Our readers are wide and varied, and we hate to leave anyone hanging. For our shorter ladies out there, we've tapped Jean W. from Extra Petite to help out the Little Women among us. Read on for styling tips, fit resources, and where to shop for smaller sizes!
For petite women (and American fashion defines us as women below 5'4"), petite apparel does not have to mean matronly twinsets from Talbots and Liz Claiborne, nor does it have to mean being relegated to the kids' department. Standing at five-feet tall—if hair-teasing went well this morning—I believed for a while that these were my primary options. After years of trial-and-error shopping, I now know this is not the case. There are several modern retailers out there who cater to shorter and smaller-framed women, helping us look and feel as fabulous as we deserve to be.
Before I share my favorite stores, let's first chat about things to keep in mind when shopping.
1. Know your body type
—Are you partly petite? I use "petite" loosely to mean short and/or small-framed. I know taller women who shop the petite section for tops because they have short torsos and narrow shoulders. On the contrary, I also know women who are broader on top, but shop petite bottoms specifically for a shorter rise and length.
2. Be mindful of fit and proportion
—A common misconception is that petite women only require shorter length. Petite clothing lines are our friend because, in addition to shorter length, the overall proportions of the garment should be different (i.e., higher waistline, shorter rise, smaller armholes). This leads us to number three...
3. Know what is alterable and how much it costs
—Being so short, I sometimes turn a blind eye to length because a hem job is cheap and easy. Taking in a garment will be costly and requires more skill, and some alterations are just downright risky if you don't have a reliable tailor.
With those things in mind, here are some of my tried-and-true, favorite places to shop for petite-friendly apparel.