Petite size in fashion and clothing is referring to the special size for women under 5’4” or 5’3”.
It is critical to understand that petite size is based on height and not weight.
There is a common misconception that petite means skinny, thus petite sizes are made for women who are slender. In fact, petite or not has nothing to do with your weight.
Petite women could come in all kinds of shapes and sizes, and you can totally be petite and curvy.
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What height is considered petite
5’4″ and under is typically considered petite in the clothing size range.
- Petite size is considered “extended size” because American designers make regular sizes for women of 5’5” and above.
- For that reason, if you are anywhere 5’4″ and under, then you probably will notice regular-size clothing tend to look ill fitted on you.
- If you are 5′ and under, chances are you may find even the petite sizes would not fit you, because petite designers make their clothing according to the measurements of petite models who are 5’4″ or 5’3″ tall
- If you are right around 5’4″, then you should try both petite sizes and regular sizes and choose whichever fit you better.
Petite vs Regular Size
First of all, many petite women have narrower shoulders. So, petite designers would adjust shoulder width when they make petite sizes.
This is especially important for garments with structured shoulders like jackets and coats. Well-made petite outerwear tailors the shoulders to fit the measurements of petite women.
Secondly, petite women tend to have shorter arms, thus sleeve length of petite size should adjust accordingly.
Sleeves might be one of the most overlooked details of your outfit.
Again, this is more important to petite blazers and coats than other clothing.
The wrong sleeve length could instantly sabotage the quality of your outfit, especially in work or formal social occasions.
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.
Thirdly, most petite women have shorter torso.
This affects different types of clothing from blouses to blazers and dresses for short women. For instance, a regular size blouse may look drop-waisted on a petite woman, if the sizing is not adjusted accordingly.
Fourthly, the most obvious one, petite women most likely have shorter legs. Therefore, petite size bottoms such as petite pants and petite jeans need to adjust the inseam in order to fit correctly.
What is the meaning of inseam?
Inseam is the length of the inner leg, from the top of the thigh to the ankle.
Inseam affects not only pants and jeans, but also jumpsuits for short women.
Additionally, the knee cap for petite size pants or jeans should also be different from regular size. It is easy for tailors to take in the hem of the pants, but difficult or impossible to change the knee cap.
Petite Plus Size
- If you are short and you wear plus size, you should consider wearing petite plus sizes which are made for plus size girls under 5’4″.
- Petite plus girls, like other petite size women, share common body features, and the best bet to find their clothing from designers who carry petite plus specifically tailored to suit the needs of curvier petite women.
- Petite plus could go up to 18P by some designers, and they have taken into consideration shoulder width, sleeve length and inseam needs of petite women just as other petite size clothing.
Considerations if you should wear Petite Size
It is quite common for a woman to have a combination of body treats, i.e. someone could be petite for the bottom half of her body but not the top half, or vice versa.
Therefore, the most important part you still need to look at is your body traits such as the length of limbs, the width of shoulders and the length of the torso.
Even though height is the key factor to determine whether you should wear petite sizes, below are some important considerations you should also factor in.
- If you are short but happen to have broad shoulders, then jackets from petite department may not fit very well because of your shoulder width.
- However, if you gets a regular size jacket, most likely the sleeves are too long for you.
- Your best bet is to go with a jacket or blouse of 3/4 sleeves from the regular size department.
- If you are 5’4″ and under but you happen to have long arms, you may find the sleeves for petite size tops and blazers too short.
- In that case, try some items from the regular size department and they may fit you better.
- If you are someone 5’4″ and under, but you happen to have a longer torso, that could mean that petite size tops are too short for you.
- On the other hand, if you are taller than 5’4″, but you are short-waisted, you may find regular size fitted tops make you look like a kid wearing mom’s clothes. In that case, you may find petite size tops fit you perfectly since they are adjusted for a shorter torsos.
- If you are around 5’3”, it is advisable to try on both petite and regular size, and compare the fit and how they make you feel. You might be surprised about your findings and it is possible you might have been wearing the wrong size over the years.
- If you are 5’5″, but your vertical body type is and long torso/short legs, then it’s possible petite size pants fit you better.
Petite Sizing Chart
Pay attention to the definition of petite sizing by each retailer/designer, as some of them define what is petite as under 5’4” while others define it as under 5’3”. It may sound like a slight difference, but that could affect their petite sizing.
Most brands follow standard sizing chart, but each petite brand may have some differences in their tailoring. Here we have compared the most popular petite designers/stores and their definition of petite height.
Petite Size vs Junior Size
If you are indeed a petite size woman, you probably have experienced the difficulty and frustration looking for the right sizes in regular department stores or shopping malls, so many of us may have shopped in the junior department at some point.
While that seems to be an easy solution, we do not recommend you to do so often.
In fact, one of the important styling principles for short girls is to avoid too much “cuteness”.
The complaints of many short girls are they are not taken seriously at the workplace, because of their height. In order to appear to be the equivalent of tall girls, our goal should be to add presence and authority through our styling. Shopping in the junior department will only do the opposite.
The designs for juniors are catered for teenagers, and they are not meant to be worn by professional adult women. Except for sweat pants and other casual clothing you will only wear at home or for workout, we suggest you to stop shopping at junior department and look for stores with petite sizes instead.
Understanding how petite size works and if you should wear petite size clothing is just the first step. To flatter your petite body, it is critical to understand your body type and your own strengths and weaknesses so that you can dress accordingly. If you haven’t already, check out our petite body type section now!