1) Don't wear big sweaters or full skirts, which will overwhelm petite figures.Though I do like the polished look of fitted sweaters and pencil skirts, I love the coziness of oversize sweaters and the dramatic look of flared skirts (if not together). Most of my dresses and skirts are A-line, and a couple of my favorites are full-on 50s-style circles. I admit that some of the more striking ones (a flame-orange Banana Republic skirt and a polka-dotted sundress come to mind) may look like they are wearing me, but I am happy to let them.
2) On that note, don't wear long skirts.I have been trying to make an effort to wear my skirts shorter, because the ideal length for my height and frame is an inch or two above the knee. But I'm more comfortable in longer skirts (as in, ones that cover my thighs when I sit down) and have an ankle-length number in red plaid wool that is one of my winter workhorses. (I also ride the subway a lot and prefer to keep my thighs covered.) I do try to counteract the effect by pairing longer skirts with heels, though.
3) Don't carry over-sized Handbags.Not that I change handbags frequently (usually, I can't be bothered--and yes, that means that sometimes I wear my black handbag with brown accessories. This blog is anonymous so it will take the fashion police some time to find me!), but when I do, the smaller ones sit cutely and forlornly on the shelf while I reach for the ones that could fit a telephone book or two. This is a practicality issue, because I always have a book on me, and sometimes more if I'm on my way to or from the library. It's a shame, really, because I love the look of my smaller handbags, and know they look far more proportionate. Unfortunately, in this case, practicality trumps proportions.
4) Don't wear shoes that cut you off at the ankle (i.e., booties, shoes with ankle straps, etc.)
Ankle straps feel more secure and let you walk faster, and ankle booties are cute. Enough said.
5) Stay away from horizontal details on the hems of your clothes (for example, skirts with prints or ruffles), which will make you look shorter by "chopping" you, visually.My fear of looking shorter is far outweighed by my joy in ruffles and prints.
So, the rule I actually keep in mind?
Avoiding the children's department. And that may be more because I spend so much of my time working with kids that in my free moments, I'd prefer not to seek out areas that revolve around them. Sorry to those who thought it would be because I'm so devoted to high standards of fit and proportion. Cette Petite is a lazy petite.
This blog won't be about petite fashion/style. High fashion and style aren't really my strong points, and there are plenty of fantastic bloggers who do them so well. I'll blabber about clothing, but in my own laywoman's, here's-what-works-on-me way. My reviews may have some niche value, because though I qualify as petite (5'1"), I complicate things by being a pear-shaped petite.
In my vulnerable teenage years, I wasted a lot of time over the "Dress Your Shape!"/"Hide Your Flaws By Buying From Our Advertisers" features in magazines. (You know, the years that young women like Angela Zhang spent doing things like ground-breaking cancer research.) Variations still pop up in the Marie Claires and Glamours I flip through in waiting rooms (though I first encountered them in YM and Seventeen and Cosmo Girl). You may have read these tutorials, too. They have the helpful "Wear fitted skirts" directives for "Petites" and then the "Wear flared A-line skirts" for "Pears". "Petites, wear one color from head to toe to look taller." "Pears, wear lighter colors on top and darker colors on the bottom to de-emphasize your hips." Et cetera. As if both categories are mutually exclusive and no one could possibly be a petite-shaped pear (or, for that matter, a petite plus-size, or a petite apple, etc.). In the height of my teenage insecurity, I honestly sometimes wondered if I qualified as deformed.
Anyway, thankfully, adulthood has come with a much healthier body image and saner perspective, if not to say a more cynical one. (For example, now I know that in general, women's magazines are 90% marketing, and in particular, those Dress Your Shape spreads are nothing more or less than targeted catalogs.) And if anyone is about to say so, my pear shape is not one that can be dieted away--I'd have to change the shape of my bones to do it, and although there are surgeries for that, even my internalized anxieties cannot withstand my fear of surgeries. Ok, no, seriously, I'm done agonizing over what genetics gave me. I'm now focused on dressing it up and having a little fun with it. :) So, here will be more petite/pear-friendly clothing reviews to toss into the mix!