Thursday, March 11, 2010

Petite Fit

Know your measurements and save shopping time

Petite women are classified in the clothing industry as being 5'3" (159cm) short, or less. Women sized clothing is designed for women 5'5" (164cm) tall.  So, it is little wonder we Petites have such difficulty shopping for clothing... the clothing is designed for longer torsos, longer arms and longer legs.

Source: Ann Taylor Loft
Most stores have their size charts on line.
Its an interesting exercise to compare personal sizes to theirs.

Your measurements
Having a full set of my personal body measurements with me when I shop really is quite helpful.  I know, it's a bit of a drag doing the measurement exercise, but it really is quite helpful in the long run.  It helps me to...
  • Understand my body shape. 
  • It saves time in the dressing room.
  • When I need to I can shop on the run, and try on at home when I have more time as well as the right underwear and shoes to be really sure that it will work for me.
These are the measurements I keep in my purse.

Shoulder to Shouder: From the edge of one shoulder to the edge of the other shoulder for shopping for jackets and shirts.
Bust: From under your arms, around the fullest part of your bust.
Waist: At your navel. Low Waist: 1" down from your navel.
Hip: 4" (10cm) from your natural waist. Low hip: 8" (20cm) from your natural waist.
Thigh: At its widest point.
Rise: Measure from the natural waist down through the crotch, holding the tape a little loose, through the legs and up to the waistband at the back. Repeat for the Low waist.  
Inner trouser seam: from the inside of the crotch to the floor.

Source: Lane Bryant
Alter hemlines to the narrowest part of the leg.

  • Sizes vary between brands and stores - I don't bother to try and find my size, having my measurements with me I save time by immediately enlisting the help of the sales person. She knows the layout and sizing structure of her store, and with my exact sizes on hand she can reach for my right size and fit much quicker than I can. This usually means the right size the first time.

Source: Lane Bryant
This is a great style for Petite Plus sizes - the V neck adds length.
The length of this top is perfect - 1" inch longer would have needed tailoring.

  • I keep a small tape measure in my handbag for the days when I'm shopping in a hurry. A few quick measurements means I can pay for the item and be out of there in just a few minutes.  Remember to check the return policy of the store beforehand in case you decide not to keep it. 
Source: JC Penny
Petites look taller in hemlines as close to the floor as possible.  

The perfect fit
As a Petite I shop in the Womens, Misses and Petites Departments and almost always will have to stop by the tailor to have one of my purchases tweaked in some way.  It's a misconception that ready-to-wear actually is ready to wear.  In fact, an affordable perfict fit right off the rack is almost impossible and great tailoring is a must to ensure my clothes fit well.

  • Remember if a garment was designed for a taller women it may include large prints, horizontal stripes and stitching which were meant to flatter the taller figure.  Tailoring this garment will give a better fit but the print or styling details could still be wrong for the Petite frame, so keep this in mind before committing.
Source: Nordstrom
Large prints may overwhelm short Petites - keep an eye on proportions at all times.

Good fit means clothing that skims the body without pulling or bulging and correct proportions in lengths and patterns. It takes a little extra effort to focus on the details and do what is required but the payoff is looking and feeling great in your clothes.

Thanks for dropping by today!


  1. Great advice for my petite partner! Thanks!

  2. love this blog with petite information! Great info!


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