The Best Fashion for Petites

Eva Longoria elongates her petite frame with vertical details.

Photo: Valerie Macon/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

If you stand 5-feet-4 and under, you fit the petite fashion definition. It can be frustrating to find clothing that fits you well when you're shorter than average. Fortunately, petite women have several tricks they can use to make the most of their shape, but also make themselves look a bit taller. It's not just about slipping into a pair of high heels. The fashions you pick can add inches to your appearance.


Buying clothes in the petite section of your favorite stores is the best way to find styles that fit your body well. Clothing made for average-size, taller women may be too roomy and swallow up your smaller frame. If you can't find petite clothing, altering fashions to fit you perfectly is a must to get the most flattering look from your clothes. Either find a fabulous tailor who can hem and take in garments or save yourself a few bucks by learning how to hem yourself.

Vertical Details and Patterns

Petite women should rely on vertical details to draw the eye up and down. This helps create the illusion of height. Vertical stripes, center ruffles and pendant necklaces are suitable choices. This also applies to the cut of your clothing. Pencil skirts and form-fitting sheath dresses will show off a petite body without swallowing it up. Avoid large, busy patterns, which can easily overpower petites. Instead, opt for smaller, dainty prints like tiny polka dots and mini flowers.


To create a long, lean, head-to-toe look, wear clothing and footwear in one color or similar colors. If your slacks are black, pair them with a charcoal or black shirt and pointed-toe shoes or boots. A taupe top works well with similarly colored pants or a skirt and complementary shoes or boots. Don't cut your body in half with a wide belt in a contrasting color. If you wear a belt, it should match your shirt or pants.


The best dress hemlines for petites hit at or above the knee or fall all the way to the floor. To maximize your leg length, avoid hems that hit mid-calf; this visually cuts the leg and makes your limbs look shorter and fatter. If you like mid-calf length skirts, wear boots or tights the same color as the skirt. Tea-length dresses are a petite woman's worst enemy if she wants to appear taller, so either go floor-length, in the form of gowns and maxi-dresses, or knee-length or shorter. Pair a solid-colored maxi-dress with high-heel espadrilles or sandals to create the illusion of height. If you wear a knee-skimming skirt, sport nude pantyhose and shoes to match your skin tone for the longest look.

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