How to Dress When You’re Petite and Where to Shop

Petite Gals, this post is for you! I’ve had so many of you asking for advice on how to dress and where to shop that I have put together a handy style guide! Here’s how to style up in more ways than one!

What’s Considered Petite?

If you’re on the short side (under 5’4″) and smaller-boned than average, you’re most likely considered petite.

Dressing as a petite can be challenging—ridiculously long sleeves, ill-fitting jackets, and pants that always need hemming. Getting dressed can feel like so much work!

Finding the right balance between too big and baggy regular sizes and smaller sizes that look junior is difficult but not impossible, when you stick to petite-sized clothing.

What is Petite-Sized Clothing?

Petite-size clothing is specifically designed for women  5’4” and under. It has been cut proportionally to fit and flatter the petite woman’s frame. But as you may know, Petite clothing is not always easy to find!

How to Get Started Dressing When You Are Petite

The first step in looking fabulous when you are petite is to change your mindset. You need to stop seeing your petite size as a limitation and instead embrace it as a form of self-expression to show off a style that is uniquely yours.

Next, you must know the best petite styles and understand how to assemble petite outfits. Then, it’s where to find and shop for the best petite clothing to make you look fabulous!

I have suggestions. Let’s dive in!


Petites - Orange top

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How to Dress When You Are Petite – Best Styles & Styling Tips

Tip #1: Choose High-Waisted Pants

Opting for high-waisted bottoms, such as pants, jeans, or skirts, is a game changer for petites. High-waisted clothing sits higher on the waist, making your legs look longer and leaner. If you tuck in your top, you’ll enhance the illusion of being tall and highlight your waist, which also helps.


Tip #2: Wear Off-The-Shoulder, V and Deep Necklines

Off-the-shoulder, scoop and V-necklines elongate your neck and give the illusion of height by drawing the eye upwards. Sweethears necklines work too. Be cautious with higher necklines like crew neck and turtleneck. Make sure they are not too bulky.  They should fit close to your body. A mock neck is better than a high turtleneck.


Petites - Blue Dresses

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Tip #3: Consider the Hemline on Dresses

Hemlines that fall just above the knee will lengthen your legs. If you’re not comfortable with a shorter length and prefer a maxi dress, choose one with a slit so some of your legs show. Revealing some skin will make your legs appear longer as you walk. Midi dresses are fine also but go for one that is belted or has cinching or ruching at the waist to create a defined waist.


Petites - Lavender monochromatic outfit

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Tip #4: Wear Monochromatic Colors

Monochromatic dressing is wearing the same color or shades of the same color from head to toe. This styling trick creates a long column of color, which has a slimming and elongating effect. When you don’t wear contrasting colors, you don’t have visual breaks in your outfit and appear taller. You can experiment with different textures, like this tweed blazer, to add depth to monochromatic looks.


Tip #5: Pay Attention to Proportions

Proportions are key when it comes to flattering your petite figure. Focus on well-fitting clothes that highlight your curves and create a balance between your upper and lower body. For example, if you wear a chunky sweater, pair it with slim-fitting bottoms like bootcut jeans or slim ponte pants. Similarly, wearing wide-leg jeans or a flowy skirt, wear a form-fitting top but not skin-tight.


Tip #6 Keep Accessories Understated

The best way to wear jewelry when petite is to keep it minimal and understated so it doesn’t overwhelm your small frame. If you like chunky necklaces, wear only that and skip the stacked bracelets and long drop earrings.

As for bags, bigger is only sometimes better! Oversize totes will become the focal point and make you look smaller than you already are.  It would be best if you had all eyes on your well-constructed outfit, so keep the size of the bag in proportion with the rest of your look.


Tip #7: Wear Heels (Any Kind!)

Petite gals, you know heels are your friend, but they don’t have to be 4″ stilettos to make a big difference. Low-block and kitten heels add a hint of height, and that’s all you need to boost yourself. Plus, these styles are very comfortable. Also, could you look for shoes with pointed toes, as these elongate your legs? One final tip: Match the color of your shoes to your skirt or pants, and you will look taller.


Where to Shop for Petite Women’s Clothing Over 40

Now that we’ve talked about how to dress when you are petite let’s talk about where to shop. Here are my favorite places for stylish petite clothes that fit any budget.


Ann Taylor – quality basics with splashes of color for work and weekends.


Boden – unique and original pieces focused on wardrobe mainstays you’ll own for years.


JCPenney has an impressive selection of petite clothing, and the prices are incredibly reasonable.


J.Crew – wardrobe classics with a hint of preppy.


LOFT – modern clothing designed to flatter every body type and make you feel confident and beautiful.


Nordstrom – Many of Nordstrom’s modern and trending styles are available in petite sizes.


Talbots – offers a great selection of modern and classic petite styles in cheery colors and prints.


Are you looking for the perfect pants for Petites? Spanx and Not Your Daughter’s Jeans also offer petite sizes; their styles are always classy and modern.

Looking stylish when you are a pint-sized fashionista doesn’t have to be a nightmare. Petite clothing specifically tailored to your petite figure can make a huge difference and the selection keeps getting better! Remember good things come in small packages!

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4 thoughts on “How to Dress When You’re Petite and Where to Shop

  1. Deb, Thank you so much for this post for petites. I definitely need to watch the necklines on new items I purchase. As you know, I am 5’2″ This will be a reference that I refer back to as time goes on.

  2. Thank you for all this helpful info! Everything you said is correct, and my problem is that petites aren’t carried in stores much around here. We have Loft, Talbots, J-Jill, & BR, which is getting fewer petites in stores, etc. Ann Taylor is a factory outlet with petites, but you can hit or miss there since COVID-19.BR is also a good-quality factory outlet, but small items are scarce in the store. I am excited to check out Boden, as you suggested. I am a PXS and 0P or 2P in jeans and bottoms. One question I have for you is whether it is okay to wear huge prints. I noticed one looked bigger but was cute! I loved all your suggestions, and thank you so much for thinking of us petites. For anyone wanting to try Chico’s, order the 000 in cropped length if my size and 00P are too big. The 000 regular misses is an inch smaller in measurements. Great quality clothes. I do have some Talbots, too, but mostly jeans or bottoms.

  3. Deborah,
    This is so helpful! You are right; the selection of petite clothing has improved greatly. It is important to have clothing tailored to a petite frame to look well together. I shop at Nord, Chicos, Talbots, AT, and Loft. My wardrobe is classic but feminine.

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