What does Petite Size mean?

Petite is a French word that literally translates to English as small or little. But what does Petite size mean in fashion?

When we mention petite girls, people often comes up with images of the Olsen twins or Victoria Beckham, who wear probably a size 0. It’s true that these three women are petite sizes. (Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen is 5ft 2 and 5ft 3 tall. Victoria is 5ft 4) But they represent just a small group of petites. Not all petites come in the skinny figures.

petite celebrity

Victoria Beckham (5ft4)

Petite celebrity
Mary Kate (5ft2) and Ashley Olsen (5ft3)

Most clothing retailers with petite collection defines petites as people who are under 5 ft 3 or 5 ft4 in height (or around 160cm). What does that mean? That means in fashion, the term “petite” only indicates the height of the person, not their weight, or shape, or any other size matters.

And by that definition, Hilary Duff, Shakira and Fergie should also shop in the petite section too, even though they are known for their sexy curves.

petite celebrity

Fergie (5ft 3)

Petite celebrity

Shakira (5ft2)

Petite Celebrity

Hilary Duff (5ft 1)

Petite sizes are created for obvious reasons, as petite women certainly can’t wear the same pair of pants as some one close to 6 ft tall (See tips to choose pants for petites).  Petites dresses and petites tops also require different tailoring. Why? Because beside the overall height, petite woman also tend to have shorter torso as well, and that changes a lot of different ratios.

That also means that petite ladies can be curvy, skinny, apple shaped, pear shaped, and anything in between. The petite section is created, literally, for short people, with no indicator of their body shape. And isn’t that how we are, petite or tall, we all have our unique traits that is hard to categorize under one label.

Now if Petite size doesn’t mean one particular body shape, how do you apply the petite fashion tips? I say the best fashion tips for you can only be discovered by yourself. No one knows your body as well as you do. No one knows which parts of your body you are secretly self-conscious about, or which parts you love to show off 24/7 if possible.

I personally try to identify my best figures and the ones that I am not so confident about. If I have to categorize myself, I would most likely be a petite, pear-shaped, and on the curvy side. See? Nothing like Victoria Beckham, far from her actually. But that doesn’t mean that I can learn nothing from her. Because I see myself in two or three categories, I try to combine fashion tips for them all, and try to follow the ones that work across the boundaries. In this case, ogling Victoria’s outfit helps me learn what make you look taller, and with style.

Best Pants for Petites

Skinny jeans for petites

Another thing is, when I read fashion tips, I love to know not just what is good, but also why it is good. Looking at why the tip works can help you decide if it is what you want. For example, for a pear shaped body, you often read that it’s best to draw the attention away from your hips, by choosing petite pants that flare out toward the legs to create a balance. Make sense, right? But what if I don’t want to hide my big booty? And that’s why I broke the rules sometimes with skinny jeans and leggings, because I feel comfortable and confident in them.

In truth, I believe every girl will benefit from understanding their own body shapes in order to find out what tips to follow and what rules to throw out the window. Understanding what petite size means is also important to find the clothes that fit and how to style them. And don’t let them tell you otherwise, fashion is supposed to be FUN. So play with it, test out the tips yourself and make up your own rules!




  1. I love this!!!!!! Is it fine if I repost this to my followers? I don’t think many people really get the true meaning behind this term. I am 5’3-5’4 ish (idk lol) but I say 5’5 just to be on the safe side unless I am really that tall lol but so many people think it has to do with the size of the person when it has to do with the height.

    1. Please do! I’m glad you liked the post. Thanks Tiffany!
      I’m 5’1 but sometimes like to “round it up” to 5’2 as well haha

  2. Hahaha Yes!!! I think a lot of people round up to seem taller. And thank you so much Van! 🙂

  3. Reblogged this on Chic and Frugal Mommy and commented:
    What does the term “petite” mean to you? Check out this wonderful article where Van Pham explains what petite really means. Maybe this can help when choosing certain types of clothes for your body frame.

  4. […] In a previous post, I explained what petite size means in fashion. […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: