I don’t know any one who doesn’t love jeans, but I do know all the petite girls have told me it is such a pain to shop the right jeans for short women. Being 5’2″ and owning a store that specializes in petite fashion, I have heard a lot about this problem and have done a ton of work to address our petite customers’ needs. That is what prompted me to write this post and share with you the tips on:
The Best Jeans for Short Women
Before we get into that, let’s look at what makes it so hard for us.
First, the majority of American designers do not carry jeans of petite sizes, i.e. they only make regular sizes to fit women 5’4” and above (click on the link to see the difference of petite sizing vs regular sizing). What that means is the inseam length is likely to range from 30” to 33”depending on the style.
Second, some designers do carry petite size, but even their petite or short version has 30” inseam, which is probably still too long for most petite girls. Some of our Petite Dressing boutique customers do ask for longer inseam like 29″, but that is rare. Most petite women find it harder to wear without heels if they are longer than 27″.
Since it is so hard to find jeans for short women, a lot of petite girls are used to sending it to the tailor and having it hemmed. Does that solve all the problems? Maybe, sometimes. But, here is why that won’t work every time in the long term.
First of all, it is not cheap. It could cost from $15 to $20 to have the jeans hemmed by a tailor.
Secondly, you will have to lose some details on the original hem such as ruffles, raw edge, zipper, and etc. If you really want to keep the original hem, the tailor may charge $20 and above (depending on the complexity of the details you want to keep) for the additional work. Plus, the result is not guaranteed to be as good as the original.
Thirdly, just making the jeans shorter does not necessarily mean it will be flattering on petite women, and some styles are not really suitable for alteration. For instance, ripped jeans may have the holes around the knee area, and it will look awkward the ripped area is hitting your calves even after you take in the hem.
Picture below is petite blogger Marisa (IG@itsmarisa_kay) wearing our petite distressed jeans. She is 5″ tall and the ripped areas are at the right places.
All jeans are not created equal. Now, let’s look at what works best for petite women.
High Rise Jeans
High rise (also known as high waisted) jeans is the most recommended jeans for short women.
First of all, high waisted style in general is very flattering to petite women. They extend your legs and make them look longer, because of the higher waistline. I understand not all petite women wish to look taller, but who doesn’t want their legs look longer and proportion look better? By extending above your natural waistline, high rise creates the illusion of shorter torso and longer legs.
Additionally, they are also more comfortable to wear. I remember when low rise jeans used to be popular because of Britney Spears (gosh, that was so long ago), it was a fad of young girls to wear low rise jeans and intentionally show the underwear. I’m not a big fan of that, simply because it’s just not comfortable when you sit down and the jeans are half way hanging off your hips.
As I am updating this blog post in 2019, I am stressed out (LOL) about the news that low rise jeans is coming back to trend. Tom Ford has launched low rise jeans on his runway show, and even Levis is introducing them back in stores. I said I am stressed out, but that might be an understatement. I am horrified, sort of.
They are not a petite friendly design, period, unless you have unbelievably long legs that you hate and want to hide through low cut jeans!
Sure, there is something good about them-they do look your stomach looks flatter. But that’s not worth making your legs look shorter, in my view. So, my petite friends, even though you might soon see low rise jeans all over the place and you might even see them on petite celebrities or your favorite instagram it girls, please resist the trend and let’s stick with the classic high rise jeans!
Picture: petite blogger Tamara, 5’2″ in collaboration with Petite Dressing
Now, let’s look at what are low rise, mid rise or high rise pants.
Typically, high rise jeans are at least 9″ to 10″ in rise. Low rise jeans are designed to sit 3 inches under your navel, so they are about 6″ or 7″ rise. Mid rise jeans is somewhere in between.
If you are not a big fan of memorizing numbers, then the simplest way to look at this is if the pants hit above your belly button (high rise), low on your hips (low rise) or in between (mid rise).
Out of curiosity, what comes to your mind, when we talk about high rise jeans? Are you picturing the mommy jeans in late 80s? What I’m talking about is like the 5.0 versions of that, since fashion has evolved so many rounds since then!
The best high rise jeans for petite women are well-fitted and they are the right length so that you don’t have to worry about hemming.
Realizing petite women come in different shapes and sizes, I want to mention one caveat of high rise jeans: they do not suite women with short torso, especially if you have short torso as well as big boobs. High rise jeans will make your torso look even shorter, and they are not flattering. So, if that is you, please go with mid-rise jeans instead.
