Petite Fashion: Short Jeans on a Budget by Angela

Updated November 19, 2020

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As a petite woman attempting to be fabulous while watching the bottom line, I have a complaint, which, for the moment, I will direct at Target.
Target, I am a loyal customer. I purchase skirts, tops, sweaters, jackets, shoes, year in and year out. But where, oh where, are my jeans? Yes, I know you carry short sizes, at least online – but in stores (and I’ve been to lots of stores) I usually find denim cut with an Amazon in mind (like The Budget Fashionista herself, who is 5 ft 10 inches)- or, at least, a woman over 5’5”.
But Target’s not the only one – a good short jean (without a budget-breaking price tag) is hard to find. Petite departments are great for many things, but denim? Not so much. And some stores, like JC Penney, that do offer short sizes give us only three or four styles to choose from, while “average” height girls get a veritable smorgasbord.
Fortunately, while we’re waiting for some major retailers to get with the program, others have already figured out that the vertically-challenged have cash to spend, too. If you’re short (or taller than average, for that matter), these stores have some cute, quality denim made with you in mind:
Old Navy. With sizes ranging from 0-20, in short, average, and long, Old Navy has the budget jean for a wide range of body types all wrapped up. Love love love the Sweetheart jean. And with a top price of about $35, you can afford more than one pair.
New York and Company. While their denim selection isn’t vast, New York and Company offers perfectly acceptable basics, and sizes include 2-18, in petite, average and tall. This is also my go-to spot for work pants that look professional and fit great.
Lane Bryant. Let’s not forget that being short doesn’t necessarily mean being a size 2. Lot’s of curvier girls need shorter length, too, and Lane Bryant offers great looking denim in petite cuts, sizes 14-32.
Gap. I’m including the Gap because, let’s face it, they have great jeans, but the price isn’t always as budget-friendly as I’d like. However, their petite denim on a good sale day? Fantastic.
~ Angela

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By Catherine Brock

As a Southern California transplant now living in the Midwest, Catherine has turned layering into an art form and accepted that UGGs actually do have a place in the stylish lady's wardrobe. She's been featured in Woman's World Magazine,, Refinery29, and has made appearances on ABC7 Chicago, FOX2News St. Louis, KCAL9 Los Angeles, Fox19 Cincinnati, WGN TV Chicago and WCPO TV Cincinnati.

18 replies on “Petite Fashion: Short Jeans on a Budget by Angela”

Thanks for this post.  I’m 5’2.5” (although I like to round up and say I’m 5’3”) and am constantly on the search for off the rack jeans/pants that don’t need to be hemmed.  I too like New York & Company’s jeans because I never have to get them hemmed.  The same goes for Gap’s jeans, although I’m usually fine with ankle length and do not have to buy the petite length in that case.  I was not a fan of Old Navy jeans for the longest time though because they always fit me weird, but I have yet to check out their new line of jeans.  Maybe I’ll give them a try since they’re so budget-friendly.

yes, the gap is good for a pair of petite sale pants—unless you’re smaller than a size 2.  it really irritates me that they don’t carry 0 and 1 ankle pants in the store—why??  would it kill them to carry these two sizes?!?  i don’t mind ordering online, but then i’ve got to shell out for the shipping cost as well.  i’ve written to the company many, many times about this but have never received a response.  i like the gap, but wtf.

At 5’ 0.5” I use a tailor.  Although, living in LA, my idea of “budget” jeans are premium denim off the clearance racks or from a sample sale, so it comes to more $$ total than buying off the rack at Old Navy. 

Right now, I just wish Old Navy would get their act together and offer their maternity pants in shorter lengths… I can’t stand the idea of paying serious money for something I’m only going to wear for the next 6 months, but big ol’ cuffs just make me look shorter and dumpier.  I suppose I should just buck up and spring for the tailor so I stop tripping on my hems.

I, too, am a curvy petite and I’m going to echo Kathleen’s comment about the weird fit of Old Navy’s jeans. I thought I was the only one with the weird amounts of extra fabric in the crouch (which makes a camel toe…sexxxy). I have yet to try the Sweetheart cut though, who knows!

Angela, I feel your pain!  I’m shorter than you but long waisted so, well, life is full of challenges, isn’t it?

I really like Lands End.  They have lots of petite jeans, good sales, and, if they don’t fit, I can return them to any Sears store and not worry about return shipping.  Plus (though I’ve never done it) you could just go to Lands End AT sears to shop.

LLBean and Eddie Bauer also have petite jeans.  You have to wait for a sale, but they wear very very well.

However, these are all kind of classic places, not too trendy.  Still, in a pinch, I hope they help!

I have to disagree about Old Navy.  I am 5’0” tall – the legs on their “short” jeans are about 4 inches too long for me. (Proportionately my legs are long for my height.) Their idea of “short” must be 5’4”. 
I haven’t been to New York & Co in a while – I guess I should check them out!

