This guest post was written by Sasha Moyer, cofounder of Adela Mei, an online boutique specializing in modern, contemporary clothing for petite women.
When making rules for how petite women should dress, list makers love writing blanket statements that focus on one petite body type; short and skinny. But not all petite women were made equal, and since petite is a descriptor for height, not shape, there are a variety of body types within the petite umbrella. The advice they give also falls within a narrow style range, namely tailored and proper, which can look good, but not all petite women want to dress the same either. Our advice? Be a rebel and break all the rules. Here are a few of our favorites to break:
THE ONE ABOUT BIG PRINTS
It’s true, big prints can be overwhelming, but not all big prints are going to swallow you whole. Heck, even tall people can be overwhelmed by prints at times, so this isn’t a petite-exclusive issue. If you like prints, then by all means wear them and stop depriving yourself. The secret is finding the right print, which requires a lot of patience, and trial and error, or learning how to balance or tone one down. Adding a blazer on top of a printed dress lessens the impact of the print, making it less overpowering, while wearing printed bottoms with a plain top makes the whole outfit less dramatic, but still playful.
THE ONE ABOUT MIDI SKIRTS
Um, midi skirts are amazing! While they’re not the easiest to wear, it’s all about finding the right one – and don’t worry, there’s one out there for every petite woman. Gals with longer legs and slim hips can get away with pretty much any skirt shape, form-hugging shapes look va-va-voom on curvier gals, and full-skirted silhouettes flatter pretty much everyone. The secret is finding the skirt to suit your body, making sure your ankles are seen, and popping on a pair of heels when needed.
THE ONE ABOUT BAGGY CLOTHES
When we think of all the petite people whose style we admire: the Olsens, Nicole Richie, Miroslava Duma, Natasha Goldenberg – we notice that none of them follow this rule and they all look great. The secret is balance, fit, and ensuring you look put together and not like you just rolled out of bed in your boyfriend’s PJs. There’s no one-step trick to mastering oversized clothing, but lots of little ones to help depending on the garment. For example: Reign in volume with a belt, balance an oversized top with slim bottoms, elongate your silhouette and baggy dress with heels, tailor your garments so they’re still “made for the boys” but also made for you.
THE ONE ABOUT FLATS
Flats, while not as physically elongating as their heeled cousins, are definitely a wardrobe staple and daily necessity – do you know how painful our feet would be if we had to wear heels every day? But yes, some flats make you look shorter than others so the solution is to not avoid flats, but to find ones that work for you and pair them with the right outfits (wide leg pants and flats are tough, even when you’re tall). Ballet flats are great because they’re elongating, but stick to more structured silhouettes as rounder toe shapes can look childish. Oxfords with sleek lines look fantastic paired with minis or skinny pants, while biker boots are practically a classic that look great with a variety of items.
THE ONE ABOUT WIDE LEG TROUSERS
Imagine how boring your closet would be if you wore only skinny and slim jeans, forever and ever, amen. While tricky, and usually requiring the addition of heels, wide leg trousers can look fab on even the most vertically challenged of lady. The most flattering cut is high waisted, as it visually elongates your shape and makes your legs look miles long. For those of the long leg, short torso variety – lucky you – you can get away with wearing hip slung pants without looking like a shorty.
Long story short (see what we did there?), rules were made to be broken and there’s no one set of rules that’ll work for every petite woman. Try everything once, and if you love a look, try, try and try again. Fashion is meant to be fun and rules can be downright boring. So forget everything you’ve learned, make it up as you go, and as we always say – wear what you want!