A Guide to Petite Dressing: Do's, Don'ts, and a Few Tips

If you haven't noticed from my pictures, I'm a petite gal. I'm talking a 5'2" lightweight who has to hem all her pants and frequently wears heels just to feel normal. But I've come to terms with being small- in fact, I've embraced it. I may not be able to wear anything off-the-runway, but I have dressing for my body down to a few simple rules.

1. Shop with an open mind. Don't let yourself get frustrated. Of course, when dressing your body, there is always going to be trial and error (this goes for any shape or size). You have to try things on to find out what fits! If you try on 3 pairs of jeans and none of them fit, it is not a reflection of your body- there is nothing wrong with you. You just need to find what works for you (and everyone goes through this). Which leads me to my next point...

2. Expect that you will have to get things tailored. Again, this isn't just for us petite ladies, but this applies to everyone. Designers and manufacturers make clothes in standard sizes- its annoying, but they have to do that. They cannot make an infinite amount of pieces that will fit any size or shape. This in and of itself does not make the fashion industry evil- it makes it possible. What will make them evil is if they make clothes that are unalterable. Like I said, standard sizes will not be made for your specific body and that doesn't mean its your fault. It means that most people have to tailor their clothes to fit them. Yes, that is more expensive and an inconvenience, but everyone has to do it. Don't quit if it doesn't fit. And don't throw a tantrum about how you can't shop. Sometimes you'll get lucky and a line will provide petite sizes. Usually, I have to hem my pants, skirts, and dresses. It is how I personalize my wardrobe to make it fit me.


3. Look for clothes that are tailored. As a general rule of thumb, look for clothes that fit close to the body to show off your petite frame without overwhelming it. Stay away from oversized and overly-voluminous. This doesn't mean that an oversized boyfriend blazer will never work, but it means it usually won't.

4. Pants: Your pants should fit close to the body, like a skinny jean or straight leg pant. If it has a flare, wear it with heels- this will actually make your legs look miles long. Never wear a wide leg or flare with flats unless you want to look short AND stubby. With skinnier pants, like jeans, you don't always need to hem them. In fact, I cuff a lot of my pants to about ankle length, which looks lengthening and slimming. In terms of the rise, I always prefer a higher rise- this will lengthen your legs and cover up unflattering parts of the tummy.

5. Tops: Always balance out your top and bottom. With a skinny jean or pant, most shapes of tops can work (except overly voluminous. See #3). Even a flowy silk tank will work if it fits close to the body. I know I've discussed the virtues of a peplum top before, but I can't overemphasize how much I love peplums. They're great for petites because they nip in at your tiny waist and give you an hourglass shape with just enough volume and interest to work. With a more flared pant, make sure you are wearing a fitted top that is no longer than pocket-high. If it is too long, tucking it in to a higher-waisted pant will give your body the right proportion. And always err on the side of tailored blouses in a pinch!
Petite 2

6. Dresses and Skirts: The rules for dresses are pretty much the same- look for tailored shapes that fit close to the body and aren't voluminous. That fun drapey-dress may be trendy and look great on that 5'10" model, but it will probably drown your petite frame. I like to hem my dresses a few inches above the knee (depending on the occasion- make sure its appropriate) to lengthen my legs. A seam around your waistline is a good indication of a nicely-tailored dress. Don't wear a drop-waist...ever! The same goes for skirts- that trendy midi-skirt is not for you!

7. Jackets and Coats: As much as I loved the look of the round, oversized coat that I saw walking the streets of London, I hated every single one I tried on. Look for jackets and coats with a lot of structure with seams that nip in at the waist (a similar mechanism to the peplum) to emphasize your shape and not overwhelm your frame. The length should be on the shorter side (not below your butt) or you'll look like a kid in her mom's work clothes.
Petite 3
8. Don't be afraid of heels! As uncomfortable as many pairs of heels can be (and usually are), every woman, no matter her height, should embrace the feelings of power and confidence that come from a great pair of heels. I love the extra boost even the smallest of heels give me. For petite girls especially, look for heels in a lot of different shoes- even if its small, it can make you feel a foot taller. I recently got this great pair of Sam Edelman wedges that are only a couple inches high but are comfortable enough to wear all day. The difference they make in terms of the length of my legs is incredible- and they're just a few inches!! Specifically, look for pointed-toe heels- not only are they so on trend right now, but they can look incredibly chic and are incredible flattering.

Get the looks!


  1. i never would have thought you are petite! you look so tall!

  2. Thanks for the petite post! I'll have to keep all these in mind while I try to curate my wardrobe!


Pin It button on image hover