What height is petite?

Apr 10, 2024

What height is petite?

There’s no official consensus on the exact petite height – this tends to depend where you’re shopping. Some retailers say it’s below 5’4” (162.5cm), while others say it’s below 5’3” (160cm).

Let’s be honest, whether you’re 5’4” or 5’3”, you’re pretty small-statured, but the difference matters to retailers making petite clothing because they need to make sure it fits on a specific range of heights.

We use the range 4’11” – 5’3” for our pieces, simply because it’s hard to guarantee a good fit on a broader height range than that, as you can imagine. But there’s more to whether something will fit you than just your height, and we’ll come to that later.

Am I petite?

Remember that ‘petite’ in women’s fashion, refers only to height, not to weight. This is often confused because ‘petite’ is so often used in language to describe a woman who’s also very slim. But that’s completely irrelevant when you see the term in fashion; clothes sizes refer to body size, and ‘petite’ refers to height. It’s why petite clothing comes in a range of different sizes, just like other clothing.

So if you’re 5’4” (162.5cm) or shorter, the likelihood is that you are considered petite. If you’re 5’4”, you can probably get away with wearing both petite and non-petite clothing, depending on your proportions (how short your legs and torso are, respectively), since you’re on the cut-off.

Does petite mean a small frame?

Not necessarily. Because of the common conversational use of the word ‘petite’ to mean ‘small and slim’, many women find it hard to get away from. But in fashion petite doesn’t care about your size, only your height. It’s your height that means you need shorter leg lengths, higher waists, shorter sleeves and so on.

When we talk about frame size, we can be talking about your bones or your body size. Bone structure is a personal thing, and unrelated to height. You’ll notice this in men, too – some men can be short and slight, others short and stocky. This isn’t purely down to weight, although weight impacts your overall size too.

In petite clothing, your body size is accounted for in the different sizes of clothing (6, 8, 10, 12 etc), just like in regular ranges. All of these sizes will be designed to fit someone of shorter height.

Can petites be curvy?

Definitely. You could line up 100 women, all 5’2” (157.5cm) in height, and notice how different their body shapes are. Petite women can have big or small boobs, round or slim hips, straight or narrow waists, or be overweight.

Not all petite clothing will necessarily accommodate your shape, well though, as there’s so much more to sizing than just height, and like everyone else, it comes down to finding shapes and styles that suit your particular figure.

Can I wear petite clothes?

Whether you’re petite or not, you might find petite clothing a better fit if you have smaller proportions. For example, if you have narrow shoulders or a short torso, petite tops might be a better fit. If you have short legs in proportion to your height, petite trousers and skirts might be a good option. We’ve written a much more detailed article on this topic, which you can read here.

What if I’m under 4’11”?

Not all petite ranges are designed to fit women under 4’11” (150cm), simply because it’s impossible to make petite clothes that fit on a range of heights wider than 4 inches (10cm). Since it’s much more unusual to be shorter than this range, it’s less commonly catered for – not that that will be much of a comfort to those women.

As with women on the upper end of the petite range, at 5’4” (162.5cm), it’s likely that if you’re just under 4’11”, you’ll find that some petite items fits you. A good example is midi length pieces; ‘midi’ is an ambiguous length which can end anywhere between your knee and your ankle, making it much more flexible on different heights.