Confessions of a Petite Girl

Trust me. I definitely don’t look this confident when I’m shopping. /

‘Tis the season to start shopping for holiday festivities, and with sales popping up left and right, what does a girl has to do to snag some good deals?

I have to confess something here. As a petite girl, shopping is more of a monumental task than a leisurely walk in the park. Full disclosure: I’m just a little shy of 5 feet and 1 inch, though I usually round off (thank you to those doctors who said I should be at least 5 feet 4 inches) and weigh less than 100 pounds. Dressy casual/casual clothes — which I’m forever indebted to Topshop, ASOS, Urban Outfitters (judge me all you want), occasionally LOFT — are normally not a huge issue. Now when it comes to finding professional clothes and formal wear, it becomes more challenging. I’ve been much more successful in finding size 5 shoes, and that’s saying something.

Living in D.C., there is a slew of your usual (boring) options for office wear, such as the Banana Republic, Ann Taylor/LOFT (though as I’ve said, LOFT is fine for casual outfits), Gap, J. Crew, Nordstrom Rack and so on. However, despite the offering of petite selections in all these stores, I have not been successful in my quest for finding the perfect suit that won’t make me look like I’m a child wearing my mom’s clothes. And again, let’s not even talk about trying to find fancy dresses for special occasions.

I don’t mind going to my tailor every so often, but I’m not talking about hemming pants here, but rather making the clothes fit better as a whole, which can really add up on top of what I already paid for the clothes.

So note to designers, below are some of my humble observations that I would like share with you to better assist all the petite girls out there.

1. Proportion 
Being petite doesn’t mean we’re not proportioned aka doesn’t mean we all have short limbs. For the majority of us, we have pretty proportioned torso to balance out our lack of legs. It’s not just about the short inseam. Some of us can even wear regular inseam. So when it comes to shirts, sweaters, any tops in general as a matter of fact, please make sure that they don’t go hit below the hips, unless they’re meant to be tucked in. There’s something called a tunic that we can wear instead.

2. Body Types
Petite figure comes in all different types and sizes. To be clear, I may weigh less than 100 pounds, but I still have curves in the right places that make it even more frustrating when it comes to certain silhouettes, especially pencil skirts and dress pants. Even for the ones that are marketed as curvy petite fit, the design has to be better than that. For people with a small waist, the hips might fit but not the waistline, or the other way around.

3. Inaccurate sizing 
Okay, ladies, let’s all be honest with sizing. That size 0 or 2 pants might make you feel great when you put them on, but they’re not really size 0 or 2. I don’t even bother looking at the size chart anymore because I don’t trust what’s listed. Personally, I can go for the smallest size possible even in petite and still end up having to adjust things here and there or just give up altogether. It’s called vanity sizing. Don’t fall into that trap. At the end of the day, please don’t get too hung up on the number. What matters the most is whether you look good in it or not.

4. Formal clothes 
It shouldn’t come to anyone as a surprise, but we also like to occasionally get dolled up and go to a fancy event that requires more than our usual getup. For those who think we can forever shop at the junior section, think again. We may be petite, but we’re not girls anymore, and we have moved on from our prom days with chiffon, glitters and frills. For instance, I’m looking at you Anthropologie. I would love to be able to wear some of your nice dresses, but guess what? I don’t want to pay upwards of $$$ every time I need to buy a cocktail/formal dress.

5. In-store options

Lastly, why is it that petite lines are mostly available online? I mean I love online shopping, but sometimes it would be nice to be able to try on the clothes before buying them. For the petite clothes that are offered in some stores, they’re more than often relegated to the back corner somewhere with limited choices available. Sales are the worst, as all the smaller petite ones are usually nowhere to be found. I guess I’ll just have to stick with free shipping and returns in the meantime.

I say it’s about time for us, petite girls, to be more vocal about our issues. I mean, plus-size girls have a moment (well-deserved) these days and kudos to them! Sometimes I wished I studied fashion, but alas, I’m not sure if I would ever venture into that world.

So listen up, designers, we’re not going anywhere. Sooner or later you’ll have to deal with us one way or another. Give us a chance and make us your happy customers!

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