Q&A: For the Petites

Sharon asks: Being 5’1″ and petite, it is so hard to find clothes that fit properly. Where do you find clothes that fit you so well for your size? Especially designer clothes? I once tried to buy a pair of designer jeans and they were waayyyyy too long. Do you get them altered everytime?

Hi Sharon! Great question. I get asked this question a lot, especially with my work clothes. I am 5’2″ and with heels I am at most 5’6″ but I am also short legged. I would say that 90% of pants/jeans that I buy do not fit properly so I do get them altered. Most of the time it is just the length but sometimes I do need to get them taken in at the waist as well. Remember that when you get them altered, bring your shoes that you think you would most likely wear with them. That way the seamstress can take the best measurement. For jeans, wash them first as they will shrink a bit and then get them hemmed for the best fit. Also, if you find a good seamstress, stick with her and treat her REALLY nicely!! Mine knows me so well that when J brings in his alterations, she writes MY name down on the tag! The best part is, if I ask, she will even do my alteration in one day. Such a great luxury to have considering most alteration places take a week to get them back to you!

I find that even in the Petites department of most stores, the clothes don’t fit me well so I don’t spend a lot of time looking in the Petites section. However, I do recommend Banana Republic as they make great fitting pants for petites. I don’t shop anywhere special, I usually just buy my size and then bring it to the seamstress to get it altered.

If I don’t feel like getting it altered (I can’t justify the cost of alterations on cheap clothes) I just end up belting it like I did for this and this. Or hiding it underneath a cardigan or blazer. It’s all about utilizing what you have and making it work!

MiShi asks: I understand that you are petite, as am I, and want to know what you feel are fashion dos and don’ts for petite women. What looks are flattering/unflattering?

Hi MiShi! This is also a great question because as much as I love some of the fashion/stylings that I see in magazines, I know that I could not pull it off so here are some thing that I like to go by…

#1: When wearing skirts and dresses, watch where it lands on your legs. If it cuts you off on the calf, that is a no-no. It has to just be short (above the knee) or long (a few inches past the knee – closer to your ankle). The in between look just does not work for girls with short legs like me. It ends up making me look even shorter and gives me bigger calves. This actually relates to the first question because I do get dresses/skirts altered to the appropriate length. This is also a big reason why I am not a fan of capri pants. I can make some exceptions but for the most part they just do not work for petite woman. And the same goes for when you wear leggings. Either pull them up by your knee or wear them down to your ankles. Half way just does not work.

Cute girl, cute dress, but you see how it cuts off her calves?
It would’ve been cuter if cut above the knee.

#2: Wear heels as much as you can! The one advantage of being petite is that you CAN wear heels and you have small feet that makes everyone love your shoes 🙂 We can pull off wearing short skirts with heels because it doesn’t look nearly as sexy as taller ladies. But of course, don’t go too short. Nobody wants to go around looking like Holly Hooker do we?

One of my favorite petite celebs – Nicole Richie.
Short skirt, low cut top (ok the top is a bit too low cut)
but with the heels it still works.

#3: Monochromatic tones on your bottom half. If you look through my lookbook you will see I wear a lot of black tights + black heels or black leggings + black heels or boots. By wearing all the same color on the bottom it creates the illusion of a longer line.

The adorable Lucy Liu (love her!)
By wearing nude shoes, it keeps your eyes on her dress and face and elongates her legs.

#4: Concentrate on your top half. This goes along with #3 but I feel like my top half is better than my bottom half. I have a super flat butt and short legs so I try not to bring too much attention to that area. Instead I like to wear bright(er) colors on top or fun necklaces/earrings so those are the areas that people see first.

#5: Form fitting is always better than baggy but if you want to do baggy, avoid wearing too many baggy items at once. I often like wearing loose fitting cardigans but pair it with a form fitting tank or tucked in blouse. This is the perfect example of too many loose fitting items which made me look chunkier and shorter. If you think it is too baggy, tuck it in! This works for anyone.

Love how Hilary Duff tucked in this cardi. Also, note rule #1 & #2.

#6: Skinny Jeans!! It took me awhile to get into skinny jeans because I thought you had to have super long legs to pull them off but actually skinny jeans give the illusion of long legs. If you have yet to try them, do it! And then come back and tell me how much you love them 🙂 I bought my first pair a few years ago and haven’t looked back. The majority of my jeans are now skinny or straight leg jeans.