More food for thought…I’m sure some of you may be opposed to shopping in the junior’s department, but one of my other vertically-challenged friends (she’s 5’) swears by L.E.I. jeans in the short length (if you can find them—personally, I’ve never seen them).  I’ve worn L.E.I. jeans in the past (well, mostly when I was in high school and college) and they are very budget-friendly and comfy, but I always had to get them hemmed.  Anyway, I think this brand is available at Macy*s and was available at Filene’s/Robinson’s May before their parent company was bought out.  Going back to what I said about Old Navy jeans in a previous comment, yes, their old line of jeans were not for the curvy.  They clearly didn’t have women in mind who may be carrying a little extra in the hip/thigh area.  I also thought that their denim was a bit scratchy, but maybe that’s just my sensitive skin talking.

I am 5’2, size 16.  The last 2 pairs of “petite” jeans I bought from old navy were still too long ( I either have to wear heels or cuff them) and way to big in the waist so I’m just constantly pulling them up because a belt won’t help.  Actually I don’t think I would know what to do with pants that actually fit in the waist.  (that’s another post) I guess I could just shrink my hips!! ha ha.  I even bought a pair of the sweetheart jeans.  They were a littl better but not much.  Now lane bryant, I find their petite jeans are too short, which just goes back to trying stuff on before you buy anyway.

I am 5’4 and a size 14 on a good day, 16 if I’ve had mashed potatoes and bread…

So far New York and Company are the best jeans for my body type.  But I must say, I just purchased Old Navy’s Diva Jean and Sweetheart Jean.  I could hem the Sweetheart, but they are perfect when I wear my high heeled boots.

I love them! I’m going back to buy some more, cause you know you need more than one pair!

Thank you for posting about short girls who need jeans. And for not forgetting that short doesn’t mean you’re a size 0. I’m a 5’ 1”, curvy girl, who has a hard time finding jeans that fit without that horrible gap in the back. Y’all know what I mean.

I’m going to check out Old Navy’s Sweetheart jean now, thanks for the tip.

I have not tried the jeans listed here, but I have found the jeans at Kmart – Route 66 to fit like a glove, but do require tailoring.  Although with a 19 to 24 price tag plus the tailor it is a steal.  Or if you find them on sale at 14 even better.

All I can say is “Thank You Angela.”  It’s so hard to find jeans that are short enough (I’ll just round my height up to 5’4”).  I went out to Old Navy and quickly purchased a pair of sweetheart jeans.  My husband was so happy with my success that he gave me the funds to gift myself with another pair. So thanks once again.

I’m not sure what the price-cutoff is to be considered “budget-friendly”, but here are two more petitie jean alternatives: Banana Republic and INC (International Concepts, available at Macy’s).  I’m 5’ 3” (on a good day!) and I’ve worn both brands for years.  Banana Republic offers all their jeans in petite sizes, and if you catch them them on sale, you can get a pretty good deal.  BR’s jeans are also of better quality denim and a bit more stylish than the ones at Old Navy and Gap.  INC Petites also has great jeans, but with fewer style choices. In fact, it seems like they only have jeans in their collection certain times a year.  But again, if you time it right and get them on sale, they should only set you back about $40.

I have to disagree with Old Navy jeans. My inseam is 27” and Old Navy’s idea of petite is 30” same for Gap and Banana Republic. I usually end up buying Levi’s 29” jeans and wearing chunky heels, but I’d really love to find a jean I can wear with a ballet flat.

Check out Aeropostale. I’m 5′ 1″ and their short jeans are perfect on me. Price is great too, usually can find for $20 or less!

I’m 4’9″ and weigh about 135. I wear a size 12 petite SHORT (insean is about 26-27″). About the only place I can find my size is Beall’s Department Store. If I visit the store, they may not be available as they sell quickly. I order online and usually get what I need within a week of ordering. The disadvantage to the SHORT size is usually a limited variety of colors in certain items. I like that they have a nice selection to choose from.

I’m 5’2″ and in my 20’s and it is hard to find decent inexpensive jeans that are stylish, can flatter a curvier figure, not super low rise, not dated and not tapered. Gap, Old Navy and Banana Republic are owned by the same company and have petite clothing…out of the three, Banana Republic have more flattering slightly higher quality jeans for petites I think. BUT..I wouldn’t call the jeans true petite since they are still too long on me. I would have to wear high heels or get them tailored. I only have one pair from there (you can get a good deal if you look at Sales rack or check out Sales on their Website. Overall, I mostly get Levi’s (online) and Lee (JCPenny’s)…which are alright for the time-being, but I haven’t fell in love with any of their petite styles. You can check out places like Marshalls, TJ Maxx and Ross who have a surprisingly varied petite section. My twin bought jeans from Uniqlo and loves them. Uniqlo is Japanese chain retailer that so far opened only one American shop in NYC. My sis says it’s much better than H&M. I’m guessing they carry jeans/pants with shorter inseams. Too bad they don’t have an online shop.

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