Style Tips

If you’re five foot three and under, then you can officially be classed as ‘Petite’…and trust me, this brings with it a whole host of problems! This isn’t to say that being Petite is bad thing, far from it – as far as I see it, being Petite is something I’ve grown to love. I used to hate being the shortest person in the class when I was at school…but now I think it sets me apart, so I’ve long since stopped looking for clothes to ‘make me look taller’ and instead, I look for ways to show my Petite frame off to it’s best advantages! So, like I say, there is nothing wrong with being Petite…but the PROBLEM with it clothing-wise isn’t actually of our own making, the Petite clothing difficulties stem from the fact that the Fashion world just doesn’t seem to want to recognise Petite women. 

Models are your stereotypical 6ft plus coat hanger types, with legs that go on forever and not an ounce of fat anywhere on their sleek frames…and the fashion world is based all around them. Now, there’s nothing wrong with a 6ft plus skinny frame, there’s nothing wrong with ANY body shape, size or frame…but what IS wrong is that so many women, Petite’s especially, are left out in the cold when it comes to the fashion stakes. So how do we get round this? Well, we have to learn how to dress for our body shapes!

Tip One – Identify Your Body Type

Petite ladies come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, Petite doesn’t just mean teeny weeny and you can normally figure out your body type by judging your curves: You might be top heavy, bottom heavy, hourglass or pencil shaped…and, whatever your best feature is, accentuate it! If you want to take attention off large boobs or a top heavy build, then draw attention to your waist with belts and high waisted garments! Cinching in at the waist wil also create the illusion of curves if you feel like you don’t have any. If you hate your tummy, then PEPLUM is God’s greatest invention and will honestly hide a multitude of sins. There are all sorts of style tips for different body shapes, and while everyone will differ in their preferences slightly, if you’re a Petite, then there are several body-dressing tips that will apply to all, as follow below!

Tip Two – Wear Heels (Because You Can!)

You have to work with what you’re given body-wise, but I believe that if you’re Petite, then you’ve been blessed with one serious gift! The ability to wear high heels – and you need NEVER worry about being too tall. You’ll never tower over a boyfriend, you’ll never be the tallest girl in the room, you’re free to wear the highest heels you want, and there really are no limits! Heels are a serious Petite style tip because a bit of height will accentuate any outfit – it’s amazing what a slight heel will do to your figure and it take you from dumpy to demure in a heartbeat. Obviously, for everyday running around, you can’t be teetering in Skyscraper heels…but you can ALWAYS find shoes and boots with a slight heel and this is something I’d always recommend. It’s no bad thing to be little, but a bit of height boost will always leave you feeling like you’ve got a bit more authority. And why do Kurt Geiger’s exist if not to buy?

Tip Three – Less is More

You’ve got to be honest when it comes to dressing for your body type, and sometimes, no matter how much you like those ruffled shirts, fussy skirts or frilled tops…unfortunately, if you’re Petite, these are only going to make you look shorter. Whilst some won’t necessarily agree, I always, always prefer to go with ‘less is more’ in terms of colours, shapes and accessories. Like I’ve said already, we aren’t 6ft supermodels and clothes don’t just hang off our elongated frames…we’ve only got a little body to work with, so we need to emphasise it and streamline it with plain colours on a small canvas! So, go for dresses with either plain or simple patterns and then accessorise them up with bold necklaces or earrings! If you can’t resist a bit of pattern, then do ‘either or’ – which means, a bold print skirt with a PLAIN top, or a bold print top with a PLAIN skirt. Never do all out print, remember to keep some plain, dark colour in there to elongate your frame! As for shapes and cuts of clothes, then I think we all know what that means, AVOID frills, ruffles and fussiness at all costs – go for slim fits, elegant cuts and long lines to elongate your body. The ‘less is more’ is what I’ve gone by in the photo’s below, and at 5 foot 1, I felt pretty great in these outfits, simple and elegant…and that’s just how it has to be for Petite’s sometimes!

Tip Four – Shop Petite

This is an obvious one, but if you can find a Petite brand that you like…then go with it! Petite tailored items will always fit better than those in the main high street sections, and whilst there isn’t a huge amount of choice in these Petite sections, I’d rather have a Petite-fit dress than a tent dress from mainstream! My favourite Petite sections include Miss Selfridge, Topshop, ASOS, Dorothy Perkins and Next (sometimes). I am by no means saying don’t ever shop from anywhere else, but these are some recommendations for when you just NEED a quick Petite fit. Trousers and Skirts are a MUST-buy from the Petite sections…you don’t really stand a chance anywhere else, so at least you know that you’re going to find skirts that don’t trail for miles behind you on the floor (well, we hope!) Don’t try and wear items that don’t fit you just because they’re all the rage, you’ll only look ridiculous and tent-like in mainstream coats and dresses that might be beautiful, but that are also far too big for you. So dare to be a bit different, you don’t always have to be bang on trend…if you wear clothes that fit your frame properly, then you’ll always be looking your best.

Tip Five – Skinny Trousers…Always!

No matter what your body shape, elongating your legs will always be flattering. This is a purely personal preference and discovery, but I think that if you’re Petite, then you should avoid flares, boyfriend jeans and baggy trousers like the plague. They will do absolutely nothing for your figure! Dark colours on the bottom half will elongate and streamline your legs, so go for skinny jeans, leggings and slim fit trousers. Flared trousers can make your legs look really thick and a lot larger than they really are, so definitely go for skinny trousers…always! Avoid patterned tights, they make your legs look short (and really aren’t attractive in my opinion) and be really wary of floral patterns and pale colours, they don’t always do your legs justice. Sometimes you can make an exception – in my last post, I’m wearing my new-favourite pink Leigh jeans from Topshop, which actually look really good! Though the trick here is the material and cut – they are skinny, and very lightweight, so if you can’t resist the pales…then try Topshop Petite jeans, always a flattering look.

Tip Six – Be Comfortable

There are so many weird and wacky trends out there right now, and we all know how quickly fashion changes, but I don’t think it’s so wrong to accept that whilst certain items can be ‘in fashion’, they aren’t always the most flattering for certain body shapes! So bear this in mind when you’re getting dressed to go out and when your picking clothes, because ultimately, you could be wearing a dress fresh off the catwalk…but if you don’t feel comfortable in it, then it’s going to show through! If you feel comfortable in what you wear, then you’ll own the room…so show off your best assets and remember, just because something is ‘in fashion’, doesn’t always mean it’s going to be good for Petite! So until some more designers start to take Petite’s into consideration, then I don’t see why we should stick to their trends like glue…wear what works for you and dare to be a little different 🙂


  1. January 11, 2014 / 6:04 pm

    This has really helped as I struggle with finding things to fit me as I'm 5 ft 3 and my hips seem to be quite low so it leaves me with short legs lol 🙂 Thank you xx 🙂

  2. January 20, 2015 / 5:33 pm

    So much good advice here and I totally agree with you about wearing heels even if they're kitten heels. Heels instantly elongate the leg and just as importantly give you a psychological lift. It's also worth learning how to hem a dress or skirt. There are plenty of Youtube videos showing. you how to do it. There's a great sense of achievement in converting a frumpy too long skirt into an eye-catching head-turner.

  3. March 16, 2015 / 6:53 pm

    Hi Holly, good post. I'm 5'4" but that's still petite and I can't wear heels anymore due to chronic pain illness. I get so mad trying to buy jeans especially, either too long or too big around the waist when not a tall svelte female! Many clothes on us 'short stuffs' can look a bit awkward, it's all about styling, so fab blog! Heidi x