Every stylish petite girl needs a capsule wardrobe that evolves around several key pieces. Trends come and go, classics are here to stay. We have looked at what is trending this season as well as what are the ever-green pieces that work on short women in general. I have put together this guide for 2020 to help you build your wardrobe that expresses your own style.
I started writing about petite styling tips for short women since 2016, and my articles have touched the lives of millions since then. Based on my own fashion trial and errors and feedback from numerous petite readers, I have published a book “The Petite Style Bible“, first of its kind dedicated to petite fashion. Click here to learn more.
I also have a video on Youtube to talk about the spring staples for petite women. After you watch this video, I highly recommend you still read through the article because I will be talking about the petite style staple throughout the year in this post!
Stylish Petite Jumpsuit
Jumpsuit has been so trendy in recent years that you see it everywhere. It seems like overnight jumpsuit had become the go to outfit for Hollywood A listers, and they are worn in cocktail parties, at charity events and even on the red carpet.
We have also seen petite celebrities such as Mira Duma (5′), Kim Kardashian (5’3”) and Scarlett Johansson (5’3”) wearing them.
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The one piece design of jumpsuits forms an unbroken vertical line that lengthens petite women, especially if your legs are short. If worn correctly, jumpsuit can really elongate the petite body frame and be one of the most flattering pieces in your wardrobe.
Jumpsuits are automatically dressy and very easy to style. If you are looking to put together a petite wedding guest outfit, then be sure to consider add a jumpsuit to your closet.
The most important thing to consider when choosing your jumpsuit is the rise, which can make or break the look. Regular size clothing is made for women of 5’5″, which is why it hardly fits shorter women. To ensure proper fit, the best is to get petite sized jumpsuit from petite designers.
I highly recommend you read my post on “8 Must Know Tips to choose Jumpsuit for Petite Women“.
As a petite girl, you probably would like to make your legs look longer. A cropped jacket can elongate your bottom half and instantly make you look taller. A cropped jacket can also make your tummy look flatter, especially if you pair it with a black pants or skirts.
Here is what you may not know about. Not all cropped jackets are created equal.
Some are more flattering for petite women than others. An important tip when picking out the cropped jacket is to make sure the length of the sleeves and the hem of the jacket should not end exactly at the same point. Otherwise the cropped jacket could create the width of one horizontal line across the middle of your torso and make you look cut off, which is the opposite of what we want to achieve.
What that means is cropped jackets will look best on a petite woman if the sleeves are only slightly longer or shorter than the hem of the jacket, which will break up the horizontal line.
High waisted style in general is flattering to women with short legs. Why? It makes your waistline look higher than it actually is, thus creates the illusion of longer legs.
A general advice for petite women is to go for dark color high waisted pants, as they will make your bottom half look slimmer. In terms of fabrics, make sure you pick those with strechy materials, as they will make your high wasted pants very comfortable without feeling restricted, especially if you have an office job and need to sit in chairs for many hours a day.
Now, we have to caution you that high waisted jeans is not for every one. If you happen to be a petite girl with short torso/long legs, then you may want to stay away from this style. In that case, your better option is mid rise jeans. They are still comfortable, but they won’t make your torso look even shorter like the high rise.
I highly recommend you read my full guide on “5 Must Have Jeans for Petites“, and watch my Youtube video on this topic.
Low rise jeans is, or trying to be, making a big come back in 2020. They are seen on the run way shows of multiple main stream designers including Levis. No matter how cool they might look on models, we do not see a good reason for short girls to follow the trend. They will only make your legs look even shorter.
Finding the best jeans is never easy for petite women. Inseam is probably the Number 1 headache.
Read my guide to understand meaning of inseam and what are the best inseam for petite women.
One thing you may not know about is that even petite sizes are made according to measurements of petite models of 5’4″ tall.
That means if you happen to be under 5 feet, then you probably will find even petite jeans might be too long for you. Petite Dressing prides ourselves in great petite styles for petite women of all height, whether you are 5’4″ or 4’11”. You can find jeans from 24″ to 27″ inseam in our petite jeans collection.
Additionally, I have prepared a guide on “Where to Shop Jeans with Extra Short Inseams” .
Well-fitted Trench Coat
This is a wardrobe classic staple that every petite girl should have. The clean cut silhouette creates the lean shape and vertical line that flatters every short girl.
For spring and fall, opt for a coat made from premium quality fabrics such as silk or cotton. Even if it might cost more than those made of polyester, it is the investment worthy piece that will stay in your closet for years to come. For the winter, get one made of wool or wool blend, which will look premium quality and speak for your fine taste.
We have another post focused on “7 Steps to Find the Perfect Trench Coat for Petites“. The key to make sure the trench coat is flattering for petite women is to tie the belt slightly above your natural waist. Not only will your proportion look better, but also it creates the illusion of waistline for girls who lacks it such as the petite apple shape or petite rectangle shape.
Knee length is the safest for petite women, but of course you can go longer or shorter. Learn more at “11 Must Know Tips to Find Best Coats for Short Women”.
Dresses are probably the single most flattering piece a stylish petite woman can wear. Because of its continuous patterns of fabrics, dresses have the ultimate lengthening effect and creates the illusion of height. We suggest petite women to wear dresses as much as they can, regardless of the season.
It might seem easier for you to find dresses that fit you than to find pants, right? Even dresses from regular department are likely to look ok on short girls, since you don’t have to worry about inseam like jeans. But, did you know that neckline is an important factor to find the best petite dresses?
