Petite Style: Fit and Proportion

Whether you are short, tall or standard height, every body is different because we all have different proportions and shapes. This is what makes finding clothes that fit well such a challenge for all women.


Our model Mayra stands 5'4" and fits our clothes well. Notice the shoulder line and width; sleeve length; armhole length; and the fit at the bust and waist. 


For petites, a big challenge is that many manufacturers think that just shortening the length will do the trick, or that adapting a standard-size design into a shrunken size will be work. Not necessarily, because shorter women (and even some women who are taller but have smaller frames) have different proportions. And further, sometimes petite sizes don't work for shorter women who have certain proportions. So many options!


As an example, whenever I try on petite ready-to-wear dresses, I've had experiences where the waistline didn't hit the right place (too high on me). What I've come to learn is that my torso (the length from neck to waist) is a bit on the longer side, while my lower body is proportionally shorter. Kind of a drag -- don't we all want longer legs?! -- but the fit issues I've had with dresses makes sense. In petite ready-to-wear, even though I am firmly in the petite range at 5'1" in height, the torso is shortened too much for my body, so the defined waistline is generally too high, making everything else fit poorly. If I go for a standard size dress, the waist may be in the right place but the shoulders end up too wide, the armholes and bust are too low and the widest part of the hip is never in the right place. 


One of the best ways to identify clothes that fit is to know your body shape. Depending on your proportion, women who wouldn't normally think of trying petite sizes might actually get a better fit. Conversely, women who are under 5'4" may be proportioned with a long torso or long legs -- which might make them better candidates for a standard size for those areas. 


Here are some considerations when trying on clothes. Note that these are just guidelines -- the ideal fit is dependent on whether the garment is meant to be fitted, loose, oversized, etc. 


Our Curvy Coat fits Mayra perfectly.

  • The width across the neckline and the front (from armhole to armhole) should not be too wide -- unless it is a loose and oversized style, there shouldn't be extra fabric or width here. 
  • The armholes should not gape (if sleeveless) and be too long. When you raise your arms up slightly, you can see any gaping at the armhole, as well as whether there is too much room at the underarm. Look at the back armhole as well -- often there will be too much room there, especially in sleeveless styles.
  • The intersection of the shoulder/armhole should not sag down, which often happens when the shoulder is too wide. 


The bust darts (if any) should point to the fullest part of your bust. That is the reason they are there -- to provide room to accommodate the fullness -- so they should not be higher than your fullest part. If you have a shorter torso and you try on a standard fitted top with a bust dart, the dart will be too low on you and the point will not be pointing to the right place!



The waistline should fit where your waist is located -- not higher or lower. With our Curvy Moto Jacket, the intersection in the back where the seams meet is right where the waist should be. When women who have longer torsos tried this on, it was obvious that the length was too short on them. 


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