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 /