Too tight here, too loose there, too long everywhere. If you’re petite like me, this might sound all too familiar.
Let’s settle a common misconception first: being petite has nothing to do with weight and everything to do with height! Regardless of your silhouette, if you are under 5’4”, you’re petite.
If you’re a shorter girl like myself, you want to dress in a way that adds the illusion of height, creates long feminine lines, and doesn't overpower your natural beauty. These guidelines flatter petites regardless of shape. They will stand the test of time when it comes to dressing for your silhouette.
A-line Styles Are Your Best Friend
The A-line skirt or dress is the most classically feminine style of all time. Think Gwenyth Paltrow in Ralph Lauren or Kate Middleton on her wedding day. This style flatters all feminine shapes, and it always will! A-line is the perfect silhouette for a petite girl because it draws attention to the waist and adds volume to the lower half. Many petite girls have a slightly boyish figure with broader shoulders than the hips. The volume that an A-line skirt provides is the perfect way to emphasize the feminine figure.
For an extra chic look, pair a patterned bottom with a more neutral top, just like petite beauty Vera-Ellen in this A-line skirt and turtleneck.
For years, super high-rise pants have been in style. I have owned countless pairs of high-rise pants, and for the longest time, I refused to try anything else! It wasn’t until I tried on a pair of mid-rise jeans last summer that I fell in love with this waistline.
Not only are short-looking legs a concern for the petite girl, but so is a shortened torso. High-rise pants that sit on the smallest part of the waist can make a short torso look even shorter. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good pair of high-rise pants! But I find that mid-rise pants fit the petite proportion perfectly. Check out petite style icon Audrey Coyne in these mid-rise jeans.
Notice how Audrey’s jeans sit just below the smallest part of her waist. Paired with a form-fitting blouse and a heel, this style is flattering and elongating. Judging by this picture, you would never guess that Audrey is only 5’3”!
Bodysuits are in – and they’re not going anywhere. We all know what it’s like to wear a shirt that won’t stay tucked in. Or a crop top that’s a little bit too short. Bodysuits are the perfect solution! They provide a sleek look without the worry of midriff showing or fabric bunching at the waist. The bodysuit is an essential piece for the petite girl because it helps to create a long elegant line. They can be paired with mid-rise pants or an A-line skirt.
Pro tip: get a bodysuit with a snap button closure at the bottom. I have bought one too many without it, and I regret it every time.
Cropped Jacket or Cardigan
A cropped jacket and a cropped cardigan are two great additions to any wardrobe. I used to wear full-length jackets and cardigans, only to feel like I was being swallowed by them. The oversized fit has its purpose. During sweater weather, I say go for it. But if you’re looking for something classy with a sleeker fit, a cropped jacket, just like this one from Wilfred, is the way to go.
A cropped jacket is the perfect accessory to wear over a dress in the evening during the summer. The bottom of the jacket should sit right on the smallest part of the waist to draw attention to it. It’s best to have the jacket meet the bottoms, so if you’re going to pair it with a skirt or pants, be sure to choose something high-waisted.
How can I not include mini skirts on the list? There’s just something about a mini skirt on a petite girl, it always looks good! The mini skirt can look cute year-round paired with a sleeveless blouse or a sweater and tights.
I love the ‘90s style plaid miniskirt, but there are so many styles to choose from. Keep it classy by choosing a skirt that isn’t too short and wear a slip or a pair of bike shorts underneath.
Use Heels for Height
If you wear a heel, you will be noticed. A heel is the perfect way to rebel against casual culture which has plagued the 21st century. The secret of wearing a shoe like a kitten heel or a mary jane is that it doesn’t actually take that much more effort than wearing a flat.
If you’re looking to add the illusion of height, consider pairing a higher heel with a flare pant. Notice how Victoria Beckham does this so stylishly:
Maybe a stiletto is a bit much for running errands or grabbing coffee. But this look can easily be replicated with a more practical heel.
Everything Needs a Shape
I know, we all have those oversized sweatshirts that we can’t seem to part with. Personally, I used to wear oversized clothing a lot. I didn’t feel confident showing my shape. This led me to playing it safe with my style, which had me feeling frumpy and well, short, all the time. This wasn’t good for my confidence. But as I developed my style and grew in my feminine confidence, I now find that I’m almost exclusively drawn to silhouettes that define my waist. A perfect summer style that will flatter your silhouette is the peasant dress. A peasant dress is perfect for the petite girl because it emphasizes the waist while adding volume to the top and to the bottom of the hourglass.
I have this similar style from Aritzia that I love:
I love this dress because the smocked bodice draws attention to the torso. The puffy sleeves and tiered skirt add volume in all the right places. And to top it off, the square neckline is oh-so-classic.
If the latest trends are just not fitting you right, it’s not you. It’s them. These style secrets stand the test of time when it comes to dressing your unique petite frame.
I want to end with one final tip: work with your natural beauty, not against it. A petite frame is particularly vulnerable to being overpowered by style, so make sure you always leave room for your natural beauty to shine through.
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