Every year in fashion weeks of New York, Paris and London, celebrities, fashion fans, fashion media and style bloggers gather around to watch the newest releases and trend setter of the largest names in the fashion industry. Some or the style release on the runway is quite conceptual, and a bit too much (honestly) such as layers and layers of laces, oversized boyfriend style jackets almost reaching the knees, and busy florals from top to bottom. However, the runway is full of tall and skinny models who showcase all kinds of fashion style and somehow it seems everything looks great on them, no matter how exaggerated or dramatic certain clothing are by real life standards. You ever wonder why? Probably because the models are 5’8” and a size 0. When you are that tall and that thin, your body is very forgiving and just about any style may look right on you. For normal people like you and me, unfortunately we cannot assume everything will just look good on us. It is especially a challenge for short girls to find the petite style that is flattering to them. Being 5’2”, I have done years of research on what are the best petite style and what doesn’t work. I am not a big fan of restrictions myself, but I have to admit the truth is there are petite style rules that we need to follow, if we want them to look good on us. On the other hand, fashion is also one of the most important means for us to express our individuality. If we all follow the rules, then the world is just a big cookie-cutting place, and we all look similar. How boring is that? Fashion just totally loses its point, if that is the case. We have put together this article so that you can get a flavor of how to break some of the petite style rules, and make your fashion the style of your own.
Rule1: Only wear mini skirts
This one is easy to break. I don’t remember how many times I have read about petite style advice that short women should not wear anything below the knees. Many stylist blogs (including some of my favorites) feel strongly that petite style equals short, and the reason is short girls will only look shorter if they wear long style. While it is quite true that mini skirts and mini dresses are universally flattering to petite women, they are not the only style you can wear and look good. The way to break this rule is to go to the opposite- wear maxi dresses or maxi skirts. Nicole Richie (5’1″) is the queen of petite woman rocking the Bohemian maxi style.
I am talking about dresses and skirts that reach (almost) your ankles. Surprisingly, they are very flattering to petite women. If you wonder why, here is the reason: petite women needs length in their style in order to look taller. Maxi dresses and skirts create that long column of colors which vertically lengthens and thus makes petite girls look taller.
Rule 2: stay away from midi dresses
Okay, I admit even I myself have mentioned in various blog posts that midi length is the hardest petite style to pull off. The reason is simple- it ends at an akward length at your calves between your knees and your ankles, so there is a big risk that your legs could look cut off. How to break this rule if you are really into midi dresses or skirts? The secret is the midi dresses with a see through (such as lace) bottom. I have seen this on a couple of petite style bloggers and petite celebrities, and it looks good on them. Why is so? It is because the see through style distracts people from the horizontal line formed around your calves, thus people will not easily notice your legs look cut-off. Seeing the skin of your legs will in fact make your proportion look better and legs look longer.
Rule 3: petites can’t pull off wide leg pants
The reason wide leg pants are not a recommended petite style is that they could give the perception of width instead of length, thus making you look shorter. Read more about What to Avoid if you have Short Legs.
Photo: Mira Duma (5′) the Spicy Stiletto
The way to break this rule is to go with long wide leg pants, and ditch those at the ankle length. To rock this petite style, you must pair it with a pair of high heels, and the best with pointy toes. You should make sure the pants are long enough to cover 2/3 of your heels, that way you will look taller and people cannot tell if the length comes from you or from your heels.
Rule 4: Big bold patterns don’t look good on petites
I can understand why stylists do not recommend petite women to wear big bold patterns. The one word petite women should always keep in mind is “proportion, proportion and proportion”. Any prints you wear need to be in proportion to your height and weight. Some say prints should be smaller than your fist. Large and busy prints easily overwhelm your petite body frame and make you look swamped. On the other hand, solid colors are much easier to style, as they are easier to form one consistent color (remember we talked about creating one column of color?) thus they are more flattering to short girls. However, how boring if our life is if we all have to wear solid colors or only small prints, especially floral designs? I myself is a die hard fan of prints, especially when it comes to sun dresses and short skirts.
The way to break this rule is to balance prints with solids. For example, if you are wearing a blouse with big and bold patterns, then pair it with a well fitted neutral color skirt or pants from the same color scheme as the main color of the pattern. This will balance it out and give you the benefit of monochromatic dressing. Another way is to wear dresses with larger floral prints, which achieves the same result of creating one single column of color because of the continuous pattern on the dress.
Read more about how to wear prints inspired by petite celebrity style Reese Witherspoon.
Rule #5 Petites should only wear knee length coats
While I agree coats above the knee or at the knee is the safest length for petite women, going longer can actually be very flattering if you master the skills. The way to break this rule is to go REALLY long, long enough to reach just a couple of inches above your ankle. Same concept as maxi dresses, wearing long coats can create a column of color that really elongates short girls. The key is to use a belt to define your waistline- and ideally, above your natural waistline, so that your legs can look a lot longer than they are. See 5 feet tall Mira Duma illustrates this look!
This article is honored to be featured in Links-a-la-Mode of Independent Fashion Bloggers (IFG)
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