Are you Really a Petite Size?

In Petite Dressing boutique, I often get questions from customers wondering if they should wear petite size.  This sounds like a straightforward question, but the answer is more complicated than yes or no.

Before I explain further, the first thing I want to clarify is that petite size is based on height and not weight.

What is Petite

There is a common misconception that petite means skinny, thus petite sizes are made for women who are slender.  In fact, petite or not has nothing to do with your weight.

Petite size in fashion and clothing is referring to the special size for women under 5’4” or 5’3”.  The reason American designers make petite size is because regular size is tailored for women of 5’5” and above, thus they will not fit shorter women well.

That means petite women could come in all kinds of shapes and sizes, and you can totally be petite and curvy. This is singer Kelly Clarkson, 5’3″. Even though she is not a size 0, she is still petite because of the height.

Petite plus size celebrities
Kelly Clarkson, 5’3″ (Getty Images)

If you are interested in knowing more about this subject, read my other post on The Definition of Petite.

Does that mean you automatically fall into the petite size category if you are under 5’4″ and you should only wear regular size if you are over 5’4″?

It is not black and white like that.  Yes, height is the primary factor when it comes to petite size vs regular size, but it is far from the perfect determining factor.  Human bodies have so many variations, and that is what makes it complicated.

So, today, let me first explain to you how petite sizing works, then let’s look at if you fall into some of the special categories.

What is Petite Size

what is petite petite dressing petite fashion stylish petite

First of all, many petite women have narrower shoulders.  So, petite designers would adjust shoulder width when they make petite sizes.

This is especially important for garments with structured shoulders like jackets and coats.  A well-made petite outerwear tailors the shoulders to fit measurements of petite women.

Secondly, petite women tend to have shorter arms, thus sleeve length of petite size should adjust accordingly.

Sleeves might be one of the most overlooked details of your outfit.  Again, this is more important to petite blazers and coats than other clothing.  The wrong sleeve length could instantly sabotage the quality of your outfit, especially in work or formal social occasions.  For petite women, if the sleeves are too long, it will look like the jacket or coat is not the right size for you, even if it fits perfectly elsewhere.

Thirdly, most petite women have shorter torso.
This affects different types of clothing from blouses, to blazers and dresses for short women.  For instance, a regular size blouse may look like drop-waisted on a petite woman, if the sizing is not adjusted accordingly.

Fourthly, the most obvious one, petite women most likely have shorter legs.  Therefore, petite size bottoms such as petite pants and petite jeans need to adjust the inseam in order to fit correctly.

What is the meaning of inseam?

Inseam is the length of the inner leg, from the top of the thigh to the ankle.

Additionally, the knee cap for petite size pants or jeans should also be different from regular size.  It is easy for tailors to take in the hem of the pants, but difficult or impossible to change the knee cap.

Inseam affects not only pants and jeans, but also jumpsuits for short women.

I have another post that explains petite size vs regular size– check it out if you want to know more.

Should you wear petite size clothing?

Now you understand how petite size clothing is different from regular size, you know what to expect when you get a petite size vs regular size. I mentioned earlier even though height is critical, we cannot simply say that women above 5’4″ should only wear regular clothing.  Here is some of the examples.

If you are over 5’4″, but have short legs.

Chances are some women may be around or over 5’4” but their legs are short, so they should consider petite size pants.

Standard inseam for regular size pants are typically 32″ and above.

I can only say “typical” because this varies by brands and pant style.  If you are 5’5″, but your vertical body type is and long torso/short legs, then it’s possible petite size pants fit you better.

If you are over 5’4″, but have short torso.

What if you are not under 5’4″, but you are short-waisted?

You may find regular size fitted tops make you look like a kid wearing mom’s clothes.  In that case, you may find petite size tops fit you perfectly since they are adjusted for shorter torso.

Your weight is below your waist

Are you over 5’4″ but most of your weight and height is below the waist?  In other words, do you have the long legs and big bum body shape?

Try petite size tops and blazers, and you may be surprised how much better they fit you better.

Now, let’s look at other side of the equation.

If you are under 5’4″, does that mean you should always wear petite size?

