Over the last three months, I’ve noticed a disconcerting trend among my 5’3 and under clients, one that I now must address. I don’t know exactly when stores unleashed ‘petites’ (my guess would be the 80s when most everything was excessive and useless), but they are obsolete at best, detrimental at worst.
Now don’t get me wrong- I fully understand the need behind this distinction: smaller women need pants and tops that don’t always require length alteration. Great in theory. Unfortunately, the stores only stock maybe one third of their merchandise in petite form, severely limiting your selection. Start with the entire store, and if you find a pair of pants you like, then ask if they come in petite.
Another problem with the notion of ‘petites’ is the erroneous idea that smaller women need smaller clothing. In my eyes, tops that all hit above the hip and, god forbid, 3/4 length anything only makes you look smaller. Plays in proportion are a fundamental part of good style, and will only help flatter your frame. I will say it again: small women do not need small clothes.
Finally, pay no mind to the number on the label. While we all average towards one size, the fit of any item varies tremendously from person to person. I typically wear a medium in JCREW but didn’t like the snug look of a particular sweater. Instead of assuming it wasn’t for me, I tried the extra-large, loved the baggy look, and bought it. One measure of style creativity is how many different sizes you have in your closet, so let go of the restrictions and remember that ‘your size’ is only the place to start.