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Petites: Shopping for the Short and Sweet
Approximately 40% of American women fall into the category of “petites.” Many people assume that petite=smaller, shorter, and wear a size 2. However, the fashion industry classifies “petite” clothing based on HEIGHT not stature; these garments are specifically designed for women who are 5’3” tall and under. Therefore, it can be extremely challenging for petite women to feel and look stylish in clothing made by manufacturers to fit “most” women ranging from 5’4”-5’8” tall. Until the industry can offer more options for the vertically challenged, the following strategies can help petites feel confident and stand tall!
- Stick with one color – Wearing monochromatic outfits will create a longer, leaner silhouette.
- Wear heels! – Boots with jeans, stilettos with slacks, strappy sandals with skirts, and wedges with shorts. Bonus: Adding a few extra inches can eliminate hemming slacks.
- Spring for Alterations – When petite sizes are limited and you must shop in the “standard size” section of the store, make sure to have garments altered to fit YOUR sleeve length, inseam, shoulders, torso, hips, waist, and bust measurements, etc. Wearing ill-fitting clothes can make petite women look sloppy. Find a professional who has the knowledge, skills, and experience to ensure that you look and feel fabulous in clothes that FIT your height, weight, and frame.
- Hemlines Count – Commit to one or the other–Long or short—never in between. Capri pants, pedal pushers, clam diggers, and tea-length dresses are a No-No for petite women. All of these styles hit mid-calf, between the bottom of the knee and the ankle, making you look frumpy and dumpy. Always go for full-length jeans, slacks, and khakis. Dresses and skirts should be hemmed either above the knee or full-length, to the floor for a longer, leaner silhouette.
- Proportions are Key! – Wearing huge statement necklaces, heavy shoulder-duster earrings, stacks of chunky bracelets, and carrying ginormous hobo-style handbags can make petite women look like they are playing “dress up” as the fashion trends aren’t always designed for petites. Look for smaller versions of these staples that are proportionate to your frame, bone structure, and body shape.