Reader Wendy emailed me this question:
I was wondering if, at some point, you could discuss the particulars of petites. I’ve never understood whether it just applies to the length of the clothes or whether it affects the overall garment in some way. Does that make sense? I am short, but not necessarily “petite” in my frame, so sometimes petites work, but sometimes they don’t. I’d certainly appreciate it.
Great question, and one that isn’t often addressed directly. We associate the word “petite” with height, and that’s certainly a factor. But clothing that is designed for petite frames isn’t just shorter, it’s designed for a set of proportions that diverges from standard sizing in several ways:
Hems: This one, most of us know. Petite dresses and skirts have slightly higher hemlines, petite pants have shorter inseams.
Arms: Most petite clothing is designed with shorter sleeves.
Rise: Many petite pants and jeans will have a slightly shorter rise than regular sizes.
Waist: To accommodate a frame that is often more compact, petite dress waistlines are often a little higher than those of regular sized dresses.
Knees: If you’re working with a really good petite line, designers will have adjusted knee placement to suit shorter legs.
So if you’re a regular height person with a short waist, you can try buying petite tops. They’ll certainly be shorter in the body, but shortened sleeves may look a little odd on you. And if you’re over 5’4″ and your long-waistedness affects your pant hems, you might want to go with a short inseam instead of switching over to petite sizes.
Let’s hear from the petites: Any other design details that are specific to petite clothing? What’s your greatest fit challenge? Which regular size garments can you wear, or tailor to wear? Let us know in the comments!
Image courtesy Old Navy.
**Disclosure: Actions you take from the hyperlinks within this blog post may yield commissions for alreadypretty.com. See Already Pretty’s disclosure statement for more details.