The struggle is real! If you’ve ever tried on a pair of beautiful trousers only to find them pooling at your ankles… or a seemingly sleek dress (it looked so good on the mannequin) that appears boxy and unflattering on you, you know what I’m talking about. Shopping for a petite frame is not easy. Stores are beginning to recognize they need to cater to shoppers who don’t have model proportions. However, progress has been slow to arrive. Consequently, at 4’11 I’ve explored all the options. Looking for alteration-free shopping? This post walks you through the stores I swear by – the 10 best brands for petite women.
Here’s the funny thing… It shouldn’t be this challenging!
The average height of an American woman is 5’4, per CDC research. That puts half the country in the petite category! Why are we relegated to the back of the store or encouraged to shop the kids section? Let’s make the process easier!
My top tip? Know your measurements and approach shopping with an open mind. Not all brands offer petite sizing, so you need to develop an understanding of what flatters your unique frame. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box. While most of my favorite brands for petite women carry true petite sizes, some simply offer traditional sizing that runs shorter/slimmer than most stores. I’m including both on this list.
Let’s begin by clearing up what “petite” actually means. Many people make mistakenly equate the term petite with being slender. In contrast, petite sizing refers to height not weight. Petite clothing is designed for women 5’3 or 5’4 and under. Petite women come in all shapes and sizes. Yes, you can be petite and curvy!
What’s different about the best brands for petite women?
View this post on Instagram
As a former news anchor (and now as a college journalism instructor), Ann Taylor has long been my holy grail for workwear. It’s professional and classic with all the feminine touches I seek. Although they don’t carry everything the store offers in petite sizes, the petite section is quite hefty. For those who favor in-store shopping (I’m on that list), it has one most extensive in-store offerings around.
Ann Taylor has amazing suiting options for petites, as well as perfectly tailored dresses. For instance, in the video above, I’m wearing a piece from Ann’s new holiday collection. Looking for more casual attire? You’ll also find petite-friendly denim. One of my all-time favorite pairs of jeans is from Ann Taylor. 10 years later they’re still going strong! Another important note: Some Ann Taylor trousers/denim come in both regular petite sizing and curvy petite.
A sister store to Ann Taylor, owned by the same company, it makes sense that LOFT also makes the list of best brands for petite women. However, this one comes at a lower price point and carries plenty of casual styles in addition to office appropriate attire. Be sure to check out the brand’s petite best-sellers – so many gems on this page!
One fun thing about LOFT petites? Not only do they offer shortened inseams, sleeve and more tailored rises/waistlines, but also scaled prints. Finally a brand that gets it! Short gals love prints too, we just have to be mindful that print doesn’t overwhelm our frame. LOFT makes this easy. Like Ann Taylor, LOFT carries curvy petite sizes too.
It is important to note, LOFT sizing is not the same as Ann Taylor. I have most success with LOFT tops (petite sizes go down to XXS) and dresses. LOFT pants/jeans see to be a bit too long for me (keep in mind I’m super short – 4’11). Ankle or cropped length pants work great though.
Can you tell already from the name? This gem is among the best brands for petite women because we are the sole focus. Additionally, while many of the stores I’ve featured so far focus on daily staple pieces, Petite Studio feels more fashion-forward. It’s the place you go when you’re seeking something special – and want it to fit like a dream. Yes, this one is just for us. Every… single… piece!
Consider it a petite gal’s best friend. Once you try it, you won’t go back. This indie brand runs from XXS to L and tests its fit on a range of petite models. They are also what you see on the website. For once, what you see is what you get!
Life-changing might sum up my feelings about this brand’s petite denim! I know it sounds like an exaggeration, but when you can recall jeans literally bringing you to tears as a teen, the availability of size-inclusive denim is uplifting. As I discuss in this post on current denim trends, Madewell really hits the mark for petites.
Not only does it carry a wide range of petite styles, but they also fit like a dream. If you approach petite pants thinking you’ll still need alterations even though it’s labeled “petite,” Madewell is a gold mine.
Its petite kickout crop jean is my favorite, ideal with cute boots for fall. But I also adore the petite perfect vintage wide leg jean! Though trendy, wide leg jeans can be challenging for shorter frames. I offer styling tips on choosing flattering wide leg denim in this post. These fit like a dream, no alterations required. Note: I wear both styles with a moderate heel.
