Does every petite woman long to be a tall, willowy lass?
Do petite women see themselves as vertically challenged?
Is it really necessary for petite women to dress as if they are creating the illusion of being taller than they actually are?
My, my, so many questions to kick off a post with.
As a bone fide, authenticated member of the petite club, this petite woman answers; No! No! and No!
It’s no secret that the height gene passed me by. I think it was on holiday at the time of my conception. No matter. I got extra helpings of other useful genes!
Apart from my first decade and a half, I’ve happily lived with my 5’1″ height all my life. I’ve no idea what it would be like to be tall and willowy. It might actually be a pain in the butt. The grass ain’t always greener somewhere else.
And I’ve never seen myself as vertically challenged – god, what an awful phrase that is. I’m just shorter than most people – end of. Learning to play chess is challenging. Trying to explain the Theory of Relativity is challenging. Not being able to reach the top shelves in the supermarket is merely an annoyance but that’s why I married a tall man. See – I got extra smart genes!
And as for creating the illusion of being taller than I actually am – well, all I can say is I don’t go to sleep at night worrying about that.
You see, stick me next to my 6’4″, Tall Brown Fox and no amount of illusion, sartorial or otherwise is going to make me look anything other than short next to him.
Stand me on a box and I’ll be short.
Put me on a couple of steps higher than him and I’ll still be short!
I have no doubt that there are petite women who may feel differently to me and who do desire to be taller or look taller, especially if they feel their lack of height affects them negatively. And if they do, I understand. I’ve had people make inane remarks about my height or be patronising towards me simply because I’m little and that can knock your confidence. But rather than worry or dwell on it, it’s up to me to call people out on that kind of behaviour. I let them know that being little in height doesn’t make me ‘a little woman’. I also choose to focus on presenting to the world, the best version of myself that I can.
So why write a post titled ‘Playing with Proportions’ then, you may very well ask? A perfectly sensible question. The answer is that whilst I have no desire to make myself look taller – cos frankly that’s a fruitless exercise in my book, at the same time, I have no desire to make myself look shorter than I am.
Are there ‘rules’ for dressing as a petite?
There are a few pointers I bear in mind when dressing my frame but I don’t consider them to be exclusive to being a petite. Whether you’re petite, regular, plus or tall, I personally think the criteria is the same.
Does the garment fit you well?
Does the cut flatter you?
Does it suit your style personality?
If yes to all three, then you’re well on your way!
I do think it’s true that certain garments look better on certain body shapes. You’d think as a petite that a crop top or cropped shirt would be a garment I would make a beeline for because proportionally it would work in my favour. You know, that two-thirds-one-third rule, that is the most visually flattering for the body.
It all depends on your shape. My body ration is long legs, short torso, slightly bigger than average bust size. I have to be careful that a crop doesn’t end up making my legs look even longer and my torso even shorter, thereby throwing my proportions off even more! I’d end up resembling an alien creature created by an illustrator for their forthcoming graphic novel; one half of their body overly elasticated and the other, perilously compressed, with two large mounds on their front!
However, all is not lost on the cropped top front. As with my post from a couple of years ago Styling a Crop Top with Tailored Trousers, you just have to get the proportions right. The denim top I’m wearing below is a crop but a slightly longer length one, so my short-waist is de-emphasized. The result is that I’ve kept to the flattering two-thirds-one-third proportion.
Mixing it up with a plaid cropped shirt
I bought this cropped shirt last year on a whim, not really thinking at the time what I would do with it, despite knowing the potential proportional pitfalls that styling a crop top can present. Yes, rash, I know. But I live on the sartorial edge. It’s good for the soul to break out of usual habits and try different styles every now and then. Heaven knows I have a plethora of regular length plaid shirts to keep me happy through to Spring and beyond; a cropped shirt was a fresh take on an old favourite.
It quickly became apparent that I could deftly circumvent the potential problem of making myself look shorter.
The casual nature of the shirt meant that an obvious styling would be with jeans. Plaid and denim are one of those print and fabric pairings that are as simple yet sublime as jelly and ice cream. But even jelly and ice cream can dull your appetite for them, if the same flavours are always put on the table. Avoid the obvious, plaid shirt and jeans combo.
A delicious alternative is to pair your plaid shirt with a denim dress.
The continuous block of colour of the denim dress gives me length.
I can then wear the crop shirt over the dress, without cutting myself in half or throwing my body proportions awry.
Playing with the proportions this way works to my advantage; not to make me look taller but simply to flatter my particular body ratio in the best way.
And to combat the falling temperatures as we venture deeper into Autumn, a fluted, turtle neck top is the perfect layering piece for under my dungarees dress.
