You could say I am of petite stature. I get this from my mama. And despite what most people think, it’s not the easiest thing in the world to dress a small figure – you can easily get lost in volume and prints, get overwhelmed by large accessories, and there is a very fine balance between a piece of clothing being Good Big and Bad Big. That is to say, a loose boyfriend blazer will look fabuloso, but one size too big and you look like a kid playing dress-up. So for those petite women out there, here are some tips and tricks to dress yourself properly and show off that figure.
1. Make sure your clothes are proportionate. If the shoulders are too big or the sleeves or pants are too long, it will make you look like you’re drowning. ¾ sleeves are extremely flattering on petite figures, and it’s great for anyone who is a little self-conscious of their arms (surprisingly common). It can be difficult to find pants that fit your legs but aren’t 6 inches too long, or find a blazer that fits your waist and your arms. This is where your tailor becomes your best friend.
2. Emphasize your figure with jackets that have vertical seaming and end above the widest part of your hips. Boyfriend blazers are great too (they usually hit below the hips), but avoid cropped tops and jackets – they will make you look shorter. You know those “shrugs”? No. Just no. Stay far away. Aim for classic pieces – one fitted blazer and one looser blazer will serve you very, very well.
3. Show off those gams. Avoid calf-length or ankle-length skirts, because they will make you look shorter than you are. Either full-length (like a maxi) or slightly above the knee – these will give you the effect you want. As for pants, go for straight-legged or skinny, and make sure they don’t bunch significantly at your ankle; that’s a surefire way to make yourself look shorter. And for shoes, stay away from ankle straps if you can – they will chop up the look of your leg. Pointy-toed shoes, especially nude ones, will make your legs look longer.
4. Avoid large prints and lots of details. They can quickly overwhelm a small figure and make you look bigger. Try small, tight prints instead. If you really love big prints and just can’t live without them, try wearing them in a non-contrasting way (for example, beige on white instead of black on white). This will make them subtle enough that they don’t overwhelm you.
5. Balance. Like I’ve mentioned many times before, be careful of the balance of your clothing. Wearing all loose-fitting items can make you look like a bag lady, but all tight-fitting items can make you look even skinnier than you are (not necessarily in a good way). Strike a balance between tight and loose. For example, a tight skirt with a loose blazer/jacket/cardigan overtop is a foolproof, versatile and dynamic outfit that will always look good.
6. Dress in monochrome. Lucky for me, I’ve got this down pat – my wardrobe is 75% black. An awesome way to lengthen your figure visually is to dress all in monochrome. Accessories, patterns and bright colours can chop up your body visually and leave you looking shorter, so try dressing all in one shade/colour.
7. Find a tailor. Pants or sleeves too long? Dress hits you below the knee? Darts don’t fit your chest? Shoulders in your jacket too big? Skirt fits, but waistband doesn’t? They’ll make it fit you properly, whatever your petite ailment is, usually without it costing an arm and a leg. That said, you should only tailor the things that you really love but that really don’t look right on you. If you don’t really like it in the first place, don’t spend money getting it fixed.