Best Travel Dresses for Petites

best travel dresses for petites

We all have our standards when it comes to choosing a great dress. However, those standards tend to elevate when it comes to selecting a travel dress. These need to pass muster in more ways than one! You need versatility, durability, functionality – and you want it all in a one-and-done piece. Oh, there’s the wrinkle factor too… We don’t exactly travel with an ironing board, so these also need to pack well. To help jump start your search, here’s a look at the best travel dresses for petites.

These are tried-and-true, pulled from my own closet or recommended by petite pals. You might be asking… What makes me an expert on travel dresses? As a college lecturer who teaches travel writing abroad each summer, let’s just say I do a lot of packing and unpacking. I also travel carry-on only.

petite-friendly travel dresses Dress | Wedges 

This means packing for five weeks in one small bag. Whatever I bring, it has to go the distance. After summer travel that took me to Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, France, and the shores of Lake Michigan, these are the pieces I’d recommend for your next adventure. They not only stand head and shoulders above other styles with their ability to withstand long days of adventuring, but they’re also perfectly suited for petites.

Because—let’s be honest—those of us under 5’3 are often an afterthought for retailers. Styles that look chic and polished on taller women can appear frumpy on us (I’m 4’11). This is particularly problematic with travel dresses, which frequently aim for a relaxed, easy-breezy fit that can overpower shorter frames.

So, let’s get packing…

best travel dresses green

What materials are ideal for a travel dress?

  • Polyester
  • Viscose
  • Modal
  • Jersey
  • Linen

Fabric matters when shopping for the best travel dresses for petites. You need long-wear, high performance fabrics that prioritize comfort. You’re also looking for easy care, wrinkle-resistant materials.

Polyester, viscose, and modal are popular options due to their durability, moisture wicking properties, and wrinkle fighting power. Linen is another top pick because it helps keep you cool. It does wrinkle, but that’s part of its laid back look and overall appeal.

Another thing to consider is stretch. I love fabrics that give me full range of motion. Consequently, I look for garments that have some amount of elastane or spandex for stretch. So, let’s dive into our list of petite-friendly travel dresses.

Best Travel Dresses for Petites

best travel dresses for petitesT-shirt Dress

Striped T-Shirt Dress With Side Pockets

No travel bag is complete without a versatile T-shirt dress. This one is an affordable Amazon find and ship fast for those who need to pull their travel bag together in a hurry. It’s one of my favorites because of the darling sleeve detailing, tie waist, and sophisticated stripes.

This is the dress I grab for casual sightseeing strolls around the city, as it pairs great with comfy travel sneakers or my trusty wedges (Aside from these sneakers, these are the only shoe I bring while teaching study abroad programs because the elastic straps don’t dig into your feet like leather can. They also pack well, taking up a small footprint.)

The t-shirt fabric is lightweight and super soft with a bit of stretch to it. And there’s a bonus, this petite-friendly travel dress has pockets!

Quince Linen DressDress | Wedges 

Quince Button Front Linen Dress

This style carried me through our Scandinavian adventures (and changing weather conditions) beautifully. As the headlines tell us, summer travel can be scorching. Linen is a smart choice because it helps regulate heat. This dress is 100% linen, so you’ll stay cool as a cucumber even on the hottest of days.

I wore it in Marseille, France when the temps were quite oppressive. This dress has the breathability you need and naturally regulates your heat. Additionally, it’s got pockets! And they’re deep enough for a cell phone, which really comes in handy when you don’t have enough room to pack a secondary purse.

Finally, let’s talk about the best part of this dress… the price. Rarely will you find quality linen at this price point (under $50). There are lots of colorways available with sizing running from XS to XL. The fit on the model has this coming just below the knee. You can see it’s significantly longer on me. However, it hits at a flattering spot on the lower calf. Consequently, I find this one a win for the shorter crowd.

utility dress for travelDress

Zella In-Flight Utility Dress

This one is for sporty gals who want adventure-ready attire with a bit of polish. Not only does it offer waist definition with a drawcord, but also a touch of sophistication with the partial zip front. Then there’s the petite-perfect length! It makes short legs look miles long.

If you often grab shorts on vacation, you will find more even utility with this dress. It pulls double duty, offering the freedom of movement you get with shorts for casual outings, but can also lean more formal depending on how you style it. I love the four-way stretch and the sizable front pockets. They can hold your phone and passport. Comes in sizes XXS to XXL. Fabric is 89 percent polyester, 11 percent spandex.

