Dresses For Petite Women – Great Outfit Ideas

Layering, vertical stripes, and heels are your best friends when you have a petite figure.

Reviewed by Amy Salinger, Fashion Stylist Amy Salinger Amy SalingerFashion Stylist facebook_icontwitter_iconinsta_icon
Written by , MSc Pratima Ati MSc linkedin_icon
Edited by , MA (English Literature) Madhumati Chowdhury MA (English Literature) linkedin_icon Experience: 7 years
Fact-checked by , MA (English & Literature), Certified Style & Image Consultant Srijita De MA (English & Literature), Certified Style & Image Consultant linkedin_icon Experience: 2 years
Last Updated on

Fashion undergoes significant transformations now and then. In today’s day and age, it is all about embracing the way we are (it always should have been this way). Thanks to some of these positive changes in society – today, there are endless options for picking dresses for petite women. Since body types vary from person to person, it is essential to find the right way to style your looks. No matter your body type, with some amazing and practical tips and outfit ideas for women, you can flaunt your look easily. To this end, today, in this article, we want to introduce you to some really worth-trying fashion tips, dressing ideas, dos and don’ts that can make you look effortlessly gorgeous. The idea is to work with the body type that you are born with. So if you are planning to steal the show wherever you go, carry your confidence and check out this article further to learn how to ace your desired looks.

Ace The Look
  • Reveal Your Ankles: Wearing pants that are too long can make you appear shorter than you are. So wear pants that hit just above your shoe line to give the illusion of height.
  • Top Length: Instead of a tunic that will make your torso and legs look disproportional, wear a top that hits no lower than your hip bones to balance things out.
  • Stripes: Vertical stripes will elongate your frame and make you look taller. Wear trousers with a tuxedo stripe down the sides for a simple yet effective look.
  • Avoid Loose-Fitting Clothes: Sack dresses and shapeless tops will only make you look smaller. So, opt for fitted dresses that flatter your figure instead.
  • Long Sleeves: If your shirt sleeves are too long, you can create the illusion of longer arms by rolling them up to your mid-arm or elbow. This also adds a touch of style to your outfit.

What Is the Definition Of A Petite Woman?

In fashion, the term “petite woman” is used to denote a woman who is smaller than the average woman. It refers not only to height but also the overall body type and features of a woman.

The definition of a petite woman can vary based on standards followed by different clothing brands in the fashion industry. Some consider women shorter than 5 feet 2 inches to be petite, while others define petite as shorter than 5 feet.

Generally, petite women appear delicate, youthful, and feminine than taller women. There are a lot of fashion choices they can make to look stylish. The following section provides a few styling tips you can follow as a petite woman to elevate your outfits.

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 rule of thirds. It just means that you do not split your body into two halves with your dressing. Instead, you divide your look into three parts. The top covers 1/3rd of your look while the bottom makes up 2/3rd of the entire look.
  2. Layering is the best way to spruce up your look, irrespective of your body type. However, 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. Or, you could wear high heels or high boots to give you height when wearing a calf-length dress.
  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. Fashion Stylist Amy Salinger advises, “If you are going to do oversized, you must choose one half of your look to play with. Either choose a fitted top and oversized bottom half OR fitted bottom half and an oversized top.”
  8. If you choose stripes, choose vertical, especially for one piece dresses, trousers, etc. The tops can be horizontal.
  9. Wear heels or some elevated footwear – the most obvious way to look taller. “A platform shoe also works if you hate high heels. And if you cannot stand any heel, make sure your pants are cropped at your ankles. A longer style will overwhelm you,” says Salinger.
  10. Accessories and belts – always keep them slim and svelte instead of broad and bulky. They should never be bigger than medium-sized based on your torso. You do not want to cover your entire torso with a larger belt or it will make you look wider, therefore shorter.

Outfit Ideas For Short Girls (And Petite) Body Types

1. Bridal Dresses

Bridal dresses for petite women
Image: Instagram @juliakontogruni

Big days better be the best in every sense. Just show off your assets and pull it 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 that trickle down to become backless work towards your advantage. Other choices are noodle straps dresses or halter styles that are open and light at the top, 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.

2. Maxi Dresses For Short Women

Maxi dresses for short women for petite women
Image: Instagram

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.

protip_icon Quick Tip
In addition to heels, wedges and flats are ideal footwear choices to wear with maxi dresses for short girls if you prefer a more relaxed and casual look.

3. Sequin Skirt And Tucked In Shirt

Sequin skirt and tucked in shirt for petite women
Image: Instagram @livpetite

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 chambrayi  A plain-weave cotton fabric, based on cambric cloth, made using a white filler yarn and a dyed warp yarn. shirt that has the right amount of volume. Roll up the sleeves. This cinches the shirt even further so you are not swallowed up by the material. Tuck it in, and doll up in pointed heels – it is the most obvious way of looking taller.

4. Jumpsuit

Jumpsuit for petite women
Image: Instagram @livpetite

Swapping your playsuits with a jumpsuit can make a lot of difference to the height. The tieable 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. Focus on the length of the pants. A cinched ankle style is always best on a petite woman. If you want a wider leg, make sure it is cropped.

protip_icon Quick Tip
Wearing a solid color jumpsuit will produce a lengthy column of hues and the appearance of height, which looks really appealing on small ladies. Darker solids like navy or wine can also help you look slimmer.

