When the leaves begin to change color and the mornings grow crisp, cozy sweater dresses take center stage in my closet. Few things are so easy… or so versatile! Toss on a pair of ankle booties for a warm fall day. Then on a chilly morning, you can add more layers, like a cute jacket, tights, and over-the-knee boots. However, for petites, getting the length right can be a challenge. The midi length that looks so chic on the model is often downright dowdy on my 4’11 frame! So let me share a few winners that hit just right. Here are the best petite-friendly sweater dresses for fall, plus the shopping strategy I swear by.
Sweater dresses bring so much elegance to functional dressing! Before we dive into my favorites, let’s answer a few common questions…
Technically yes. But (and this is a BIG but) you need some know-how or a professional tailor. Thick rib knits and chunky sweaters are notoriously tricky to alter. I looked through a lot of tutorial articles and they made my head spin a bit. Then again, I’m not super crafty with a sewing machine. Should you choose a professional tailor, you’ll want to consider cost-per-wear and whether the price of alterations makes sense. Many of the dresses I’ll be sharing in this post are under $50, so alterations that cost $25 or more would only make sense if you really love a garment.
Our first instinct when it gets chilly might be to pull on pants, but you can actually stay warmer with a sweater dress! Seriously… If you pair a cozy sweater dress with fleece-lined tights and knee boots (or over-the-knee for even more warmth), you’ll definitely keep the cold at bay. During my TV news days, I often had to deliver live reports outside in chilly Wisconsin weather. I relied on sweater dresses and boots. It was the warmest combination possible, particularly if I added an additional layer of Smartwool socks on top of the fleece-lined tights.
Click on any of the dresses below to shop!
Ah, now we’re getting into the critical question! Anyone can come up with a list of the best petite-friendly dresses for fall. However, you have to consider your unique body type and personal aesthetic when choosing a a sweater dress. That’s why I’m writing this post in the first place. For example, I love the look of relaxed and slouchy oversized sweater dresses. Do they flatter my frame? Nope.
You also should consider the weight of the knit. Thinner knits, particularly on super fitted garments or body con dresses, have a tendency to reveal what we don’t want to show. Whereas thicker, higher quality materials are generally easier to wear and more flattering.
The golden rule for petites: Don’t let the sweater dress wear you!
Whether it’s a big, bold pattern or a chunky cable knit, it’s all too easy for petites to get lost in their garments. That’s why you want to consider scale and fit before making a purchase. Don’t be fooled by how the dress looks on the model, you need to consider where the hemline will hit you.
I recommend sticking to knitwear that hits you just above or at the knee. If you want to try a longer style, say a midi-length (like this dress shown below), it’s best to offset the longer hemline with a fitted top that accentuates your waistline. Alternatively, you could define your frame with a belt.
While I love the green pleated dress below (it comes in a myriad of vibrant shades), I wouldn’t recommend it for ladies shorter than 4’9. Personally, it’s the longest length of midi dress I feel comfortable wearing, as it hits me just below mid-calf.
Consequently, when shopping online, I always prefer retailers that include length measurements in their sizing guides. For example, Chicwish (one of my go-to spots for petite-friendly sweater dresses) includes all the specifics you need to figure out whether a dress will work. Unfortunately, length measurements are hard to come by. This is especially true of sites like Amazon, where sizing tends to be wildly inconsistent.
Okay, let’s dive into some winners! Each season I scour the internet for these fashion unicorns… Here are a few garments that make my list of the best petite-friendly sweater dresses for fall and some sizing notes I think you need to be aware of.
First up, a midi length sweater dress that actually works for petites! This is one of the rare styles that will hit an under 5′ girl where a midi dress should, just above mid-calf. While a midi dress technically refers to any style with a hem between the knee and ankle, if you are super short a cut that hits just above mid-calf is most flattering. Now, let’s talk about why I love this style.
It’s a body con fit, but with super traditional styling. The classic cable knit and tie waist are very elegant. The fabric is also very soft to the touch. It’s pleasant and cozy to wear. Size up for an office-appropriate fit. Although the leg slit is a touch sassy, you can still take this one to work, particularly if you pair this style with a cute jacket or blazer. It comes in 10 colors. For sizing reference, I am wearing the small. My measurements are 33-26-36.
This batwing, off shoulder style might look overly short on the model, but is an ideal petite-friendly find. While it is labeled as an off-the-shoulder dress, I feel like it’s more like a boatneck style, you can slip off your shoulder should you choose. It hits my 4’11 frame just above the knee for that leg-elongating effect.
You can snag it in 11 different colors. The knit is higher quality than you will typically find on Amazon. A nice middle-weight knit and excellent for moderate fall temperatures. Some reviewers noted that this runs small. I didn’t really feel that way. However, if you are on the curvier side, you might want to size up for additional room in the hip area.
Do you adore black and white? Looking for a dress with major versatility? This contrast stripe dress (also available in blue/white) checks all the boxes. It’s a great length, hitting just below the knee – conservative and super cozy.
The ribbed knit helps visually elongate your frame, while the striping at the bottom adds some punch to this classic cut. It’s hard to make out in the photo, but the rib knit changes width from the top to the bottom adding additional interest and shape. I wanted a bit more definition in the waistline (I thought it fit a tad loose there), so I added a black belt.