Fashion Tips For Petite Women

Petite women have special challenges in finding quality fashion clothes. Read ahead for tips on finding clothes to fit and flatter a petite frame.

Contrary to popular belief, "petite" applies to any woman who is 5'4" or shorter, regardless of clothing size. In a world where the majority of clothes are designed for supermodels, who are nowhere near 5'4", we petites often have to get a little creative with our wardrobe. Here are some tips to help you find and wear clothes that fit and flatter.

Most of us know that dark colors have a slimming effect and can make us appear taller---something many petite women desire. However, there's no reason why a petite woman must limit herself to wearing black. Try these ideas on how to use color to create a long, lean look:

-Wear coordinating separates within the same color family, like dark brown and beige, or within the same tone, like maroon and grey. You'll look put together and sleek.

-Avoid wearing bright or light tops with dark bottoms (and vice versa). This breaks up the vertical line and makes a person appear even shorter than she is.

-Try tossing a jacket or cardigan that matches your skirt or pants over a bright or light top. This creates one solid line extending down the entire body, with a splash of color from the blouse to draw attention to the face.

-Avoid garments with horizontal lines or large prints. Horizontal lines add width and make us look even shorter than we are, and large prints can overpower a small frame. Vertical lines and small prints, on the other hand, are a great way to add color and style to an outfit while elongating your vertical line.

In addition to color and prints, the cut of garments drastically affects your look. One way to lengthen your silhouette is by showing a little skin! Three-quarter length sleeves, scoop-neck or V-neck shirts, and knee-length or shorter skirts all work well on the petite frame. Avoid skirts and pants that hit mid-calf, although longer skirts and pants can be flattering and elongating if the hem meets your shoes. Low-rise pants and skirts are also flattering on petite women, as they lengthen the appearance of the torso. High-waisted pants and skirts, on the other hand, create a strong horizontal line, especially when paired with a tucked-in blouse. In addition, look for elongating vertical lines in the cut of the garment, like pleats in a skirt or long lapels on a jacket.

Shoes are more than just a finishing touch. The right shoes complete your ensemble and pull your entire look together. Many petite women prefer heels of any sort, and with good reason! Heels add height and make a woman's legs look longer. Open-toed and pointed heels are especially flattering, as these add to the illusion of length. Flat shoes can also be appealing with the right skirt or pants. They work best with pants that fall across the toe or with short skirts; avoid wearing flats with skirts that hit below the knee.

Finally, remember that a huge wardrobe means absolutely nothing if each and every item doesn't fit. Some clothing manufacturers and most major department stores have petite lines, which have been designed specifically to fit petite proportions. In addition, some petite women have luck shopping in kids' or juniors' sections, where one can find scaled-down versions of many adult fashions. It can also be worth your time and money to find a good seamstress or tailor who can alter your clothes to fit you exactly, or ask about alteration policies in your favorite stores---many stores provide free or low-cost alterations.

So start weeding out your wardrobe. Toss anything that doesn't fit or flatter and only add things back to your closet that do! With a little time and creativity, you can build the wardrobe of your dreams---one that enhances your petite form, makes you feel like a million bucks, and helps you stand a little taller every single day.

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