Petite Women Aren’t All Small And Dainty

Last night I was banging my head on the desk!

I was doing some research on clothes for petite women. This is because I have a client consultation coming up and I wanted to be prepared.

Normally I enjoy a good old ramble around the Internet when I’m vision boarding for clients. However, this was a major hiking expedition through a forest without a map!

petite women fashion problems

The good news is that tenacity pays dividends and my stock of tenacity is high! At the end of this post I’m going to offer you a round up of some of the key brands that design and manufacture for petite women.

 Petite Women Are Just One Shape Aren’t They?

The dictionary defines petite as ‘attractively small and dainty’.

But the definition for most petite women is that you can be any body shape.  The only common factor is that you are less than 5’ 4” (or 1.62M). Petite women are not necessarily just small and dainty!

Therefore the principles of dressing for your shape are still there. However there is an added dimension that height will affect the choice of clothing. Think of it in those terms and in theory it becomes easier!

My tips are focused on the petite women who would like to look taller. I’ve also added guidelines according to body shape.

 1. Necklines

V-neck for petite women

Banana Republic V-Neck

V-Neck is the best shape for petite women. A V-Neck creates more of a vertical line and the illusion of height. In comparison a square or wide rounded neckline adds width. If you have a small bust then a shallower V- neck or an open necked blouse is an option.

 2. Sleeves

A universal tip for anyone wanting to add height is to wear three quarter length sleeves. The sleeves end on the most slender part of the arm.

Just be aware that wherever the sleeve ends it will create width. So for example a curvy petite will not suit a short-sleeved top that ends in line with the bust.

 3. Handbags

An oversized handbag will overwhelm you, particularly if you also have a slender frame.

Smaller bags, although they don’t allow us to carry so much clutter (!) will be more in proportion to your height.

Curvy petite women can carry slightly bigger bags, but I’d avoid the big tote styles if you want to add height.

4.  Belts and Jewellerytassel leather belt

A bulky wide belt will create a line across your body that will make you look shorter.   As any horizontal pattern or shape will do.

But if you want to add shape and definition to your waist a narrow belt is a great idea.

Petite women will look better if their jewellery does not overwhelm them.

5. Shoes and Boots

Petite Women Pointed Toes

Sam Edelman on Nordstrom

The obvious choice for adding height is to wear heels. But not all petite women are comfortable in heels. These tips are not heel dependent:

  • Avoid ankle straps – another horizontal line
  • Nude is great for adding height
  • Pointed toes will look better than rounded
  • Boots just below the knee

 6. Prints and Patterns

Vertical lines and stripes will add height.

An open jacket over a top creates a simple vertical line.   Piping on a pair of trousers is another great way to make legs look longer.

Slender petite women will be overwhelmed with big prints and patterns. Curvy petite women can wear larger patterns and prints.

7. Hemlines

The general rules are that hemlines should not finish on the widest part of the thigh or the calf. Again this is because the eye will be drawn to a horizontal line that will reduce height.

Just below or above the knee is the best way to add height.

Minis for slender petite women will give the illusion of longer legs.

 8. Tailored And Structured

petite women tailored jacket

Jeetly – Chelsea Jacket

Tailored clothes will add structure for all petite women.

A crop jacket that ends at waist level will help legs to look longer for slender petite women.  Curvy petite women with a tummy should look for a hip length jacket.

If fitted isn’t your style then at least keep top or bottom half more structured.

9. Trousers

The basic principles for petite women are to wear high-waisted trousers. High waisted trousers will make legs look longer. True but not all shapes can wear them and may find some styles uncomfortable.

Straight or skinny Boot cut shapes again will add length.   Details on jeans and trousers check out my Skinny Jeans Are So Last Year.

 10. Monochrome

Keeping an outfit in one colour will help petite women to add height without the changes in colour creating horizontal lines.

But if you want to break up the colours, try a scarf simply draped round the back of your neck and leave to hang down your front, another great way to create vertical lines.

