A few weeks back reader Stacy left me the below comment on Fashion Lesson #4 Petite Proportion:
This was helpful. True, cuffs on trousers are not the best and tailoring is a must if you don’t 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.
I promised Stacy that I would address the figure variation of being not only petite but more of a straight shape as well.
Although a double-edge sword, the fact that she has a youthful appearance is something that we all would love. However when your peers in the working world or clients think you look the same age as Miley Cyrus, you have a bit of a problem.
If your youthful glow is working against you, it’s important to convey a sophisticated manner. As mentioned in Fashion Lesson #4 you must shop in the petite section. Big baggy clothes as you said, can make you look like you are playing dress up. Stores like Banana Republic, Ann Taylor/Loft and major department stores carry petite sizes that will project a more mature image.
(click on images for shopping information)
Stay away from the Junior section if your goal is to look older. Avoid stores like Urban Outfitter or American Apparel. I personally love these stores and have featured their collections in past posts, but unless you are just hangin’ with friends, take your business elsewhere.
As a petite, I also recommend wearing heels to add a little height. When I was in High School, my best friend’s mom was a petite woman and was never without her heels. I mean never. She was known to wear a pair of sky high wedge sandals when cleaning the house.
Now it’s ridiculous to go that far. Everyone should be able to wear flats, but on those occasions that you want people to take you seriously, kick it with some fantastic heels.
Now let’s address the second part of Stacy’s question the Tubular or Straight figure. If you are lacking JLo curves, there are a few tricks that will make a straight woman look a little more curvy.
This wrap dress from Ann Taylor does a great job of defining a waist with the tie and the A line adds some fullness making your waist look smaller than your hips. (I’m not a huge fan of the hat with this dress, but that just my personal aesthetic.) Further, be sure to add a punch of color to this ensemble. The black color block shoes above would look great with this and a colorful bracelet or necklace will make it look less like you are on your way to a funeral.
Not to belabor the point, but this dress from Banana Republic would be another terrific option. The dress is a little longer, so be sure to wear high heels in a neutral shade to visually extend the length of your legs.
Here’s a shorter option from BCBG.
If the object is to give the appearance of curves, don’t pick a dress that will only make your figure look more shapeless, like this dress. Do you see how the line across the chest and the lower stripe on the pockets create a box? This will only make your figure look boxier. Who would this dress be good for? My guess would be a short waist woman. The high stripe contrasted with the low stripe on the pockets gives the illusion of more area.
If you want to look like you have a little junk in your trunk, this suit jacket with the peplum flounce in the back adds a little curve to the rear view. It also comes in at the waist and out at the hips creating definition. The other thing that I love about this suit aside from the sleeves being scrunched up and the collar raised (very 80’s chic), is the fact that the trousers are pinstripe. This will add a little length to your leg. The only downside of this suit is that because of the cuff, I would prefer that the length were a little longer.
When thinking about shorts this summer, traditional rules are that petites wear mid thigh or shorter shorts. I did however feel like you could break the rules with these cropped pants and here’s why. First, they are flesh tone. If you pair them with a flesh tone cork wedge and a darker top like the one illustrated, the line of the leg is much longer. If you have a darker skin tone this particular style comes in many shades that could compliment your complexion.
You mentioned that you wanted to keep your upper arms covered, so here is another option for the top from J.Crew. The small print will not be overwhelming for your size and will add a focal point to your upper half leaving your legs to look long and lean.
Finally, you asked about swimwear. Now this is really tough. Primarily because I have never seen you, so I can only go by a generalization. I chose cuts based on a slender figure, only because that is the general impression I got when I read your message. But, I will include some other options for you straight gals who want to suck it in a little more.
In general you will want to look for something with a little flair to it if you are looking for something beyond a typical bikini.
This suit has a cute little skirt. You may also notice that the model in this picture has a bit of a straight figure herself. Also, the V neck for the to draws the eye down unlike the Don’t example I will discuss in a little bit.
I love this little suit from Juicy Couture. The top adds a little visual interest and like the peplum suit earlier, a little flair.
Stay away from the boyshort cut. If you look at this example with the same model, the horizontal line in the top and the bottom only make her look even more square.
It’s a bit of a stretch I know because most of us would love to have her body and really she could carry off just about anything (I’m sure that’s why J.Crew hired her).
This might be another sexy option. No matter how small your breasts are, just hoist them up and push them out a little bit like the model in this picture.
If you are concerned about your midsection, the ruching on this suit also helps camouflage any imperfections.
Stacy, I really hope this advice helps. I was a little out of my comfort zone on the swim suits, but I hope you find something that might make sense.
As always, if you have any questions that you would like a Fashion Lesson on, feel free to leave a comment.