Tips For Petite Dressing

We’d all love to follow every trend, but if your body isn’t the size of a fit model, it's not quite so easy. Whether it's high-end or high street, those who aren't petite often aren't catered for. So this week, we’re tackling petite dressing: from the shapes to embrace to which shoes to choose, we turned to our squad of experts for tips on styling smaller frames…

1. Tuck Everything In

The key to elongating your body? Surprisingly enough, it’s ditching longer styles. Top London stylist Victoria Genevieve says: “Tuck in when possible. This lengthens your legs and draws attention to your waist. When you wear long baggy tops you can tend to look swamped in fabric and get lost in the outfit.’ For everyday wear, petite bloggers The Collyer Twins recommend high-waisted styles: “I always wear high-waisted jeans, shorts and skirts which gives me more length in the legs.”

2. Show Off Your Ankles

When wearing trousers or jeans, try to show some ankle. This draws the eye to the smallest part of the body and makes a lengthening gap between where the trousers end and your footwear begins – according to Victoria, this is the easiest way add those extra inches.

3. Choose Hemlines Carefully

“Try to avoid hemlines that sit on the knee as this will cut the proportions of your legs in half,” Victoria advises. “Instead, go for something that’s midi but high-waisted or just above the knee, then wear with heels. This way you are lengthening your legs and giving off an illusion of height.” And our favourite tip from Victoria? “Keep your eyes open for items that are meant to be midi – these could work out to be great maxi items.”

4. Wear A Slight Heel

The Collyer Twins advise ditching the flats and going for a chunky boot or heel. Victoria concurs: “A nude heel is the most important accessory in the wardrobe if you want to add length to your legs. They give the impression of showing a lot of skin. Strappy shoes will do the same but try to avoid anything with an ankle strap, especially in a dark colour, this will instantly shorten your legs and height.”

5. Find A Good Tailor

Whatever we’re advising on, team SL’s top tip is always to have a good tailor up your sleeve. If you find shopping for petite brands too limiting, get hems and waistlines nipped, cuff shortened and shoulders taken in; it may cost a little more, but it gives you access to a wider selection of clothes.

6. Don’t Discount All Long Styles

Maxi dresses can be surprisingly wearable, even if you're on the shorter side. “As long as they aren’t too floaty and you wear with heels they can be the thing you didn’t know you could love,” says Victoria. “One stretch of fabric from head-to-toe can, strangely, make you look taller. Wear with a belt to emphasize the waistline and keep the jacket short. Try to avoid a long line blazer if possible.”

7. Focus On Proportions

According to The Collyer Twins, you need to watch your balance: “Don't rock a double baggy look as it can drown you out – make sure you either wear a fitted top or fitted bottom,” Victoria warns. And we agree – try to embrace designs that can widen (off-the-shoulder), lengthen (statement flares) and accentuate curves (waist belts, hourglass separates and figure-hugging dresses).

8. Know Where To Shop

Really struggling in the main department? A host of high street names have stellar petite departments. From J. Crew’s recently-launched XS sizing to Topshop’s stand out selection, there are better options than ever for those after niche sizes.

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