The Best Workwear for Petites

The Best Workwear For Petites | Corporette

2016 Update: Check out our latest discussion on the best petite suits.

We have a super old post about the best suits for petite women, but we haven’t talked about this in ages, so let’s discuss: which are your favorite stores and brands for workwear for petites?  Are there any indie brands or Etsy shops that you love?

For my $.02, it seems like the list of stores that offer petite sizes is growing, which is a great sign; I feel like bespoke dressmakers and suiting alterations are both more common than before as well. Here’s the list of stores that I know of that offer petite clothing:

Other resources: Finally, I’ve mentioned both blogs on here before, but I should of course mention that there’s a big blogging community for petite ladies — Extra Petite and Alterations Needed are two of my favorites for the working woman.


  1. Pregomama :

    I’m looking to buy myself a piece of jewelry in the next few months, combining a very small inheritance I got from a relative and also celebrating the birth of a new child.

    I’m thinking a ring, but a simple classic necklace could be a great option too. Any suggestions on where to start shopping or even ideas on specific pieces? Budget is <$500. I'd like something that I could wear everyday–even if I end up only wearing it occasionally.

    • Pregomama :

      Oh, and baby will be born in October (unless it comes in a week early!!), if there are any birthstone-related ideas…but October’s birthstone isn’t that appealing for me.

      • Baconpancakes :

        Which one? Opal? Or pink tourmaline?

        • FWIW, opals are pretty fragile. I inherited a ring with one opal left in it when I turned 16. My mother had it made into a pendant (with the existing gold), which was much better than a ring because it has a hairline crack in it.

          • Durability can depend on cut, I think. Opals will either be whole stone, doublet or triplet. The doublets and triplets are a cut stone with a backing stone and a slice of opal sandwiched between a backing stone and a glass top, respectively.

            But I agree, they tend not to be great for long term wear on the hands because they don’t rate very high with hardness – I’d go with earrings or necklace. Be aware that there are more than just white opals out there too – I’m a big fan of the Boulder opals from Australia – I like the blue/green scheme over the white/red ones.

        • Pregomama :

          i don’t really like either.

      • Wannabe Runner :

        How about just another pretty orange gem? Orange is pretty much the univeral American color for October.

        Garnet? Jasper?

    • Brent&Jess make custom finger print jewelry that might fit the ticket- you could get something with the baby’s fingerprint incorporated into it (looks like they do baby feet too)? They have a wide variety of options, so you could probably find something that suits your style. I haven’t worked with them but I’ve heard great things.

    • Wondering :

      I’m actually looking for a ring to celebrate the birth of my son too (an amethyst), and when I posted about this earlier I was directed to the Ross Simon site. Unfortunately, I haven’t found anything that I love but they do have a really wide selection and good prices too.

  2. I’m 5’2″ and I would say the majority of my clothes are from Macys. In my local store the woman’s floor is almost 1/3 petite, much better than the one rack in most stores average height professional women shop in (AT, BR, JCrew, etc.)

    • You are so lucky. I techicaly can be considered a petite, sizewize, but unfortunately, the cut of many of the skirt’s are way to tight for me right now — Grandma Leyeh says it’s b/c of mom’s side of the family. FOOEY! So even tho Rosa can wear all petites, I can NOT. It has NOT stopped men from wanting to date me, and I do NOT think it is because they like bigger tuchusses, but b/c they like my PERSONALITY. I am smart, bubbley, and have a good job, and that is what men like. I disagree with my dad, who want’s me to be more demure. I REFUSE to just say to men that they are the boss and I should just do what they say and NOT question it. Dad says Sam think’s I am to assertive for his taste’s and that I should tone it down. Mabye that is what they do in ENGLAND, but in the USA, we women are ENTITLED to have our own opinion’s on things! YAY! I refuse to be a YES woman to a guy who pick’s his nose, anyway, b/c what would that make me? FOOEY!

    • Killer Kitten Heels :

      Completely agree with the Macy’s recommendation – I’m 5’3″, and have had a lot of luck in most Macy’s stores. Also, Macy’s seems to have the best selection of petite suiting separates – since I’m size 8-10 on bottom and 4-6 on top, this is crucial for me.

      I’m also a huge fan of the Banana Republic “short” length pants – with a 31″ inseam, I find them to be the best option for me, length-wise, since I’m at the taller end of the “petite” size-range and love wearing high-ish heels.

  3. I just read about a new blog/website that caters to petite women. Haven’t had much time to look at it, but it’s
    The woman who created it is petite and wanted to curate different clothes that work for women 5’4 and under. FYI.

  4. Maybe this is a good post to ask on… can anyone find bra bands at 26″ anymore? It was hard enough for me to find 28″s and even most of those are too loose on me. So I’m looking for recommendations of either 28s that tend to run small, or the elusive 26s. Sadly the Little Bra Company doesn’t work for me because cups only go up to a C there.

