Petite Fashion & Style Tips

Firstly, let’s establish that petite means 5'3" or under in the UK fashion world. From there we know that us petites come in all shapes and sizes – slender, curvy, plus size, top-heavy, long body with shorter legs, short body with longer legs and therefore these tips are a guide only. There are no rules when it comes to finding what works for your body shape. Well, we said no rules but we think there is one petite style rule; KISS (Keep It Simple Shorty).

Petite Top and Blouse Tips

  • Tops should be neither too tight or too baggy.
  • Tops that lie over the waistband of your skirt or trousers tend to look better than a tucked-in shirt on shorter women which tends to cut you in the middle.
  • V-neck and scoop neckline blouses and tops give an elongated look to your body and create the illusion of height. If the v-neck shows too much cleavage, or if you have a larger bust, wear a shell top or camisole underneath.
  • Plain or vertical stripes give a longer look and a bonus slimming effect. A panel also gives a great figure shape.
  • Make sure the top of the sleeve lies on your shoulder - droopy shoulders are not a good look.
  • Match the colour of tops and blouses to your lower item of clothing. If you do choose contrasting colours add a scarf or other accessory in the same colour as your skirt or trousers.
  • Three-quarter length sleeves are flattering as they show the best part of your arms.

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Petite Knitwear Tips

  • A deep v-neck gives a flattering line. Wear a camisole underneath if you’re larger breasted or if the V is too deep.
  • Wrapover knits enhance the waistline and the v-neckline gives a great vertical line.

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Petite Dress Tips

  • Knee length dresses will give the effect of longer legs. If the length is too long your legs will appear shorter.
  • Wrap dresses and shirt dress with a tapered waist line add definition to your figure.
  • Plain or vertical stripes with not too much detail are good.
  • Choose prints that are in proportion to your petite figure.
  • Tights, boots and shoes that match in colour to your dress.
  • Avoid loose fitting dresses - a dress that hugs or skims your figure is more flattering.
  • If possible find dresses in a sinuous fabric that drape rather than bulky fabrics. A light weight cotton or silk is much better.

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Petite Skirt Tips

  • Pencil straight skirts that are tapered to hug your figure are a classic and look great for most occasions.
  • Side slits add a long length effect.
  • Short lengths should lie on your knees or higher.
  • Longer lengths are best at ankle level and should be straight.
  • Match your tights and shoes to your skirt for a lengthening effect, or try the nude colours.
  • A vertical line such as a stripe, narrow pleat, buttons or piping down the front give a flattering elongated look.
  • If you’re wearing boots choose a skirt that falls below the top of your boot to maintain an unbroken vertical line.

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Petite Trouser Tips

  • Straight leg trousers are more flattering than flared if you want to appear taller. Flared trousers are OK if they flare below the knee.
  • Look for trousers with a hemline that almost touches the ground. If your trouser hemline shows your shoes wear heels in a colour matching your trousers for a sleek, continuous line.
  • Front creases in trousers give the effect of longer legs as do pinstripes.
  • Match your top and bottom colours for a more elongated look.
  • Avoid turn-ups and wide leg trousers as these give a shorter, wider effect.
  • Avoid cropped or Capri trousers – they chop you at the calf (or the ankle in some cases) and make you appear shorter.
  • Trousers that sit on your natural waistline or higher can add the illusion of longer legs. Hip style trousers and jeans will make you appear shorter.

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Petite Suit & Tailoring Tips

  • Pinstripes look professional and give an enhanced vertical line.

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Petite Jean Tips

With many different jean styles to choose from we thought it might be useful to list them here so you can make the choice on what shape works best for you. In general we think a higher waisted jean looks better on shorter women and jeans. Generally a short jean length is 29" (74cm) and petite is 27" or 28"

  • Straight - clean lines, easy to wear shape.
  • Cropped - they chop the leg length appearance but petites could wear with heals for a longer leg look.
  • Kickflare - balances curvier figures.
  • Bootcut - flatters most figures
  • Boyfrend - loose fit, wide leg style – yikes!
  • Skinny - for tucking into boots. Not a good idea for short legs. They also tend to exaggerate larger hips and thighs.

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Petite Jacket and Coat Tips

  • Jackets really need to fit well. Pay special attention to how they fit on the shoulders.
  • Shorter, cropped style jackets that rest on your waistline or hips are flattering for a petite. Try to avoid jackets that are too boxy as they can make you look short and square.
  • Single breasted jackets with only one or two buttons are best. If you are very slim you may get away with double breasted coats and jackets.
  • Tapered jackets with narrow lapels give a longer line.
  • Avoid jackets and coats with too much detail like buttons, piping and large print patterns.
  • Coats that taper and rest on or above the knees are best if worn with a dress or skirt. Longer lengths are fine with trousers, just choose a coat style that is fairly simple.
  • High necklines look good on small size, slender petites sch as a funnel neck coat.

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Petite Shoe Tips

  • Avoid ankle-strap shoes or short boots, they break the leg line.
  • Keep the shoe simple – heavy buckles etc. look clunky and give your appearance a heavy look.
  • A pointed toe helps in the overall appearance of elongating your silhouette.
  • Shoes that show more of your foot create a longer line visually elongating your legs.

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Petite Accessory Tips

  • Choose a thinner belt. Wide, bulky belts tend to cut the length of your body. Opt for a thinner belt, if you wear one at all, preferably in a colour that matches your outfit. Avoid belts in a colour that contrasts with the shade of your outfit or one that has too much detailing. You want to maintain a clean, simple line.
  • Belts worn on the smallest part of your waist are best for petites although a belt ‘dropped’ at the front in a V-shape can look good.
  • Wear an accessory, such as a scarf or broach, high on your body to draw the eye upwards. A great pair of earring will also do this.
  • Keep bags in proportion. You don't want to look as if you'll topple over.
  • Match the colour of your tights to your garment & shoes to "stretch" your leg length.
  • Avoid bulky jewellery as this can overpower your outfit.

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We'd love to hear your petite fashion tips. Contact us via the form here.

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