Symptom: You find yourself in the grocery store, peeking around the corner of the empty aisle looking for the tallest guy around to reach that bottle of seltzer from the top shelf so you don’t have to climb up and get it (What can I say? I really like my strawberry champagne seltzer. I was left with no options, climbed the shelf and, um shall we say- -created a most embarrassing scene as the shelf fell and so did the soda- I tried to play it cool).
If you have answered yes to any of the above questions you are probably petite. But don’t panic, this is highly mangageable and you are not alone. If you are 5’4″ and under your are petite. Sometimes you can even be 5’7 and still petite if you have a shorter torso or shorter legs. In the US alone over 70% of the female population can be considered petite because they are short in the torso, short in the legs, or both. Sometimes petite can even be considered more slender than normal based on a smaller bone structure.
Petite clothing is a relatively modern concept as Designer Hannah Troy
found most women to be short in the torso during her case studies based on WW2 measurement statistics. Her ideas, which originated in the 1950’s have evolved to form different petite points of view for modern clothing. Every retailer (and, …ehm..pattern designer) has their unique point of view as to what encompasses petite. (Mum’s the word on my secret sauce, but overall emphasis is on shortness)
What to expect- Fit and styling denial
Waistlines are always too low on dresses.
*Excuse: I can really work those vintage “drop-waist” 1920’s flapper-esqe looks.
Sleeves will be too long.
*Excuse: Scrunchy sleeves are the look and help me hide my hands.
Necklines are too low.
*Excuse: Cleavage anyone?
Armholes are too low.
*Excuse: I like all my sleeveless tops to look like muscle shirts.
Skirts length will never be quite right.
*Excuse: Amish school girl look is totally in this season.
Pant hems will drag on the floor.
*Excuse: “I swear that ragged hem on my jeans was just the look I was going for.”
Low rise pants will still end up just below your bust line.
*Excuse: Zoot Suit. Definitely Zoot Suit
The best medicine is knowledge. Know your body- where are you the most petite? What seems too always look odd in your fit? Once you understand where the problem originates from it is easier to treat it. Petite is all about proportion and to be good at it you need an eye for details. Our clothing should not emphasize the fact that we are shorter. The magic of fashion is to create the illusion that our figures are the perfection we desire.
RTW petite lines all have their own point of views. Some see petite as just a length issue. Others think of petite as length and body widths. Then you have clothing lines that prefer to narrow petite down to a formula. “Oh yeah, just take the regular length reduce the bodice by prescribed length, Raise the armhole and reduce the skirt length. Voila! Petite!”… Umm, well, you have a starting point…But how does it look?
Oftentimes alterations are easy-peasy, but knowing how and where to reduce is something that takes a little work and experience and it is different for every petite lady. Do yourself a favor and make a muslin. An hour of extra labor can yield 100 times better results if you can address them before you finalize the product.