#1 Apply Rule of Thirds
Have you heard of the Golden Mean Ratio? And what is the Rule of Thirds in petite fashion? I am sure you have read that the ancient Greeks discovered this ratio that appears in nature about what human eyes find most aesthetically pleasing. Specifically, 1/3 to 2/3 ratio is the most aesthetically pleasing division of space to our eyes. You have seen it applied in mathematics, architecture and art. Ever wonder how you could apply this to petite fashion? It is known as the “rule of thirds”, a ratio if you follow will instantly change the proportion of your body and make your outfit look very flattering. It is easier to be illustrated through outfit examples. The first outfit with the top and skirt of equal length visually divides the body into ½ and ½.. The second outfit has a considerably shorter top, thus divides the figure into 1/3 up top and 2/3 on the bottom. See how much taller the second outfit appears? This is not just limited to a shorter top and a longer bottom, and it can also be applied the other way around, i.e. longer top and shorter bottom, as illustrated by the third outfit. As you can see, it makes your figure appear more proportionate. The comparison of the 3 outfits shows you how big a difference it makes, when our outfit focuses on the thirds, instead of halves or the quarters. If you are wearing a short skirt and bare legs, you blouse comprise the top third, your skirt is the middle third, and your bare legs are the bottom third. We have illustrated this concept through skirt outfit, but the same rule of thirds apply to pants outfit.
In order to achieve the ideal ratio, a cropped top or a well fitted cropped blazer or jacket is wardrobe must for petite women.
#2 Show your skin (strategically)
Showing some skin is the most effortless petite fashion advice to flatter the petite frame that everyone can apply easily. Now, it is important to do so strategically. If you are wearing a short skirt and showing off your legs, then you probably do not need to show too much of your cleavage. Vice versa, if you are wearing a low cut dress, then it might look more tasteful if it is not too short. As the old saying goes, leave something for imagination. You may be wondering what about the winter time when the temperature makes it unrealistic to wear mini skirt or sleeve less dresses? There are still many other chic and classic ways to show a little bit of skin. Off the shoulder tops or dresses are universally flattering and they work especially well with petite body frame. The reason is by showing the skin on the shoulders, off the shoulder style effectively elongates your neckline and make your proportion look better. In the winter time, go for an off the shoulder cashmere sweater that will keep you warm and sexy at the same time. ¾ sleeves is another style that will show the right amount of skin when weather is cold.
#3 Get your sleeve length right
The quality of great style is in the details, while sleeves might be one of the most overlooked details of our outfit. Men’s formal wear has certain rules about the sleeve length of dress shirts and formal suits, and the rules seem to be much more relaxed with women’s wear. However, the wrong sleeve length could instantly downgrade the quality of your outfit and the impression people get from it about you, especially in work or formal social occasions. Sleeve length is especially important for jackets and coats, and it is such an important detail of petite fashion. Because most petite girls have shorter arms, one common issue in their wardrobe is that sleeves of coats or jackets are too long. For full length sleeves, the best is to hit just right around the wrist. For petite women, if the sleeves are too long, it will look like the jacket or coat is not the right size for you, even if it fits perfectly elsewhere. That is why it is critical to get your outerwear from petite department of retails stores or petite designers. Alternatively, you could send it to the tailor and hem it to the right length, and it will make a whole world of difference.
#4 Wear high-waisted style
The come back of the high-waisted style is one of the best trends in the petite fashion world in recent years. They are not the loose fit “Mom jeans” of the 70s or 80s, instead, they are chic, sexy and functional as seen on petite celebrities such as Kim Kardashian, Victoria Beckham and Eva Longoria. In fact, high-waisted style is a must have staple of petite fashion wardrobe. It effectively elevates your waistline, thus elongate your bottom half and make your legs look longer instantly. We mentioned Golden Mean ratio earlier and how important it is to create the right proportion of your body, and high rise can effectively make your body look more proportionate. Both high rise skirt and pants work wonders in petite fashion. Did we mention wearing high-waisted style helps to disguise muffin top, which is the concern for many apple shaped petite women? And of course, you do not ever have to worry you are bending too much and showing your under panties in high rise pants.
