Dress Your Petite Frame In Style

Being petite has always put me in a difficult spot when it comes to finding clothes that suit my petite frame. People are always under the misconception that petite women are overall tiny people. This is not true. You can be petite (5’3″ & under) and anywhere between a UK Size 0 to 14+.

So how do you know what clothes would suit your body type or shape best? Petite clothing is all about getting the measurements right. This means that the measurements for the length of the torso, length of the arms as well as trouser length have to be scaled down from regular sizes and the shoulder measurements narrowed down as well.


In this post, I’m going to briefly cover the types of petite body shapes and what type of designs and/or patterns would suit a petite woman. For petites, the greatest challenge is finding ways to elongate the body and create an illusion of a taller frame. One of the best ways to do this is to pick designs with vertical elements like stripes, or choose patterns with small prints. Details like buttons and trims which are smaller in size too help to narrow down an outfit.


PEAR: If you’re Pear shaped, then V-neck tops are perfect for you, as they help balance your shoulders and shape-up your chest area. Colored tops are preferable as they draw attention away from your lower half. And, if you love wearing dresses, then choosing dresses with a defined waist is the way to go. Since your bust line is proportionally narrower than your hips and you have a well defined waist, choose accessories that draw attention upwards to your shoulders and face; and by adding belts to your outfit you will surely emphasize your already defined waistline.

APPLE: For those of you who are Apple shaped, since you have the overall appearance of being round, semi-fitted or loosely-fitted tops and/or dresses are your best option, as they will flow through your waistline and take the attention away from your undefined waistline. Also, trousers that are flat-fronted and have a straight cut will help balance your lower half with your top; as do skirts that are slightly flared.

HOUR GLASS: Hour Glass shaped women have a full and balanced bust-hip ratio, so wearing wrap dresses and tops will do wonders for your already well-defined waistlines. If you have bigger arms then sleeves would be a flattering option to help add a bit of shape across your shoulders. V-neck tops, high-waist, pencil and/or  knee length straight skirts as well as flared, skinny and super-wide leg trousers or jeans are perfect for your body shape.

RECTANGLE / LEAN: Rectangle / Lean shaped women look their best in form-fitting clothing with detailed necklines or strapless dresses. These styles tend to complement smaller frames. Tailored jackets that flare out just below the waist are great too. You can create an illusion of a waist by adding a belt and an illusion of height by wearing skinny trousers or jeans, which help to make your legs look lean and long.

TRIANGLE: Being petite with a triangular shape is a challenge, mainly because the narrow shoulders and/or small bust and larger hips and thighs make it all the more difficult to create length. The best way forward is to choose clothing that flatters this shape and at the same time helps make your figure look leaner and longer. It would be wise to choose solid, dark colors; v-necks; cap sleeves to broaden the shoulders; high heels (avoid ankle straps that make legs look even shorter). Also, soft fabrics that flow smoothly over your body are a good option.

INVERTED TRIANGLE: Darker colors and empire waistline dresses help to create a slimming and balancing effect for the Inverted Triangle shaped women. Since your bust and/or shoulders are proportionally larger than your narrow hips and defined waist, flared or boot cut jeans or trousers are a great way to balance the top half of your body.


Short Legs / Long Torso or Waist: This means that your legs are short when compared to your upper body  i.e. your torso is too long. This makes you appear shorter than you actually are.

Women who fall in this category (like myself) can bring about a balance by following the tips below:

  • Jackets and Tops should be shorter in length (no longer than the hip bone). I personally prefer jackets than end/flare out a little below the waist.
  • Opt-in to buy tops that have small prints and details on them and at a length which is good enough to tuck into your skirts/trousers.
  • Skirts and trousers should be medium-to-high waist; and the length of the skirt should preferably be short or above the knee. These help to shorten the torso and create an illusion of longer legs.
  • Lighter colored tops teamed with dark bottoms too help to add length to the legs.
  • Jeans and trousers should be either straight or boot cut and if the hem covers a bit of your heel, your legs will look even longer.
  • Always wear heels. If you’re not comfortable in heels, try block heels or wedges for comfort and balance.
  • Shoes should match the bottom. Example: black shoes with black trousers or tights or nude or neutral shoes if you’re wearing skin colored tights with your dress/skirt.
  • Use belts with a medium-to-wide thickness
  • Choose accessories that draw attention to your face and shoulders. Chunky, statement necklaces will do the trick. But use caution when choosing statement pieces by ensuring they are not over-sized. I tend to go for the small-medium sized statement necklaces.

Celebrities who fit in this category: Mischa Barton, Jessica Alba, Nicole Scherzinger, to name a few.

Long Legs / Short Torso or Waist: This means that your legs are longer when compared to your upper body i.e. your torso is short / you’re high-waisted.

Women who fall in this category can bring about a balance by following the tips below:

  • Length of Jackets and/or sweaters ending at hip-level or slightly lower are a good way to make the torso appear longer.
  • Tops with details like stripes have a slimming and elongating effect on the torso. Details like ruching and layers above the bust draw attention away from the problem area. It is advisable not to tuck in tops.
  • Length of tops should be medium-long to long – not longer than hip-level for petite women or else it will make you look shorter.
  • Low-rise trousers, jeans and skirts are another good way to elongate your torso and lower your waistline.
  • Contrary to the Short Legs / Long Torso Body Type, dark colored tops and lighter colored bottoms help to elongate your torso and create a balance.
  • Shoes, preferably with low heels or flats are recommended.
  • Choose accessories and clothing  that draw attention to the lower half of your body. Example: a sash belt instead of a leather one or printed skirts, preferably vertical prints to add length to your petite frame.

Celebrities who fit in this category: Naomi Campbell, Danni Minogue, Mariah Carey, to name a few.

Please bear in mind that in order to choose clothes that suit your body shape/type, you have to consider both, the horizontal and vertical shapes of your body, follow the rules and mix-n-match accordingly. The most important bit to remember is keep your focus on creating an illusion of length and height.

To give you an idea of what I’m talking about, I’ve created a Formal Party Look for my body type, which is a combination of the Pear Shaped and Long Torso or Waist / Short Legs body types. You can shop the look here.

Here’s a short clip that I found helpful and appropriate to share in this post. Enjoy!

❤ Juliana

Note: I’m not an expert and all suggestions are just guidelines to help you get started. Good luck finding the perfect fit! 🙂


3 comments on “Dress Your Petite Frame In Style

  1. Pingback: New Look Does Petite | Project Petite

  2. Pingback: For the Petite Woman – Tips and Tricks | Anakiya's Closet

  3. Pingback: Legging Etiquette | Candy J. Weeks

Thank you for stopping by my page; I'd love to hear from you! ~ Juliana.

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