How to Dress the Petite Curvy Body


Petite and curvy can be a little tricky to dress, so how do you take the X shape rules and then make them work for a petite height so that nothing overwhelms?

And of course, your style also needs to relate to your personality too – this is part of the style puzzle that can never be ignored (otherwise you just don’t feel like “you” in your clothing) as you won’t be confident and you’re likely to feel more self-conscious.

So adding that personality style recipe (here our example is creative, strong, bright, carefree and shapely) in with a an X body shape and shorter legs – what to wear?

Dressing the Petite X Shape Body

Here are some outfit examples that would work.

What to wear when you have a curvy X shape petite body

Petite: I’ve worked with either colour blending shoes to the outfits, used knee-high boots which elongate the leg as they make the leg start right down at the toe, or chosen nude shoes to elongate her legs. I’ve also used mostly skirts/dresses because they make your legs look longer and are a simple way of creating a column of colour in any outfit. Also, many curvy women find trousers very hard to buy as the fabric through the rise pulls and looks unattractive.

X Shape: The X has a lovely tiny waist, so all these outfits take full advantage of that fact. They’re either belted or shaped so that this is a focal point of her body.

Accessories: Attention is drawn up to the face and away from the hips with scarves and jewellery.

Colour: Here I’ve used colours that would suit a warm blonde who is not afraid of wearing prints and colour.  And notice – no black!

Body Proportions – Using the dresses (as columns of colour) and either blending shoes or using nude shoes helps to elongate the body.  The shorter cropped cardigans also draw the eye upwards and make the attention on your upper half.

Scale: always a factor when working with the petite body, you never want to overwhelm with too large scale prints, but don’t ignore or bypass prints for fear of not being able to wear them at all. Find smaller scale prints that are dense (find out about slimming prints here) which actually keep the eye moving along and not focus on any aspect of your outfit.

Not sure of your shape?

You can do my free body shape calculator quiz here to find out (and grab your body shape bible to download and print) or if you’d like my professional opinion, can get that (plus a colour analysis and an understanding of how your personality influences your style) all as part of my 7 Steps to Style program.


How to Rock Patterns on Your Lower Half – X and A Shapes

How to Be a Style Magician



I'm not sure if it's for you but how would you feel if you learned all about the colours and styles of clothing that suit your individual personality, shape and style? Just imagine what it would be like when you can open your wardrobe and pull together fabulous outfits that make you look and feel amazing every day? If you'd like to stop wasting money on the wrong clothes and accessories plus join an amazing bunch of very special women also on their style journey - then my 7 Steps to Style program is right for you. Find out more here.

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  • These are lovely outfits, Imogen!
    I myself am 5’10” and A shaped, or pear shaped, larger hips and bottom, smaller breasts, shoulders. I have been reading that it’s best for me to dress plain or dark colors on the bottom and prints or embellishments on the top to balance out the pear shape. This really does work well. I used to tend to buy prints or florals in skirts and capris but am trying not to do that now, keep the focus more above the waist. If you ever would have time to do a Polyvore for me I would love it! I work at a law firm but we are business casual and the weekends I usually wear jeans out and about and church on Sunday dress up a little more!
    Thanks for all of your great tips and pictures…I love your e-book too, by the way, and am learning a lot from your tips! I wish I lived near you to get your help in person!!

  • These are great outfits…I love the idea of eliminating black for us fair warm toned girls! I cant wait to see all of these on Jane’s blog.

  • Great outfits! I especially loved the use of nude shoes and tall boots to create length. And…I’m totally with ya about fewer pants and more skirts for petite curvy folks. Actually for petite less curvy folks as well. Somehow they create a better, longer lone.

    P.S. Check out Banana Republic right now for a great selection of nude shoes!

  • Thank you so much Imogen.
    After this week’s Michelle Obama challenge I will spend next week dressing based on these examples.
    It is such a privilege to have an expert like you cast an objective eye.
    I am so very grateful.

  • I am only 5’9″ and want to look like I am 5’10’ like Kelly. Will wearing beige/taupe shoes help me do it?

  • I can absolutely see Jane in the leopard print dress and red bolero or the dark blue dress with brown belt and knee-high boots. I think you nailed her style

  • Kelly – email me via my website contact page and we will talk.

    Sal – they said Jane to me as I was putting them together

    Too Blonde – I’m glad you like the lack of black! I hope many other try out this radical idea.

    Trish – I too love nude shoes and tall boots – even though I am not vertically challenged

    Jane – can’t wait to see your posts next week!

    Belette – absolutely the nude shoe will give you more leg with skirts – the concept works for everyone! In fact,I”m wearing a pair of nude peep toe wedges today and they are the bomb!

    Cat- thanks so much!

  • I LOVE this polyvore. This is my shape too and I note with interest that I do a lot of these things you suggest. Just by accident! Thanks so much for posting it.

  • I don’t know Jane but she is a lucky girl. And since I am petite, I am going to borrow these looks (hope you don’t mind Jane).

    Thank you!

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