In most cases, I would say yes, you should start with trying petite size at least.  You are much better off with clothes designed to fit the proportions of shorter women.  If you are used to buying regular size clothing and take them to the tailors, that could cost a lot of money in the long run.  More importantly, certain aspects of the clothing is very hard to alter.  For instance, changing the shoulders of a jacket or waistline of a dress is so complicated, you are better off not to do so.

On the other hand, since everyone’s body type is so different, it is also possible that certain shapes may not fit well in petite size.

Are you one of these?

If you have wide shoulders

One of my friends (and she was also one of my bridesmaids) is like this.  She is 5’3″, with a very skinny body frame, and her broad shoulders are very noticeable.  For her, jackets from petite department may not fit very well because of her shoulder width.  However, if she gets a regular size jacket, most likely the sleeves are too long for her.  Her best bet is to go with a jacket or blouse of 3/4 sleeves from the regular size department.

If you have long arms

If you happen to have long arms, you may find the sleeves for petite size tops and blazers too short. In that case, try some items from the regular size department and they may fit you better.

If you have long torso

Having long torso could mean that petite size tops are too short for you.  On the other hand, if you go with a regular size top, you may find sleeves too long or shoulders too wide.  So, what size is better for you really depends on the particular item you are looking at.  The only way for you to know is to try and compare.

If you have long legs

If this is you, you should consider yourself very lucky!  Most petite women wish their legs were longer! That said, I have heard from customers who told me they are frustrated to find the right pants because of their long legs.

If you go with petite size pants, you may find most of the inseam is not long enough for you.  On the other hand, regular size pants may work in terms of inseam length, but they may have a longer rise than you need.

In fact, it is quite common for a woman to have a combination of body treats, i.e. someone could be petite for the bottom half of her body but not the top half, or vice versa.  Therefore, the most important part you still need to look at is your body treats such as the length of limbs, the width of shoulders and the length of the torso.

If you are around 5’3”, it is advisable to try on both petite and regular size, and compare the fit and how they make you feel.  That may sound like too much hassle, but that is the best way to find that perfect fit.  You might be surprised about your findings and it is possible you might have been wearing the wrong size over the years.

 Moto Joni High Waist Skinny Jeans, Main, color, BLUE
Topshop Joni $45
 Barbara High Waist Super Skinny Jeans, Main, color, SUNSET BLVD
Hudson $111 (29″inseam)

Petite Sizing Chart

Pay attention to the definition of petite sizing by each retailer/designer, as some of them define what is petite as under 5’4” while others define it as under 5’3”.  It may sound like a slight difference, but that could affect their petite sizing.

Most brands follow standard sizing chart, but each petite brand may have some differences in their tailoring.  Here we have compared the most popular petite designers/stores and their definition of petite height.

If you are under 5 feet tall

Then you may find even the petite sizes would not fit you.

Why? Because petite designers make their clothing according to the measurements of petite models who are 5’4″ or 5’3″ tall.  In other words, someone who is 4’11” is 5 inches shorter than the model for which the petite clothes is made, then how can you expect that to fit well?

We have another post dedicated to women under 5 feet, you should read our comprehensive guide on “Styling Tips for Women under 5 Feet Tall” and “Where to Shop for Extra Short Jeans for Petites under 5 Feet“.

Petite Size vs Junior Size

If you are indeed a petite size woman, you probably have experienced the difficulty and frustration looking for the right sizes in regular department stores or shopping malls, so many of us may have shopped in the junior department at some point.

While that seems to be an easy solution, we do not recommend you to do so often.

In fact, one of the important styling principals for short girls is to avoid too much “cuteness”.

The complaints of many short girls is they are not taken seriously at work place, because of their height.  In order to appear to be the equivalent  of tall girls, our goal should be to add presence and authority through our styling.  Shopping in junior department will only do the opposite.

The designs for juniors are catered for teenagers, and they are not meant to be worn by professional adult women.  Except for sweat pants and other causal clothing you will only wear at home or for workout, we suggest you to stop shopping at junior department and look for stores with petite sizes instead.

