If you are petite, inseam length is an important factor to consider when picking the best jeans or pants. Whether you are looking for petite jeans, petite pants, or petite jumpsuit, the right inseam plays a critical role in whether they fit you or not. The right inseam can make you look taller, and the wrong inseam can make you appear shorter than you actually are.
Finding the perfect pair of pants or jeans with the right inseam length is not easy, if you are not an average height. And, it is especially hard if you are petite (under 5’4”) like myself (5’2”). (Click here to read about What is Petite).
Since most brands carried in the department stores are made for women above 5’4”, you probably already experienced enough frustration and disappointment looking for the right pants or jeans. They are most likely dragging on the floor for petite women, or the knee caps are not at the right places.
The solution could be taking them to the tailor and hem to the right inseam length, but the cost adds up (plus, just making them shorter doesn’t mean they will look flattering on you). It will be better for you to know what is the right inseam length for you and find them so that no hemming is necessary.
Here is the guide to our fellow petites on the best inseam length-next time before you place an order, find your correct inseam length to ensure frustration free shopping experience.
All petites are not created equally, and some are more petite than others. The best inseam length depends on a lot of factors, even for petites.
Some petite girls are under 5’4”, but they may be blessed with longer legs than fellow petites thus their inseam length needs to be longer. The best way to find out if you are a long legged petite is to calculate your leg ratio (click here to understand why it is important for petite sizes).
In general, the most flattering inseam length for most petites should be 27 inches, and anything longer than that will only look good if you wear them with heels.
Here’s a quick summary of best inseam length for petites, but I highly recommend you read the full article to understand why and how to interpret each number.
Other than the difference in individual body proportion, inseam length also to a large extent depends on the style of the pants or jeans. Skinny jeans should have different inseam length than wide leg pants, and boyfriend jeans should also be different than flare jeans.
Straight Leg Pants or Jeans
Straight leg is the most common types of leg shape that pretty much every one of us owns at least a pair in our wardrobe. Whether it’s straight leg pants or straight leg jeans, this leg shape is the most classic and universally suitable for any body shape.
Straight leg pants are not meant to be too long, because of the cut of the leg. The ideal length is for it to reach just your ankle. If it’s too long, it’s going to create bulk at your ankle, which is not flattering, and especially should be avoided if you are petites.
- The best inseam length for petite straight leg jeans should be around 27″.
- That said, petites have different height, too.
- Therefore, the ankle length could mean different inseam for petites of different height.
For instance, my normal inseam for ankle length is shorter than 27″, and it’s more like 25″ or 25.5″. If you are taller than me, or if you have a longer leg ratio, then your ideal straight leg jeans inseam could be closer to 27″.
Cropped Pants or Jeans
Like suggested by its name, the cropped look is designed to show your ankles. Therefore, they are meant to be shorter.
- The best inseam length for petites should be between 21-23inches.
- The risk of wearing cropped pants is because they are shorter, they may make your legs look shorter than they are, which is the opposite of what a petite girl wants!
- So, a general guideline is to not wear anything shorter than 21 inches inseam.
Of course, this is hard to generalize, as a petite girl could be 4’9” or 5’3”, which makes a big difference! If you don’t know what exactly your best length should be, one rule of thumb is to show as much skin as the width of your hands.
If you are going for the cropped look, we recommend you opt for straight leg or skinny jeans instead of cropped jeans with flare.
Straight leg will fit most body shape, and skinny jeans will flatter those with slender legs. Either way, they are well fitted and will suit petite women. Cropped jeans with flare, on the other hand, will make your legs look more cut off, thus is not flattering to petite women.
Boyfriend jeans or Mom jeans
If you like the causal style of boyfriend jeans or Mom jeans, our recommended inseam length is 23’’ to 26’’.
They are meant to sit just above the ankle, and a lot of girls like the cuffed look of boyfriend jeans for that extra dose of effortlessness. Therefore, expect the inseam to be a little on the shorter side than a classic straight silhouette.
As much as we love the roomie fit of boyfriend jeans, we have to caution our fellow petites to do not wear those too loose or too boxy. Any bottoms not well fitted will only make petite women look shorter and they are not flattering.
If you wear boyfriend jeans, the best look for petite girls is to dress these up with a pair of block heels (but not too chunky!) Or you could keep it casual with fashion sneakers, all while showing off some ankle.
Bootcut or Flare
Flare jeans and bootcut jeans have the most pronounced leg opening of them all, and they could be very flattering to petite women if you are wearing the right inseam length and matching them with the right shoes.
Yes, always wear them with heels!
The reason is they require extra length to reduce that awkward moment when the widest part of your jean hits your ankle. 28 to 31 inches are the ideal inseam length for our petite girls.
Of course, it ultimately depends on your height and the heels you are planning to wear.
Bootcut and flare jeans with heels are universally suitable for any body shape because of their body slimming effect & flattering fit, and especially among the topped rated styles for petite girls, as they effectively elongate your legs to the max extent.
Wide Leg Pants/ Sailor Pants
Wide leg or sailor pants are meant to run a little longer, just like the bootcut and flare. These, more often than not, require a heel and should fall to the floor regardless of your height.
Therefore, if your normal straight leg inseam (which hits just below your ankle) is 27”, and you are going to wear them with stiletto, then go for 31 inches.
You get the idea. These are the kind of style that could be a hit or miss. Some may argue petite girls should not try to wear long pants like this, but you see them worn by petite celebrities such as Sarah Jessica Parker and Victoria Beckham and they look nice and chic.
The reason they could be flattering for petite women is because of the floor length, which make your legs longer than they are.
On the other hand, to pull off the wide leg look, the key is to remember any horizontal line in your outfit will only make you look shorter. Therefore, make sure the legs are not too wide.
Suggested Inseam Length for Petites
Here we have summarized the suggested inseam length for the pants and jeans mentioned in this article.
|Straight Leg||Crop Pants/Jeans||Boyfriend Jeans||Bootcut Jeans||Flare Jeans||Wide Leg|
|25.5″-27″||21″- 23″||23″-26″||28-31″||28-31″||28″ -31|
Again, this is meant to provide a guidance, not a rule, because petite women are not same height and have different body types and leg length.
Since petite women can also have different height, someone who is 4’11” certainly need different inseam length than someone who is 5’4″. If you are under 5 feet, read our post on “How to Dress if you are under 5 Feet Tall“.
Inseam for Petite Brands
Not all petite brands are created equally. Some petite designers have longer inseam than others, which is why knowing about their inseam before you purchase is so important.
There are also designers who do not offer a complete petite line (such as Madewell or American Eagle Outfitters), but they have certain styles short enough that they will fit petite girls.
In the last decade, as all the department stores have either axed out or cut down significantly their petite department stores, it has been frustrating for petite women to find the petite sizing that fits them properly, especially the bottoms with the correct length.
Some petite girls have turned to regular size department to look for cropped pants and wear them as regular length pants. This may work for some, but not all. For someone who needs inseam shorter than 26 inches, even cropped pants for regular size might be too long for them and needs tailoring. Now, innovative shops such as Petite Dressing have realize the pain of petite women shopping for pants and offer petite jeans and leggings with inseam starting from 25.5 inches.