First things first: “Petite” doesn’t just mean short and slim.
It refers to women who are 5’4 and under.
Clothing labeled as petite is cut with that proportion in mind. Compared to standard items, you’ll often find narrower shoulders and shorter inseams. So whether you’re a size 00 or a size 16, if you’re shorter, the petite section is worth a look.
With that in mind, BuzzFeed Life turned to bloggers Jean Wang of Extra Petite, Kelly Tucker of Alterations Needed, and New York City-based stylist Cindy Gordon, for their best tips and tricks on nailing shorter style.
1. For bustier petites, balance is key.
“Fuller petite body types can vary, but overall, celebrating shape is important,” Gordon told BuzzFeed Life. “For big-busted petites, empire waists are great since they nip you in beneath the bustline.” Or, try a fitted top paired with a high-low skirt. This way you’ve got a fitted base with an outer layer to balance — all without sacrificing shape.
2. Smaller frame? Depending on the brand, don’t overlook kids’ sizes.
Sizing doesn’t always make sense, even with retailers that have specific lines for petites. So when shopping, don’t look at sizing tags, look at measurements. With some brands, the larger kids sizes are interchangeable with the smaller petite sizes — and they often cost less too.
3. Use layers to fake a perfect fit.
If an item is fine in some spots but too big in others, use layers to strategically cover the latter. More examples of faking fit here.
4. At the same time, know when to invest in a professional tailor.
Yes, it’s an added cost, but if you’re careful about sticking to classic pieces that you can wear year after year — like winter coats, for example — you’ll find that the investment is worth it.
5. Cuff long shirts at the elbow.
Flowy long-sleeved shirts sometimes dwarf smaller frames. Cuffed sleeves (and a quick tuck) can break things up and emphasize shape.
6. Know which brands are petite-friendly.
Among the retailers that carry petite lines: ASOS, Topshop, J. Crew, Banana Republic, Ann Taylor Loft, Old Navy, Anthropologie, and more. For accessories, Pretty Small carries shoes starting in size 2. The Little Bra Company carries bras starting in 28A.
7. And finally — be confident in whatever you wear.
“Don’t believe that the goal of everything you wear is to make you look taller,” Tucker said. “Embracing your body and wearing what you love and feel confident in is always a better idea.”
(c) Melissa Harrison