5. Pantsuits For Short Women

Pantsuits for short women for petite women
Image: Instagram @livpetite

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 bodysuits 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 Denims

Oversized sweater and denims for petite women
Image: Instagram @livpetite

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.

Salinger offers an expert tip, “Be sure to tuck an oversized sweater into the top of your jeans to show off your waist and define your shape. For longer, tunic-style sweaters, pair it with skinny jeans or leggings. You need to balance out the oversized nature of the sweater with a fitted bottom half.”

7. One Piece Dress

One piece dress for petite women
Image: Instagram @lydia.webb

Sweater, T-shirt or denim 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. Choose a layer that is either the length of your dress or longer to spruce it up a little, but of course, do not overlayer.

8. Jeans For Petite Women

Jeans for petite women for petite women
Image: Instagram @alissaweikel

Boyfriend/mommy jeans, distressed denim, etc. add a filter to your outfit. Choose an ankle-length style. They stretch your lower body and make it seem longer. Tops with ruffles, puffed sleeves, off or cold shoulders, etc. spruce them up for you.

Audrey Coyne, a YouTuber, shared what she wears on her petite body frame and the clothes she tends to avoid wearing. She avoids long pants or pants with wide legs and goes for ankle-length pants. She says, “I’ve found that some longer length jeans work with my personal inseam But ultimately going for cropped styles tends to be perfect (i).”

9. Formal Wear

Formal wear for petite women
Image: Instagram @livpetite

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.

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

Black t shirt dress with a kimono or jacket for petite women
Image: Instagram @wellesleyandking

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

11. Baggy Trousers And Ruffled Tops

Baggy trousers and ruffled tops for petite women
Image: Instagram

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. Make sure the middle of your outfit has a cinched effect. Either tuck in your shirt or choose a crop top that hits you at your waist. 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 for petite women
Image: Instagram

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 trendy and interesting.

However, Audrey prefers avoiding plunging necklines and deep V-necks as she has a small torso and these kinds of tops end on her belly button. Instead, she opts for a cropped neck. “My work around for this that I have found is to find crop tops that have these details added to them. They tend to work a lot better because everything’s kind of lifted up a little bit.”

13. Short Floral Dress And Boots

Short floral dress and boots for petite women
Image: Instagram

Keep your short dresses above the knee, anything below that can look funny. Classic and elegant dresses are always a safe choice, but don’t be afraid to experiment with edgier styles.

14. Long Winter Coat

Long winter coat for petite women
Image: Instagram @kateogata

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

15. Striped Shirt And Scarf

Striped shirt and scarf for petite women
Image: Instagram @alissaweikel

We, women, tend to avoid horizontal 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 and thinner stripes. Thicker stripes will overwhelm a petite figure.

Online And Offline Stores To Shop For Petite Women

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

Amy Salinger opines, “I would add, having a great tailor is a must. Yes, you can find great petite sizes at stores, but you need to make sure they are tailored perfectly to you. Even a quarter inch too long on a skirt or pants will completely change the look of the garment. Consider tailoring part of the price when you are buying things.”

Infographic: Make These Petite Celebs Your Style Icons

As a petite woman, finding flattering versatile outfits can be a bit tricky. Fortunately, there are tons of short-statured celebrities out there who are certified style icons. If you want to get inspired by the best, below is an infographic that you must check out. Take a look at some gorgeous petite celebs and steal their style!

make these petite celebs your style icons (infographic)

Illustration: StyleCraze Design Team

Women with tall, lithe bodies seem to hog all the limelight wherever they go. But hey! No need to be envious. Fortunately, we live in a time where there is no shortage of fashionable looks for all body types. These useful fashion tips and tricks on dresses for petite women will work wonders for you. Try them out and witness the transformation for yourself. With the right fit, (proportions, design, tailoring, and alterations) you can rock any dress style and look amazing! But remember that the most important thing in fashion is to be comfortable and confident with yourself and the outfits you choose. You have got this!

Frequently Asked Questions

Can a short girl wear a midi dress?

A hi-low midi dress looks cute on petites. Always choose a tight-fit top for a midi skirt; otherwise, an oversized or loose top can be overwhelming.

How should you wear a petite curvy dress?

If you are petite and curvy, then consider high-waisted or flared jeans, try a mini skirt that adds length to your legs, and have garments that are tailored to your size or add shape to your dress with a belt.

Are high-waisted pants good for petites?

Yes. High-waisted pants are good for Petites. Try to wear a short top or shirt paired with your pants, which will make your legs look longer than they are.

Key Takeaways

  • For short dresses, try keeping it either above or below the knee. A mid-calf length will make you look a lot shorter than you are.
  • An ankle-length dress will accentuate your length, and you will appear taller than usual.
  • Mom jeans or distressed jeans will perfectly suit a petite body type.
  • Try wearing vertical lines and not horizontal ones. They can make you look taller.
dresses for petite women

Image: Stable Diffusion/StyleCraze Design Team

Calling all petite girls! Discover a variety of stylish outfit ideas tailored specifically for your petite frame from this video and get ready to amaze everyone!

Personal Experience: Source

Amy Salinger
Amy SalingerFashion Stylist
Amy Salinger is the founder of Style Method NYC. She assists clients with unique body types, lifestyles, and budgets and helps them flaunt fabulous styles. Amy has appeared on Lifetime TV, The Today Show and MTV. She has also worked in editorial, television, and with private clients for over 20 years.

Read full bio of Amy Salinger