Tencel Jersey Side Tie Midi Dress

This dress makes you feel glamorous but with all the comfort of your favorite PJs! Yes, the jersey fabric is that delicious. The silky smooth texture drapes beautifully, skimming your curves in all the right places. Best of all, the cut is perfectly suited for petite frames.

The side tie helps define your silhouette while the asymmetric high-low hem visually lengthens your leg line. Styling is a breeze too. You can dress it down with simple sandals imply pair it with your favorite sandals or heels and accessories for a complete look that’s both comfortable and chic.

Slim-Fit Tank Dress

When you’re traveling, a dress that layers easily is a must-pack. Lululemon’s slim-fit tank dress checks all the boxes. The fabric has a ribbed texture and is incredibly soft, like a peach! It leans sporty enough for walking and hiking, but also looks quite elegant topped with a light cardigan, blazer, or jacket.

An ideal option for pear-shaped petites, this tank dress offers a bit of extra room in the hip area. It’s machine washable and comes in multiple colorways. Fabric is polyester, modal and elastane.

Chambray Smocked Dress

For those hunting for a cotton option, this number from Lands End earns its place on my list of the best travel dresses for petites because of its feminine styling and surprise pockets. The ruffle shoulder is key for travel destinations where you may need to cover your shoulders. It also allows you to wear a normal bra.

The chambray fabric is lightweight, wrinkle resistant, and offers a seaside, coastal chic vibe. This is the type of dress that offers that sense of effortless elegance the second you slip it on. It does have a roomier fit. Don’t hesitate to size down.

Smocked Square Neck Dress

Smocked Linen Square Neck

Any round-up of the best travel dresses for petites needs to have a power player that works for all occasions. The smocked detailing and chic square neck make this piece a breeze to dress up or down. You can toss it over a swimsuit on the beach, style it with espadrilles and a woven bag for an elevated dinner out, or toss on your comfy travel sneakers (these are my fav) for some city exploration.

It’s 100% linen which not only helps keep you cool, but also travels well. By nature, linen is a relaxed fabric. Add a tiered skirt and smocking and you never have to work about wrinkles. No matter how tightly I roll this up in my carry-on, it comes out looking crisp and polished.

The smocked bust and waist are fitted but have plenty of stretch, allowing you to breathe and dine comfortably. I favor the navy or black for travel, since it helps conceal stains. However, it comes in a range of colors including nautical inspired pinstripe and cheerful pale pink.

Before we conclude, let’s touch on a few common travel dress questions…

FAQS – Best Travel Dresses for Petites

linen travel dress navy blue

What length of dress looks best on petites?

While this depends on the dress itself and the function you’ll wear it to, there are some general length guidelines petites should keep in mind. For skirts and dresses, one of the most flattering lengths for petite frames is just above the knee. I often go a bit shorter, reaching for hems at the knee or an inch above. Here’s a helpful article that visually shows how important hem length is for petites.

If you prefer a longer style, midi dresses can be a great (albeit slightly tricky) choice. This is because most midi dresses look more like maxi styles on shorter frames. In fact, I will intentionally buy midi dresses to wear as maxis.

When choosing a midi dress as a petite, you want to look for longer lengths that end towards your lower calf (like my navy dress). Midi styles that end just below our knees visually cut us in half. With those styles, we’re not showing enough leg to elongate our frame, nor do we get a lengthening look from the fabric, as we might with a maxi. Likewise, midis that end right at mid-calf call attention to the widest part of our lower leg.

Therefore, we’re hunting for the sweet spot… travel dresses that stop in the lower calf area.

What else should petites look for in a travel dress?

Figure flattery for petites is all about defining your silhouette, particularly your waistline. My favorite way to add shape is to seek out travel dresses with belts or waistline detailing. However, the most important factor is hem length and the fit of the shoulder.

The last thing to consider when choosing the best travel dresses for petites is what you’ll pair it with. While a dress can stand alone as an outfit, carry-on only travelers need to think critically about how they’ll change up the look with different accessories and layers.

Think about the shoes you’ll be bringing (this brand is a favorite of mine for travel footwear), as well as what you might top your dress with. This could be a cardigan, button up, or jacket. Accessories matter too. While I love a good print, you’ll get much more versatility out of your travel dress if you opt for versatile neutrals colors.

Hope this list of best travel dresses for petites helps jump start your search. Wishing you exciting adventures ahead!

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