5 styles to avoid if you're petite

Apr 10, 2024

5 styles to avoid if you're petite

We want to prefix this piece by saying that we’re not mad about articles that tell you what you can and can’t wear if you’re petite. For one thing, it’s a bit suffocating of individuality (you do you, always). And if we’ve learned anything from the hours we’ve spent researching different body types, it’s that the rules vary wildly depending on your shape.

But since we’ve got an article to write, we’ve chosen five styles that don’t tend to do you much justice as a petite woman, regardless of your figure type. We’ll do our best to explain why you should avoid them, and you can disregard our advice at your leisure.


1. Oversized bags

This one’s a simple trick of the eye. Carrying a huge bag unquestionably makes you look shorter. It draws immediate comparison between the size of you both, and wins. Simple as that. Think little girl wearing a backpack on her first day at school. Cute on her. On you…not so much.

To save being dwarfed by your accessories, opt for something more in proportion instead. You never need that many things anyway, unless you’re travelling or having a picnic.

Demonstrated brilliantly by Petite Style Secrets (click to visit):

Best handbags | Four go-to handbags | Work handbag review | Tote bag | Seasonal handbag | Camera bag | Kate Spade mint green purse | Nordstrom reversible tote bag | Michael Kors Sutton purse | ONA Palma camera bag | Tory Burch Robinson clutch wallet | versatile and classic purses handbag bags for busy women | Petite fashion and style blog | capsule wardrobe minimalist

2. Low waistlines

To elongate your figure when you’re petite, you need to emphasise the length of your legs, since they’re the longest, slimmest part of the body (even if it doesn’t feel like it).

The easiest two ways to do this are to lengthen your legs downwards by wearing heels (even better if they’re pointed, and better still if they’re the same colour as your trousers), or by lengthening them upwards by raising the waist on your clothes.

High-waisted trousers and skirts are generally a good option if you’re petite, although if you’re very short in the torso, or you’ve got a very large bust, a mid-rise may suit you better.

What we can agree on is that low-rise jeans, drop-waist dresses, and any top that ends at the hip is going to make you look shorter (and wider, sadly).

Demonstrated by Christina Aguilera – look, the noughties weren’t kind to any of us.

3. Ankle straps

A bit of an annoying one because we personally love a sleek court with an ankle strap. They really do make you look shorter, though, because they cut several inches off the end of your leg, and prevent the eye being drawn all the way down to your toes.

If you’re not willing to relinquish your ankle strap sandals, here are a couple of ways to limit this effect. Firstly, pair them with trousers or longer skirts. With a short skirt, the cut-off effect is more obvious, because you’ve got a loner expanse of leg on show. With a midi skirt, it doesn’t matter so much. Secondly, choose a narrower strap, to create less of a break in your leg. And from there we segue seamlessly into….


4. Wide belts

Another one to caveat here because wide belts aren’t a complete steer-clear if you’re short. If you’re wearing a monochrome outfit they can look really chic, and emphasis your waist to create an hourglass shape.

If you are going to wear a wide belt, try to match it to your trousers or your top like in the photos above – avoid having it a different colour to either, as it will break up the line of your entire body and make you look much shorter.

When you do wear a belt, always pair it with high- or mid-rise skirt or trousers (in other words, keep it well above hip-height) and try a skinny one instead, which will still cinch you nicely.


5. Large, busy prints

Another sad-but-true here, although we realise some of you will enjoy a bold, colourful print and to heck with how short it makes you look. And we’re here for that.

However, if you’re interested in how to really do your figure justice, you’re better off sticking to smaller, simpler prints. It’s another trick of the eye – a large print will dwarf you. Horizontal stripes are worth a mention here, too, as they work in a slightly different but equally unflattering way, by making you look wider.

But who doesn’t have a trusty nautical-style striped top. We’re not sure how we feel about giving ours up.