5 Tips for Petite Dressing

“You’re so lucky! It’s a good problem to have” it's one of the number one things you get tired of hearing if you’re a petite. Sure, we’re short. We’re small – we get it! In a world obsessed with size, what can seem more awesome than size XS?

BUT if you’re a petite physique, you’ve probably found out the hard way that one size most certainly does not fit all!

Yes - being a petite can have its super awesome perks (people: “aren’t you, like, 23?” you: “nope. I’m 34”) but when it comes to dressing, petites face a whole hoard of short-girl problems only short-girls can possibly understand.

Like giving up trying to look hot because despite your best efforts, you only ever get ‘cute’. Like experiencing the sinking sensation when you find out the dress of your dreams doesn’t come in XS. Like being forced to cat-fight other short people for the last remaining small size available in the clothing item you wanted.

Like finding out that yes, kids sizes do fit - but do absolutely nothing for your curves.

Welcome to elfin life!

But don’t lose hope! Petites can rock their way to all new heights with a few careful tips about dressing for size. Here’s our top 5.

Tip #1 – Get the right jeans

Ah, jeans – every petite’s worst fashion-shopping nightmare. Finding a pair that does justice to your form and figure (without making you look squat or out of proportion) is just plain traumatic. You can get lucky with cropped jeans which are sometimes a good solution if they are the right fit – but they have to hit the right spot above the ankle.

Keep an eye out for a range of jeans which do not discriminate against smaller sizes  - like The Zebra Effect’s range of Refuge Jeans for example, which have many options for petites with size 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10 plus available. Their soft-form fit holds a flattering shape even around the smaller sizes and they don’t sag.

Tip #2 – What tops?

Pay attention to the shoulder seams on any top – if the seam doesn’t sit on top of your shoulders, your top is too big for you, and will give you the appearance of being smaller than you are. Often with tops you might be able to make the most of a sneaky kids or teens size from time to time, but be careful to choose items which draw in at the waist.

If you find a top which is fine in some places but too big or baggy in others, use layers such as jackets or cami’s, to strategically cover up these areas. Baggy sleeves disappear under a tailored jacket, and extra layers create the illusion of height and depth.

Watch out for really long sleeves as well – if your top fits everywhere else but the sleeves are too long, roll them up a few times so they sit at ¾ length. ¾ sleeves accentuate fine wrists and forearms – you can even intentionally roll your shirt and jacket cuffs together for a chic, laid back look.

Tip #3 – Necklines matter

The most flattering neckline for you if you’re a petite is a V-neck or scoop shape. These have an elongating effect, whereas a round or high-neck may flatten your form too much and make you appear shorter.

If you’re building an outfit but you can’t make it work, the best way to improve it straight away is by swapping to a deep V-neck, or a cut which shows your collarbone. The open neckline will make you appear longer and elongate your torso, especially if you’re petite or have a short neck.

You could also ramp up your curves by trying a sweetheart or scoop neckline – or (non-petites look on with envy) go strapless – petite women often own the boob tube look!

Tip #4 – Hemlines matter too

We have all been there. Mini-skirts become midi-skirts, midi-skirts become maxi-skirts and maxi-skirts, well…we all know baggy is to be avoided like zebra animal print on cheetah animal print.

Whether skirts or shorts; if you’re a petite, balance is key. Pair a snug fitting top with high-waisted skirts or shorts to maintain your shape and give you height. As a general rule, shorter (but not far too short) as opposed to longer is generally better. Choose a skirt which hangs at your natural waist, experiment with tucking in your top.

Think about your shoes as well – you can create a longer line (and awesome wow factor) by choosing a shade of shoes as close to your skin colour as possible. Camel, tan or brown heels elongate your legs and lift up your mid-line.

A classic petite must-try is a just-above-knee skirt with black heels and black tights! This is such a ‘cute killer’, especially for the office.

Tip #5 - Shop Zebra

The quickest way to gain some fashion cred (and this doesn’t just apply to petites), is to forget bright, bold colours and prints and go for a more neutral colour scheme.

The same way black creates a slimming effect, it can make you appear taller and fuller than you are, because it disguises the classic cues and shadows which give away your real height or size.

Daring prints in bright colours on the other hand, will only overwhelm a petite frame - especially if it’s in floaty form fabric - so, if you do like wearing bright colours, only wear them strategically to brighten a neutral look.

We love petites at The Zebra Effect – that’s why we stock petite sizes as part of our standard range, so our petite Zebra women will always find something on-trend, which will also fit and flatter.

If you’ve always avoided online shopping because you’ve never been sure what size you’re really going to get, check out our sizing guide, which will help you shop The Zebra Effect with confidence.

And petites – whatever you wear, remember to rock your look with confidence and pride! After all, real women come in all sizes.

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