The fact is that as the size of the average American has increased, clothing sizes have decreased. Furthermore, manufacturers use fit models to “represent” the largest number of consumers possible and if you fall outside of the size range of the fit models, like 90% of the people in the world, you’re not going to be able to wear things straight off the rack.
Petites: Find a good tailor
But all is not lost. Find a good tailor and you’ll be well on your way to proper fitting fashion. In fact, prior to the 1970s, getting a piece tailored to fit you was a pretty common clothing care procedure. Most department stores offered free tailoring.
Best brands for petites
You could also try wearing Parisian and Japanese designers, who tend to cut their clothing a bit smaller. Try designers like Kenzo, Karl Lagerfeld, TSE, Issey Miyake, Marini, Louis Vuitton, or ASOS. With the exception of ASOS, these designers don’t come cheap, so you’ll have to practically live at the local outlet mall or on Bluefly.com. But the clothing will fit you.
You could also try a store like Ann Taylor and/or Ann Taylor Loft, which sometimes can be as pricey as buying designer clothing at an outlet mall and not nearly as fashionable and the Gap, which sells petite (and tall) sizes online. Macy’s, Nordstrom, Bloomingdales, and Lord & Taylor all have petite departments with a better selection online rather than in store.
You might also want to save your money and head up to Canada. Ste. Catherine in Montreal and the Eaton center in Toronto have several great petite fashion shops.
Best petite fashion advice
For fashionable petites: Embrace these 5 things
1. High heels
Wearing at least a 2-inch heel will help to elongate your body (both torso and legs).
Many of the rules and myths governing petite dressing are as outdated as a pair of spandex stirrup pants. Don’t believe me? Just take a look at fashionable petites like Sarah Jessica Parker, Carrie Underwood, Eva Longoria,and Reese Witherspoon, who demonstrate that rules are made to broken. Using these fabulous petites as inspiration, we put together a short list on how to break those old petite fashion rules.
1. Short women shouldn’t wear color.
Wearing the same color on both top and bottom elongates your body. Choose a color that’s flattering to your natural tones, and add accessories, like jewelry and a purse, with splashes of color to spice it up. Match your shoe color to your outfit as well. If you wear black pants or tights, wearing black shoes can create the illusion of more length to your body.
2. Heels are the best way to appear taller.
While heels do add height to your legs, choose a shorter height (1-2”) that will make you appear taller, but not off balance. Too-tall heels can make you look like you’re walking on stilts! You can wear straight leg or wide leg pants, just keep them long enough to cover most of your shoes, to keep up the visual of longer legs.
3. Don’t wear long skirts.
Avoid skirts that fall at mid-calf, as they will make your legs appear short and possibly stocky. However, ankle-length skirts can be flattering for petites. Pair it with a shorter jacket to create the illusion of length. Dresses can be a petite girl’s best friend! If you pick the right length and style, the focus will be on the overall look and not your height. A wrap dress is a sure bet, because it highlights your figure and keeps the focus away from your height.
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Thanks for stopping by! I'm Catherine, your Budget Fashionista style editor. I'm a bargain shopper at heart, as I love nice things but hate paying for them! I'm also a personal finance writer who's been featured on USA Today and MSN Money.