Petite women know what it’s like to suffer from fashion frustration. Brands still aren’t designing enough style options for petites, a size technically defined as 5’4″ and under. Even when designers make the effort, they often get sizing wrong. Shoppers report that even clothes labeled “petite” may not have the smaller arm holes, narrower shoulders and shorter inseams they need. That’s not to say help isn’t on the way. Favorite retailer Nordstrom has rolled out a merchandising strategy to put all denim sizes in one location so that petites don’t have to struggle looking for a separate section on another floor. Indie brands specializing in trendy styles for petites are springing up online.
The average height of women in America is 5’3″. Fashion researchers say the market segment is ready to spend more on clothing than their taller friends when petites can find right-sized options. Wouldn’t you think retailers would cater to this crowd? Until that day comes, here are tips to find the petite fashion that will work for you.
Know before you go.
Prepare for online shopping by making a note of your measurements. You’ll be ready to compare your inseam and waist measurements with the ones listed for a style. Also note the circumference of the armhole and the shoulder width as well. These may be too wide for you in straight sizes. If you buy, you may wind up wearing a bandeau underneath to cover up over-exposure.
Be open to adjusting.
Adjustable straps are great at fitting a silhouette to your body. Drawstring waists will let you pull the waist higher if you’re trying on skirts, straight-size pants and even jumpsuits that are a little too long. Pay attention to how you can adjust a piece that you want to buy.
Track down reliable sources. Mass-market companies can be reliable sources for particular items. Lou & Grey and Loft are great brands for dresses and Gap is good for denim. Try Topshop for a selection of trending pants that ranges from cigarette to paper-bag.
Find indie brands. Petite women have taken to online marketing as they launch designs aimed at their like-sized sisters. Stature scours select brands for the smallest sizes (usually XXS) and collaborates with designers such as Rachel Comey and Wray. The aim is to make sure the fit is right for petites before some styles go into production. Petite fit models play a role in helping Petite Studio get it right for sizing that ranges from extra-extra small to small.
Mine the gold in your local vintage shop. If your figure is reminiscent of Marilyn Monroe, think styles from the ‘50s. If Jackie O is your fashion icon, search for ‘60s shift dresses. The ‘70s gave us some great baby doll styles.