I’ve been asked to give the busty, voluptuous petite woman some tips on what to wear.
- Keep it simple, the shorter you are the more simple your clothes need to be, avoid lots of frills and flounces, details and pockets, they will all overwhelm your smaller frame. Keep your outfits as free of detail as possible, use jewellery to add interest.
- Go for small patterns that don’t overwhelm, they can distract and draw attention up the body, keep to the top half of the body only.
- 3/4 sleeves will also draw the eye away from the hips and make you look taller – this is a great optical illusion for anyone with shorter legs or curvier hips/thighs.
- Look for fluid fabrics that skim your curves and drape close to the body so you don’t add extra unnecessary width to your frame.
- Dress head to toe in the same or similar colours to visually elongate and slim your body, creating one long and appealing vertical line.
- To distract from your bust so it’s not your focal point, wear larger scale necklaces to draw attention away from the bust and up to your face, have the necklaces sit at your 2nd balance point which is often just under the collar bones (more on this another post). To upscale, wear pieces made from multiple smaller elements rather than one large element. Don’t wear high necklines as they’ll just make your bust look smaller, but avoid shoestring straps as they diminish your apparent torso length.
- If your shoulders are narrower, wear gently puffed sleeves or wider collars to broaden them and distract from your bust and hips.
- Keep your trousers free of pockets and cuffs, a straight leg that is the same width from the thighs to the hem is best. If you can stand them, wear heels and have your trousers hemmed just above the floor to add maximum length to your legs.
- End jackets at the hip bone to draw the eye up and away from your thighs
- Skirts need to have some flare but end at the knee. A nude low vamp shoe is most flattering to elongate the length.
Want more tips on dressing your petite frame then check out my ebook Never Short on Style.
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Petite Proportions – Getting it Right with Skirts and Dresses
Thanks for this post Imogen. I’m a 165 cm v shape and will definitely incorporate these tips into my wardrobe planning. I often find clothes that fit my chest are just too big everywhere else and I feel swamped, especially with the current trend for loose layers on top. Just curious, at point 6 did you mean avoid high necklines as they make your bust appear larger?
Yes that’s right – extra fabric makes the area appear larger.
Great tips! Thanks for posting these Imogen. I’m 159cm, short upper torso and short waisted, so blouses and dresses almost always sit funny on me, H shape, O when overweight, V when skinny. Currently, I’m leaning from H toward O and tip #5 is great at hiding a multitude of sins. Like Jill Chivers, I like prints. I’ll try and keep them corralled as per tip #2. Petite sized clothing have dried up in Australia. Myer and DJ seem to have stopped putting them out. Any suggestions where to shop please.
Sadly petites have dried up everywhere! There are more petite options online on US sites like Nordstrom but little in Australia sadly.
Thank you for this, Imogen. I’m a curvy petite 8 shape, and always need fitted clothes and waist definition. I am sometimes criticised by friends for looking too ‘smart’ for casual occasions, but it is so hard to find casual petite clothes (especially petite casual jackets) with waist definition and in an appropriate length.
Petite ranges are increasingly hard to find in a wide range here in the UK as well – and they vary a lot in their cuts and sizing, often with low levels of stock.
I love the blue outfit above, and will stick with a version of this, taking levels of refinement more into account. As I am a creative/feminine personality type I am perhaps never going to be super casual!
Thank you for this wise post, Imogen. Especially worth repeating is that for trousers, “a straight leg that is the same width from the thighs to the hem is best”. Truer words were never spoken! It is very unfortunate that so many curvy women are embracing the current style of skin-tight jeans.
Where I live in Germany, some of the better clothing catalogs have finally started carrying petite-sized tops and jackets! The selection is still limited, though.