If you are a woman, you must realize that over the years sizes have gotten smaller, what used to be a size 8, is now a 4, and what used to be a 4 is now a 0. That’s all well and good if you wear a 4 or an 8, but if you started out as a 2, or even a 0, where does that leave you? It leaves you with not a lot of clothing choices. Men who are short have it a little easier, as men’s clothing is measured in inches or centimeters, so sizing remains consistent over time. Both men and women need to follow some of the same guidelines, however, as dressing for a petite body is now the #1 complaint that I hear from clients. Especially for women, there are not a lot of in-store options for those who want to look well-put-together and sophisticated.
Whether you are short, small or petite, dressing for petite body types is not simply a matter of wearing a smaller size. Proportions for petites are different, and fabrics, cuts and patterns need to be adjusted. Both women and men who are petite must look for clothing that is more fitted, tapered, and neither long nor too short. Styles should be simpler, as there isn’t a lot of room to carry off many extraneous details or bold designs.
We can all use some tricks to appear taller, and with a stronger visual presence. Wearing mostly solids in bold colors will help make a shorter person stand out more. If you do opt for patterns, stay small and with moderate contrast. Vertical lines such as neckties, stripes, seams, and contrast stitching can add the appearance of height. In this picture contrast at the neckline and shoulder encourages the eye to look upward. Sometimes wearing a longer (but not too chunky) necklace or simply leaving a jacket unbuttoned are all you need to add the illusion of height.
Regarding styles for women, dresses, which look terrific on petites, should come to the knee. Skirts and pants can be straight or with a slight flare. V-neck tops and high-waisted pants are other styles to try. Three-quarter length sleeves will add the illusion of height. All pieces should be softly tailored and fitted to the body.
Guys, you are best off wearing one or two-button jackets, which are fitted and not boxy. Please make sure that the sleeves stop right at the wrist. Pants should be flat front with no cuff. Pinstripes or solid colors work best, and ideally combine dark or deep colors with a bright or light one. Again, fit is key and clothing should be neither tight nor loose, with pants falling about ½“from the floor.
Those dressing for petite body types need to consider the size and scale of accessories. Narrow belts are best, and make an effort to avoid oversize handbags or huge sunglasses. Ties can be narrower with smaller patterns. High heels will add height, but very high platforms or other clunky shoes will overpower a shorter person. For a dramatic look, women can wear several thin necklaces together, rather than one oversize pendant.
The basic idea to keep in mind when dressing for petite body types is to choose styles that are not overpowering. Clothing, patterns and accessories should be proportional to the body type, and otherwise, general rules on color and style apply.