A Petite Women Guide to Vintage Shopping

by Karen

A Petite Women Guide to Vintage Shopping

When it comes to shopping for clothing as a petite woman, it can be hard to know where to start. In general, a good rule of thumb is to look for clothing that makes you look longer and leaner. This means avoiding boxy, cropped, or oversized clothing that adds weight to your frame or makes your silhouette appear square. It’s easy to find clothing of all kinds that flatter petite frames - just keep the following tips in mind.

Figure-Flattering Clothing for Petite Women


The Right Waistline Makes All The Difference

There are dresses of all kinds that look fabulous on petite frames - you just need to know how to find them! Dresses are actually one of the easiest ways to make your silhouette look more statuesque. When shopping for a new frock, be sure to take notice of the waistline. A harshly defined waistline will cut you off horizontally. Instead, look for a more relaxed silhouette. Or, choose a dress with a softly defined waistline. Buttoned shirt dresses with a sash at the waist, for example, are an excellent option for petite women. So too are tailored sheath dresses that feature flattering princess seams. If you’re a curvier petite lady, wrap dresses are undoubtedly your best friend. Often made of flattering, lightweight fabrics, their tie details softly define your figure without creating a harsh horizontal seam. Petite ladies with athletic body types look great in a silky slip dresses. These unstructured styles are sometimes difficult to wear, but they are perfect for smaller women who don’t have many curves. They don’t have a defined waistline, meaning they’ll elongate your frame and leave you looking elegant.


The Right Pants Can Make You Look Taller and Leaner

While defining your waistline in dresses tends to crop petite frames, the right pair of high-waisted pants can actually make your silhouette look instantly longer and leaner. When it comes to selecting the perfect pair of pants, channel your inner Audrey Hepburn. Sleek, tailored cigarette pants in dark colors will work wonders when it comes to highlighting your figure. Avoid exaggerated bellbottoms or paper-bag waistlines - these will mess with your proportions and can look awkward on shorter women.


Sweaters Can Be Cozy Without Adding Bulk To Your Frame

Knit sweaters are a must-have for fall. With that said, being thoughtful in your sweater choices is key for petite women. Long, straight cardigans that extend to the thigh are perfect for petite women. Or, select a V-neck sweater made of a soft, thin cashmere or Merino knit. As a rule, try to avoid chunky, cable knit styles that are cropped in length.


Don’t Select Skirts That Contrast With Your Blouses

A-line skirts look fabulous on absolutely everyone. But petite women should be careful when pairing skirts with blouses. Try to keep everything within the same color family rather than wearing a skirt that contrasts with your top or blouse. Skirts that fall to the knee are the most flattering on smaller frames. If you’re short, don’t let a skirt’s length discourage you while shopping. Simply take it to a tailor to have it hemmed to the correct length.


Any Pattern Works, As Long As It’s The Right Variation

It’s impossible to say that a petite woman shouldn’t wear “all floral prints” or “all striped prints.” In actuality, there are certain types of each print that will flatter smaller frames. Oversized prints of all kinds - especially floral prints - can be too overwhelming for petite women. Smaller or repetitive floral patterns, however, will perfectly flatter your figure. Horizontal stripes are hard for anyone to pull off, but this is especially true for petite frames. If you want to wear stripes, stick to vertical patterns. And even then, the smaller the stripe, the better it will look.


Find Details That Lengthen You & Avoid Ones That Add Bulk

Many women don’t pay attention to the details of their dresses. If you have a petite frame, however, there are certain design elements that are especially flattering. Nearly any type of design detail that creates long, vertical lines will lengthen your appearance. Pleating or gathering on a skirt will make you look slimmer and more svelte. So too will rows of buttons, like the ones present on a shirt dress.


Longer Sleeves Mean A Longer Silhouette

Believe it or not, sleeves can greatly affect the way you appear to others. Petite women should stay away from billowing bell sleeves or three-quarter length cuts. Instead, you’ll be far better suited by narrow fitted sleeves that extend all the way to the wrist. Cap sleeves, flutter sleeves, and sleeveless designs are also perfectly appropriate for your frame.


Choose Shoes That Elongate Your Legs

Lengthening your appearance should always be at the front of your mind when putting an outfit together. Heels are a great option for times when you want to stand a little taller at work, a party, or another type of social event. With that said, just tossing on the highest pair of platforms you can find won’t give you a taller, leaner appearance. In fact, ankle strap heels can actually shorten the look of your legs, which is especially apparent when paired with a knee length skirt. Instead, find nude or skin colored pumps that complement your skin tone. That way, they’ll blend right in and make you look much taller.


Select Accessories That Don’t Cut You Off

Accessories are essential when creating an unforgettable head to toe look. Petite ladies, however, should carefully select the extras they use to make their outfits more exciting. Big, statement-making belts periodically go in and out of style, but petite frames should avoid them at all costs. A tailored dress that naturally flatters your figure is much more appropriate. If you do want to wear a trendy belt, select a very thin one that delicately accents your hips or waistline.


Small Touches of Jewelry - Rather Than Loud, Statement-Making Styles - Are Best

It’s important not to wear jewelry that overwhelms your frame. Instead, be thoughtful when it comes to selecting your jewelry. A pair of long, straight drop earrings can lengthen your neck and draw more attention to your décolletage. In contrast, a large, heavily embellished pair of chandelier earrings can make your neck seem shorter and look out of proportion with the rest of your outfit. The same goes with necklaces - often, a sparkling, statement-making pendant is more appropriate than an over-the-top statement necklace full of colorful details.

Vintage Clothing for Petite Women

If you’re a petite woman who loves channeling the elegance of bygone eras, you’re in luck! There are vintage-inspired styles from every time period that will leave you looking lovely. While we’re sure you would look fabulous in every single dress, there are some styles from each era that will be more flattering to your figure and leave you looking even more sensational from head to toe.

1900 & 1910

Look for…

Unstructured Edwardian dresses with long sleeves are decidedly elegant. Plus, they look magnificent on petite women. Look for designs that feature beading or embellishments that run in vertical lines. These will work with the dress to make you look sleeker and more stylish.

Try to avoid…

Stay away from Edwardian dresses that feature tiered skirts or rows upon rows of ruffles. These details, while decadent, can weigh you down and make you look shorter and heavier than you truly are.

Our Picks Option 1 / Option 2 / Option 3

1920s & 1930s

Look For…

Flappers loved wearing elegant, unstructured styles, meaning styles from the 1920s - and even relaxed looks from the 1930s - are the perfect pick for petite women. Look for a sheath dress made of a luxuriously light fabric to feel breezy and beautiful at your next party. Handkerchief hemlines can also lengthen your frame, as their un-even points can make you appear taller.

Try to Avoid…

Dropped waist dresses are difficult for many body types, but they are especially difficult for shorter women to wear. A harsh line at the hip will make you look shorter and squarer.

Our Picks Option 1 / Option 2 / Option 3

1940s & 1950s

Look For…

Shirt dresses and wrap dresses were wardrobe staples for women in the 1940s and 1950s. When it comes to shopping for vintage-inspired clothing for petite women, outfits from this era are definitely your best bet. Shirt dresses featuring a soft waistline and a row of buttons will make you look simply stunning. Or, select a wrap-style day dress with vertical pleats at the skirt.

Try to Avoid…

Pin-up style dresses are tempting, but many can overtake petite frames. Plaid prints, oversized belts, and heavy fabrics aren’t your best bet when it comes to dressing up.

Our Picks Option 1 / Option 2 / Option 3

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.