I'm Under 5'3", and These Are the Petite Staples I Swear By

I remember the first time I was mistaken for a child as an adult. I was travelling on a bus to my job at the time, and the bus driver asked me what school trip I was going on, assuming I was part of the gaggle of kids on the same bus. Reader, I was 21. For that reason, for a long time, I bemoaned my 5'3'' height. I hated that I had to ask people to reach things for me in shops and that I'd still get ID'd well into my 20s. And that's before I've even discussed issues with clothes and finding the right pieces to fit my frame.

Now that I'm in my mid-30s, not only do I love it if I get asked for proof I'm over 18, but I've also managed to hone down the ultimate items that are ideal for those of us who are a little more petite. The staples in question are all items that I've found don't swamp me and that give the impression that I'm taller than I am. It's not that I'm desperate to add to my height, but it's that I'd like to make sure I'm not mistaken for a child again. 



There might be a few surprises in there (cropped pieces, I'm looking at you), but I have my reasons, which I've detailed below. Keep scrolling, then, for all the petite staples I swear by.

1. Midi Dresses

While I'm definitely more a jeans woman, a few years ago, I discovered my love of dresses—midi ones in particular. On petite people, the midi dress gives an illusion that you're wearing a long dress, but it doesn't drag on the floor, meaning you look like you're actually really tall. Well, that's my theory, and I'm sticking to it. 

Follow this rule for knitted dresses, too. 

2. Cropped Jackets

I'd be the first person to admit that I used to be terrified of any item preceded by the word "cropped." But I'm here to tell you that these items are ideal for petite people. They're great for pairing with high-waisted trousers (another petite staple), and they don't swamp your body.

The jacket that’s long been on my wish list. 

A cute take on a traditional leather jacket. 

3. Long Coats

It's a little trickier, but the long coat performs a similar illusion to the midi dress. The idea here is, again, to make people think you're taller than you really are. Just ensure your coat is ankle-length rather than actually dragging on the floor. We're channelling the Olsens here, people. 

This coat should sit perfectly on your ankles. 

4. Oversized Shirts

The one oversized exception is the oversized shirt. Yes, there is the danger you'll look a little like you're wearing your dad's button-down, but with a little rolling of the sleeves (hit the elbows for maximum VB effect) and tucking in to waistbands, you've got yourself a chic, insouciant look.

I wear this shirt at least two times a week. 

If you have the budget for it, you can’t go wrong with The Row. 

5. Cropped Jumpers

Yep, cropped again. You won't regret this purchase either. They just sit better and tuck into jeans, trousers, and skirts without surplus bulk. 

Wear with a black bra underneath for a cool going-out top alternative. 

6. Midi Skirts

The sister of the midi dress, the midi skirt works on the same principle. Opt for slinkier versions such as the slip skirt or ones with ruffles for a fun take on the trend. 

I can think of so many ways I’d style this. 

Note the matching cropped top. 

7. Fitted Tops

Fitted tops are another petite wardrobe mainstay. Whether they're ribbed vests or body-con Henleys or shirred blouses, these are your friends. 

Bodysuits can also be a good option for petites. 

8. High-Waisted Trousers

I know that Editor in Chief Hannah Almassi will vouch for these, as she's also petite and loves a pair of high-waisted trousers. These elongate your legs, if that's what you're going for, but they're also just super comfy and look great with shirts and tops tucked in.

Of course, I also love the matching blazer. 

9. Straight-Leg Jeans

I'm a huge denim fan, and let me tell you that a pair of classic, blue, straight-leg jeans is great for anyone's wardrobe. If you're more petite, however, go for the high-waisted versions. If you can't get quite the right leg length for you, consider getting them tailored so they fit perfectly. 

10. Belts 

Where would I be without a truly great belt? Not too skinny and not too wide, this works as a way to cinch oversized items and then as a great way to break up a look with high-waisted trousers or midi dresses. 

Everyone needs a classic black belt at their disposal. 

I get lots of use out of my tan belt, too. 

11. Heels

While I might not have worn heels much over the past year and a half, I still love them. They are ideal for boosting your height in the most obvious way, but if you don't fancy getting vertigo, I'd advise sticking to lower heels. 

Chic sandals you can wear with just about anything. 

Next Up: I Tried On Loads of Petite Jeans—Here Are the Pairs I Rate

This post was originally published at an earlier time and has since been updated. 

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