the stylist’s notebook | when you’re petite
Dearest La Couturier,
At first: I really do love your blog. It’s always a pleasure to read your wonderful posts, your ideas inspire me and the pictures always let me feel the adrenaline moving through my veins. When I read your perfect matched sentences, I really start to envy you – because at first you live in the U.S. (my biggest dream ever!), second on you have a wonderful sense of style and fashion and know how to combine and last but not least your perfect sense of fitting word choice. I’m so impressed & appreciate everything you do on this blog.
Well, I am actually writing this email because I have a big problem with my height. 5’3″ – that’s so petite, I really hate to be so small. Thus I am also very thin. But the problem is, that some clothes can’t fit with such an height. Then suddenly the cute longshirt one of your friends had worn yesterday looks kind of strange on you. And this really sucks.
My question now is: What to wear when you are as small as I am? What does suits the petite ones?
I hope you can give me some good advice. Thank you.
Darling. I fully and completely understand you. I myself can barely reach the height of 5’3″, sometimes feeling quite jealous of my future-model-friends who stand at 5’10″ and above. And you are not alone in the world; plenty of women fall under the petite category.
But there are positives to our lack in the vertical department. We can wear heels of whatever height we choose, never towering our male counterparts (which sometimes can be potentially awkward in date situations). From three inches to a whooping 5.5 inch heel – yes, we can wear them with conviction and still have to stand on our tip-toes to kiss our handsome dates like they do in the movies. And it’s also a lot easier to have clothes tailored to us; our taller girlfriends either have to skip on some fabulous pant or have to find some way to get it extended. We simply shorten the hemline!
so what to wear?
♥ Heels. You knew it was coming. It is the only way to attempt at gain some height-age so we may seem somewhat average in that department. But there are rules (as there are with everything else in this world of ours) with ankle boots. They can make us, or break us; those that cut straight across right at the ankles can make our legs seem shorter and thicker. So do avoid those; choose booties that hit a little above the ankle or below it. Or if you really do love those that end exactly at the ankle, pick something fitted, like a shoe that follows the curvatures of your foot as an ankle sock does (use your ankle socks as a guideline!).
♥ Tops that hit at the hipline or above. Longer tops lengthen your torso – and shorten your legs, thus making you seem even tinier. Tops that end at your hips are the most flattering on any body shape/size; anything shorter (like crop tops) are for the brave. If you do love the look of longer tops, save them for summer, when you can pair them with micro-miniskirts or shorts. Because tiny bottoms can make your legs longer. But long cardigans paired with a hip-length shirt and shorts/skirt/denim are the exception.
♥ High-waisted bottoms. We love anything that makes our legs longer! Pourquoi? Because anything that lengthens our legs is synonymous to having the ability to make us seem taller. It’s all the power of the illusion. So high waisted pants, shorts, skirts are our best friends. But do make sure that they hit at your natural waistline; anything higher looks, well, unnatural.
♥ Wide leg jeans or pants. Incredibly flattering on all women of every height, but moreso beneficial to us ladies. Brownie points for those who pair it with heels!
♥ Light layers. Avoid bulk, or too much layering, as both can be quite overwhelming. But light layers, like a thin tee with a thicker cardigan or leather jacket are perfect for petite body frames.
♥ Tops. They should be fitted or just slightly loose for the perfect fit. Very vague, I know, but it’s hard to put into words, I must admit. My rule of thumb for those ubiquitous “loose-fitted tops”: cling at the chest, then falls straight down from the from the fullest part of your bust. For sleeves? Fitted at the shoulders and clings to the highest point of your arms, then gradually “loosens” – I find bell-sleeves or balloon sleeves most flattering.
♥ Long boots. Those that hit right below the knee have this strange ability to lengthen our legs.
♥ Extreme hemlines. Either mini, or maxi are the most beneficial. Of course modest ones work too, but the extremities do more for our legs and height!
♥ Proportions! Are ridiculously important. The best combinations for petite women? Loose top + high waisted short/mini skirt + heels = a killer look and killer legs. Or any top + high waisted / normal waisted (low-cut pants can shorten the legs) + heels are also incredibly flattering. Skirt lengths should either be right at the fingertips (when your arms are at your sides) or just under the knee – those are the two lengths that elongate the legs. Black opaque tights + black heels/booties also do great wonders for our legs. Minidresses or loose (long) tops paired with tights give a great slimming effect or fit tiny frames well.
For inspiration? Look to the fashionable snapshots of Natalie Portman, Rachel Zoe, Nicole Richie, and (occasionally) the Olsens for hints on what to wear. Because these ladies, despite their shared lacking in the height department, make it work.