It refers to women who are 5’4 and under.
Clothing labeled as petite is cut with that proportion in mind. Compared to standard items, you’ll often find narrower shoulders and shorter inseams. So whether you’re a size 00 or a size 16, if you’re shorter, the petite section is worth a look.
With that in mind, BuzzFeed Life turned to bloggers Jean Wang of Extra Petite, Kelly Tucker of Alterations Needed, and New York City-based stylist Cindy Gordon, for their best tips and tricks on nailing shorter style.
For bustier petites, balance is key.
Smaller frame? Depending on the brand, don’t overlook kids’ sizes.
This can also apply to standard sizes:
And the same goes for shoes.
Use layers to fake a perfect fit.
If an item is fine in some spots but too big in others, use layers to strategically cover the latter. More examples of faking fit here.
Get familiar with easy at-home alterations that you can do yourself.
At the same time, know when to invest in a professional tailor.
Cuff long shirts at the elbow.
With maxis, pay extra attention to silhouette.
You can wear maxis, but be mindful of roomy cuts with lots of material, says Gordon. If something is voluminous on the bottom, balance things out by wearing something fitted or tucked on top.
The same goes for high-waisted bottoms and crop tops.
Again, balance is key. Pair a fitted crop top with high-waisted skirts or shorts, says Gordon. This can help balance both halves without sacrificing shape.
Invest in narrow, petite-friendly hangers.
Small-shouldered clothing doesn’t always mix well with wide, standard hangers — the hanger pokes into the fabric, leaving you with stretched material. Companies like Only Hangers make slimmer and bendable versions.
Streamline a silhouette by getting rid of distracting details.
On a longer torso, the ruched sleeves on this H&M blazer would end closer to the forearm — but here, they awkwardly stop mid-wrist. A quick fix? Snipping the elastics.
Pair shoes and bottoms that are similar in color — like black heels with black tights — to elongate your legs.
The matched color scheme helps create the illusion of a longer line. “Look for shoes in shades of tan or brown similar to your own skin tone, and don’t be afraid to experiment with metallics which can surprisingly function as a neutral,” said Wang.
Lengthen your torso by wearing a longer fitted shirt underneath a cropped sweater:
The contrast breaks things up. (And a cropped top over a fitted or fit-and-flare dress works well too, says Gordon.)
Clothing that’s stretched over time or doesn’t fit quite right? Depending on the fabric, you might be able to (carefully!) shrink it:
Know which brands are petite-friendly.
Among the retailers that carry petite lines: ASOS, Topshop, J. Crew, Banana Republic, Ann Taylor Loft, Old Navy, Anthropologie, and more. For accessories, Pretty Smallcarries shoes starting in size 2. The Little Bra Company carries bras starting in 28A.
And finally — be confident in whatever you wear.
“Don’t believe that the goal of everything you wear is to make you look taller,” Tucker said. “Embracing your body and wearing what you love and feel confident in is always a better idea.”