Petite Plus Size

If you are short and you wear plus size, you should consider wearing petite plus sizes which are made for plus size girls under 5’4″.

Petite plus girls, like other petite size women, share the common body features I mentioned earlier, and the best bet to find their clothing from designers who carry petite plus specifically tailored to suit the needs of curvier petite women.

Petite plus could go up to 18P by some designers, and they have taken into consideration shoulder width, sleeve length and inseam needs of petite women just as other petite size clothing.


Understanding how petite size works and if you should wear petite size clothing is just the first step.  To flatter your petite body, it is critical to understand your body type and your own strengths and weaknesses so that you can dress accordingly. If you haven’t already, check out our petite body type section now!

What to Wear with Olive Green Pants (Complete Guide for Women)

Olive green pants can be quite flattering when styled right. Whether you are over 50s or just in your 30s, you can find an olive green pant outfit that will make you look great, regardless of your skin tone, age or body shape.

If you’ve been wondering about what to wear with olive green pants, you’ll be surprised at just how many options you have. They can be worn with different pieces you already have in your closet to create looks that are casual or dressy.

With a vest

Wearing a vest with your pair of olive green pants will give you a look that’s anything but basic. Olive pants with a vest is a chic way to layer when the weather gets chilly like in the 60 degree.

A good vest can either dress up a look or make it edgier depending on the style you go for. They are available in a variety of styles including fur vests, denim vests, tuxedo vests, fringed, hooded, just to mention a few.

The most important thing to keep in mind when choosing your vest is the type or style of the olive pants you’re wearing. Ensure there is a balance so that you don’t end up looking either overdressed or tacky.

Vanessa (above) wore her olive green pants with a striped top and a long vest.  A longer vest balances out with skinnier olive green pants better and it’s also worth going for a contrasting vest color but keep everything else simple.

With a crop top

You can style your olive green pants with a crop top for the chic and casual vibe. A crop top is a fun style top to go for, if you’re after a laid back casual look, or if you just want to show off those attractive abs if you have them.

Playing with colors is what makes this combination more fun. A black crop top comes highly recommended, because they are the safest bet that will go with your olive pants no matter what shade of green they are. With a black top, you can also go for any style of olive green pants, as long as the crop top is simple.

Of course you can also explore other colors for your top. If you choose a fancier crop top, it’s best to go for plain pants. The key is to balance everything out so that you achieve a seamless look.

Nik (above) wore her olive green pants with a black crop top and some sneakers. High waist pants when paired with a crop top make you look taller.

Since crop tops don’t work for just any environment, you need to have a good idea of where you are going before you wear one to make sure you are properly dressed for the occasion.

With a graphic t-shirt

Wearing plain olive green pants with a message t-shirt is a great way to look trendy while you pass a message across. Rarely will people wear a message t-shirt that says something they do not believe in, which is what makes them such great wardrobe pieces. These t-shirts are a subtle way of self expression and can be worn with different bottoms.

Plain pants allow you to go as big as you want with the font or to choose message t-shirts with smaller fonts. If you’re not too sure about the colors to go for when it comes to the t-shirt and the font used in the message on it, go for yellows, blacks, whites, or grays for both as these are colors that generally go well with olive green.

Anna (above) wore a grey message t-shirt with her olive green pants. It’s always better to pick the simpler olive green pants if you’re uncertain about pairing them with a message tee as this always works.

With a tank top

You should consider pairing your olive green pants with a tank top since the tank top is minimalist and will enable you to go for any style of olive green pants.

Tank tops are your best bet for a casual look on a hot summer day, since they cover just enough of your body’s top half for you not to sweat excessively and only come with narrow straps for the extra support. They are also great layering pieces as they can be worn underneath any type of outerwear or a shirt.

The chances of going wrong with this pairing are almost zero as long as you pick the correct color for your tank top.

With a blouse

Every woman should own a number of tops that give them a break from their normal go-to outfits like laid back t-shirts or the formal looking button-down shirts. After all, you need something different to wear to a date or a place that requires you to be dressed up. That is why blouse and olive pants can be a great outfit.

