Lately, Jan wrote to me: « I love your pages but being short and round, size 14-16, it would be great to have some more ideas of classic and casual fashion ideas« .
Reading Jan’s words, I realized that if I’ve already spoken about round silhouettes (here and here), I’ve never written about the specific issues that petite or short women can face when not sizing the lengths brands usually sell.
However, I’m not really tall myself and my own daughter, Pauline, is 5,08 ft (155 cm) then, shopping with her quite often, I really know how complicated it can be to find the right clothes…(apart from the fact that she has her very own taste ;)).
NB : This article contains affiliate links, which means I may earn a small commission if you click through and makes a purchase. Still I’m independent and in no way influenced by any advertiser or commercial initiative.
First, few misconceptions should be precise, as
1/ Never wear long length clothes
It’s not that simple. More than the length, you have to consider the shape of the clothes.
In fact, a long dress or a long skirt can look very nice if:
– if it comes in a fluid fabric. A fabric that moves when you walk and gives your silhouette a nice general allure.
– it’s not overlong. I mean a skirt or a dress that drags on the floor and totally hide your feet. Show some skin, at least your ankles. Knowing a good tailor (or learning how to make a hemline) can be really helpful (same for pants).
The one on the right will look nicer on a short silhouette. Even if there is a slight length difference between these 2 skirts from La Redoute the one that shows more skin doesn’t compact the silhouette.
– the cut isn’t too large or baggy looking.
Even if you have a round silhouette you can try one of the dresses above (click on the picture to see them on a larger picture)
Give your body a definition. You don’t want to disappear in a too wide garment, right? Then forget these above…
Nota bene: with a long dress or a long skirt prefer wearing a short jacket.
The jacket on the left will look better
Always be careful not to disappear under your clothes. If you wear a long jacket or coat, prefer slim or straight pants with it.
2/ Be careful about the cut of the pants
Too short or too long: both to avoid
This one is right! Say no to those that shorten your legs. As: baggies, battle, cargo or capri pants, puffed or cropped pants, bell-bottom jeans… If you are round, also avoid dart fitted and low rise trousers. And anything with cuffs, bulky pockets, or pleats.
But love the 7/8 pants (which stops right above your ankle) or roll up the bottom of your pants. It makes the leg look longer.
All trousers available at La Redoute
Cigarette trousers, slim and straight leg jeans are fine too (but not too long).
If you prefer long pants, go for a flared one made in a fluid fabric or a fitted model with a high waist and wear them with heels.
3/ Go dress at the children section
A jacket, a coat or a trench might be ok. But always remember that these clothes were not designed for women’s hips or chest. Then, most of them won’t look good on your adult silhouette…
(even if I don’t recommend shopping fast fashion, sometimes, I admit Zara children section have a few good versatile pieces),
If you want to search among teenagers section, forget the teen hoodie look + kitten t-shirt + torn jeans + softened sneakers or round-toed shoes. Limit yourself to neutral pieces such as plain t-shirts, jeans, sweaters…
Remember that a few women brands offer a Petite section.
Here is a selection amongst the most popular:
Others offer a wide range of sizes, as Ann Taylor, Nordstrom, JCrew, Anthropologie, Express, Loft, Macy’s, Gap and Old Navy.
If you want to check among a large selection of French brands, have a look at placedestendances.com (Le Printemps webstore)
4/ Always wear high heels.
Well, if you’re comfortable wearing heels every day, it’s a good way to gain centimeters. Then, don’t wear too high ones (like 12 cm or more). It will look too artificial. Prefer 5 to 8 cm ones, platforms or wedges heels.
If you don’t like wearing heels assume flat shoes. Just beware not to choose a pair that would make you look like an (old) girl child.
Then avoid the four examples above:
- too round shoe end
- too covering ballerinas (they need to show your toes)
- too thick or heavy soles
- shoe straps that cut the feets or the ankles
Finding the right shoe size amongst usual women brands can be challenging. Here is a selection amongst websites that sell small ones starting from French size 35 (US 4, UK 2,5)
Besides these general rules, a few tips can help to look taller
- Avoid wearing two colors that contrast too much between the top and the bottom: it cuts the silhouette in half.
Wear the same colors (or same shades), especially if you are round: it will totally change the optic effect of your silhouette.
- Forget the tops that are both too loose and too long…
- Prefer the ones that give a shape to your bust, like an A-line one, one with a lap or a fitted one (at your right size, not too tight), or a bloused top tucked in your pants. The ones with V- or U-shaped necklines will look nicer on you.
(click on the picture to see them on a larger picture)
- If you have a marked waist: show it wearing a thin belt.
- Always prefer clothes that give your silhouette a vertical line: a classic straight cut wool coat vs. a puffy down jacket, by example. Avoid blulky, sheer or clingy fabrics. Wearing top and bottom with very large patterns.
- Avoid styles with extra bulk: frills, pleats or ruching
- Remember to show some skin… your neckline, your forearms, your back, your ankles… In short, everything that can avoid your silhouette to look like a rectangle or a block.
- Choose accessories that don’t make your body disappear. Avoid huge bags, thick wool scarves, chunky necklaces, brooches or earrings. Instead choose a long sautoir that will emphasize your decolleté ;)
Did you pick up new tips? New ideas and inspirations? Let me know in the comment section ;)
These advices remain general. If you have specific dressing issues, I’ll be happy to help you with a personal and interactive stylism session. Send me a message at email@example.com, I’ll tell you everything about it.