Not sure how to dress your petite body? This quick guide shares tried and tested styling tricks and shopping tips to help you make the most of your petite figure.
What is a petite body type?
A petite body type is categorised by several factors, but typically height determines it. If you’re 5’3” or under you’d be classified as petite. However, it is important to remember that all bodies are unique and if your inseam is 27″ or less, you’d fall into the petite leg length – but that doesn’t mean that you will necessarily require ‘petite’ clothes on your upper body.
For example, I myself am classified as petite I stand at 5’1″ and I am an hourglass/bell shape. This means that whilst I am considered petite up top (my upper body is small, with small ribs, short torso, 32B/C and mostly a flat stomach) my lower body is better suited to the proportions of standard length trousers.
Dressing Your Petite FIGURE
If you are petite, it can be tough to find clothes that fit well and look flattering. A lot of petite women struggle to find clothes that fit well because most modern styled clothing is designed to fit standardised petite rectangular body shapes, this means petite women with curves can often struggle, even when wearing petite womenswear.
Here are some tips for dressing your petite body type:
- An important part of dressing right for all body shapes is getting the ratios right. Always aim for the rule of thirds instead of halves or quarters
- Be mindful about colour blocking in high-contrasting colours, this can create a visual divide making you look shorter
- Choose co-ordinates that can be purchased separately so you can get the best fit on the top and bottom
- Avoid over-sized and baggy styles as these will swamp your small frame and make you look childlike
- Midi-dresses often make great maxi dresses for Petites
- Cropped trousers tend to lend themselves wonderfully to petite legs!
- Cropped T-shirts are fantastic for petite frames and especially those with shorter torsos
- Cropped tops and shirts are also great for Petites as they reduce the ‘bulk’ and extra fabric around the midriff when ‘tucking’ in
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How to Dress Taller WITH A Petite BODY
If looking taller is a requirement for you, then there are ways you can dress to create the illusion of a taller physique:
- Try dressing in just one colour from top to toe, with the option to add a flash of colour in the upper proportions
- Opt for horizontal stripes to create height
- Try wearing the same colour in different shades, or tones. Whilst colour blocking is ‘cool’ it will create a visual divide making you look shorter
- Wear a maxi dress with a V-neck and high heels to create more length throughout the body
- Wear a polo neck for added lengthening of your torso
- Go for a high waist on skirts, shorts and trousers
- Go wide-legged and long- let them skim the floor Victoria Beckham style
- Wear nude shoes with bare legs to create a leg-lengthening effect
- Wear a similar colour shoe or boot your trouser or skirt
- Opt for pointed shoes instead of square-toed ones to help elongate the legs
- Keep accessories small, smaller bags will help you look taller
- Wear a bumbag across your chest rather than around your waist so you don’t chop your body in half
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TIPS FOR Shopping FOR PETITE CLOTHES
- Don’t dismiss the standard sized clothes section, look at clothing options that can be altered easily through ‘no sew’ hacks
- Always consider if a garment you try on has the potential for a few tweaks by an alteration specialist, often purchasing a little bigger is better than buying too small
- Check out the teen departments, and look for high-quality basics like plain T-shirts, sweaters and light jackets
- Try going to large department stores that stock a range of petite size clothing brands, and try on a few different sizes and styles to see which ones fit best. If they aren’t sustainable brands, you can try sourcing similar preloved items from these brands via a number of fashion reseller sites.
As a fellow petite myself, I often find myself making adjustments and settling for items that aren’t quite right. I take the majority of my clothes to a clothing alterations specialist and have them tweaked, mainly sleeve length, and torso length shortened. You can find a list of London based clothing alteration specialists here.