5 problems with petite fashion (that you can probably relate to)

Feb 20, 2024


Why is it so hard to shop for clothes if you’re a short woman? No really, we’ve got no idea. 

According to the data we found, around 44% of women in their 20s and 30s are shorter than 5’4”. Are you surprised? Us too. We didn’t think it could be that high because our fashion options are so limited.

We know how difficult it is to find clothes when you’re short, but the numbers have got us asking why that is. How come there aren’t more petite brands? And why aren’t existing brands doing more to cater to petite women?

It turns out we're not really a niche market; we're just underserved.

So this week we thought we’d start with a piece about the struggle. Get it all out, console each other, and then work on fixing it. You can probably relate to all of these – our 5 biggest gripes with petite fashion.


The word 'petite'

Although we use it, we don’t really like it. It’s become the accepted term for short fashion, which is why we feel we ought to, but perhaps you don’t like it either. When we were coming up with ideas for our name, we immediately ruled out anything with ‘petite’ in it. It’s a bit twee, a bit prissy, a bit meek-and-mild. Being slightly below average height isn’t a great affliction. We just want more fashion options.

The other thing is that it has misconceptions. Petite doesn’t actually refer to the size of the woman, just her height. Which causes all sorts of problems for women who are curvier.

There's not enough choice

We’ve touched on this one but we’ll say it again. Hopefully Zara will hear us. We can count all the shops we go to for clothes on one hand, and still have fingers left over. And more so than the big girls, we find ourselves lusting over small, independent brands who don’t cater for short women. We’re fine with cuffing our jeans, but we’re not hitching up a beautiful £180 silk dress with a belt.

Tailoring isn't a perfect fix-all

Altering a ‘regular’ sized garment for a petite woman isn’t as simple as shortening the hems. When petite clothing is designed, every part of the garment is proportioned for a shorter frame – for example, the waist will sit higher

Not only is tailoring expensive – it’s another cost to factor in when buying – but it’s hard to justify a £60 tailoring fee for a coat that cost £100. Our tailor was a friendly but slightly pervy Italian chap. His work was exceptional but he’s always a little too keen to help us undress. We go as infrequently as possible.

Getting our proportions right

If we were blessed with just a few more inches (stick ‘em on our legs, please) we wouldn’t have to waste our time with this sort of thing. But getting our proportions right, so we don’t look completely dumpy, is a regular consideration when you’re short.

The oversized, comfy loungewear trend inspired by all the sitting at home we did in 2020 completely passed us by. To all the girls in ASOS’ sweatshirt reviews section recommending we ‘size up for that oversized look’, all the best to you. If we do that we’ll look about 4ft tall.

Our unfulfilled knee-high boot fantasies

We have a secret Pinterest board dedicated to knee high boots. The gorgeous Winter aesthetic – flat ones, thick socks, tights, bundled up in a big jumper and coat. And the effortless, metropolitan ‘just popping to do some window shopping on High St Ken’ Instagram-worthy aesthetic. I’ve just put on my knee-high heels, my skinny jeans, my boyfriend’s shirt and a jacket.

We haven’t done either of those things, though. Because knee-high boots don’t sit right on us. They’re too long. They bag at the ankles. They wear us instead.

We’re not ready to launch a shoe collection just yet, but when we are…