Fashion Lesson #4 Petite Proportion

By special request, I will be discussing the Petite woman today.  I started this post with the intention of covering both Petite and Hourglass shapes, but I would be doing both of these figure variations a disservice by cramming them into one post.  Therefore, I will be discussing Hourglass next week.  (Sorry IndianRose.)smile_embaressed

So who is the Petite woman?  To be in this club, you must be under 5’4.  Some of her fashion wishes may be finding clothes that fit, looking taller and finding apparel that is age appropriate (no one wants to dress from the girls section).

Let’s start with the Do’s:

  • When wearing a print, DO go for one from smaller variety. Smaller prints lend better proportion.
  • To aid in the illusion of making yourself look taller, DO choose a pinstripe suit. 
  • DO buy a skirt that hits no lower than above the knee.  Anything longer will make you look shorter.
  • DO look for tops that are no longer than your hip. 
  • DO choose shoes with a pointed toe to lengthen the look of your legs.
  • If you wear a floor length dress, DO pick one with an Empire waist (a high waist line that sets just below the bust and has a straight line to the hem).

Universal tip:  You want to create visual proportion where you break your body up into two or three segments depending on what style of clothes you are wearing.

For example, if you are wearing a top and jeans, these two segments should be in proportion to one another.  For the Petite woman, a long top and short pants will make the two segments disproportionate.  Where as if she wore a top that hit above her hip as I mentioned previously, and long pants, the two segments are in proportion.  Our goal of making her look taller is achieved.

With the three segment example, you have a top, skirt and your legs.  You want to follow the same rule for the top, the skirt should be above the knee and that leaves your legs along with a pair of pointed pumps to balance out your body line.

Now here is what you shouldn’t do:

  • Don’t wear cropped pants. The same goes for pants with a cuff. This will make our lower half look shorter.  The key is adding length.
  • Don’t wear shirts that go longer than your tush. Above or at the hip will suit you best.
  • Don’t wear large prints, they will overwhelm your size.
  • Don’t wear ankle strap shoes. It will cut off the length of your leg.
  • Don’t wear clothes that are too big or long for you. A good tailor is a must!

Before I provide my showcase choices for this figure, I found a good illustration of my Do vs. Don’t when it comes to pattern.


Look at this dress, the pattern is overwhelming her.








Now look at this smaller print, they are the same length, but the print is more in proportion to her size.

*By the way, I found both of these dresses in the Petite section at the Nordstrom site.





Here are some choices that would be well suited for a petite woman.

Click on the image to purchase the items.


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Next week I will go over the Hourglass shape.  If there are any figure variations (I never call them flaws, smile_wink), let me know and I will be glad to include them in a post.  Please let me know what you think, leave a comment!



Filed under Fashion, Fashion Lesson, fit, Hourglass Shape, petite, retail, Short Legs, Small Bust, Style, Trends

14 responses to “Fashion Lesson #4 Petite Proportion

  1. fashionistadanie

    Great post! As a petite woman, I agree with these rules. Nothing makes you look shorter than a calf length skirt, or ill-fitting clothing!

  2. Hi fashionistadanie, welcome to my blog. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment! 🙂

  3. I actually think that short women can do any type of skirt so long as they have a good pair of heels to go with it. In my experience, wearing flat shoes is what seems to make me look short when wearing skirts.

  4. Bunny

    I totally agree with all the advice on this page. I didn’t like wearing skirts because I felt short(5’4″) but after wearing skirts above the knee It mad my leg look lot longer.

  5. Rebecca

    According to this…. I’m doing a lot of things WRONG. Guess it’s time to go shopping. Any idea where I can get size 2 (kids) shoes that are professional looking and reasonably priced??? I usually end up at Famous Footwear.

  6. Hi Bunny and Rebecca, thanks so visiting and leaving me a comment. I’m glad that you both found this information useful. 😀

    Rebecca, you wear a size 2 kids?! 😯 I will do some looking around for you to see where you could find some ladylike shoes in your size.

    I wear a size 10 1/2 and that size is not carried at many stores, and certainly not for cheap.

    I’ll see what I can find for you.

    Thanks again ladies! 😀

  7. Miss Norty

    Great post! I bought 3 skirts recently, after a 15 year skirt drought, and they are above the knee – great with thick tights and knee high boots in the same colour. Why the 15 year no-skirt rule? I have fat legs!

    How about a fashion lesson on camouflaging fat legs (and the rest!) 😉

  8. Pingback: The "ponytail club" « Fashion Sensei

  9. stacy

    This was helpful. True, cuffs on trousers are not the best and tailoring is a must if you dont want to look like you were playing dress-up with someone else’s clothes. Looking younger than I am is a double whammy, I am baby faced as well as teeny…tee-shirts are never a good look for me, unless I want to look like I am still in High school. However, I am looking for some guidance about buying summer dresses and swimwear for someone 5’0, with a tube type shape (i.e. no waist), and something to cover up upper arms too.

  10. Hi Stacy, thanks for the visit and leaving a comment. I really like you suggestion. Look forward to Fashion Lesson on this topic in the coming weeks (I have two more ahead of it, so it may be a few weeks).

    Thanks again and be sure to check back as I will mention you in the post!

  11. nikki

    Great Posting! It is very helpful. Do you have any tips on finding jeans for a petite figure with a flatter butt? I never could find jeans that flatter me.

  12. Hi Nikki, thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment.

    To answer your question, I would look for a pair of jeans that have lower pockets with flaps (button). It will add a little volume to your caboose. The lower positioning of the pockets creates and illusion of pushing up the tush.

    I hope that helps! Be sure to come back and see me again! 😀

  13. trendy-trendington

    dark stockings/tights, cropped tights with big long sweaters, daring heals, and cute french hats… I love this look. I fell in love with this look it when I saw it on Malin Akerman in Watchmen. My husband also loves this look but I am having trouble finding comfortable shoes (as comfortable as they can be) and items to complete the ensemble. Plus, I am a little chunky in the middle. How do I pull this look off without looking like a fat shorty? I am 5’1 by the way.

  14. Katrina

    i am an hourglass, but i’m very short, only 5’1. Hourglass figure always says to wear stuff that keeps both sides looking even, but when i do that it tends to make me look/seem shorter. I was told for being short to play up the top so that my legs are less noticed and thus seem taller but that doesn’t go with hourglass shape. So if I am a petite hourglass, should i concentrate more on keeping myself looking tall rather then curvy?

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