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How to Dress for your Petite Figure

Click the images above to view these petite members’ rental histories

Dressing for a petite figure can seem like an uphill battle, but we have some tips and tricks to help you style your body type in the most flattering way. From patterns to silhouettes, there are many ways to highlight your best features and dress your petite frame in a way that makes you look and feel like your best self.

What does petite mean?

Petite is determined by your height, not your weight. You are considered petite if… 

  • You are 5’4” or under
  • Your pant inseam is 27” or under for full length pants
  • You notice clothes that aren’t petite seem extra baggy or have excess fabric
  • You notice that sleeves are too long or the shoulders drop too low

How to dress a petite figure:

  1. Know Your Body Shape: Knowing your body shape is essential. Different cuts, silhouettes, and styles look different on different bodies! Finding your body type is step one in finding out how to dress your petite figure. If you need help figuring out how to determine your body shape, click here
  2. Find petite-friendly styles in non-petite sizes: There are many non-petite styles that will flatter your petite figure, making it easier to get the variety you want in a size that makes you feel great. 
    • If you have a shorter torso, crop tops provide a great fit.
    • Look for cropped or ankle-length pants to accommodate your height. 
    • Skirts are a great option because they provide more flexibility in length than pants. Mini skirts will tend to fall slightly above your knee, and midi skirts will likely be maxi length. 
    • Avoid maxi length items unless specifically made for petite women. 
    • Wrap style pieces can help define your waist and bring shape to your outfit. 
    • High-rise or mid-rise pants/skirts can help raise your waistline and elongate your body.  
    • Off the shoulder necklines elongate your neck/top and even your proportions.

If you are not sure how these styles will look on you, check out this collection of petite items hand picked by Mia, a petite Armoire team member.

  1. Look for lighter shades: Choosing clothing items that lean towards the lighter shades can help bring definition to your outfits. Dark colors minimize the body and hide your shape. When choosing to wear dark colors, pay attention to the silhouette and what you are pairing the items with. For example, picking pieces with a tighter fit, items that wrap the waist, or pairing your dark items with lighter colors. 
  1. Styling your non-petite pieces with accessories to add shape: Using styling tricks to help accentuate your shape is essential.
    • A useful trick for longer tops is to tuck in your top or tuck in the bottom of your top into the underwire of your bra to shorten the length. 
    • Wear pointed toe shoes to help lengthen the body. Match your shoes to your pants. For example, if you are wearing black trousers, wear black heels or booties to elongate your legs. 
    • Belts are your BFF! Belting your dresses and tops can provide extra shape and emphasize your waist.
    • Nude heels paired with high waisted skirts can help lengthen your legs and even out your proportions.
  1. Patterns, Lengths & Colorschemes: Looking for these patterns and color schemes in your outfits will flatter your petite body
    • Vertical Lines: Vertical lines or stripes will lengthen your body.
    • Pleats: Pleated skirts, pants or dresses will make you appear taller.
    • Monochromatic Color Scheme: When building your outfits, focus on keeping a color scheme that is similar throughout. 
    • High-Low Silhouettes: High-low dresses and skirts can help show off your legs and elongate your body.
    • Midi Length: You might think that wearing midi pieces would make you look even shorter, SPOILER ALERT: they make you look taller!
    • Smaller Prints/Patterns: Look for small patterns, such as small polka dots or thin vertical lines, as larger prints can be overwhelming on your small frame.

Top tips from our Members

Elysia (aka @elysiareports)

Elysia used to be a TV news reporter and she noticed that many people on television opt for wearing one solid color, usually dresses. The continuity of color elongates your body and looks great on camera. With all this said, after nearly two decades of her wearing proportioned solid colors, she tends to gravitate toward patterns and florals now simply because they make her happy. “Looking great is mostly about wearing what makes you happy anyway. Confidence looks great on any body type.”

Elysia’s Tips & Tricks:

  1. Rule of Thirds: In photography you try to place your subject in the left, right, top or bottom third of a photo for the best composition. This works for outfits as well, especially on petite frames. For example, if you have a longer skirt, tuck in your top or choose a cropped shirt to visually divide your body into thirds instead of down the middle. Also, you can balance tighter pants with looser, longer tops and vice versa.

Consider accenting where your body naturally tapers: Show off your neckline and ankles or add a belt to show off your waist.

Jewel (aka @rentedthriftedreal)

Jewel has been renting from Armoire for a little over a year now and has been obsessed with our unlimited plan to venture into new styles!

Jewel’s Tips & Tricks:

  1. Tailoring is Everything: When you’re working with a petite frame, certain cuts can overwhelm your body so I always opt for tailored pieces. Choose blazers, corseted tops and structured skirts to ensure the silhouette is streamlined and proportional.  Pick pieces that skim the body without a lot of fabric or layers because, on a petite figure, even a centimeter can make a world of difference! 
  2. Empire Waist FTW: One of my fave fashion tricks is wearing a maxi dress with an empire waist. My faves are from Tanya Taylor and Lilly Pulitzer. The elongated skirt makes you appear taller and it’s super comfy to boot.
  3. Nude Heels, Nude Heels, Nude Heels: I swear by nude heels with everything. Whether you’re wearing Armoire’s best casual pants or renting a party dress, a nude shoe can give the illusion of extra length. It brings the eye upward and, if you opt to wear a heel, you can give yourself a few extra inches. Not into heels? Flats will give a similar effect. Just make sure the color matches your skin tone.

Now that you know how to dress your petite body, we have hand selected the best Armoire pieces to flatter your body type! Ultimately, your personal style comes down to personal taste, so while these may be petite clothing trends, you’re the best judge of what clothes will make you look and feel most powerful and confident.

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