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But Petite means small, right?

In fashion terms, Petite refers to height, not weight.

In French, petite means small, so people are sometimes confused by petite sizing. Many people think Petite sizing means skinny girls, and while slender women can be petite, so can plus size women. Petite refers to women under 5’4″, (162.56 cm) and doesn’t have anything to do with weight. Petite clothing can come in sizes from 00P to 14P, 16P, or even 18P.

There is also Petite Plus size clothing, or “women’s petite”. Most petite plus clothing comes in sizes from 16WP or 18WP to 24WP or 26WP.

Just like Tall sizes have longer leg lengths, arms and torsos, petite sizes are scaled down to be better proportioned on a shorter frame. Generally the shoulders are narrower, the arms and legs are shorter, and many designers also make the rise in pants shorter, so that pants are high waisted when they’re meant to be hip huggers. The area between the shoulder and bust is shorter, so that the dart go towards the nipple, not the navel.

Some ladies are true proportional petites, and some women may have longer legs and a short torso, or the other way around, and may be better off trying on both sizes, and wear regular sizes as tops, and petite sizes in bottoms, or vice versa. Sometimes even tall women can wear a petite size, depending on their proportions.

Some labels have patternmakers make petite sizes from scratch, and some places just “pink it and shrink it” which isn’t always a great fit. Petites aren’t just shrunken versions of regular sizes. They may still be muscly, or have large breasts, or look like regular height women in photos, so shrinking a pattern overall usually means arms that are too tight, pants that don’t fit over your bottom, or with buttons pulling at the bust.

A good label will also make clothing that actually flatters a petite frame. Just because you find a petite size of a dress you like, doesn’t mean it will be flattering. If all they’ve done is shrink a maxi dress with horizontal stripes, it might “fit” but it might not be flattering. That’s why you won’t find a petite version of everything in a store. Good labels will stick to making petite versions of things that will look good, like small patterns, vertical stripes, solid colors, etc.

Always make sure you look at the size charts when buying online, and if you can try things on in store to get a feel of a labels sizes, then you will know what works best for you later if you want to shop online.

So next time you’re out shopping, look for the petite section. Try on the same item in both sizes, and see which fits better. Don’t feel bad if you go up a size in the petites. They’re typically a half to one inch narrower in the waist, so you might be a 4R but 6P. Nobody else can see the label, so get what looks good in the mirror, not what size you think you should be.

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Small on the Earth

It’s not just what I am, it’s what I want to be.

As a petite person, I find it hard to find small clothes. There are so few people who cater to petites. Some department stores might have petite sections, but it’s all grandma clothes. Some other places have clothes for smaller women, but they’re generally fast fashion outlets that make cheap clothing that will fall apart in a couple of washes.

It’s not just petites that have problems. I know plus size girls also complain about being able to find things that fit that are also stylish. I decided to do something about it, and create my own line.

I discovered some horrible things.

Consumers complain they can’t get certain clothing, but we’re party to blame. As people increasing demand cheaper clothing, faster fashion, and constant variety, people who make clothing are looking for cheaper ways to make this clothing. They’re designing clothes to be disposable. They’re only making certain sizes, because now that they’re outsourcing to places like China, they’re obliged to make 1000 minimum item runs. That doesn’t mean that they make 1000 of a certain item. It means they have to make 1000 of each size, and each color.

So I want to make a 7 piece capsule wardrobe. If I want to be conservative, and make a couple of different color options, say white and blue, I then also have to work out how many sizes I want to make. Do I go with S, M, L or do size 0, 2, 4, etc. If I was to have my clothes manufactured somewhere like China, even if I only do two colours, and S, M and L, I am now looking at 4200 pieces I have to manufacture. For a start up line. How on earth would I sell 4200 items to petites? It’s insane. So if one tiny line has to make 4200 items, imagine what places like Zara or H&M are producing?

I don’t want to make disposable clothing. I want to go back to the days where you had a few beautiful items that you could wear over and over. Things that were slightly more expensive, but that lasted forever. Things that were timeless, and didn’t go out of fashion a week after you bought them. People make fun of preppies, but you’ve got to hand it to them. They’re pretty environmentally friendly when it comes to their wardrobe. They own staple items, and wear them for 20+ years. They mend things. They hand them down. Their stuff doesn’t go out of style. (Well, to them anyway) When my dad was a designer, there was a couple of seasons. Now there are 52.

As I was looking into where I could get small production runs, with high quality fabrics and manufacturing, and devoid of any type of sweatshop labour, I started knowing more and more that I didn’t just want to make small clothes, I wanted to be small on the earth.

There’s an amazing documentary on Netflix called “The True Cost‘ and it can explain the true cost of fashion way better than I can. I already knew I wanted to go small, make lasting clothes, and hopefully, manufacture right here in the US, but this doco reaffirmed everything for me.

Please watch it before you buy your next $5 t shirt.

 

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Petite Style Tips – V necks

A V neck is always flattering on a petite frame.

I’m only 4’11” and I’m totally fine with rocking my short stature. I don’t feel the need to “dress taller” but I do try to wear clothes that are flattering on my petite frame.

One of the easiest fashion tips for a petite person is to wear v necks. Whether it’s a shirt, a dress, or a swimsuit, a v neck will elongate your neck. Like vertical stripes, it helps to make you look long and lean. Whether you’re flat chested or have full figured, the v neck is still flattering.

Eva Longoria is 5'2". She's wearing a plunging v neck dress, and t-strap shoes. Both are considered elongating for petites.

Eva Longoria is 5’2″. She’s wearing a plunging v neck dress, and t-strap shoes. Both are considered elongating for petites. The one solid color is also flattering on shorter ladies.

I’ve found a couple examples on Amazon of both short and long v neck dresses, that would totally match Eva’s style.

One of my favourite brands, Anatomie Style has a top that hits all the right notes for petites. A v neck, vertical stripes, and one colour. Paired with pair of black pants, or a short black skirt, it will be flattering, and a great addition to your petite wardrobe.

Lara Lace
LARA LACE-SLEEVE V-NECK

Way back when many of Hollywood’s finest were petite women, they knew how to dress. You’d have never known that Liz Taylor was only 5’2″ when she was on screen. Here she is, wearing a flowing v neck caftan. You can find one to suit you over in the SHOP section.

Elizabeth_Taylor_in_Kaftan_blue_medium
This swimsuit has a plunging v neck, as well as vertical cutout detailing. This makes the eye go up and down the body, creating the illusion of length.

 

 

 

 

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