A question that we get asked a lot is how to dress if you consider yourself in the petite category. Too many times we hear clients saying that they can’t wear certain items or looks because of their height. While it may be true that there are some things you want to stay away from, there are many tips on how to wear what you are seeing on the latest runways.
In fact, did you know that some of the biggest celebrities with the biggest presence are petite? I had no idea that Anna Kendrick, Eva Longoria and Salma Hayek were considered petite but they are all 5’2”. Jada Pinkett Smith…I wouldn’t mess with her and she’s 5’ 0”. Lena Dunham is 5’3” and Lady Gaga and Kristin Bell are both 5’1”.
We don’t even realize this because of how they are photographed and portrayed. Or possibly because of their big attitudes and how they exude confidence. If you follow any of those celebs, you will see in their fashion some of the tips displayed below that can also help you as you get dressed every morning.
First of all, I can tell you a hundred different ways to style yourself for that elongated look we see in the fashion mags. But if you don’t have the confidence, you aren’t going to pull it off. In other words, many petite women can pull off the over the knee boot with the right outfit. However, if they walk around feeling like they can’t then that is what people will see.
Style is more than the clothes you are wearing. It is an attitude! So first things first. Big deep breath! Visualize yourself totally capable of winning an Oscar for whatever your passion is! Chin up, shoulders back. Now smiles, everyone smiles!! That advice and some spanks will serve as your primer, now to apply the fashion.
Petite Style Tips: Pants and Jackets
If you like to wear pants when you are about town or need to wear suits for work no sweat, as it’s easy to give your height an instant boost. As a rule of thumb, stay way from the baggier fabrics. These looks will overwhelm your figure. Look for ankle length, tapered, structured fit petite trousers that fit you well.
Anything above the ankle can crop and shorten your look. Go for a tapered, cropped trouser if you can’t find what you are looking for in petites. These will fit you like a full leg trouser.
A high waisted pant or jean with a flare at the bottom paired with some amazing heels will elevate your height image to supermodel status!
Pair your pants with cropped jackets or tailored blazers that hit right at the hip. This really gives the body a more well defined look.
Some say that in general petites should shy away from the duster. I say, there is a time and a place for all style. So if you to don the occasional longer style coat, leave it open with a high waisted pant, heels and something that crops at your waist. This is so people can still see your lines. Also, if you take the coat off you still have that runway length!
Petite Celebrity 5’3″: Mila Kunis
Petite Style Tips: Skirts
I love to throw on a skirt in the spring and summer time. You can wear a snug cropped tank top, put on a t-shirt and tie at the waist…it’s so easy! Look for two-pieces similar in color or patterns that nip and tuck at the waist, showing your figure.
Midi’s are so cute but make sure they are longer and more snug. Rule of thumb for most petites…structured skirts will be your best friend, and anything high-waisted will be a winner.
Shown below is a maxi that is a bit flowy. BUT…it is worn with a cropped top and heels. The two pieces are all one color. Also, while it is a looser fit it still holds that longer, vertical pattern and it is a bit high waisted. All of these tricks help to add length and height and look very stylish!
Select skirts that show a little more leg, and wear styles with more movement. For a shorter skirt, flared or skater are best to elongate your legs even further. However be careful with the more skater type. While they are adorable and look great, they can be a little too babyish. But again, some can rock them. It’s all how you put the look together.
Petite Style Tips: Dresses
During the spring the dresses come out in droves. This is a perfect time to audit your closet and update your wardrobe.
Out with the flowy dresses and instead look for more well fitted dresses that nip at your waist in some way. The eyes see anything below the waist as legs. So to lengthen your legs, make sure you are belting, tying, or buying items that already cinch or define the waist.
For a midi dress look for either tight fitting longer length or if they do have a looser fit or flow to them look for an asymettrical hem or a dress that has side slits.
The wrap dress is one way to go that is always sophisticated and fashionable. If you are in a looser fitting number be sure to add a belt and wear it a little higher to lift your natural waist line.
Maxi dresses will tend to have the effect of swamping shorter girls, especially if the sleeves are long. But a maxi is a fave especially in the spring. Just be sure to wear solids or vertical patterns. Choose a more structured fitting maxi and one with a side slit. This can help add definition to smaller figures. Also consider rolling up the sleeves to about a 3/4 length.
A camisole dress with a princess waist line can add a lot of length and is a cute way to do the summer.
Another sophisticated look is the structured shirt dress. The defined look of a structured well-fitted dress from top down to about mid calf is the way to go. You want the waist to begin to tighten just above mid rib for a higher waisted look.
Petite Celebrity: Victoria Beckham 5’4″
Petite Style Tips: Shoes
Last but not least we have to talk shoes. They may go on last but they should never be an afterthought. Some of us build our entire outfits around a favorite shoe! An important rule of thumb, as a petite when buying shoes, is to avoid clunky shoes.
Wedges are a favorite. Just remember that they are typically a chunky shoe, so if you go that route make sure to stick to a strappier style in order to offset the clunkiness of the shoe. Chunky shoes draws eyes to the feet, and you want eyes on the waistline for length. If you are going to go with a heel with an ankle strap like the below from Belk, make sure that ankle strap is thin and delicate.
If you are going the route of boots try to stick with the ankle boot/bootie. You can wear an occasional over the knee boot if paired with a shorter structured skirt and cropped or well-fitted blazer.
If you need to wear a sneaker but it’s not for athletics try the elevated wedge, as there are some really cute ones out now.
The traditional pump is a classic, but if you’d like to spice things up a bit, look for the v vamp toe. This goes for a flat as well. Look for a closed and pointy toe flat with the V to elongate the legs.
Petite Celebrity: Kourtney Kardashian 5’0″
Ready, Set & Go
Now you are ready to hit the road like a runway. Just remember…your attitude will be the icing on the cake! All eyes will be on you as you enter the room at least a few inches taller!