The Difference Between Petite & Regular Clothing

Like the fashionable Olsens, today's shorter stylistas can find their own fabulous fit.

Photo: Mike Coppola/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Finding a good fit for clothing can be a drag for just about any gal, but those who fall outside of average commercial sizing get to wrestle with a whole new set of challenges. Luckily, there are a few different sizing categories to help a girl out. Find regular sizes a little big, a little long, or just a little awkward? Take a look at petite sizes to see if you might be able to fix some of your fashion fit frustrations.

A Short Size

Although the word "fashionable" fits any height, standard clothing sizes may not. Most women's sizes you'll see in stores are Misses, which are designed to fit women over 5'5". This can mean floppy sleeves and pants legs for any girl on the shorter side. If you find yourself looking for scissors every time you try on clothes, the Petites category, which covers women 5'4" and under, might be for you.

Petite Proportions

"Petite" doesn't refer only to the length of a lady's arms and legs. Garments in Petites also take body proportion into account. Many petite women have a shorter waist-to-hip or waist-to-neck measurement than average, which can make Misses-sized clothing fit awkwardly around the middle. Not a fashion statement you want to be making. Petites tops are smaller in ways other than length. They tend to be narrower in the shoulders, which means that the armholes are placed higher than in Misses.

Selecting for Shape

Smaller stature does not necessarily mean a girl is small all over. Although Petites clothes are downsized from the Misses sizing in many ways, such as smaller pockets, buttons, collars and lapels, the one thing this size does not restrict is weight. A girl can be a Petite size, but may also need to take her shape into account. Petites come in both regular and plus sizes to accommodate. Although more rare, there are also Petites versions of Juniors clothing. Juniors are often smaller in the hip, leg and waist than Misses sizes, but not always proportionately shorter. Juniors clothing also often has a more youthful flair.

"Regular" is Relative

There's no law keeping a stylish girl stuck in one category or the other. Some may be shorter than average in leg length, but fit regular store sizing in the torso. Or perhaps you better suit Petites on top, but like a Misses fit below? You're not alone. Many women mix and match from different sizes, or even between regular and plus sizing, so why not go for the garments that make you look best?

Related Videos




"Dressing the Petite Woman"; Ellen York; 2006 "Microtrends"; Mark J. Penn and E. Kinney Zalesne; 2007



"Petite Style"; Susan Ludwig and Janice Steinberg; 1989

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