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Sienna Studio knee-length straight leather skirt, floral print silk scarf, Anne Klein pointy-toe pumps, statement necklace, Hermes collier de chien bangle (all own), green wood watch c/o Jord, and v-neck 3/4 sleeve teal top c/o Chico's
    1. The clothing challenge of petite women
    2. How to look taller than you are
    3. More style advice for petites


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The clothing challenge of petite women

Dressing when you are a petite. When you are petite and wear a size S many sales persons will just send you to the youth department. While I wouldn’t exclude that you might find something that works for you often the quality and/or craftsmanship not great. Read you easily can look like trying too hard or not trying at all. Both are never in style. The dressing challenge of petites is on several fronts:

  • Identifying what is right for you.
  • Knowing where to shop for your height, i.e. not restricting yourself to petite clothes or having everything tailored which both is expensive.
  • Avoiding oversize pieces that won’t work, i.e. overwhelm your small frame.
  • Excessive layering (to protect yourself from cold weather) can easily make you look chubby and frumpy.

In this post, I will share some guidelines to get you started on solving your problem so you can
Embrace being an awesome, tiny package when you are petite. #petitestyle Click To Tweet

petite style post banner of 27 awesome style tips for petite style blogger Nicole

How to look taller than you are

  1. Try a monochromatic look with nude shoes or shoes in a similar shade. The same color from neck to toe gives the illusion of height. You can find more information on how to style an interesting monochromatic look at the link.
  2. V-necks and vertical lines are your friends. They give the illusion of height. Vertical lines can be seams, the button-line of a shirt or coat dress, or fabric with vertical stripe. Even scarves add vertical lines. See the post at the link for ta guide on how to up your style with scarves.
    petite fashion blogger looking taller than her actual height due to deep v-neck and high heels
    Deep v-neck plus a high neckline create a vertical line in this sleek dance gown. The skirt has vertical triangle lace insets that point upwards. This trick leads the eye upwards and gives the illusion of height. The strappy heels do double duty. First they add 3 inch (7.5 cm) to my height plus they show a lot of skin which elongates the leg. Strappy heels are a petite’s best friends.


  3. Bring your neckline up or down to create a longer line than you actually have.
  4. Go for a pixie or curls to add height. A crown updo is a great option when you have long hair. Pssst! It’s a great trend right now.
  5. Try straight or fuller, not too long skirts. Around knee-length or just above the knee works best.

    #advancedstyle small woman wearing a straight leather skirt, print scarf, nude heels and 3/4 sleeve top
    Sienna Studio leather skirt, Anne Klein nude pumps, floral print scarf (gift from my late granny Hannah), Hermes collier de chien bangle (all own), top c/o Chico’s, and shopping bag c/o Habitat for Humanity. The top is tucked in to get the proportions right. The scarf creates a vertical line which gives the illusion of height. The flesh colored pumps elongate the leg.
  6. Wear sleek sheaths and dresses with high waist-line.

    Petite friendly sleek sheath dress with floral embellishment
    Example of a petite friendly sleek sheath dress with floral embellishment that creates a vertical line. Available at StyleWe for $126. Search for kevin&zhen Midi Dress Sheath Daily Tencel Embroidered Dress. On a petite frame the hem will hit around the knee depending on your height.
  7. A “notice me” color makes you visible. For how to wear color over 40 see the post at the link.
  8. When your legs are short, i.e. you are long-waisted, try capris and gauchos as full length slacks. You can find out whether you are short- or long-waisted with this free online vertical body type finder.
  9. When you like the raw hem trend/style, buy a pair of jeans that have a perfect fit around your hips, bum and thighs and cut them off that the right length. Note it is important that you wear the shoes you plan to wear with your jeans and that someone marks the length just half an inch (1.3 cm) above the floor. Don’t do the marking yourself. Bending the knees will lift the fabric! Once you stand straight again you will have a “tail” in the front.
  10. Go for straight-leg denim over looser fits. See also how to choose your pants for further tips to find the best pants for you.
  11. When shopping online know your measures and always check the size charts. Don’t browse only petite clothes. Knowing your measures you may find pieces that work for you when shortened.
  12. When between size always go for the larger one. A seamstress can alter a too large item, but not a too small one. Have a good tailor on speed dial. Send them a photo of the item and ask them whether they can alter it to your frame and what it would cost. Do not purchase the item before you know what the actual price will be (sum of price at the store plus alterations). In department store, always ask whether they have a free alteration service. #petitestyle #budgetfashion Click To Tweet
  13. I do simple alterations and hemming myself. See how to shorten a high/low hem for a tutorial. In the case of more expensive wardrobe basics, I do use a seamstress/tailor at times despite it is expensive. Have a tailor on speed dial. #petitefashion Click To Tweet

