Shopping Guide for Petite Women

Tuesday, January 12, 2021


Ah, shopping. America’s favorite pastime—except when you’re perpetually faced with clothes that don’t fit.

Anyone who falls on either side of average knows that clothes aren’t always made with their bodies in mind. But that doesn’t mean that petite and plus-sized women alike don’t deserve sexy, stylish, and so-well-fitted-your-heads-will-roll clothing options.

Shopping as a petite woman just takes a bit of practice—and a few helpful tips.

#1 Check the Petite Section First

Okay, duh, right? But it’s there for a reason, and if you’re not actively using it to your advantage, you only have yourself to blame when the jeans don’t fit right or the tops are always oversized and awkward.

Plenty of retailers have petite sections nowadays—especially, etailers.

Before you set your sights on all the wrong outfits, search for petite clothes within a store’s online shop. You can usually sort by size, as well, to filter out anything that doesn’t come in an S, XS, or whatever you wear. From there, you’ve already narrowed down your options and can browse through clothes that are actually made for you.

#2 Lengthen, Lengthen, Lengthen

Vertical stripes are a girl’s best friend—that’s the famous saying, right? Who cares about diamonds when you have leg lines to elongate!

As a petite (okay, let’s be honest, short) woman, you have to take advantage of cuts and styles that make your legs look longer, even if it’s a mere optical illusion:

When looking for pants, go for high-waisted slim cuts with vertical seams or pleats. High-waisted bottoms instantly make your legs look longer, and the vertical line (pleats, a front seam, or even pinstripes) only exaggerates the look. Flare pants and cropped jeans, on the other hand, do the exact opposite.

For tops and jackets, stick to cropped styles and tucked-in tops. By shortening your torso, you automatically lengthen your legs (or at least you make it seem that way).

Finish off the look with a pair of pointed-toe high heels. If you have a skinny foot, look for slim sizes—a size 5B heel will be slimmer than a 5C, for example. You’ll keep the line going with a point rather than a rounded toe, and of course, a little extra height never hurt anybody.

Bonus tip: Keep an eye out for stores that offer a variety of lengths, like tall or extra long, regular, and petite or short.

#3 Your Bra Matters

So what if my bra straps are a little too big and the cups gape a tiny bit? No one really sees it anyway. It doesn’t even matter!

Now that’s where you’re wrong (about it not mattering, anyway; we have no way of knowing who does or does not see your bra).

Your bra is your foundation. If it’s poorly-fitted, the rest of the house may just topple over.

Bra shopping can be surprisingly hard for small-breasted women—the stores aren’t exactly overflowing with petite 32AA bra styles—but they do exist and you do need to find them.

#4 Don’t Shy Away From Alterations

Picture this: you finally find the perfect pair of jeans. They hug you in all the right places, you love the color, and the style suits your taste flawlessly. But there’s one small—or shall we say, petite?—problem. They’re about six inches too long.

As you flap around the changing room with your pants hanging past your toes, you decide to give up on this pair. Sigh, on to the next store, I guess.

Not so fast.

Here’s the thing: perfection doesn’t exist, but tailors do. When you find a pair of pants—or any piece of clothing, for that matter—that ticks almost every box, you lock them down now and fix the problem later (much like boyfriends or houses).

And pant length isn’t the only thing you can fix. Make friends with a local tailor and bring them all your fixer-upper needs (clothes, that is):
Sleeve length
Waist size
Length of straps
Waistline lifted on a dress
Sides taken in

If the right clothes take a little extra work, that’s okay. They’ll be worth it when they fit just the way you want them to.

Bonus tip: Some companies—like Lululemon, for example—offer free alterations on their clothes.

Work With What You’ve Got

Akin to “shaking what your momma gave you,” the easiest way to make your body look its best is by accentuating what you already have to offer with the right cuts and styles. There’s no magic wand to wave, but there are ways to make the shopping experience easier for a petite gal like yourself (now if only there was something we could do about shopping fatigue…).

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