Every petite girl is curious about their petite body shape- are you a petite apple body shape? Or petite pear shape? Perhaps petite inverted triangle or rectangle? Or petite hourglass?  (If you do not already know yet, take our petite body type quiz to find out).  That is the most commonly known body type theory, which looks at petite body shape from the measurements of your shoulders, waist and hips in relation to one another.  Did you know there are also other aspects of our body that defines petite women’s body shape?  This is the concept of vertical body type.

Vertical body type essentially looks at where our waistline is and what is the proportion of our torso, legs and rise in relation to one another.  The questions we are trying to address is do you have short torso or long torso? Do you have high rise or regular rise?  Do you have relatively long legs (even though your overall height is under 5’4″)?  Some people are long-waisted and long in the rise. Some are short-waisted and short in the rise. There are all these different combinations to account for.

Understanding your vertical body shape will help you understand your proportion better, thus make better choices of petite clothing, especially in regards to bottoms, for example regular rise vs high rise petite jeans.  In addition, rise is also a critical consideration in choosing petite jumpsuit and petite romper.

Today, we will focus on an important concept about our vertical petite body shape which is often times less talked about, i.e. the rise.

high rise petite jeans

You often hear that high rise petite jeans is most flattering to a short person.  But do you know what rise is?  When we talk about measurements of garments, rise is the distance from the middle of the crotch seam (right between your legs) to the top of the waistband. It usually ranges from 7 inches to 12 inches.  High rise petite jeans, for example, usually have 10 inches and above rise.  Now, in terms of your petite body shape, do you have long rise or regular rise?  Without getting too technical by using measuring tapes, here is how you can find out if you have long rise.

Ask yourself these questions:

Do the high rise petite jeans sit below or right around your belly button instead of above your belly button?

Do you feel uncomfortable wearing regular rise pants?

Even though petite women normally have shorter inseam than our taller friends, but do you feel like even petite size pants are too long for you and you really need extra short inseam?

If some or all of your answers to above questions is yes, you probably have long rise.

high rise petite jeans

Photo: Joyofclothes.com

Now, it could also be the opposite.

Do almost all pants, regardless of “rise” hit you far above your belly button?

Even though you are short overall, do you find most petite pants’ inseam not long enough for you?

Do you often feel like even the petite size tops are too long for you?

If your answers are mostly yes to above questions, you probably have short rise.

Photo: Joyofclothes.com

If you are a petite girl with a long rise, your legs appear to be shorter proportionally (even compared with some of your petite friends), thus improving your vertical proportion is the key to flattering your petite body shape.  In order to balance out your long rise, dresses are your best friends.  When you wear a dress, people cannot tell where your crotch is, so there is no way to tell if your rise is long or not.  Dresses with empire waist does the best job to elevate your natural waistline.  Since our eyes assume anything under waistline is legs, that will create the illusion of longer legs for you.

By the same token, skirts, especially high waisted skirts, will help make your legs look longer and make you look taller without anyone noticing to your long rise.   In terms of tops, empire waist tops flatter your shorter waist and bypass your long rise.  Now, because of your petite height, we suggest you to pair a longer top with a shorter bottom (skirts are better choices for you than pants), and visually create the proportion of thirds, which is the most flattering proportion.

If you are shopping for pants, petite pants with regular (in other words) medium rise will probably not feel comfortable for you.   You will find that lower waisted pants will pull down when sitting and often feel uncomfortable, as well as showing off your underwear, which is not classy.  You could be short overall (5’3″), but the distance between your crotch and your waist is proportionally similar to that of a taller woman.  Even though the long rise by itself could enable you to sometimes to wear misses’ pants without the rise being too high, the inseams will still be too long and require hemming.  In that case, you should still shop in the petite department,  and the solution is get a pair of high rise petite jeans or pants which would be the best bet for you.

If you are a petite girl with a short rise, that normally means you need longer inseam.  That is great news because that means your legs look longer proportionally for your petite height, and you often appear to be taller than your actual height.  On the other hand, that might mean you have shorter torso.  Even though we all want to look taller and want our legs look longer, we still want to look balanced and don’t want our torso look disproportionally short.   You have many choices in terms of bottoms, but petite high rise jeans may not be the best for you, because it might make your torso look even shorter.  (Read our guide on How to Dress If You Are Petite and Have Short Torso).  Mid rise bottoms are better for your body shape.

For someone whose height is above 5’4″, is it possible that they need to wear petite size clothing?  Absolutely.  For instance, she could be short in the torso and disproportionately long in the rise. In that case they can’t wear regular misses’ tops but must always have to wear petites.