The Ultimate Petite Styling Guide
If you’re 5’4” or under, you’ll want to bookmark this for later!
As some of you ladies know, we created a line of petite leggings to help us smaller ladies find the leggings we deserve for our height. But today we’re not talking just about athleisure. Perhaps you’re wondering which clothes look best on petite women. Or, you’re not interested in looking taller, but you simply want to balance certain features. Fortunately - we’ve got all the tips on how to dress for a petite frame. But first...
What does being petite actually mean?
Being 'petite' typically refers to women who are under 5'4" (163cm). Some shops might say 5’3” or even 5’2”. Regardless, these are considered “petite” by the clothing industry’s standards.
How to dress for your petite frame
1. Know your body measurements
You’ll need to get your hands on a tape measure, but we promise this step will help when picking petite outfits in the long run.
Most websites will have a size guide for their garments. You’ll want to measure these parts of your body to determine whether a piece of clothing will fit your petite frame:
- Shoulders – measure this on the highest point of your shoulders
- Bust – Measure the fullest part of your chest
- Waist – Measure wherever the smallest part of your waist is (not necessarily at the belly button area!)
- Hips – Measure the fullest part of your hips
2. Know your body shape
Did you know there’s five main body shapes? They are:
- Triangle (pear-shaped)
- Inverted triangle
Why is knowing your body shape important?
Petites need to take extra consideration when it comes to balance. If we’re “rectangular”, we might want to add a belt at our waist, or if we’re “triangular” we’ll want to add more structure to our top to balance the bottom half of our outfit.It’s also possible to be long-waisted or short-waisted, which is always handy to know when it comes to balancing out your legs or torso for a balanced appearance.
3. Shop petite and non petite
Add balance to your outfit by shopping petite and non petite ranges in stores. Why? Because some regular clothes may actually fit you!
Purchase your “problem” items in the petite range e.g. trousers or dresses (which are typically the most challenging for petites), then shop things like mini skirts, cropped trousers, crop tops and even regular tops in a stores’ regular range.
Fashion tips for petite styling
1. Patterns, designs and materials
- Elongate your body by using shades of a single colour in your outfit to create a vertical line
- Go for smaller prints so that you don't overwhelm your petite frame, vertical stripes are better than horizontal. Keep prints cohesive and be very strategic if you’re print clashing
- Knowing your legging materials can help determine what to wear on your top. Check out our comprehensive guide to legging materials to learn more!
2. Ratios & lines
- Divide your look into thirds rather than in two. For example, your top covers ⅓ of your frame and your trousers cover 2/3
- Pair oversized with fitted - if you wear an oversized top, ensure you balance it with a fitted lower half (or vice versa!)
- Create vertical lines when wearing a dress, use long cardigans or straight jackets as short ones can create an uneven proportion
- Jumpsuits are also a good way to create vertical lines. Look for these in the petite section to avoid low crotch seam placement (which will disproportion the lower half of your body and feel really uncomfortable too!
3. Tops & coats
- V neck and off the shoulder tops elongate your neck and can help give an illusion of height
- Trench coats and other coats that wrap around with a belt accentuate the waist for an effortless stylish look
- Shoulder fit is key - if it’s too bulky and falling off the shoulders it will overwhelm your petite frame. But if you really love off-the-shoulder looks, pair it with some high-waisted bottoms or heels.
Who said petite tops had to be limited to daily fashion? Shop our petite tank tops to get the best out of your workouts too!
4. Trousers & leggings
- High waisted trousers, shorts and skirts will help to give you that desired 2/3rds split and elongate your legs. It adds a bit of balance too if you’re wearing an oversized top!
- Black jeans are the ultimate go to for any outfit - every girl should have a staple pair! In fact, black bottoms of any kind have a way of streamlining almost every outfit - so investing in a couple of black trousers or skirts won’t hurt!
- Bootlegs and flairs that go out from the knee can also be very flattering, especially when paired with heels
- Full length is always more flattering than cropped (especially for leggings!).
5. Skirts & dresses
- Pencil and mini skirts that sit above the knee will help to lengthen your legs
- Dresses with slits, especially for maxi dresses, help your legs appear longer when you walk
- Belted or A-line dresses highlight your waist to give a feminine, flattering look.
- Heels are your best friend! They give extra inches to your height and elongate your legs
- Don’t shy away from over the knee boots either as they can help elongate your legs - just avoid ankle straps that cut off your legs though!
- Match your shoes to your outfit to extend the vertical line - if you have bare legs then choose nude shoes. Pointed toes, on heels or flats, extend the leg line.
- Love jewellery? Wearing something minimal or understated (or keep chunky jewellery to a minimum)
- Smaller accessories won’t take over your stature and add little points of interest to your outfit.
We LOVE this video by MissAlex. She’s got fantastic tips to suit a variety of styles for us petite ladies:
Just in case you don't want to forget any of these helpful tips, we've created a handy downloadable summary!