    petite fashion easy to adjust skirt
    Easy to adjust to your leg sweet point polka dot mesh skirt. Available at StyleWe. Search for Black Casual Net Polka Dots Midi Skirt
  14. Hats give you height.
  15. Mini-bags are made for you.
  16. If you are able to sew, you can make simple garments like skirts to your scale.
  17. Opt for cropped jackets, shirts and pants.

    petite style blogger in cropped jacket and high waist cropped pants
    Fossil white cropped denim jacket, Brooks Brothers cable knit short sleeve sweater, snake buckle belt, Ray Ban sunglasses, Hermes collier de chien bangle, Madonna True or Dare floral pumps (all own), shopping tote c/o Habitat for Humanity, baroque multi-color pearl necklace c/o The Pearl Claps, and cropped high waist slim pants c/o White House Black Market. In this outfit suggestion the cropped jacket creates a vertical line for height. The high waist and 4 inch (10 cm) heels help to get the proportions right
  18. Look for jackets with build-in belt.
  19. Avoid tunic-like tops, horizontal stripes, and everything oversize and/or shapeless.
  20. Many stylists advice against wearing floor-grazing maxi dresses or skirts. They can easily overwhelm a petite frame. However, when you get the proportions right, even a petite can rock the look (Read this style is tricky). Try a maxi with a slit.
  21. Learn to walk in heels. There are 101 reasons why to wear heels over 40. Gaining height when being petite is one of them.
    The World is so much nicer at 5 ft 9. #petitestyle Click To Tweet
  22. Nude – read the color of your flesh – shoes elongate your legs. Strappy heels are a petite's best friends. #petitefashion Click To Tweet

    over 50 years old short woman looking taller than her 5 ft 4
    Example of colorful sleek dress with high neckline that creates a long vertical line, accentuation of the waist by a belt to get the proportions right. The strappy sandals add height with a 3 inch (7.5 cm) heel and elongate the legs with the large amounts of skin showing. The curls add height as well.
  23. If you absolutely want to wear flats steer away from anything with large hardware.
  24. Look for blazers, blouses, shirts that have small collars.
  25. Go for small rather than large prints.

    midlife woman in a dress with lots of vertical lines and high heels
    Sleek robe with high waist line, vertical seams, deep v-neck closed with a faux leather string to get the neckline up while at the same time adding a vertical line. The print has the right size to not overwhelm my small frame. The dance shoes show a lot of flesh which together with the open-toe help to elongate the legs. Their 3 inch (7.5 cm) heel adds height.
  26. Watch your proportion. Make sure you don’t cut your body in half when wearing separates.
  27. Try using belts to get your portions right. You can learn more on wearing the right belts for your body shape at the link.

More style advice for petites

Are you petite? Don’t forget that you are not just petite, but also have a body shape type. For looking your best, always take your horizontal and vertical body shape in mind. Read this ultimate guide on what to wear when you are petite with further tips.

Are you struggling when to wear what and where? Don’t scratch your head. Just buy my book How to Dress for Success in Midlife and you can easily look it up and build outfits from pieces you have in your closet. It’s like a recipe book, but for dressing.

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Photos: G. Kramm

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