Woman’s Fashion Guide

Before taking baby steps into the world of petite fashion let us crawl back to the definition of “petite” as the apparel industry understands it. Petite means anyone of height 5′-4″ or less. Petite women don’t necessarily have to be dainty, wispy like Nicole Richie. A petite girl can be of any body shape – rectangular, bell or curvy. However, they are some basic guidelines that can help petite women of any shape look taller.

Of course you may be petite and not want to look taller. However, they may be some situations when some added visual height will add to your personality. For example, at a job interview a taller woman usually has the first advantage over her petite competitor.

They are many ways to add length to the petite frame but the most important word in the petite girl’s fashion diary is “fit”. Whatever piece of garment it may be, it should fit right. You don’t want it to cling to your body but rather drape and skim your curves to give the impression of a long silhouette. You will naturally find better fits in the petite section of stores.

COLOR
Wearing a single color from top to bottom adds length to any frame. However monotone dressing need not be drab and boring. You can effectively pair a red or blue dress with nude leggings and pumps. Naturally, a darker shade will make you look slimmer and thus taller. Insert texture to monotone outfit to add interest. A black silk jersey dress with black leggings and black textured leather shoes always works. Alternatively, you can slightly vary the saturation of the color in the different pieces of your outfit.

TOPS
Look for fitted shirts and jackets. Avoid shoulder pads as they will add volume to your upper body thus throwing the proportion of your frame off balance. Ideally your shirt, blouse or tee should just graze your hip but never fall below it or else your legs will look even shorter. Do not tuck in your shirt as it takes away precious inches from your torso. Avoid longer jackets, tunics and oversized tops since they are prone to overwhelm the petite frame.

VERTICAL LINES
The eye travels along the lines of your outfit. Therefore vertical lines add length whereas horizontal ones add width. Vertical lines can be added through stripes, seams and details. It is common knowledge that vertical stripes make you looks taller but be cautious not to overdo it. Vertical stripes on both top and bottom will be too overwhelming and very broad vertical stripes will look disproportionate on the petite frame. Vertical princess seams that are not interrupted by other fashion details like pockets add length as do fashion details like buttons, prints, sequins and ribbons when applied in an uninterrupted vertical line.
For more interesting options look for diagonal stripes or chevron stripes which create a series of flattering V-shapes that make petites look longer and leaner.

DRESSES & SKIRTS
Keep it simple not to overwhelm your frame – less frills, ruffles and pockets. Prints and patterns shouldn’t be larger than your fist. Florals and paisleys that start at the hem and work their way up look great on the shorter frame. Empire waist and wrap dresses work great for petites since they raise the waist and add length to the torso. Dresses and skirts with slight flair that graze the knees work best for the petite girl. Avoid those that end mid calf since they will make you look squat. If you have well toned thighs go ahead and flaunt them in short skirts and dresses but avoid a length that ends across the thickest part of your thighs.

BOTTOMS
Long shorts ending above the knee look best on the petite girl. Though capris are generally touted as the petite girl’s foe, go ahead and wear them as long it’s a slim fit and ends just below your knees. Strappy sandals paired with long shorts or slimmed crop pants look very elegant. However athletic shoes by adding bulk around your ankle do just the opposite.

Flat front low rise pants create a longer and leaner form whereas high waist trousers and jeans cut the body in half. When choosing pants fit is of utmost importance. Pants shouldn’t be saggy around the butt or crotch. If you are a petite girl with long legs buy regular pants since petite pants usually have a shorter waist-crotch length. Wear straight leg jeans with slight flare at the ankles. The hem should fall just over the top of your shoes but not hide the front part of them. Avoid flared pants since the extra volume will make your legs look shorter.

FOOTWEAR
For obvious reasons, heels are the petite girl’s best friend. However, please stick to low and medium heels. Anything over 3″ will make you appear disproportionate. Avoid ankle straps since they interrupt the long leg line. I know you are lusting those gladiators so if you must pick one with thin dainty straps in a color close to your skin tone to cause least damage. Blending shoe color with your pants creates a seamless long line. Black pin striped pants with black pumps never fails.

Please remember you do not need to wear heels always. For a night out at the movies with friends or a day at the beach go ahead and wear your cute flats and comfy flip-flops.

BELTS
Even though chunky belts are a rage, stay away from them. Thick and chunky belts cut the body in half thereby making you look squatter. Instead wear simple belts hung low on the waist.

HANDBAGS
When it comes to a handbag chose a shape opposite to your body shape. Medium sized hobos and satchels work best. A bag too small overemphasizes your size and one too large overwhelms it. If you are round petite look for square and rectangular bags; if you are lean petite go for round bottom bags. If you want to carry a clutch for a special occasion keep it in your hand, never tuck it under your arms.

OTHER ACCESSORIES
Necklaces or scarves hovering around your collar bone keep the attention to your face. A single exotic piece will create a point of interest near your face as opposed to layers of chunky strings.