What Kind of Clothes Should Petite Women Wear?

Being short doesn't have to mean sacrificing style.

Photo: Jack Hollingsworth/Photodisc/Getty Images

As Salma Hayek, Kate Moss and Cycle 13 of "America's Next Top Model" prove, petite women can rock fierce fashions. Finding those perfect pieces can be a little tricky when you're short, though. You may have to shop outside the box -- scout online for brands' petite lines or hit the kids' department for slim-fitting basics -- and enlist a little professional help from a tailor to get the look you want.


Scoop up V-neck tops in your favorite colors -- they'll draw attention to your face and elongate your neck so that you look longer and leaner. Or don tops with empire waists, which can make your lower body look much longer than it really is. Choose tops with hems you don't mind showing off, since tucking in your shirt creates a visual line that can make you look short and stumpy. When you're shopping for tops, set aside any that are too big in the shoulders if you don't want to look like you're playing dress-up, recommends Kim Williams Dahlman, author of "The Petite Handbook" in "O, The Oprah Magazine."


One advantage of being short is that it's perfectly okay to flaunt your legs a little -- in fact, it's recommended, since short hemlines make your legs look longer. If you're hesitant about going short, a dress with a high waist that hits just above your knees will have a similar lengthening effect. It's fine to go with an eye-catching statement, but stick with just one if you don't want to be overwhelmed by your dress: Don't pick a dress with oversized pockets and ruffles or a bold belt and an embellished hem.


If you're buying jeans, dark denim is the way to go: Dark blues make your legs look longer and leaner. Whatever pants you're buying, shape is less important than length: As long as the hem of your pants covers your heel, you should be okay. Cropped pants create a visual line that makes your legs look shorter, but don't be afraid to try on cropped versions of standard-size jeans and khakis, which can fit petite girls just right.


An A-line skirt makes your hips and thighs look slimmer without overwhelming a small shape. If you're slim, you can get away with a pencil skirt that skims your curves. Just make sure you don't choose a skirt that's longer than just above your knees, or the visual line caused by your skirt's hem will make you look shorter. For the most flattering look, team your skirt with matching tights and shoes, which will make you look instantly taller.

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