Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Styling tips for petite women

A matter of proportions
In general, petite women (below 5ft4"), irrespective of their body type, have trouble finding clothes that fit them, as younger generations are getting taller and taller. Obviously, petite women  need shorter garments, but not only that, they need different proportions as well. Like tall women, petites can fit into a certain size, but invariably they will find that the waistline will fall below their own, or that a jacket is too long (or the sleeves), or the rise of a pair of trousers is too high.
  1. Alterations for petites are tricky, to say the least, as they sometimes mean that all of the seams in whole outfit would need to be altered.
  2. Shopping petite collections, which are fortunately increasingly numerous. You can read about Shopping tips for petite women soon in this blog.
  3. Getting tailor-made clothes.
You can read more about these lovely petite ladies at Oprah's, where the photos for the collage come from.
First things first
One of the things that surprises me when reading styling tips for petite women is the complete disregard stylists show in general to their body type. They prefer to concentrate in all sorts of tricks to make them look taller instead of celebrating their height.
Let's remember first what clothes can ALWAYS achieve for ALL body types:
  • Create a long unbroken line (except for the tallest).
  • Strike up a balance between upper body and lower body. Petite women have to achieve this by considering first their body type. You can read about body types here and decide if you are bigger on top, or on the hips, or have a balanced silhouette.
  • Make their eye colour pop and their skin glow. You can read more about how to become colour savvy here or following the label Colour savvy on your right.
  • Wear the right silhouettes, fit and proportions, and their right length. You can read more about this topic here.
Styling tips for all petite women. Run with it!
Instead of paying attention to your difficulties finding clothes, enjoy the fact that men probably find you incredibly cute (something in their DNA wants to protect you, according to evolutionary behavioral theory). Make  the most of your small proportions. How?

First, you can do things others can't. Enjoy...
  • Pulling off narrow silhouettes, worn close to the body.
  • Wear dainty jewellery.
Things you can do to look taller...or at least, not smaller.
  1. Look for monochromatic and tonal colour combinations between you tops and bottoms.
  2. Avoid colour blocking, unless it creates strategic vertical lines (for instance, panels at the sides of the body). Any horizontal colour blocking will cut your figure in half (or three, four parts).
  3. Avoid any horizontal stripes created through colour, pattern, or cut. Any horizontal line at a critical point (muffin top, saddlebags), will visually widen it. Cuffed trousers will shorten your legs. Capri trousers will do the same thing unless you have slim legs or wear at least a 2" heel.
  4. Beware especially of girly styles (prints, ruffles, tutu imitations). Go for sophisticated, grown up styles instead or you will look twelve.
  5. Solids or small prints only. Monochromatic or tonal combinations (if colour blocking, which is not really a good idea if you are petite). Small, vertical patterns. Try to create vertical lines through cut or pattern (chevron like in the set above, or pinstripe).
  6. V- and U-necks will elongate your neck and torso.
  7. Narrow and fitted silhouettes are crucial for petites!
  8. Soft draping fabrics like silk or cotton jerseys. 
  9. Shoes: low vamp, pointy toes, or better still, strappy sandals with sleek heels or wedges, no big platforms.

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