If you are searching for the difference between short vs petite jeans, I presume you are on the shorter side.  It is never easy to find the right jeans, when you are shorter than average. I am 5’2”, and I can certainly attest to that.  Compared with taller girls, we have far less choices of clothing for short women.  That is why I have put together this article to help you understand all the options out there so that you can make the best decision for yourself when it comes to choosing the right jeans for petite women.

short vs petite jeans
Salma Hayak, 5’2″ (Getty Images)

Before we get into the details of short vs petite jeans, I will first go over with you the concept of petite. Then I will walk you through the difference of petite jeans vs short jeans. Finally, we will take a look together whether one is better than the other.

I have another article that talks about the Top 5 Jeans for Petite Women with Short Legs, which gives you our recommendation of what works best on petites.

What is petite

Petite is a constantly quoted word, but not everyone is referring to the same thing.  Many people use it to refer to women who are skinny.  The petite concept we are talking about is different than that. 

In clothing industry, petite is referring to a size range for women under 5’4. In comparison, regular size clothing are made for women between 5’5” and 5’8”. In recent years, some brands also start to make clothing for the tall sizes for women over 5’8”. (I have separate posts talking about the definition of petite and how petite sizes are different than regular sizes, if you are interested in knowing more about the topic).

Bottom line is petite is only talking about your height, and not talking about your weight.  For instance, someone could very well be on the heavy side, but she still belongs to the petite size range as long as she is under 5’4”. For example, singer Kelly Clarkson is 5’3″. Even though she is not a skinny woman, she is still a petite girl.

Petite plus size celebrities
Kelly Clarkson, 5’3″ (Getty Images)

Now, 5’4” is not a universal standard. Depending on the closing brands, some use 5’3 and others could use 5’5” as the cut- off for petite sizes.  If you happen to be 5’4”, chances are you might find some regular size jeans fit you just fine.  However, if you are 5’2”, most likely you will need petite size jeans if you want to avoid taking them to the tailor.

How are petite jeans different than short jeans

Now that you understand what petite size means, you are well informed for the next concept of petite vs short jeans.

Since petite size clothing is made for women under 5’4”, they are adjusted for the body characters of shorter women. When it comes to jeans, there are three main differences.

First, the most noticeable difference is that petite jeans have shorter inseam. You are probably already familiar with this, because that is what most of us is looking for when we shop at petite clothing department. That is, we want to be able to wear them without having to chopping them off at the tailor’s!

best brands for petite women

Second, a less known but still important difference of petite jeans is that their rise is adjusted to fit shorter women.

If you are not familiar with the concept of rise, I have another post dedicated to what is rise and how it makes a difference with your jeans.

In a nutshell, rise is the distance between the crotch and the waist. Petite jeans tend to have shorter rise  because petite women presumably are shorter.

Last but not the least, for certain styles of jeans such as flare leg, the knee cap position could also be slightly different in petite jeans to fit shorter women.

petite flare jeans
Petite Dressing $75
petite flare jeans
Topshop Petite $75

Now you understand how petite jeans are made to suit shorter women, let’s take a look at short jeans.

Short jeans, as suggested by the name, is shorter in inseam.  Since length is the primary concern for most of us, short jeans can be another good option for petite women. 

The difference between short vs petite jeans is that short jeans are similar to regular size jeans in other measurements such as the rise and the knee cap position.

 That leads to our next topic. Is short size not as good as petite jeans when it comes to the fit for petite women? In other words, should you always go with petite jeans vs short jeans?

Short vs petite jeans: which is better for you?

If you are looking for a simple answer of which you should go with, petite jeans or short jeans, it is easy to conclude that since petite jeans are designed with petite women in mind, they are supposed to fit you better.

However, here is a big “but” I will tell you the next. The answer to this question can vary by individuals, because it really depends on your specific body shape and measurements.

We mentioned earlier that petite jeans are made with the assumption of petites having  shorter rise as well as shorter legs.  However, since human body can have so many variations, we can hardly generalize like that.

Some petites may have longer rise than average petites, so what they really need is just jeans with shorter inseam. In that case, short jeans could end up fitting you perfectly.

If you don’t really know if you are the long rise/short leg or the short rise/long leg body type, you can read my other blog post for the details.

I  fall into the category of short rise and long legs, so for me short jeans work just as well as the petite jeans.

inseam length
Chi, 5’2″ in Pull on jeans from Petite Dressing

Another scenario is that the style of jeans could also make a difference. If you are looking for flare leg jeans, then petite jeans might be the better option because the knee cap is adjusted for petites. On the other hand, if you are looking for skinny jeans, straight leg jeans or leggings, then you would hardly notice the difference of knee cap position.

 Marilyn Straight Jeans, Main, color, BLACK
NYDJ Petite Marilyn $139
 Barbara High Waist Super Skinny Jeans, Main, color, SUNSET BLVD
Hudson $111 (29″inseam)
 Instasculpt Farrow High Waist Ankle Skinny Jeans, Main, color, WILLOUGHBY
DL1961 $179 (28″inseam)

The conclusion

Petite Jeans or short jeans could both work out for petite women.  You should not rule out one vs the other.

Now that you have all the information you need to understand how short jeans is different than petite Jeans, it is up to you to try on both, and make the best decision on what suits your body type the best.