    • Have you tried different brands? If you measure 26″ under your bust, that doesn’t mean you’re a 26″ in all brands as you need to add different numbers of inches to get your band size per that brand’s size chart. I know in Natori it would make you a 30″ band. Otherwise, I wonder if you could get a tailor to move the hooks on your bras over to make the band smaller

      • I didn’t think I was a petite until this year. Or I am getting shorter. I am 63.75″, but historically petite cuts were too short for me, especially the sleeves of tops. The last few Talbots blazers I bought (in regular sizes) has a couple that the sleeves were too long. So maybe I have become petite. I envy true petites. But I get to find out what shortening suit jacket sleeves is like. Good times.

        • Okay meant for this to go to the topic at hand not bras.

          Don’t get me started. 29″(my underbust/ribcage measurement) is not a size and the 34″ bands so many different shops sold me do NOT fit. Now that I have regained my baby fat (jk) am pretty happy with a 32″ band on the smallest hooks.

          • Have you tried a 30″ band? Nordstrom should carry 30″ in stores. If you’re starting out on the tightest hook, it means you can’t tighten the bra as it naturally stretches with age, which means you’re either getting less use out of the bra or wearing one that doesn’t fit for a lot of it’s lifespan.

            I measure around 30-31″, and I’ve found that I can start with a 32″ on the loosest hooks (depending on the brand), usually moving to the second hooks in 3-6 months and the third in 9-12 months. Since my bra collection is relatively small most bras don’t live for much longer than a year, sadly.

    • A good place to ask would be the “A Bra That Fits” sub Reddit. If anyone knows where to find 26″ bands or how to get 28″ bands properly altered, they would be the ones.

      Usually Bare Necessities is a good bet for a wider range of options, but it looks like they start at a 28DD and go up from there (and only have Freya and Panache as brand options in the 28s) The subReddit tells me that Freyas run narrower in the wires, so they might be a good bet for fit if you’re willing to get the bands altered.

      • Lady Harriet :

        I think you can get a 26″ band from the Polish brand Ewa Michalak, but it may need to be custom-ordered. I don’t own any of their bras, but I’ve seen many good reviews for them online. I would not trust most bra sizing charts that tell you to add a lot of inches. In my experience it usually just gives you a badly-fitting bra that rides up in the back.

  5. My petite (5’2″ size 16) wardrobe is split between Talbots, Pendleton and Nordstroms (including Halogen and Classiques Entier). Pendleton is my favorite. Formerly, my wardrobe was 90% Talbots but they moved away from classic clothes about 3 years ago and while they have some suits, I don’t like the quality level compared to Pendleton and Nordstroms. I’m in finance in the PNW so I don’t have to be really formal everyday, but we are business formal, not business casual.

    • AlaskaLaw :

      Second on Pendleton’s, Great quality and they do stock petites. Very occasionally I will snag a petite suit at Nordstrom’s but they can feel a little young. Brooks Brothers is my go-to. They also do petites sizing.

      • I love Brooks Brothers. If only I could afford (and fit into) their clothes more often.

      • Anonymous :

        Thirding Pendletons. It’s pricey within my budget but sooo worth it. The quality is excellent and cuts are flattering. Amazon often has discounts if people are looking.

        • Wannabe Runner :

          A Pendleton Outlet just opened up near me. I’ve seen the rave reviews (like this) on this site many times, so I checked it out.

          But the suits look cheap and it seems like the cuts would be better suited on my mom… or someone wearing cowboy boots. Farmers’ wives? I was really disappointed.

          Am I missing something?

  6. TO Lawyer :

    I’m petite and in my experience, finding workwear is trial and error. I like the j.crew no. 2 pencil skirts but their other skirts are either too long or too short and tight. And I cannot find a dress that fits me at jcrew. Banana’s sizing has been really weird the last year or so. I like blouses and blazers from aritzia because they’re cut smaller so they look less boxy on me. I also like work clothes from a small Canadian brand called Judith and Charles, which is really expensive but their dresses fit me off the rack which is unusual.

  7. Infant Development Books? :

    I’m 5 months pregnant and I remember reading on here that commenters wish they had read infant development books while pregnant as there will be no time once the baby gets here. Any recommendations?

    Also looking for a general infant care book, along the lines of Baby 411 but perhaps a little less cutesy and informal than Baby 411…

    • Anonymous :

      The american academy of pediatrics book is really comprehensive and not scary. It gets into the nitty gritty details of their development, your body while you’re pregnancy, breastfeeding, development by month/year, etc…

    • I loved Penelope Leach’s Your Baby and Child from Birth to Age 5, which has both infant development and care. We got several books on our own and from friends, and that was the one I found myself reaching for all the time (and pretty much wearing out).

  8. This is where I rant about how petites get store sections dedicated to them meanwhile I have to pay for shipping from Ann Taylor or JCrew to get my tall suits.

    /end rant.

    • On the other hand, though you can find them many petite pants are cut horribly. Apparently at some point a vicious rumor got spread that all petite women have saddlebags and from then on petite pants were designed to flare out at the hips.

