I am 5 feet 1in. Many of my pants are too long and I can never find a shirt that isn’t baggy on me or too tight. I have been to the petite section in Nordstrom and realized, they mostly only cater to older women, not women between the ages of 20 and 35. And most of the time, it is a small section, a corner compared to those of standard sizing. So, why aren’t designers investing in petite or plus sizes? I decided to investigate.
The average woman in the U.S is about 5’4. “Petite sized clothing is typically designed for a max height of 5’3” depending on the company,” says Fashionista writer, Dhani Mau. “Niche sizes give retailers new ways to compete and can also be important for customer loyalty.”
Petite and plus sized clothes are “each a specialized creation, made using different pattern blocks and different fit models,” not merely “regular sized clothing with shorter hems and sleeves,” or “a bigger cut of the standard size,” says Jezebel writer, Tatiana.
Patterns must be reexamined. Even getting a tailor as a petite woman doesn’t mean everything is where it should be on your body. You can get pants tailored but is the knee break in the right spot for your legs? Just because the hips are taken in doesn’t mean your pockets are where they should be, and besides, do you really like how those sewn spots leave indentions? What about belts? How many of you have a tough time finding a belt that fits your waist or hips? I know I do. And many times, if we buy a printed shirt, we don’t think that maybe this print looks a little large. Fabric prints must also be adapted to the proportions of the design pattern. There are three different pattern sizes: petite, standard, and plus. They all have a separate, and expensive, development process.
Besides the process however, education is also a reason why some designers don’t offer petite and plus sizes. They don’t know how to cater to them more. But thankfully schools are now offering programs just for this reason. Syracuse University and The Fashion Institute of Technology have classes that teach students about designing for petite and plus sized women. In a class description at FIT, it says, “Learn the facts behind the figures with practical information for fulfilling the expectations of the special size customer with proper fit, fashion, and service.”
With celebrities, like Kim Kardashian, who fall into the petite size range, I would think that there would be more designers on board to offer a broader range of sizes for petite women, but the outcry is not as loud. My goal, however, is to offer you tips on dressing your body type and designing clothes for women like you and I so we can become the outcry for a broader range of sizes for petite women. We apparently aren’t being loud enough.
Brands That Cater to Petite Women
- J Crew
- Dorothy Perkins
- River Island
- New Look
- Precis Petite
- Marks & Spencer
- Bomb Petite
- Eileen Fisher
- Jennifer Anne
What are your thoughts? Share your comments below and follow me on Twitter and Instagram for more on petite fashion!