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.
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 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.
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!