How To Dress A Petite Or A Short Woman

How To Dress If You Are A Petite Or A Short Woman

Beautiful things often come in small packages. However, in all honesty, short women often feel the need to create an illusion with their dressing to look taller (without realizing how cute they look). But, I guess we always want to be something we are not. Enough of all the philosophy, you say? Okay, let me get this straight out – fashion rules are always getting challenged and so are the definitions of ideal body types.

The idea is to work with our natural body type and dress up to bring out the best in us. If you are still not convinced, we have proof too. We’ve listed dressing ideas, fashion tips, Dos & Don’ts, and a lot more to give you an idea about how to dress up for your body type. Hop in and hop out only at the end to get a 360-degree tour of everything there is to know about outfit ideas for short girls, you beautiful pint-sized powerhouse!

RELATED: Guide For Hiding The Tummy With Right Clothes

How To Dress If You Are Petite Or Short Woman – Tips, Dos & Don’ts

  1. The first rule of thumb for petite women is to follow the 2/3rd – 1/3rd rule. It just means that you do not split your body into two halves with your dressing. Instead, you cover 2/3rd of your body with the bottoms and the remaining 1/3rd with your top.
  2. Layering is the best way to spruce up your look, but do not overdo it and make it overwhelming.
  3. Do not choose dresses that stop in the calf region – either keep it short till the knees or till the ankle.
  4. Be watchful of where the shoulders sit – they need to be on point and not be too tight or too loose.
  5. The same holds good for your sleeves as well; they should fall till the tip of your arms and no further. They can be shorter, but not longer.
  6. Monochromes are your best friends – keep them close.
  7. Stay away from outfits that are too boxy and square-shaped; it does not suit your body type.
  8. If you choose stripes, choose vertical, especially for one-piece dresses, trousers, etc. The tops can be horizontal.
  9. Wear high heels or some elevated footwear – the most obvious way to look taller.
  10. Accessories and belts – always keep them slim and svelte instead of broad and bulky.

Outfit Ideas For Short Girls (And Petite) Body Types

1. Bridal Dresses

Bridal Dresses

Big days better be the best in every sense. Just show off your assets and pull them off with all the confidence you have got. Flaunt your frame with off-shoulder dresses and choose these over sweetheart necklines because they create an illusion of a broader canvas. Sheer necklines trickle down to become backless work to your advantage. Other choices are noodle straps dresses or halter styles that cinch at the bodice and billow out as they move down. Avoid dresses with high necklines, full sleeves, and the train down since you will probably get lost in so much fabric.

RELATED: Guide To Wedding Dress Styles And Silhouettes

2. Maxi Dresses For Short Women

Maxi Dresses For Short Women

Choose maxi dresses that have some definition over straight cuts. Asymmetrical hemlines, cap or flower sleeves, ruffled bodice, etc., are great. Dresses with lighter fabrics like organza, georgette, etc., are good. Bump it up with chunky accessories but ensure they are not too consuming.

3. Sequin Skirt And Tucked In Shirt

Sequin Skirt And Tucked In Shirt

Pencil skirts complement your body type and blend in entirely, but you need to style the outfit with something that does not shrink you further. Drop those tank or tube tops and swap them with a plaid or chambray shirt that has the right amount of volume.  Tuck it in, and doll it up in pointed heels – it is the most obvious way of looking taller.

4. Jumpsuit


Swapping your playsuit with a jumpsuit can make a lot of difference to the height. The tileable ones instead of the buttoned-downs are even better. Wearing cap sleeves instead of going sleeveless is another trick to open up your frame a little. This with ankle-length boots will never fail you.

5. Pantsuits For Short Women

Pantsuits For Short Women

Think a little out of the box and up your fashion game by going for slightly flared-up formal pants instead of pencil cuts. For a complete formal look, pair this with a well-fitted shirt or bodysuit and a blazer with a flared hemline, again to accentuate it a little. Or, opt for a linen blazer, trousers, and tops that do not stick to your body and give you enough structure.

6. Oversized Sweater And Denim

Distressed Jeans And Oversized Sweater

Nobody looks as cute as a petite woman in an oversized sweater and jeggings, skinny denim, or leggings. If you can get your hands on sweaters with in-built chokers, off-shoulders styles, etc., it only gets better.

7. One-Piece Dress

One Piece Dress

Sweaters, T-shirts, or denim types of dresses can look uber chic, however, try and add layers to your dress. Add a kimono or shrug, sweater, or a coat in winter, etc. to spruce it up a little, but of course, do NOT overlayer.

