As a petite girl, I’d hope to have an innate armoury of style tips that allow me to make sensible (read: lengthening) outfit decisions on a daily basis. I don’t mind my height, but the impression of an extra few inches isn’t entirely undesirable. Being on the small side can create large problems: I’ve been flummoxed by many a trouser-to-shoe ratio and have finally configured my brain to understand that buying cropped jeans actually equals buying full-length jeans—and that to aim for the aforementioned cropped cut is going to involve some sewing skills of my own.
There are, unfortunately, very few brands who offer petite versions of their clothes. I have tried and tested many but would say the best on the high street are Banana Republic (especially for tailoring), and I’ve found an excellent small-shoe specialist online. But otherwise—and I’m sure you’ll know this if you are also petite—the options are pretty poor.
Even though I’ve developed some canny lengthening tactics over the years, it’s good to have a refresher course and look to other petite ladies whose style I admire. Decoding some of the fashion industry’s small but perfectly formed wardrobes has confirmed some of my ideas, but also generated some new ones.
So if you, too, struggle with your height every day of the week, here are some thoroughly researched petite style tips you’ll want to pick up right away.
Style Notes: Yes, I’d love to look like a seven-foot-tall Nordic goddess in a jumbo, oversize, full-length sack dress worn with flatforms, but the reality is I’ll be more vicar of Dibley than so-and-so of this super-cool style blog. Jenny Walton’s combination here—blouse on top and fitted shorts—is a great idea for the summer that can be moved on into the colder months with slimming jeans. And vice versa for voluminous bottom halves.
Style Notes: Anything in between these extremes is a tough nut to crack: A shoe-grazing hemline falls awkwardly, making legs look shorter than they probably are. Opt for cropped or floor-skimming, and you should be onto two winning trouser silhouettes. I realise heels are often preferable, but for petite girls, cropped trousers and denim can look rather natty with flats—see Aimee Song, for starters.
Style Notes: That triangular line coming from a high-waisted skirt or culottes, for example, does some major eye-distracting trickery. It extends lines and creates a super-flattering silhouette for most body shapes too. A-line skirts are a trick that stylist and creative consultant Kate Foley often uses.
Style Notes: There’s a reason tailored clothes are so desirable—when cut right, they can do incredible things for anybody of any style. A perfectly fitted blazer can lengthen your torso, slim your waist and be a hip-skimming purchase all in one. Worth investing in.
Style Notes: You know how Kim Kardashian West and Carine Roitfeld always wear OTKs under skirts, hiding the top of the boots and ensuring that no slice of leg is on show? It’s very clever: The minute you reveal a smidgen (even in tights), the long lines will be broken and the silhouette interrupted.
Style Notes: If you can’t be bothered/don’t have the time to make any clothing adjustments yourself (fine, we hear you), be sure to get them sorted with a local tailor. It will make you feel more confident in each and every piece, so you’ll be more likely to get proper wear out of your purchases. Take them over in a batch and watch your daily outfit options soar.
Style Notes: Whether printed or plain, there’s a strong case for wearing the same pattern or colour head to toe. It allows you to streamline, even if the shapes are more adventurous—see Natasha Goldenberg’s herringbone trouser suit from Balenciaga for a fantastic recent example. Side note: Victoria Beckham also uses this tack to look taller.
Style Notes: Because let’s face it, you’ve been doing this one for years without even meaning to. Ahead of the curve much?
Style Notes: The kind of trousers, jeans or skirts that hang off your hips should be saved for extra-tall girls who have a little leg length to spare. Mid- and high-rises will always elongate petite-girl legs—take a tip Lucy Williams.
Style Notes: The slashed cut at the front of this new shoe trend draws the eye and extends short and long pins alike. So make the most of the current boom and stock up.
Style Notes: There’s a common myth that petite (and particularly busty) girls cannot wear high necklines. I say nonsense! Ensure your chosen top-half is more fitted than chunky, wear an excellent bra that hoists everything up, and be sure to define your waist. There’s no reason you can’t hop onto this autumn essential.
Next up! The biggest seven S/S 17 fashion trends.
Opening Image: Sandra Semburg