J.Crew is another one of my go-to brands for office attire and that preppy, classic vibe it is none for. Think blazers, shirts, work-ready dresses, denim, and holiday attire! I’ve also had really good luck with J.Crew coats. They have beautiful options for petites. Also, if you haven’t seen J.Crew’s holiday cashmere collaboration with the New York City Ballet yet, it’s dreamy – match made in heaven!
The only downside is finding the petite section online. Unlike many retailers, they don’t have an easy access tab to locate “petites.” Instead, you have to head to “all clothing” and select the petite size filter.
While this brand doesn’t have a traditional “petites’ section on its website, the cuts of its clothing are incredibly petite-friendly. Quince pieces are also very classic – the type of styles that never go out of fashion. For example, after trying on dozens of silk skirts that felt shapeless and unflattering, this one skimmed my curves in all the right places. Likewise, the sweater fit like a dream! Quince offers multiple inseam lengths in some of its pant selections, which is really helpful for us shorter gals. I also find its mini dresses, such as this silk shirtdress, an ideal length for petite women.
The quality has also impressed me thus far, with each piece feeling “premium” and elevated from comparable items. Quince says that’s the goal – offering luxury without the luxury price tag. It manages to keep prices low by streamlining distribution channels. Pieces go directly from the factory to you.
If you’re unfamiliar with this UK clothier, it’s time to get familiar! Boden is an ideal brand for petite women because of its focus on sustainability and ethical production. Within its petite section, you’ll find lots of joyful colors and traditional, timeless silhouettes. Petite sizing runs from 0P-12P, though in many items petite sizing begins with a 2P.
This is the type of petite line that doesn’t feel like an afterthought for the brand. Rather, it’s carefully curated to ensure each piece fits and flatters us shorter gals. Boden petite dresses are my favorite – coats too! The fit is always SO right. If you’re hunting for a vibrant winter coat. Boden is a great starting point. Here are a few of my favorite Boden styles.
Skirt (in black – my tan version is sold out)
This is one of the best brands for petite women that doesn’t advertise itself as such! While it does not specifically offer petite sizes, as an international retailer, Chicwish pieces tend to run smaller and shorter than standard U.S. sizing. Best of all, Chicwish gives you ALL the detail you could ever want in its sizing charts.
It provides length, bust, shoulder, and sleeve measurement, as well as noting the measurements of the model wearing the garment. In short, Chicwish makes it easy to get sizing right. When I’m looking for something whimsical and feminine, Chicwish is my go-to brand. I adore their sweaters, midi and mini skirts, and dresses. This coat is another winner.
WHBM has pretty robust petite offerings in-store, and that selection is even broader online. In particular, I love shopping for suiting at WHBM. They have a knack for getting blazer proportions just right, even with more relaxed styles. The pieces are designed to fit slim to your body for a more flattering fit.
I have lots of success with dresses at WHBM and pants too. For example, the jeans I’m wearing above did not require hemming (though I do need to wear them with a 3.5″ heel or higher).
Rounding out this list of best brands for petite women is a workwear favorite – M.M. LaFleur. If the idea of a capsule wardrobe sounds appealing to you, this is where you make that dream happen. Its pieces mix and match easily. They’re also the kind of “will last forever” quality you want in an investment piece. It does not have a dedicated petites page on its website, but includes notations under “fit” that indicate if a piece is petite-friendly.
For instance, the Arbus cashmere sweater I’m wearing above is listed as a petite-friendly and middle-friendly style. Its so good, I have it in both black and papaya. I’ve had the most luck with M.M. LaFleur dresses and tops. While I love their pants – and the fact that some come with adjustable hems – they are still too long for my frame. I had to hem the Colby pant shown above. I would say M.M. LaFleur pants are best for 5’2 or 5’3 women.
Hopefully this list will get you started! Vertically challenged shopping is certainly not easy (don’t even get me started on why some stores hang petite clothing super high up), but it is improving. These brands have streamlined the process for me, but it’s always important to consider each garment individually. Don’t settle for something that “kinda fits” – unless you’re prepared to alter it. Flattering clothing is out there, you just might have to do a bit of digging to find it!