Petite Proportions – Getting it Right with Skirts and Dresses

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How to use the golden mean ratio with skirts and dresses if you are petite

Imogen would you do a post, with illustrations, for golden mean proportions on petites for casual styles and for skirts and dress ensembles? I know you have done casual capsules, but I need more guidance.

Firstly, I just want to stress that you shouldn’t get obsessed with following the golden mean exactly!  It’s certainly harder for petites than average or tall women.    Just think about not making your outfit boxy and not swamping your frame with too much fabric (either end of the spectrum).

You can use colour to create the illusion of longer proportions.

Petite proportions skirts


Casual Skirt Outfit Proportions

Ideally with all outfits when there are two or more garments (top and bottom) we want to create two rectangles – sitting on top of each other.  Just one rectangle is longer than the other.  This is trickier for petites as they have less natural height (duh) so it means that garments on the whole tend to be shorter.  But we can use colour to create the illusion of longer proportions, by:

  • Wearing tights and boots in the same colour as your skirt making the proportion from hip to ground long
  • Wearing nude shoes to not break up the leg further
  • Tucking a top in under a jacket or cardigan to shorten the top proportion whilst keeping the longer proportion on the lower half then wearing a slightly longer jacket over the tucked in top to create that longer rectangle (rather than square of the tucked in top) shape.  This can work for H and V shapes who don’t have a defined waist as the horizontal is shortened by the jacket.
  • It’s better to cut your body into thirds if you need to keep proportions shorter (rather than halves).

Never short on style - how to dress the petite frame ebook

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  • Helpful, thank you! Good to know this about necklaces. I am petite with larger bust and go back and forth about wearing longer necklaces. Also, is long over lean ok for petites?

  • As a petite, I found this very helpful. What annoys me though is that so-called “petite” ranges are often too long, with large-scale patterns and are not really designed to flatter petite women. I think they should hire you as a consultant!

    • Too true Sue. At least you recognise this and are wise to their ways now so do not assume that just because it’s a petite size that it automatically flatters

  • I have found that t-shirts are longer these days, ok over trousers but too long to wear with a skirt and looks odd tucked in on me with a short waist.

  • As a short-waisted, narrow-shouldered petite person (most closely matching a pear) who vastly prefers vintage clothing to contemporary styles and fabrics, I dread shopping for things that fit me. I carry a lot of weight in the rump area, and one sales associate a few years ago basically told me dresses would be hard to find in petites because of the discrepancy between my shoulders and short upper torso and prodigious rump. This is particularly aggravating because I really only like dresses. I don’t wear pants/slacks or jeans. I just hate them. I’m finding this blog very interesting; it may help me accept what I need to understand about petite pear proportions before I set foot in another store and get overwhelmed!

    • Thanks KMO for dropping by! The fit and flare shape is your go-to style. Look for capped sleeves or puffed sleeves to add width to your shoulders. It can be hard to find but this vintage style (1950s) is definitely around and will suit your shape well!

  • I tend to wear tunics with quality leggings or slim jeans, rather than dresses – so which type of cardigan would work best? Hip length or a longer open cardigan or waterfall style ?
    (Shrugs cut me at the wrong place, so now avoid these)

  • I am a petite (5’3″), not-very-curvey/underweight woman who is has long neckline, short-waist and long-legs (have my almost 6-foot mom’s proportions, but not her height – ack). I never know which rules to follow or how to achieve the right proportions with clothes.I think it contributes to a lot of my style indecisiveness! Checking out all these articles anew!

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