June 10, 2016
Holla, where my small girls at? As much as the taller folk of our species claim to understand our dressing room troubles, only fellow petite girls 5’4 (160cm) and under have ever truly felt the frustration – of shopping in regular stores and leaving, self-esteem bruised and empty-handed, because nothing seems to fit right. Well, all 5’1 of me has had enough of feeling inadequate. It’s high time we make clothing work for us and not the other way round; here’s how to make the most of your natural figure and dress to feel ten feet tall.
Know how to proportion
The 2/3-to-1/3 rule means wearing clothing that doesn’t cut you off neatly in the middle (which often looks stumpy); instead, it sections your body into 1/3 on top, and 2/3 waist-down. A foolproof way to dress to the rule is with cropped blouses and high-waisted bottoms. Why do you think so many petite girls are fans of the humble crop top? It creates the illusion of a shorter torso and longer legs by ending strategically at your waist area – thereby fulfilling the 2/3-to-1/3 rule. Pairing with high-waisted bottoms creates a seamless silhouette wherein your hips now seem closer to your waist; showing a sliver of tummy is personal preference, but it tends to break the body up into three uneven portions, which only creates a confusing imbalance.
Don’t risk the ‘Tall’ section – it’s not worth it
Take it from someone who’s had to learn the hard way – trying to make a “bigger” item of clothing work for you because you like the style is only setting yourself up for disappointment. Sometimes a Tall top will work; but most of the time it won’t. Just like how Petite lines were tailored for a smaller frame, with attention to ideal proportions and narrower builds, Tall apparel takes into consideration longer torsos and broader widths – which no amount of hopeful sizing down can make up for.
Stores like Topshop and ASOS have specially constructed Petite and Tall lines for a reason – to make your life easier; so stick to your God-given proportions and don’t make it harder for yourself. Plus, chances are you’ll find what you wanted in the Tall section remade smaller in the Petites too.
V-necks > Scoop necks
Short Jumpsuit, $49.90; Pleated Top, $29.90, available in Zara stores
Whether it’s finding the essential plain white tee, or shopping for a fancy new dress for a night out, bear in mind that V-neck cuts trump scoop necks every time. The V elongates your neck and creates a more angular outline, as compared to rounded necks that don’t flatter the collarbone as much, and can make you look unnecessarily fleshy.
We definitely condone baggy clothing – because comfort is always key! But it’s an unfortunate fact of 5’4 life that they just don’t look as flattering on petites as they do (so effortlessly!) on taller girls. For days when you want to look a little more put together, sacrifice your slouchy t-shirt dresses for more figure-hugging ones, which won’t drown your small shape, and instead enhance it. You don’t have to go all out with a teeny tiny bodycon dress – looser fits that give you a little room to breathe, but still highlight your full silhouette, work perfectly too.
Pants – here’s how to wear them
Regardless of cuts, pants and jeans always have the ability to accentuate and elongate your legs – precisely because their sole purpose is to encase them. That said, there are nifty ways to nail the various styles and lengths out there, and really make the most of flattering pants.
For slim cuts: Don’t be tempted to go full-on high waist, and stick to bottoms that cut off just above your hips instead. Slim cut bottoms like skinny jeans or tapered trousers already do the work for you by cutting close to your body, so wearing the top of them just above your hips casually accentuates your curves without overdoing it. Make sure the cuffs don’t hit any lower than your ankles, which can make the ensemble look frumpy; alter if necessary!
For wide-legged: Go high-waist. Here’s your chance to rock pants all the way up past your belly button – wide-legged trousers are cut to be slimming on top and billowy on the bottom, so wearing one high-waisted helps emphasise the triangular silhouette. It also really milks the 2/3-to-1/3 rule. Wearing wide-legged bottoms on your hips chops up your lower half, which is a definite no-no in our books.
Remember that not all petites were created equal
ASOS High Low Prom Skirt, £48, available online
Petite doesn’t just mean short and slim; for the curvier petite ladies out there, the same rules that apply to slimmer petites don’t always work – but that means more fun experimenting! Bustier petites are encouraged to try empire waists – cut higher than regular high-waist bottoms, and ending just below the bust – to enhance your natural curves while balancing and flattering proportions. High-low skirts too are good co-ordinates for creating that flowing, breezy silhouette while making your legs appear longer. Celebrate your body, hun, because there’s none other like it.