I don’t really like to use the term “short” with clients because it can sound negative (which it’s NOT) but being only 5’4” myself, I do actually think of myself as short in the fashion world and I’m not scared to say the “short” word to myself so I’m going out on a limb with this article! Here are my tricks and tips for dressing the short woman.
Interestingly, for mens sizing if you’re 5’6” or under the clothing category is called short, however in womens sizing if you’re 5’2” or under it’s called Petites.
I’ve worked with many women 5’2” and under and the biggest misconception I hear with the term Petites is SIZE. Most people hear the word Petite and assume that means “small sizes”. I’m not kidding, I walked into a Nordstrom when it first opened in Toronto, personal shopping for a 5’0” client, and asked a salesperson if they had a Petites section in the store (a few stores do…Hudsons Bay, Ann Taylor, Banana Republic) and the salesperson (NO LESS!!!) brought me to all the double zero sizes. She had no freakin’ clue what I meant…
The fact is: all Petites means is that you’re 5’2” and under, and that’s ALL it means. In terms of SIZE they can run from a double zero to size 14, and don’t forget that there is a sub-category for Plus-Size Petites (Size 16+) as well.
There is a ton of info online for dressing for petites, and do’s and don’ts for accessories. It’s not easy to figure out if any of these tips will actually work for you, right?
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#1 You actually CAN wear all the silhouettes of clothing out there! Don’t believe that you can’t! Take the trend of baggy jeans and that it’s a complete no-no for Petites, It’s NOT TRUE, you can wear them, but the proportions of your clothing AND MOST IMPORTANTLY your footwear is the answer!
If your jeans are at least a mid-rise they will make your legs and torso appear longer. You don’t have to go for the extremely baggy jeans! Opt for only a little fabric volume in the hips and thighs. You’ll get to enjoy the trend without overwhelming your frame. It’s important to ONLY pair something baggy on your bottom half with a fitted top and crop jacket on your top half so you still get the look of long legs. Never cut your length of legs with a different coloured shoe. A nude pump brings this look off beautifully!
#2 Only Wear 2 Colours at a Time
Mixing a lot of colours on a short woman makes her look even shorter. You should always shop for tops and bottoms in the same colour. OR a jacket and bottom in the same colour with a different colour top. This will always elongate your frame and make you appear taller.
#3 Buy Dresses ONLY in Petite Sizing
Because dresses are cut and sewn in 1 piece if you shop for dresses in regular clothing stores chances are the waist seams will hit you in the wrong place, the skirt length will be way too long and so will the sleeves! Take my word for it! The alterations are way too expensive to make it worth your while. Look at stores like Laura, Loft, J Crew, Banana Republic and Ann Taylor and White House Black Market. Shockingly, a lot of labels DO have Petites but it’s not available in stores….crazy, right??? See a cute dress in Anthropologie? Chances are you can order that size 10 in Petites and it will fit you properly in all the right places.
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