Pairing skinny jeans with a flouncy blouse and heels
like Rachel Bilson is the easiest way to look stylish and unfussy.

#7: Embrace being Petite! The best advice I have for everyone is just being confident in yourself and the way you look. If you feel good, you will look good, no matter what you wear. It just works!

I adore that Hollywood has so many petite girls with great styles.
Another one of my favorites, Mila Kunis. Just gorgeous.

And of course the ultimate in petite, the always fashionable Olsen Twins. I live by their motto of high heels. If only I could afford all their shoes!

top images via Popsugar
olsen images via In the Olsens Closet (best blog ever if you are a fan of their style!)

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  • AmyJean
    November 25, 2008 at 5:06 pm

    TIFFANY! This is all excellent advice. I know my legs are UBER short b/c petite Shorts are often long. And my friends who are my height 5’5 can wear longer pants than i can. I just bought my first pair of skinny jeans the other day too… so i’m very very excited to try them. I got them to wear tucked into boots, but i may give it a go with just heels! Love all the advice you give and its truly EXCELLENT advice!

  • Savvy Mode SG
    November 25, 2008 at 5:49 pm

    great advice!

  • Fashion Therapist
    November 25, 2008 at 6:24 pm

    You took the words out of my mouth. Being vertically challenged can be a pain, but love the benefits of it. Also designer denims now make petites like Sevens, Citizens, Joe’s and Paige.

  • ...love Maegan
    November 25, 2008 at 6:27 pm

    so true about skirts and heels. I am 5'7" and by no means petite and if I wear certain skirts or dresses with certain heels, I definitely look stripper-esque and I hate it!! I mean, it works for going out at night to a bar but not in the day and certainly not to work.

    Great Q&A …..I'm addicted to gilt too!

  • Rachel
    November 25, 2008 at 8:04 pm

    Those YSL shoes are HOT HOT HOT!
    They probably cost more than my 2 week paycheck LOL

    I love the Q & A session I actually learned about nude heels.

  • MiShi
    November 25, 2008 at 8:40 pm

    First off, congrats on a beautiful wedding and thanks for taking the time to answer our questions! Great advice and I’m glad you included photos to remind us that not all celebs are model-tall. I love skinny jeans too, but they’re not as flattering on me bcuz I have hips and a booty…straight leg jeans are perfect!

    Love your blog!

  • Nina (femme rationale)
    November 26, 2008 at 1:30 am

    GREAT advice! i NEVER EVER shop in the petites section, also. i think the best thing would be to find a good tailor and make them your best friend.

  • .reese.
    November 26, 2008 at 8:14 pm

    awesome post Tiffany! love my skinny jeans…makes me feel taller. and yes yes yes on the elongating your legs with monochromatic scheme. it so works!

  • .reese.
    November 26, 2008 at 8:16 pm

    p.s. those are all my fav fashion celebs too!!

  • Diabolina 3.1
    November 26, 2008 at 8:19 pm

    wonderful advice. it’s so interesting to me the different things different things women have to consider when dressing. alot of your tips pertain to all women tho.

    wishing i was 5 foot 2 or 5 foot 10 – this in between shit is boring 😉


  • dolcechic
    November 26, 2008 at 9:44 pm

    Thanks for the great tips…I just wish I was proportioned! Being close to 5’3 with long legs and big feet isn’t the best combo!

    Happy Thanksgiving 🙂

  • sharon
    November 27, 2008 at 5:51 am

    Thanks for answering my question! Great q&a/style advice for us vertically challenged ppl. I will take this all into consideration when updating my wardrobe. I too just bought my first pair of skinny jeans this year and it easily became my fave item to wear. Love them. =)

  • The Lil Bee
    November 28, 2008 at 4:50 pm

    From one short girl to another, these are some great picks and suggestions. Love the YSLs.

  • MizzJ
    November 30, 2008 at 9:25 pm

    Omg those YSL’s just made me drool! Great article and tips. Yeah for short girls! At least we can alter our clothes, whereas those who are super tall have more trouble than us finding clothes to fit their length. I’ll have to watch out for the knee-lengths, I do tend to have a weakness for them :p

  • Lady Lala
    November 30, 2008 at 10:13 pm

    nice post!
    i really like Rachel Bilson´s look…
    i have just found your blog, so happy 😉