8. Jeans For Petite Women

Jeans For Petite Women

Boyfriend/mom jeans, distressed denim, etc. add a filter to your outfit. They stretch your lower body making it seem longer. Tops with ruffles, puffed sleeves, off or cold shoulders, etc. spruce them up for you.

9. Formal Wear

Formal Wear

The rule pretty much remains the same, if you are a fan of bodycon formal dresses, go ahead. But adding a blazer might be a good idea. Or, if you prefer ankle-length trousers, go for slightly off-beat choices of formal tops like a silk top instead of satin. The idea is to do whatever it takes to not look too minuscule and lost in your clothing.

Read: How To Wear Semi Formal Dress Code For Women

10. Black T-Shirt Dress With A Kimono Or Jacket

Black T-Shirt Dress With A Kimono Or Jacket

A lot of people assume that T-shirt dresses are meant for smaller body types, but they can look pretty bland because of your straight body type. Doll up with some accessories or anything else that complements the dress and also adds a little zing to your outfit.

11. Baggy Trousers And Ruffled Tops

Baggy Trousers And Ruffled Tops

If you are headed to an evening or cocktail party, ditch your regular LBDs and swap them with crop tops and baggy pants, palazzo pantsuits, etc. that make your legs look elongated. Remember to always wear heels or wedges with this get-up.

12. V-Neck Top And Ankle Length Boots

V-Neck Top And Ankle Length Boots

V-neck or plunging necklines add length to your bodice and stretch out your upper body. Wearing them with ankle-length boots instead of your regular heels can make the outfit look quite interesting.

13. Short Floral Dress And Boots

Short Floral Dress And Boots

Keep your short dresses above the knee, anything below that can look funny.

14.Striped Shirt And Scarf

Striped Shirt And Scarf for petite women

We, women, tend to avoid horizontally striped dresses or tops because they tend to make us look plumper than we are. But, if you are petite, it will help you. Where dresses are concerned, choose vertical stripes.

15. Long Winter Coat

Long Winter Coat

If you enjoy wearing skinny jeans and well-fitted tops, do that, but add some fun layers in winter (like a statement-making coat) to go with your boots.

Best Coat Styles For Petite Ladies

Consider these tips when coat hunting to get the most flattering fit for your petite frame!

What to look for in a coat for petite women:

  1. Waist-defining silhouettes: For petite ladies, anything that belts at the waist gives you a longer silhouette and helps define your figure (if you’re into that). Look for styles that fit close to the body instead of flaring out—these will keep you looking your tallest!
  2. Coats that hit mid-thigh: If you’re 5’3″ and under, a long coat can easily swallow up your petite frame. Coats and jackets that hit, at most, your mid-thigh will be your best bet when keeping you warm without overwhelming your stature.

Here are the best coat styles for petite ladies. 

Cinched-Waist Parka

Cinched-Waist Parka

If the thermometer is hitting below zero for most winter days and nights you can’t get through the season without a parka. For petite ladies, look for a parka that has a cinched waist to help break up the heavyweight coat and keep your shape from looking like it’s all coat and no (stylish) body underneath.

Tailored Peacoat

tailored peacoat for petite woman

While our taller counterparts can reach for coat styles in just about any length; it’s all about getting the perfect fit when it comes to second layers. Classic styles like a cocoon coat, pea coats, and trenches are staples that every woman should have on hand; just make sure that your sleeves hit at an appropriate length so you don’t look like you’re drowning in your father, husband, or boyfriend’s coat!

Puffer Jacket

Puffer Jacket for petite women

Have you heard that Puff Daddy changed his name again? Unlike him though, puffer jackets are always a failsafe option for when the weather gets chilly and even dips below zero. When you’re petite and looking for a puffer; spring for one with a narrowed waist and not too much down fill; to avoid looking like the abominable snowman (but a warmer one).

Online And Offline Stores To Shop For Petite Women

  1. Topshop
  2. Crew
  3. Anthropologie
  4. ASOS
  5. Express
  6. American Outfitter
  7. Dorothy Perkins
  8. Boden
  9. Banana Republic
  10. H&M
  11. Loft
  12. Lord & Taylor
  13. Ann Taylor
  14. Petite Shop
  15. Nordstrom
  16. Paige
  17. American Eagle

 Just like anything else, there’s no one right way of doing this. But, you know what gets you to near perfection? Listening to your body, being comfortable in what you wear, and pulling it all off with confidence. It’s as simple or as complicated as that.

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