Shopping for clothes as a ‘petite’ woman can be immensely frustrating, but shopping as a ‘petite’ woman who doesn’t consider herself ‘petite’ can be even more of a minefield.
Do you often wear heels primarily because of the extra height they give you (rather than because you like the style, because you like to feel dressed-up or because you think they’re flattering)? Do you have endlessly, unintentionally frayed trouser hems? Do you hands hide beneath lengths of jacket cuff? Do you spend most of your days rolling up your sleeves? Do you find yourself spending more money than you bargained for with repeated visits to a tailor to get trousers/skirts/dresses re-hemmed?
If these scenarios sound all too familiar, the chances are that you’re considered – by the fashion world, at least – to be ‘petite’.
Defined, albeit loosely, as anyone below the height of 5ft 4in, you might be surprised to know that according to the Office of National Statistics the average height of women in the UK is actually 5ft3. I.e. the average woman in the UK is considered ‘petite’.
Maybe that explains those dragging hems/hanging cuffs…
So, despite what clothing stores may have you believe, petite women aren’t actually ‘other’. They’re the norm. The usual. The typical. So why, then, must shopping feel like such a lucky dip for these women?
For so long petite women had to either ‘hope for the best’ when purchasing from regular offerings (only to begrudgingly make the predictable trek to see a seamstress for alterations), or forgo the freedom of choice offered to anyone 5ft4+ and pick from a tiny ‘petite’ edit often ran as an afterthought to the mainline collections.
Thankfully, several brands – the majority of which are high street – have acknowledged and tackled the problem over recent years and have upgraded (or, in some cases, introduced) their petite offerings – much to the delight of the 5ft4-and-under crowd.
Whether you’ve always considered yourself petite or you’re new to the club (welcome), here are the 11 brands you should have on your radar for problem-free, alteration-free shopping…