When you choose to wear your olive green pants with a fancy top like a feminine blouse, the best option is to pick a simpler pair of pants since the top will already make the statement for you.

You can also get more creative with the blouse. It could be an off-shoulder top, a ruffled one, a  halter neck top, a chiffon one, just to mention a few. Whichever you pick, it will give the pants a more feminine look.

Mei (above) wore her olive green pants with a white fancy top. When you choose colors such as white or black, you can add a pop of color to the look. Perhaps a bright pair of shoes, bag, or experiment with brighter accessories for the extra color pop.

With a print top

Wearing a printed top with your green pants is an easy way to add some interest to your outfit. Since your pants are green, the best way to go about this outfit is to pick a prints with some hues of green in it. That will give you a harmonious look from top to bottom.

You can also wear a pair of shoes with green shade (like above), to go for a head to toe monochromatic look. This is one of the best ways to flatter women of any height, because the outfit makes you look longer and leaner all around.

With a hoodie

Hoodies naturally go with the casual style of olive green pants, because both are the staples of laid back outfits, especially on the weekend.

Traditionally you would be wearing the hoodie outfits with casual shoes such as sneakers or flats. However, if you want to dress up this look, just throw on a pair of heels like Anna (above)! This will immediately add a feminine touch to your casual look!

With a denim jacket

Denim jackets are the coolest outerwear pieces out there. They are also the easiest to wear whether you’re thinking of stepping out in a dress, a jumpsuit, pants or shorts. The contrast between a blue denim jacket and olive green pants is exactly what makes this pairing worth a try.

The coolest thing about it is that you’re free to pick whichever style of pants you like best. You could also go for a more embellished denim jacket, perhaps one with studs. The choice is yours but all in all, you can be sure that these two combined make one great outfit.

You can pick a printed top with this pairing as it makes the look more interesting, but a plain top underneath also works.

With a pullover

olive pants outfit

We’ve talked about a cardigan outfit, you can style your olive green pants with pullovers as well.

The difference between a pullover and a cardigan is that one is open all the ways down and could have buttons while the other has to be worn over one’s head down the neck. They both can look good in olive pants.

You can choose different neckline of the pull over sweater to create totally different looks with the olive pants. A modest V neck pullover can give you the “prep school” look, which is quite on trend.

If you happen to have bigger chest, a lower neckline such as a U neck or deep V neck can actually balance out your bust and also create a more sophisticated and dressier olive pant outfit.

A white t-shirt

Olive green pants are available in different styles and wearing them with your white t-shirt is a great way. When in doubt, wear a white t-shirt. This is literally the one piece that goes with every single color you can think of out there and any style of bottoms.

Olive green pants with white T-shirt is the combination you can be certain that you don’t in any way look like you’re trying too hard in your styling. The white tee gives you a minimalist look that will make your pants stand out in the right way instantly. Knowing how minimalist and flattering a white t-shirt is, you’ll also feel confident walking around in your outfit.

It’s always easier to accessorize when you go for a white t-shirt so a scarf, a statement necklace, or earrings will do if you find the look too plain.

With a cardigan

Cardigans in the past were seen as clothing meant for schools, but not anymore. Today, you can spot your favorite fashion bloggers or other trendsetters rocking cardigans in different ways as they are comfortable pieces that keep you warm especially in cooler months. Since they go with different bottoms, your olive green pants are not an exception.

You can wear your olive green pants with either a long cardigan or a shorter one. With the shorter cardigan, you can always button it up and tuck it in or wear it unbuttoned as a layering piece just as you would with a longer one.

A grey colored sweater looks great with olive green, especially during fall. It’s also an unexpected color for a long cardigan-olive green pants pairing since most people would go for black or white.

With a blazer

You can style your olive green pants with a blazer for a classier look that will take you from an office meeting, to lunch out then to an event. A blazer easily instantly adds a touch of class to an outfit, whether you’re wearing pants, leggings, a dress or a jumpsuit.

The key is to get the right fit when it comes to your blazer and make sure the length of the blazer balances well with your olive green pants. Shorter blazers will look good with loose-fitting olive green pants while skinnier ones can work with both longer and shorter ones.