#5 Choose the right jeans for your body type
You could never have too many pairs of jeans, whether you are petite or not. There are so many choices on the market, flare, straight leg, skinny, boot-cut, boyfriend, and etc, but which ones are right for you? It is true jeans are so versatile and they go with anything, but that does not mean you can throw on any style and look equally good. Pinterest and other social media are flooded with street style shots of people wearing jeans, and some of them are far from pretty. Choosing the right style for you could really “make it or break it”. There are certain styles and washes that are universally flattering such as black skinnies, and they generally look great on petite girls as well. Meanwhile, petite women have some common treats such as shorter torso and shorter legs, so certain styles work better for petite body frame than others. Create vertical line is important in petite fashion, because if visually creates the illusion of height. Look for jeans with vertical details such as vertical seamline, or piping on the sides of legs. As mentioned earlier, high rise jeans is especially recommended for petite girls, because it effectively elongates your legs and creates the illusion of height. Flare jeans is another style that balances the petite figure and look flattering on petite women, especially when paired with high heels.
Depending on the petite body type, each petite girl also has unique figure, thus you have assets that you should accentuate and areas of concerns you may not want people to notice. In that case, finding the right jeans for your body type is important. (Click here to take the quiz and learn about your petite body type). For instance, pear shaped petite women gain weight first on their thighs and thighs are the widest part of their body, so a pair of black skinny paired with dark color boots will both distract people’s attention from your thighs and elongate your legs.
On the other hand, there are also styles that are universally unsuitable for petite girls such as low rise jeans. The lower the rise, the shorter they make your legs. Unless you are an extremely lucky petite girl blessed with super long legs so you do not care about losing an inch or two from wearing low rise style, otherwise we urge you to ditch the low rise style. Low rise style also makes your muffin top looks worse, if you tend to gain weight in your midsection.
It is also worth mentioning the trend of boyfriend jeans in recent years, which could also be tricky on petite girls because of the slouch fit. We are not saying you should stay away from boyfriend jeans, but choose it wisely and avoid overly loose fit. They are not flattering on petite women, no matter how comfortable they make you feel. A better choice is girlfriend jeans, if you really like the slouchy fit. They are not tight fit, but they are not exaggeratedly loose either.
For a complete guide how to to choose best petite jeans for your body type, click on the link.
#6 Wear dresses all season
Dian Von Fursternberg has a famous quote for her iconic wrap dress “feel like a woman, wear a dress!” That is a very true saying when it comes to petite fashion. Dresses are the ultimate most flattering outfit for petite girls, because they meet many of the petite flattering principals at the same time such as rule of the thirds, showing your skin and creating a column of color (the vertical line). We encourage all petite woman to wear dresses as much as they can, throughout the year. Wearing dresses in all seasons may not be something you are used to, especially if you live in area with cold and harsh winters. However, there is a solution for that. In the winter time, wear a wool blend or cashmere dresses with knee high boots will keep you warm just as much as wearing pants, and they are good for any work or social occasion.
#7 Wear nude heels
If there is only one pair of shoes we can have, for petite woman that pair has to be nude heels. They do an incredible job to elongate your legs. especially when you wear dresses with bare legs. Nude heels blend with the color of your skin, so they make your feet visually look like an extension of your legs. Most petite girls would love to have those extra inches. Now, let’s apply the same principal to expand the choices. The same goes for black shoes when you are wearing black pants, or, in fact, wear any color shoes that blend with the color of your pants. By wearing chromatic colors from waist down, you are creating a column of the same color, the vertical line, which is the foundation of petite fashion styling.
#8 Wear long coats
Yeah, you heard it right, not short, but long coats are very flattering to petite women. You have read on various style blogs that petite women should choose the right length for their coats and jackets, and it is safe to make sure it does not go over your knees. That is all legitimate petite fashion advice. However, if you are ditching long coats because of that, you are missing out big time. Have you seen the winter uniform of some Asian airlines? The stewardesses wear black or navy coats over their skirt suit, and the coats reach their mid-calf. From a distance, you cannot tell they are petite, because the H shape coat creates one column of color, the vertical line, which is most flattering to petite body frame. Now, there is certain details you need to pay attention when wearing long coats. They of course cannot be too long that they overwhelm your body frame, and they work best with heels at least 3 inches high. We do not recommend wearing long coats with flats or sneakers- that just does not look right and they will make you look shorter than you are, like the stylists suggested.
See how Mira Duma (5’0), Kim Kardashian (5’3″) and Victoria Beckham (5’4″) make long coats work for their petite frame. (Photo: Getty Images)
#9 Wear bright colors
Dark colors shrinks and bright colors adds presence. If you are used to a petite fashion wardrobe full of blacks and greys, like most of us in urban metropolitan areas do, venture out and add some bright colors and you will be surprised how flattering they are on petite body frame. The secret is to use bright colors to volume and thus compliment your petite frame. Petite celebrity Reese Witherspoon (Photo: Getty Images) is the master of using beautiful prints and colors on her dresses and blouses, and she is the style icon in today’s Hollywood.
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!