs and widens your silhouette and it’s as simple as that! Try out higher waisted options such as the high waisted Topshop Mom Jeans as an alternative if you still wish to have that boyfriend jean look without losing leg length. The difference between Rachel Bilson on the left in boyfriend jeans versus the right photo is enormous!
5. Not trying out maxi dresses & midi skirts
Yes, that’s right, despite what other articles may say about maxi and midi skirts not suiting petite body types, we don’t believe them. Maxi and midis CAN work for petite women and many petite bloggers have shown us how they’ve styled them beautifully whilst looking tall, for example: Extra Petite, Lace & Locks, La Petite Noob.
Getting maxis and midis right does largely depend on the cut, colour and the right styling.
The general rule is:
1. Minimal volume
2. Show your waist and feet
3. Have a fitted top
Show a little toe with skirts, get the waist to start higher up and make sure your top is fitted and tucked in/ cropped. Err on the side of continuous, single colours, and avoid wearing a cover up or cardigan over the top that hides your waist.
With midi skirts, try to wear them with heels, again keep the waist high and tuck in the top. Styled with the right accessories, complementary shoes, we can visually look a bit taller!
6. Buying regular sized clothing for key investment pieces
We’re talking about the work blazer, black cigarette pants, winter coat, the classic white shirt, that favourite interview/ work dress etc. and we’ve found that regular sized clothing just doesn’t work no matter how much you scrunch up the sleeves, and turn up the cuffs. When it comes to those core wardrobe items you would wear countless times for multiple occasions, it’s ever more important to ensure you have a great fitting item that you will look and feel great in.
This is a hard one because the variety, style, quality and prices of regular sized clothing make it so tempting. Many a time we’ve fallen in love with a Zara blazer, Whistles suit trousers and French Connection shirt and too many times, we’ve realised our mistake in trying to make them work. Petite fit doesn’t just mean shortening as you will know, we need the shoulders to fit, the waist and knee seams to hit in the right place and the style to be flattering.
Our advice is: for casual clothes we can poach a lot from the mainstream market but for core, investment items we need to scour all our petite choices or invest in a great tailor. Here at house of petite, we are endeavouring to make that search easier as we will be adding more great petite ranges to our online store soon!
Let us know your thoughts and any other useful tips you may have discovered in the comment box below!