The Ultimate Petite Style Guide
From spending a small fortune at the tailor to dreaming of wearing a maxi skirt without platform shoes, I’m here to tell you that the struggles of a fashion-obsessed petite girl are very real. Shopping online or off the rack can be frustrating when you find yourself swimming in clothes or tripping over hemlines. It can be a hassle to find clothes that fit and flatter your frame. If you’re petite like me, you may have even convinced yourself that there are certain styles that just flat out won’t work on your frame.
Your petite stature doesn’t have to keep you from fabulous fashion. Sure, finding clothes that complement your petite frame is trickier than for your taller friends. However, at the end of the day, everyone has to learn to dress in ways that flatter their own unique body, so don’t let the particular struggles of being petite hold you back.
I believe that great fashion is for everyone. That’s why for this post I decided to share all of the petite fashion tips that I’ve picked up in my years of shopping and compile them into the ultimate petite style guide. Here’s everything you need to know:
A Great Tailor is a Petite Girl’s Best Friend
Before I go any further, I have to confess that one of my best fashion tips for petite women is to find a great tailor. My tailor definitely sees a lot of me. I end up getting many of my clothes altered to get the perfect fit. It costs a little extra, but especially when you are investing in quality, classic pieces that you hope to incorporate in your wardrobe for years to come, it makes sense to spend a little more to get it right.
These are just two pieces of clothing I’ve gotten altered at the tailor!
Having a good relationship with a reliable tailor can be a game changer for the petite fashionista, so don’t be afraid to shop around for a good one. Read online reviews, ask for recommendations from friends, and pop into their store to see some of their work before you commit to anyone in particular. For petite ladies, your relationship with a tailor is bound to be a long-term one, so it’s worth your while to do your homework.
Best Pant Styles for Petite Women
For petite women, shopping for pants can be a downright daunting experience. Beyond the issue of too-long inseams, there can be serious problems with fit. Pants are often cut in ways that are too baggy or have fit ratios that don’t work on a smaller frame. All of this can make shopping for pants as a petite woman frustrating to say the least.
Luckily, you still have lots of options when it comes to pants. You just have to know what to look for. Here are the best pant styles for petite women:
Unfortunately not every pair of pants can be altered to fit a petite frame. For instance, if you find a great pair of flare jeans, but you have to cut 4 inches off the bottom, it kind of defeats the purpose of the pants in the first place. Luckily, many brands offer petite sizing in their clothes so that those of us who need a shorter inseam don’t have to miss out on the styles that everyone else is rocking.
Some of my favorite go-to petite brands are:
Cropped pants can be a good solution when you’re shopping a brand that doesn’t offer petite sizing and you don’t necessarily want to take your new find to the tailor. The typical inseam for cropped pants is around 25”, making it the perfect ankle-skimming or full-length fit for petite women.
Just be sure to keep your eye on the details. Some cropped pants have details or a natural-knee that can look odd when worn as a full length pant. In general, solids work better for this, but don’t be afraid to try on some bold prints! As long as the fit is on point, you are good to go.
Ankle Jeans with an inseam of 28′ are also a good option.
Existing somewhere in the ultra-comfy realm between pant, skirt, and trouser, culottes can be another great option. These flowy bottoms are designed to hit anywhere from the knee-area to the lower calf, giving petite ladies a lot more flexibility. The key is finding a pair that hits at the point on your leg that is most flattering to your particular figure.
One thing to keep in mind while you shop is that a wider leg pant can be overwhelming on a smaller frame. If that’s a concern for you, look for a pair that is more structured and less flowy. However, if you love the wide leg look, don’t let that scare you off. I, personally, really love a wide leg pant from time to time and I’ve found that the key to making it work on my body is pairing them with cropped or fitted tops. Not only will this balance the proportions of your look, but it can help to elongate your legs—which is always a plus.
High Waisted Pants
Speaking of elongating legs, high waisted pants are another way to give the illusion that you have legs for days. Pair them with a pair of heels to polish the look and keep the lines of the outfit looking long and clean.
If you want to give high waisted pants a try, just be sure to keep your eye on the proportions. Pants with a wider leg may need to be worn with something more fitted or cropped on top to keep your figure from being overwhelmed by the fabric.
