5 things you need in your wardrobe (if you're petite)

Apr 10, 2024

There are a few wardrobe staples every petite woman needs, simply because they never go out of style, and they’re endlessly flattering on shorter figures. We’re loath to tell you what you should or shouldn’t wear, but we think these ones are a pretty safe bet – versatile, easy to pair with different outfits, and not stifling of your individual style, either.

Let’s get right into it.

1. The perfect jeans

The perfect waist height of your jeans will depend on your figure. If you’re short in the body, or you have a particularly large bust, then a mid-rise style will suit you best to avoid shortening this area even more. Otherwise, high-rise will be the most flattering. This is because it lengthens your legs, and makes you look taller and more in-proportion. Low rise jeans are best left in the noughties.

Ankle-grazers are ideal – by showing a sliver of skin here, you’ll lengthen your legs.

As for cut – you do you. In general, if you’re bottom-heavy (pear-shaped), a straight, bootcut or wider leg will balance out your hips – skinny jeans will emphasise them.


We love this article by Stitch Fix to find your perfect jeans – click on the picture below:

2. Tops with the right necklines for your shape

Showing your chest creates space (sounds a little woo-woo, but hear us out) which helps lengthen and balance your figure. You’d be surprised just how much the right – or wrong – neckline can have on your proportions.

If you’re bottom-heavy (your hips are wider than your shoulders), a wider neckline (square, scoop, boat, or an off-shoulder top) will broaden your shoulders, draw the eye outwards, and balance your bottom half.

If you have broader shoulders, choose a narrower neckline (like a V-neck, or a top with straps that sit closer towards the neck) to draw the eye downwards instead. Asymmetric, or one-shoulder tops, also suit you as they break up the breadth of your shoulders.

If you’re more of a rectangle body shape (the same proportions up and down, with little waist definition and small hips and boobs), the best necklines for you are sweetheart (which creates curves) and round (which adds some shape). Avoid slash necks which will make you look more angular. Chunky turtle neck knits look stunning on you, too – bigger busted women can’t get away with them, either.

If you have bigger boobs, V-necks and wide square or sweetheart necklines are endlessly flattering. They elongate your neck, show off your collarbones, and break up your torso. Wrap tops also look great – use a calabash pin to attach the tip of the V to your bra, to avoid the ‘wall of boob’ you can get from the side.


This picture is from one of our favourite websites for detailed body shape advice, The Concept Wardrobe. Click the picture to follow the link:


3. Pointed shoes

These are pretty self-explanatory – they lengthen your legs from the bottom. Not to be underestimated when paired with a matching–coloured leg (think nude courts with bare legs, or black jeans with black boots).

A pointed shoe naturally extends the eye downwards and adds perhaps an inch-and-a-half to your height (making you, what, almost 5’2”?) It works with a flat shoe but you can milk the effect even more with a heel – even a small one works the illusion.

Here’s another great styling website especially for petites, and a link to an article with more ways you can elongate your figure:

I'm 5'2, here's 25 Proven Ways to Look Taller Instantly

4. A tailored jacket

If there’s any item it’s worth investing in tailoring for, it would be a toss-up between a blazer and a coat. Blazers are arguably harder to find when you’re petite, but a well-fitted one is versatile enough to work with lots of different outfits, effortlessly elevates simple looks, and does wonders for your figure and proportions to boot.

Length first. You want to choose one that ends either below the hip (skimming the top of your thigh) or above your hip (falling a little below your waist). When you’re short, you want to avoid wearing tops that end at your hip – your widest part. They’ll cut you clean in half, making you look simultaneously shorter and wider (ergh). Instead, use a blazer to divide your outfit into uneven proportions by going either slightly longer or slightly cropped.

When tailoring, you want the shoulder seam to sit on your natural shoulders – it will look wrong otherwise. And pay attention to the waist. A fitted style will suit you better (nipping your waist is an easy way to do justice to a shorter figure), so make sure it cinches in the right place.

This photo links to a great Glamour article about tailoring and how much it can improve your look, particularly if you’re petite:

Image may contain Zac Posen Human Person Tripod Clothing Footwear Apparel Shoe and Sleeve


5. A trench coat

A couple of years ago we started investing in more premium coats and getting them tailored, and it’s turned out to be one of the best style decisions we’ve made. Getting a nice trench coat tailored is a great investment – not only is it a timeless piece, but it’s versatile from Autumn through Spring depending on what you wear it with.

The length of the trench coat lends itself brilliantly to being short. A coat that falls mid-thigh works your proportions as per the Rule of Thirds, elongating and balancing your figure. It’s easy to wear open or closed, can be paired with smart and casual outfits, and the tie belt is an easy way to cinch your waist.

Our preference would be for classic beige or a smart navy – both colours suit everyone. There’s just something about a trench; no matter how late or harassed you might be, you always look effortlessly-put together, like you’ve just come from an important business meeting.

Here’s a Glamour article with some gorgeous examples:

19 Best Trench Coats for Women The Fashion Set Can't Stop Wearing 2024