The average height of Irish women is now 5ft 5” (1.65m), but the fashion industry generally doesn’t allow for that. A model is considered ‘short’ if she stands at 5ft 9″, which is at least 6 inches taller than a petite-sized woman. Those extra inches seriously change the way an outfit looks on anyone under 5ft 4”.
So, for all you gorgeous shorties, here’s our guide to ignoring the fashion standards, and styling your petite self in a way that suits you. The usual guides tell you to appear taller, create a flattering silhouette, and avoid boxyness.
That’s all good advice, but let’s get a bit more specific.
Your ideal outfit will be mostly one colour, as monochrome will make you appear taller, with maybe a single splash of contrasting colour at your neck to guide the eye on a long, unbroken line from there right down to your toes.
Speaking of toes, matching colours on bottoms and shoes – think black heels with black tights – works to elongate your legs. If you don’t fancy the black, get shoes in colours similar to your own skin tone… though a neat trick is letting metallics function as a neutral (odd, but it works!), if you fancy some sparkle down below.
We know vertical stripes are your friend, and to avoid the horizontals, and this goes for shoes too. Ideally keep your heels free, with a slim heel as wedges look too blocky, and avoid straps around the ankle (they work like horizontal stripes).
With trousers, get a hemline that cuts off neatly at the ankle – cut, cuff, or turn up the hems as needed.
Getting rid of any excess material is important, even rolling up long sleeve shirts that you’d be swimming in. A good tailor is your best friend, it’s worth investing in quality clothes that fit just right.
Wearing a casual top, make sure it stops at your hipline or above, or tuck it in so it doesn’t make your legs look shorter. A V-neck top tucked into high-waisted skirt or trousers will make your legs appear longer, particularly a wide leg worn with a heel. This’ll give you that elegant silhouette we all love.
Great dresses for you range from casual shirt-dresses stopping just above or on top of the knee, creating a nice vertical line, to an asymmetrical party dress worn with heels for the extra height, making your calves look longer.
Long line maxis, whether skirt or dress, are great for that single flowing vertical, but if you prefer a short dress this will naturally focus on the legs, so go for whatever length you’re comfy with!
‘Petite’ is not just for the slim elfin types either, you’re still petite if you’re on the heavier side… these guidelines apply to you too, but you might prefer empress-waist dresses instead of form fitting.
If in doubt, ask for help! Our professional stylists at Redlane are on hand to advise the right look for you.