Let's keep this short but sweet. It’s not easy to dress in up-to-the-minute fashion if you’re around the five foot mark.
It isn't for lack of available advice. Experts say shorties should steer clear of tight clothing, but also avoid overly baggy clothing. They should wear high heels, but not clunky shoes. Vertical lines, V-necks and straight pants seem to work well. Hem lines should show leg, but not cut the thigh too high. And what's the best look -- preppy petite, diminutive city hipster, mini-yet-funky, sweet and small? The many rules and options are often conflicting and confusing.
There is help available in the form of petite clothing lines tailored for shorter women, although according to Cynthia Cheng Mintz, founder of Shorty Stories (a blog devoted to petite fashion and fit) and editor-in-chief of Delectably Chic, an online lifestyle site, petite sizings tend to have fewer offerings. This “visibly invisible” group is on the margin of female fashion, without the same tremendous menu of looks to choose from. And as Cheng Mintz notes, “unlike plus size women, for some reason we not allowed to talk about our so-called woes.”
So what’s one to do, short of dreaming of Gisele Bundschen’s lengthy legs and supermodel height? How do small women develop a signature style and make a fashion statement with confidence? We got the low down (pun intended) from Cheng Mintz on what brands work best for shorter women.
Check out the brands she recommends to help petite women look their best, with a few of our favourites in the mix for good measure.
It's clear that Cynthia Cheng Mintz, editor-in-chief of <a href="http://www.delectablychic.com/" target="_hplink">Delectably Chic </a>adores this <a href="http://www.allisonizu.com/" target="_hplink">denim line</a>. She deems it "amazing" and goes on to say that this line is "based out of Hawaii and caters exclusively to shorter and average heighted women 5'6" and below. Her jeans start at 000, go up to size 10 and come in 27" and 31" inseams. Her latest collection is soft and lightweight, too. She has even been featured in Oprah Magazine." Mintz adds that "In Canada and continental US, you can purchase her denim online."
Banana Republic (Also An Editor's Pick)
Cheng Mintz notes <a href="http://bananarepublic.ca/?tid=brgobdj8t&kwid=1&ap=7&sem=true&mkwid=np3ycJF2&adid=onanan+erchoyvp+&creative=6751313692" target="_hplink">Banana Republic</a> as a brand that has "petite sizing - cut and proportioned for a shorter figure. She provides petites with some useful information on what to be careful of when shopping at big name brands:"One thing to watch for with mass brands like Banana Republic is vanity sizing. Those who are very small framed may be sized out of certain cuts because sizing can be generous."
Cheng Mintz notes several other denim brands such as <a href="http://www.joesjeans.com/" target="_hplink">Joe's Jeans</a> as ones she likes. "The Provocateur cut is made for petites" she says.
Paige Premium Denim
Cheng Mintz also lists <a href="http://www.paigeusa.com/" target="_hplink">Paige Premium Denim</a> as one of her favorite brands of denim for petite people.
Cheng Mintz promots<a href="http://www.aimeluxury.com/collections.html" target="_hplink"> AIME</a> (Canadian designer <a href="http://twitter.com/#!/aimeluxury" target="_hplink">Monica Mei</a>'s line) as a brand shorties should seek out. She warns that this brand is "for petite women who are not petite-plus as they have a slimmer cut."
Another mass brand that Cheng Mintz declares will help shorties is <a href="http://www.jcrew.com/index.jsp" target="_hplink">J. Crew</a> - here you may even find the perfect wedding gown that will suit your petite frame.
H & M
Cheng Mintz cites <a href="http://www.hm.com/ca/" target="_hplink">H & M</a> as a go-to place for petites. She warns, however, that it "does not carry petite-sizing, but is petite friendly."
Cheng Mintz notes popular brand <a href="http://www.jbrandjeans.com/" target="_hplink">J Brand</a> as another denim choice perfect for petites. J Brand even carries a maternity line, sure to provide petites with comfort throughout their pregnancy.
Anne Taylor not only carries sizes and cuts for the vertically challenged, but has <a href="http://www.loft.com/loft/editorial/LOFT-Petite/Petite-Fit-Guide/catl000067" target="_hplink">an entire section devoted to determining if you fit into the petite category</a>.
Cheng Mintz promotes <a href="http://www.bcbg.com/store/dresses-2768993.html" target="_hplink">BCBG</a> as a good brand for petites, but notes that "their pants are very long."
Editor's Pick: The Gap
<a href="http://www.gap.com/" target="_hplink">The Gap</a> is home to some of our favorite laid-back-looks. Their petite section has clothing carefully manufactured for a smaller frame, with narrower shoulders, higher armholes, and a higher waistline.
Editor's Pick: Topshop
Ever since UK-chic <a href="http://www.topshop.com/" target="_hplink">Topshop</a> crossed the pond and planted itself at The Bay in Toronto and across Canada online, we've been addicted. The icing on the cake? Their petite section hosts a number of trendy clothing - and you can find shoes in miniature sizes too!
Editor's Pick: Aritzia
With soft and feminine brands like <a href="http://aritzia.com/fashion/Talula" target="_hplink">Talula</a> and <a href="http://www.wilfred.com/" target="_hplink">Wilfred</a>, Aritzia consists of several petite-friendly blazers,jackets, tops and shorts that will flatter the vertically challenged.
Editor's Pick: Uniqlo
This giant <a href="http://www.uniqlo.com/us/" target="_hplink">Japanese clothing retailer</a> also has stores in the US and UK and is modern, simple, functional and affordable. With tailoring perfect for little people, this brand carries everything from lingerie to athletic wear. We're praying for Canadian locations in the near future.
Look out for these short celebrities who always manage to seem taller:
At just 5"2, Hayden knows that with her short stature, solid colours and high heels are her friends.
Though she only measures 5"2, Lea Michele looks about 10 feet tall in this navy blue Diane Von Furstenberg dress.
This petite fashionista elongated her body in a silver art-deco inspired gown at the 69th Annual Golden Globe Awards.
Rachel Bilson steals the limelight in this number, which has patterns that give her a long and slender look.
Although this <em>Modern Family </em>star is as tiny as they come, her nude heels make her legs look long and lean.
British singer Cheryl Cole adds height without heels- by pulling her hair into a sleek, high bun.
Eva measures only 5"2, but sticks to monochromatic patterns and solid colours to give off the illusion she's taller.
She may only be 5"3, but this Canadian managed to make herself look leggy at an event for The CW Network.
Kim and Kourtney Kardashian
Kourtney (5"0) and Kim (5"2) Kardashian both manage to make themselves look taller in these floor length gowns that slim their silhouettes.
This Pretty Little Liars actress (5"2) donned a v-neck at the MTV Movie Awards, which made her look tall and sophisticated.