What Did I Learn On My Hike?

I promised you a summary of where to shop for petite women, some of which I’m sure will be very familiar but other brands and sites may be new to you. Feel fee to add to this list in the comments, as I’m sure other petite women would be really interested in your experiences.

petite women where to shop

Banana Republic – Plays by the rules!

Seriously BR has a great selection of petite clothing, which follows the style guidelines for petite women.  Focusing on smart casual daywear that works for many modern office environments.

Gap – which incidentally owns BR.  Gap has always been a go to place for great casual basics. Slightly less formal than BR but caters well for the petite market.

NYDJ – Designed specifically for women of all shapes and sizes.

Jeetly – semi formal smart stylish clothing. Founded by a former optometrist who got fed up of being told by her patients ‘you don’t look old enough to be doing this job!’

Wallis – offering smart clothes and occasion wear with some more casual styles.

Free People – bohemian styles that are great and go down to size 2-4 but are not specifically styled for petite women.

Asos – has a great range aimed at mainly younger petite women

These general tips are helpful as a framework but there is still an important aspect to consider. You need to define your personal style. Decide what personal values you want the world to see and think about how best to reflect these in your clothes.

If you are petite I would love to learn about your style journey and where you shop for clothes.  Please post your comments below.

 

 

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15 Responses to Petite Women Aren’t All Small And Dainty

  1. Pat November 17, 2016 at 8:45 pm #

    Hi Carol,

    This is so helpful – thanks. Being 5’2″ and ‘curvy’, I often struggle, so these guidelines are really useful for me.
    I love reading your posts.

    Thanks again,

    Pat

    • Carol November 17, 2016 at 8:56 pm #

      Thanks Pat x

  2. Louise November 17, 2016 at 9:39 pm #

    This is really useful. Some of it is found through trial and error. Would have been so nice to have had this advice and recognition years ago ! I’ve found that petite trousers if too short can make you look shorter ! Tend to go for normal and then take up

    • Carol November 18, 2016 at 7:01 am #

      Thats’s very true Louise – has the effect of creating another horizontal line which will make you look shorter. Good point. Either doing it yourself or knowing someone local is very useful.

  3. Kathy November 17, 2016 at 10:25 pm #

    I shall send on to my petite mum! Great to have some brands to try as she does get in a bit of a rut with shops that do a petite range.

    • Carol November 18, 2016 at 7:01 am #

      Hope your Mum finds this useful, Kathy.

  4. Elena November 18, 2016 at 3:46 am #

    Very helpful, makes a lot of sense!

    • Carol November 18, 2016 at 7:02 am #

      Thanks, Elena x

  5. Sue November 18, 2016 at 3:30 pm #

    Thanks Carol- great to have some new suggestions of places to shop ( curvy petite woman)

    • Carol November 18, 2016 at 7:02 pm #

      Thanks Sue glad you found this useful! x

  6. Claudia November 18, 2016 at 6:49 pm #

    Great tips. Im 5’3″ and petite build and I must say that I break alot of these rules e.g. over the knee boots; the occasional medium width belt. But Ive gotten away with it. Lol!
    I’ll definitely give some of your tips a go. Thanks Carol.

    • Carol November 18, 2016 at 7:02 pm #

      Love it, Claudia! I really should preface all style advice that I give with the comment that if you have the confidence and feel comfortable – break the rules!! x

  7. Carole Bozkurt November 23, 2016 at 4:08 pm #

    Another excellent post Carol as always and although I am not a petite woman I found it really interesting.

    The question I would like to ask is – I love bags and I noticed that you mentioned that petite woman shouldn’t go for big tote bags – they need to keep the size of the bag in proportion with they height. Does this means that taller women with luscious curves 🙂 ahem should not go for small bags? I would love to know.

    • Carol November 23, 2016 at 4:17 pm #

      Hi Carole thanks for your lovely comments! Taller women with luscious curves should definitely look for larger bags – you might find my next post useful for taller women

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