Jeans with Vertical Details
For petite women, the most important thing to keep in mind for styling is to create a vertical line. Vertical line draws eyes up and down, and makes you look longer and taller. By wearing jeans with vertical details, you can create the illusion of longer legs. Plus, the straight leg silhouette makes your legs look straight and slender, regardless of your body type.
Now, are you thinking stripes? Sure, that helps, although you won’t find many jeans with stripes. In fact, jeans with any vertical details like front seam or side seam all work.
The most important part of making this jeans flattering for short woman is the correct inseam. As we mentioned earlier, because of the details of the design, it will be costly to buy the regular size and try to have them tailored to fit petite women.
Black Straight Leg Jeans
This is one of the most versatile jeans style out there for every girl, not just petites. You can’t go wrong with a pair of black straight leg jeans. They make you look instantly more slender, because of the slimming effect of the color and the hugging of the skinny design.
They fit pretty much all petite body types. If you are a petite pear shape and want your thigh or hip area look smaller, black skinny jeans is a no brainer.
The best part? They go with pretty much everything in your wardrobe. Pair it with a feminine blouse and high heels, you are ready for a hot date or a night out with the girls. if you just want to be casual, wear it with a loose sweater and sneakers and they will make the easiest outfit for the weekend. Throw on any jacket in the morning and you are ready to go to the office. They also work great in any season or whether.
When you pair black skinny jeans with black shoes, you see the magic of extending your legs, like Sammie in this picture. She is 4’8″ and she loved this jeans from Petite Dressing.
They will become your “it” jeans for the transitioning whether, when you wear them with a cardigan. Did we mention they are the best buddy for knee high or ankle length boots in the winter?
The key of selecting the best black jeans for short women is the right inseam. If you are petite and want the look of ankle jean, 25” to 27” inseam will work the best, depending on your height. If they are a little over your ankle, you can always cuff up an inch or two and they still look great. If you are petite but you really like the look of cropped jeans, the trick is it should not be too cropped. For petite women, it is important to avoid horizontal lines in your styling. Cropped jeans that is too cropped will create that horizontal line which will make your legs look cut-off.
When the boots season comes, this is everybody’s favorite jeans for short women. You need at least two pairs of petite jegging in your closet to go with your winter boots. They are called jegging but some of them are actually not made of denim. Of course there are jeggings made of denim, but they don’t have to. They can be any stretchy fabrics, as long as they hug your legs tight and are easy to fit into your tall boots.
Jegging has been in the fashion spotlight for quite a while now, but only in recent years retailers and brands have started to make them for petite women. I have no idea why, but that is just the fact. It used to be so hard to find jegging shorter than 29 inches, and I always had to take them to tailors to chop them off! In this picture below, petite blogger Grace (5’2″) is wearing our petite jegging in 25″ inseam.
It has the all the flattering features of skinny jeans and it is the favorite go-to outfit for many petite celebrities in all seasons. When we pick out the best petite jegging for short woman, one thing to keep in mind is the wash and the pattern also matters. The more solid your denim’s wash, the longer your leg line become.
As mentioned earlier, the foundation of petite styling advice is to focus on creating one vertical line on your body in order to achieve the lengthening effect. Therefore, solid-colored denim makes your legs look longer than those with a lot of whiskering or fading. If you are into denim with patterns or in colors, stick with those with small prints and consistent wash. Even though many of us love distressed denim, petite women should keep the patches and holes to the minimal.
Flare jeans is universally flattering, and particularly more flattering for petite girls.
First of all, for petite women who wish to add a few extra inches effortlessly, the flare shape of slight expansion under the knee instantly creates the illusion of longer legs . Always pair flare jeans with heels, if you want to double the lengthening effect.
Secondly, flare jeans works especially well with girls with full thighs such as pear shape petite women. The extra volume below the knee will help balance out the slim upper legs. If you want extra slimming effect, try dark wash.
One important tip of picking out the right flare jeans for petite women is find the right length with heels on. Put on your favorite stiletto or pumps first, and then pick out the the flare jeans to make sure the hem is just barely touching the floor while you have your heels on.
Chi is 5’2″ founder of Petite Dressing, an online petite clothing store dedicated to women under 5’4″. Petite Dressing blog is here to help you understand yourself, such as your petite body type, and look your best ever. If you are new, start here. Comment below and share your thoughts about this post!