Best Skirt Styles for Petite Women
Skirts can be another point of frustrations for the petite fashionista. While shorter skirts don’t usually pose too much of a problem, midi and maxi length skirts that work on a petite frame can be hard to come by—which can be frustrating. As any girl can tell you, longer skirts aren’t just fun and feminine, but they can be extremely flattering as well. You shouldn’t have to miss you on the fun just because you have a short stature. Here are some of my top petite fashion tips for the types of skirts that are most likely to work for you:
The structured style of pencil skirts make them an ideal option for petite ladies. While other styles of skirts can tend to overwhelm a smaller frame, the figure-skimming shape of a pencil skirt adds a healthy dose of feminine energy without losing the shape of your body underneath yards of fabric. The higher waist also helps to elongate your legs and define your waist for a look that’s pretty and polished.
Yes—I am including maxi skirts in my petite style guide, but hear me out. I have many “maxi” dresses and skirts in my wardrobe that were actually designed to be midi. Look for dresses that would translate well in a longer silhouette. I personally believe that flowy material is the best. You absolutely can find a midi skirt that can work as a maxi skirt. You just have to be persistent.
If you’ve been paying attention to the petite style guide thus far, you’re probably picking up on a pattern—high waisted bottoms are great for petite ladies. They elongate the things you want to elongate and accentuate the things you want to accentuate. A-line skirts are no different and are a great addition to any petite fashionista’s wardrobe. Once again, focus on pairing these with cropped and fitted items so that you don’t lose your figure under the fuller skirt.
This a-line mini skirt was the perfect proportion with my cropped jean jacket.
Best Shirt Styles for Petite Women
Finding the right shirt to flatter a petite frame can be a bit less tricky than finding pants and skirts, but shirts can still pose problems all of their own. From long hems to overwhelming fabric, there are a lot of pitfalls for petite shoppers. Here are some petite fashion tips for shirt styles that work best on a smaller figure.
As we’ve discussed, high waists are a petite girl’s best friend—right after her tailor, or course. So it should come as no surprise that crop tops are a great fit, too. Crop tops help to define your waist and are a great compliment to your high waisted bottoms. A crop top is also a great way to incorporate some more volume into your looks because the shorter hemline will keep oversized and flowy tops from overwhelming your figure. It’s a win-win.
Tie-front tops are another great option for petite ladies. Like cropped tops, tie-front tops hit more at your natural waist, which is extremely flattering. However, unlike a cropped top, tie-front tops can you a little more control when it comes to the fit and length of the shirt. You can tie the shirt to work perfectly with whatever you’re pairing it with, which makes your styling job that much easier.
When it comes to petite fashion, creating long lines is the name of the game. That’s what makes v-neck shirts such a great fit for petite ladies. A v-neck draws the eye down the body in a way that helps to create the illusion of a longer torso. That little bit of extra skin can also be helpful in balancing out tops that aren’t fitted so that the shape of your body doesn’t get lost. From t-shirts to work-ready blouses, v-necks are always a good choice.
Best Outerwear Styles for Petite Women
Petite ladies are constantly fighting the battle against too much fabric and so it’s no wonder that outerwear can be particularly vexing. After all, outerwear is meant to be bulkier than regular clothing so that it can keep you warm. However, just because it’s cold outside doesn’t mean that petite ladies don’t want to look fashionable and put-together when they leave the house. Here are my petite fashion tips for outerwear styles that won’t overwhelm your figure:
The most obvious option when fighting the battle of the outerwear bulge is sticking to more fitted coats and jackets—or if available simply petite coats in general. Shorter jackets that hit at the hips and are well-structured will keep you from looking too bulky when you step out during colder weather. I’m personally a big fan of moto jackets for exactly this reason. They’re well-fitted where they need to be while also offering a bit of edge to my look, making them a major staple of my wardrobe.
If you’re looking for a little more coverage from your outerwear, but you still don’t want to get lost under too much fabric, consider a belted coat. Belted coats give you the ability to be bundled up, while still being able to define your waist. Or, you can tie them behind your back like I did in the photos below. Particularly for petite ladies who live in colder climates, belted coats are a great option.
So what do you think of my petite style guide? Do you have any questions that I didn’t answer or are you a petite fashionista with her own tips to add? Let me know in the comments below or send me a Tweet @KylenEveryWear.