Are you petite?

I was talking with my husband about petite people. He questioned my use of the word “petite.” We proceeded to debate it’s meaning till he got up and pulled out the dictionary. Bless his heart; our conversations are never boring! Of course when he looked it up he realized that we were both right. I was using the term in the noun form and he was using it as an adjective. As an adjective, petite is referring to something being a small size. When the word petite is used as a noun, it’s referring to a form of women’s clothing sizes, “for women less than average height.”

It is a misconception that petite sizes are meant for those who are wafer thin. A woman can be a larger size and wear petite clothing, because petite sizing is about height and proportions. Although most retail stores do not carry higher petite sizes than a 12p, larger petite sizes are usually offered at store websites.

Since the average woman’s height is 5’6″ to 5’8″, women 5’4” and 5’5” find themselves caught between misses and petite sizing, often needing a combination of both.

Here is some information to help you know how to compare Misses and Petite measurements.

Petite dress lengths vs. Misses dress lengths

Sometimes when a skirt is landing too long on the leg, a good option is to compare the petite size. If you do prefer the shorter length of the petite, be very aware of the fit. Watch for the placement of darts, if there are any, making sure they lay smoothly along the tummy and upper bum. If it’s too short, it will create a bubble effect with the fabric at your waist and hips. (Basically, pushing up from the hips.)

If you typically wear a size 6 and want to try a petite size to bring the length of a skirt up 2 inches, go up one size in petites to an 8P. This would be the comparable petite size. And vice versa, if you wear a size 6P and would like a little more length to a skirt, you can always experiment and compare the size 4 misses as an option.  See examples Here.

Mrs vs Pet pant sizes

 Mrs vs Pet tops

Off the rack clothing is made for the average size woman. I don’t know about you, but I don’t know two women who are exactly alike! So if you do find it difficult to find the perfect fit, buy the pants to fit your hips and have them tailored to your waist or hemmed up. Buy the blazer to fit your shoulders and bust and have the buttons repositioned or the sleeves hemmed up.  A good tailor can make a nice piece of clothing become a polished staple in your wardrobe.

If you are a true petite, it’s true; there are fewer instant options for you at the mall. But be encouraged, more and more designers are seeing the need and getting on board with developing petite lines.

Here are some retail options that carry petites: Ann Taylor, Ann Taylor Loft, Banana Republic, Eileen Fischer, Macy’s, Nordstrom, and Talbot’s

Cover photo via Flikr – Photographer Heather “Sweater”

Kathy Banta

Author Kathy Banta

Kathy is a wardrobe consultant at A La Mode Wardrobe Consulting. www.alamodewc.com. She is also a passionate speaker for women’s events, sharing on the topic of “Loving Who You Are,” a message of self-esteem. Kathy is also a songwriter and vocalist, and has released several CDs of original music. She has been married to Peter for twenty-eight years and is the mom of three.

More posts by Kathy Banta

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