Different petite body types look good in different necklines. There are also certain necklines that are universally flattering to petite women. Off-the-shoulder dresses are one of them.
You may have noticed off the shoulder has been at the center stage of fashion trends in the last few years. You see them on all the famous celebrities petite or not (Olivia Palermo, Kendall Jenner and Katy Parry), whereas models walk them down the runway in all seasons.
Every season, we see fashion magazines ask the same question over and over again “Is off the shoulder trend over”? The answer is obviously not, and they probably will stay in our wardrobe as a timeless classic. It may be true that off the shoulder is cooling off a little bit, but right away you see its cousin “cold shoulder” start to be featured everywhere. Off the shoulder design is incredibly flattering for petite girls, and the reason is it shows the right amount of skin, which is an important fashion rule of thumb for petite girls.
Diane Von Fursternberg invented the legendary wrap dress in 1974, the design that made her a fashion icon at the age of 28. Today, it is hard for us to imagine the times before wrap dress was invented. Over 40 years have passed, we can still barely find another dress that is so versatile, convertible, workplace appropriate and great for day-to-night.
Like Victoria Beckham (5’3) mentioned in her latest fashion book “That Extra Half an Inch”, wrap dress is one of the things that once you have, it is hard to understand how you have lived all those years without.
Wrap dresses are perfect for fashionable petite girls who would like to highlight their curves. They are one of our favorites among all the casual dresses for short girls.
If you happen to be a lucky petite hourglass figure, then wrap dresses are just made for your. They effortlessly accentuate your slender waist and full bust.
If you happen to have a boyish figure like the petite rectangle shape that do not naturally have a defined waistline, then wrap dresses can balance out your body type by adding feminine curves.
Are you surprised that maxi dresses are short girls’ best friend? I was too, but now I’m convinced they are one of the most flattering items that every petite woman should own.
Numerous fashion editors out there are still giving advice to petite women that they should wear short dresses. While we agree short dresses always work for us, we know those fashion editors are either not petite themselves or if they are petite, they haven’t tried maxi on. Because the moment you put on a maxi dress, you will notice you look taller instantly!
If you are under 5’4, the regular size maxi dress will probably be dragging on the floor for you. When maxi dress first became a summer trend, they were only available in regular sizes, so the only way a short girl could pull it off was to first send it the tailors and cut off the extra inches. Now all the major petite clothing stores including Petite Dressing carry petite length maxi dresses and you no longer have to worry about alteration.
Other than length, other important things for you to consider include the fabrics, prints and the shoes to wear with them.
Breathable fabrics made of natural fibers are the best. The criteria is your dress should flow as you walk. Whether you like prints or solids are your personal preference. If you go with prints, keep in mind that they should be scale with your size. Generally speaking, smaller prints with shorter girls’ petite frame.
Read our guide on “Best Places to Shop Maxi Dresses for Petite Women“.
Maxi is one of our top choices for best sundresses for petite women.
One of the main reasons is they are so versatile! Whether you are looking for a beach wedding outfit or cruise wear , they will never disappoint. Because they are automatically dressy, whenever you are planning outfit for a tropical resort, feel free to throw a couple in your travel duffel and you are ready to go.
It goes without saying the most flattering shoes for stylish petite women is high heels. They instantly give you the lift of several extra inches, and, most of all, give you that confidence boost!
The most famous high heel addict in movies or TV shows is probably Carrie Bradshow of Sex and the City, who happened to be played by petite movie star Sarah Jessica Parker. All the die hard fans of Sex and the City will never forget the scene when Carrie wanted to meet Mr. Big’s new lover, the long legged Natasha, and the first thing Carrie wanted to run to the shop to get is a pair of 6 inch heels so that she can stand the same height as 5’8 feet tall Natasha! Obviously you do not need a reason like that to love heels. Sarah Jessica Parker in real life is also known for great taste of heels and created her own shoe line recently.
For petite fashionista, if you could only pick one pair of shoe, then it would have to be nude heels. Actually, skin toned is the more accurate term, since we all have different skin colors. As a rule of thumb, you want your shoes to either be the same color as your pants, or be neutral color such as nude.
If you are wearing a dress or skirt, nude shoes blends with your skin color and make your legs look significantly longer. Nude shoes are also extremely versatile, and they mix well with almost every color and you can wear them to almost any occasion. If you are packing up for a trip and do not have a ton of space to bring too many shoes, the skin-toned heels is always your best bet.
The important tip in picking the right skin toned shoe is to avoid ankle straps, as they make your legs look cut off. That means the most flattering style is pumps, compared with Mary Jane or other heels with straps.
Another tip not a lot of people have talked about is go with the low vamp pumps, i,e, those showing a little bit of toe cleavage. The reason is simple. The lower the vamp is on the shoes, the less your feet are covered, therefore, the longer your legs look. Famous designer such as Christian Louboutin makes low vamp heels to the perfection. If you are in the mood to splurge, they are worth every penny, because they extend every inch of your leg length. If you are a bit hesitant about the price tag, don’t worry, you can find similar styles at Sam Edelman and Nine West as well.
Read more on “The Best and Worst Shoes for Small Feet“.
The only caveat, however, is if you are wearing black pants in the winter, then nude shoes may not be the best choice. The reason is to always avoid shoe color that is too much lighter than your pants.