Positively Petite: My Top Ten Styling Tips
My dear old dad used to say “the best things come in small packages” which is true but when you’re trying to find clothes to adorn your perfectly petite frame things aren’t so straight forward.
What is classed as petite though? Well to me it’s any lovelies 5Ft2” or under but you may be a touch taller, it’s how you determine your "petiteness" at the end of the day and the fashion foibles you find with clothes. I’m just using this as a guideline as I'm fully aware that some writers and brands somehow don't factor in petite with fuller and curvier too.
So, you may find sleeves, trousers and general fit a major issue, you feel yourself checking out young girls brands or more infuriatingly, wandering your high street searching for the uninspiring ‘petite’ sections of a department store or chain.
Luckily, I have educated many a petite poppet with tips on what to look for, tricks on how to optically look taller (if that’s what you want) but most importantly to ‘embrace’ their loveliness and harmonise your frame, all with a bit of ‘clothes power’.
Obviously, every lady has different proportions and individual characteristics to consider when I work on a 1:1 basis, but there are some super basics that you can use to help.
So let me share with you my TOP TEN tips.
Work tall peeps. A good posture is everything because not only does it open you out and make the most of your inches but it doesn’t half make you feel more confident in both your stride and your mind. So head up and shoulders back and own it.
Think scale. Patterns on clothes and the size of your accessories should reflect your overall build and height. So if you’re slight, look for more delicate pieces and smaller prints and patterns on garments. If you’re shapelier, then go for things a little larger but nothing huge or overpowering as you’ll get totally swamped and your height will visually shorten you further. Keep bags and belts on the smaller side, a giant tote bag or wide belt will overpower and eat it into your proportions.
Look for a good fit. As fitted as you feel comfortable with anyway, simple and uncluttered is key. Too much interest, fabric and layering results in you looking like you’ve been eaten by an unmade bed with only your head and limbs flailing around for help.
Vertical lines. The aim is to draw the eye up and down the body without any breaks. This is an optical trick that tells your brain something looks longer/taller, instant streamlining and stretching. You can do this by using vertical stripes, prints, one colour in your outfit or using similar tones to a top and bottoms. Deeper necklines and button strips also do the same.
Face attention. Keep the interest up top by wearing brighter, lighter tops or jackets plain or patterned. Articles of interest like jewellery, scarves, hats or a fab lippie are a definite do and nothing beats a great hairstyle. Try a mid to shorter style for a flattering look or why not pile it high with a top knot, after all your fizzog is your communication centre.
Don a heel. There’s no need for an uber sky scraping heel though, if anything they will look a little awkward at the end of petite pins. A sensible heel, even a small block or cheeky wedge make all the difference and gives you a bit of confidence and helps that posture. I love a statement shoe as much as the next person but it will draw attention straight to your feet and so the brain of an onlooker won’t process the rest of your gorgeousness.
Ankle stranglers are not the best option, Any straps which sit around the ankle cut off your leg length, the more un-tampered with leg flesh the better, as they'll look longer and sleeker and to top it off try a nude shoe. Whether flat or heeled a little pointed toe will lengthen your bare legs. It’s especially important to note though that shoes need to be as comfy as possible to walk in. There’s nothing more unflattering than a `keep my shoe on’ totter or a stooped walk of pain. Monty python school of funny walks it isn’t.
Hem line lengths are important. A shorter hem on a dress or skirt will always look fab but let’s keep it real, a fanny pelmet is not a good look for anyone. Turn ups can shorten the look of your legs if you already fall short in that department but note that a cropped trouser or jean from the regular size may work for you as your petite longer length alternative. Anything that touches the floor be it trousers or skirts (unless you wear heels with them) may reduce your inch-age but If you love to go long on the bottom hem then please keep the top half of your clothes super fitted and simple and be wary of the wide leg trouser too they can knock off your scale.
Showing your personality through your clothes is awesome, so don’t be afraid to try different looks and find what feels right for you and remember different brands have varying sizes and lengths as standard so shop around.
Lastly, I just wanted to note that there are a few petite specialists out there albeit mostly on line so don’t feel too disheartened as things are changing slowly and your beautiful uniqueness is being noticed and addressed.
Here are a list of stockists, brands or useful websites too for you gorgeous girls.
Websites petite specialists
Brands that have petite ranges
Anthropologie, Asos, Banana Republic, Boden, Boohoo, J Brand, CC, Coast, J Crew, Eileen Fisher, F&F, CC, Coast, Dorothy Perkins, Gap, M&S, Minuet Petite, Next, Nordstrom, Ann Taylor, Topshop, Very, Viyella, Wallis.
Department stores with petite sections
Debenhams: The collection petite, Principles by Ben De Lisi, Minuet Petite, Precis and Lands end.
House of Fraser: various
John Lewis: various
TO TOP THIS OFF, FIND YOURSELF A SEAMSTRESS OR TAILOR and get them to make your favourite pieces work better.
I use a local lady Elizabeth Mary who despite being a Bridal Designer, also undertakes all clothing alternations to a professional standard.
Hope I’ve been helpful and remember....
Until next time…
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Love Sara x
IF YOU'RE A PETITE LOVELY AND HAVE MORE TIPS TO SHARE, PLEASE FEEL FREE TO COMMENT, I'D LOVE TO HEAR FROM YOU.