Denim with a Difference
Denim is one of those oh so easy to wear fabrics. Its beauty lies in its versatility; you can either dress it up, dress it down or simply stay slap bang in the middle with a smart casual outfit that gets you through the day in maximum comfort with a dose of creativity.
I love a great pair of jeans but there are times when I want an alternative. A dungarees dress gives me that denim fix on days when jeans just don’t quite cut the mustard.
Warehouse Denim Dungarees Dress SS16
Boo hoo Petite Cropped plaid shirt AW16
New Look Fluted Polo Neck
Playing with Proportions Footnote
I don’t really hold much truck with any so called ‘rules’ for dressing as a petite. Most are generalised to the point that they neglect to take into account that petites come in all kinds of body types; a ‘rule’ that might work on one petite, might be an absolute no-no on another.
The key is to give equal consideration to height AND body shape. Play around with the fit, cut and length of clothes to gain the best look proportionally for you. Never be afraid to ignore mainstream advice.
Linking with Not Dressed As Lamb / Visible Monday / ClaireJustine / Confident Twosday / Garay Treasures / Turning Head’s Tuesday / Style Splash / Style Me Wednesday / ColorandGrace / JerseyGirlTexanHeart / Living In Colour / High Latitude Style / Eleganceandmommyhood / A Labour of Life / Curly Crafty Mom / Vanity&Me / Fashion Should Be Fun / A Pocketful Of Polkadots / Jeans And A Teacup / Nancy’s Fashion Style / Fine Whatever /
I really love that denim dress!! The plaid top is so cute with it and def. perfect for the fall!
Thank you Carrie, the dress has become a real staple in my wardrobe.
I really love a 'short over long' ensemble, and I agree totally with you about how shape and proportions are more important than being petite or tall (or fat/thin). I've laughed when reading on your 'long legs, short torso' shape, as I've also had same problems, even if we're so different in other aspects!
And I love your denim dress, actually I love how denim and tartan look together, and you look fabulous wearing them!
We are body shape twins, Monica! I'm getting more into short over long, it works so well, doesn't it? Thanks for your compliment.
You do a great job of dressing for your body type! Every outfit is on point!
Jeans and a Teacup
That's so kind of you to say that, Jessica!
I totally agree! I grew up with a mother who always talked about dressing to appear taller—so of course I rebel and do exactly opposite-haha!!!
Love how you put together outfits!!!
You are such a rebel, Jodie! I know what you mean though. If someone tells you one thing, the natural instinct is to go the opposite way!
Thank you for your lovely words about how I put outfits together. Since blogging I've become less lazy in how I dress and it seems to be paying dividends!
Nice to see you blogging again! 🙂
I agree wtih you too – I don't think you need to follow conventional rules for dressing no matter what your body type. I always thought petites shouldn't wear maxi lengths and went for far too long not wearing maxi dresses or skirts, when they are my favourite pieces! I do have to have the tailor shorten them first sometimes though if petite length isn't available, haha!
Hope you are having a lovely weekend! We are getting our family Santa photo done tomorrow, gotta get a move on with my Christmas cards, haha! 🙂
Away From The Blue Blog
Thank you Mica, it's good to be back. I've missed it. I was the same as you re maxi dresses but yes, absolutely, I love wearing them too, and maxi skirts. We are maxi twins, you and I. I love the ones you have.
Wow, I'm not even thinking about Christmas until 1st December! But enjoy having your family photo taken.
You Just have to wear what you like! I love the denim dress with the plaid jacket. And the baret looks very good on you!
So true Nancy, wear what makes you happy. Ha, ha, the beret is my signature look! One will be on my head permanently now until Spring!
Great advice Jacqueline. I love that you make no apologies for you being you and that's what does make you, you (does that make any sense?)
The checked jacket is really cute and works perfectly with the pinafore. Lovely to catch up again!
Yes, that totally makes sense, Anna. I know exactly what you mean!
Love the plaid shirt over that terrific denim dress. And our height is determined by forces other than ourselves! so we could all follow your example and embrace it, tall, short, and in-between. xo
The check shirt and denim is a great combination. So true about all the rules for dressing for petites , we are all different body types, finding what works for you is the key.Enjoy wearing your beret collection .
I love this combination! You look amazing!
I love how you've styled the cropped shirt over the denim dress. You make a good point about so-called rules because I used to avoid high neck tops believing they made me look chunky. I remember Trinny and Susannah banging on about how big busted women should ing wear V necks…what nonsense. I rarely wear low cut tops now and often wear turtle neck jumpers. It is all about proportions rather than one fixed set of rules. Fantastic outfit Jacqueline, thanks for linking up!