      • Anonymous :

        Omg, I’m so glad someone else said this. Apparently, EVERY petite woman is a pear shape with a tiny waist and wider hips because that is how the pants are all cut.

        I have to just buy regular and hem. I learned how to do it properly myself because it was going to happen so often.

    • PinkKeyboard :

      E I hear you. My Mom is very tall and it is a CONSTANT problem. Her best luck has been with pricier brands (sold in Neimans etc) that come unhemmed/jackets can be let down.

    • Flying Squirrel :

      Also, AT made a business decision not to carry their smaller sizes in store (e.g. 00, XXS). Couple that with vanity sizing, and us extra-petites get the short end of the stick. And, sadly, since stores are increasingly deciding that 5’4″ is petite, extra-petite is increasingly anyone under 5’2″.

  9. Laundress :

    Does anyone know if Banana’s suit pants are lined?

    • Killer Kitten Heels :

      I have two pairs of suit pants from Banana (both the “Martin” cut) and they are both lined.

      • Laundress :

        Great, thanks! It doesn’t say either way online. I wish they’d specify, because no lining is a dealbreaker for me.

  10. Some brands don’t offer lines especially made for petites, but their small sizes can be petite friendly too. I’m 5’1 and brands like Boss Black, MaxMara and Theory fit me well, depends on the cut. It also depends on the item you’re trying on: While almost all my suits are by Boss Black and Boss Red (the Hugo label, their younger line), I don’t fit in their dresses and even alterations would be risky because of the proportions. Theory dresses fit me perfectly in 0. Some dresses and pants by MaxMara run quite small, their younger line Max&Co runs even smaller (and is more affordable, though the fabric quality is a notch down). Don’t know if it’s any different with those brands in the US, because I have been irritated by size conversions, European vs. US sizes. A Italian 36 or German 32 is marked a US 2 sometimes, but recently I bought one IT 36 dress that has marked a US 00. I’d think IT 36 would equal a US 2 but maybe they thought it would be more appropriate to label it 00 for the US sizes because the dress runs so small?

  11. Anonymous Biglaw Associate :

    If you ever go to Asia, check out G2000 for inexpensive and pretty good quality professional clothing.

  12. So now is the next round-up for tall ladies? There’s a lot more petite clothing out there than tall clothing!

    • Mountain Girl :

      Yes – please do a thread on tall clothing. I would love to see a post about brands that are not specifically “tall” but that run long or come unhemmed. I think all tall gals know about BR, AT and my favorite Eddie Bauer. But there isn’t much selection after that. And, while many department stores have petite sections most don’t even carry tall in brands that come that way. I would also love to hear about sweaters that have extra long arms. There seem to actually be even more long pants/skirt/suit options than there are sweaters. Why is that? Am I the only tall girl with long arms? Please Kat we need your help!!

  13. Anonymous :

    So glad you did a post for us petite women! The list of petite retailers is longer than I thought. My favourite workwear pieces at the moment are from Jeetly and Ann Taylor. I bought three work dresses from Jeetly in burgundy, grey and blue and love them! My blazers and trousers are always from Ann Taylor because they fit me perfectly.

  14. As a small petite who prefers clothes that are not boxy, I feel like the options are basically AT, Loft, a very limited selection at BR and some Jcrew in XXS. AT has been weird lately, and the quality at Loft is frustrating. Most of the Nordstrom petite stuff in my price range (like Halogen) is still too big. Talbots is out because everything is cut far too boxy for someone who is on the younger side. Shopping has turned into an absolute chore because of vanity sizing. I have nothing constructive to say to contribute to this discussion, but I wish retailers would stop with the vanity sizing. I feel like I spend so much more time, and so much more money than my taller friends on trying to put together a viable work wardrobe. And I don’t even really like half of what I buy!

  15. I’m 5’0, and it drives me up the wall when “petite” pants have a 30″ inseam. I have a 26.5″ inseam. Because I also have wide hips, bootcut trousers and jeans balance me out the best. But they simply do not exist for me to buy off the rack, and it’s not like I can buy the 30″ trousers and get them hemmed to fit – I lose the entire flare of the bootcut. With jeans, the “knees” hit me mid-calf; it just looks bizarre. And even though crops have been in this summer, their cut has been to be crops, not to be full-length pants, so they still don’t fit properly. I know I’m not the only person out there with an inseam under 30″; why do so many brands persist in thinking that’s “petite”?

    (Also, shirtmakers: not all petite women are flat-chested. Please clue in!)

    • +1 on the last one! I have tiny narrow shoulders but a normal-sized chest. It’s like all shirtmakers everywhere are presenting me with an ultimatum: thou shall have button gaps or awkward powershoulders! rawr!

    • I agree – I’m 5’2″ with an inseam of 27″ and those 30″ inseams are still too long.

  16. The design is more like a Kate Middleton outlook and the matching colors is nice it brings out the glow in your eyes.

  17. Andrea Mercado :

    I have a petite torso but with a regular height (5’7″). Thankfully, I like my hems short since dresses which fit me tend to be shorter on me than the petite-height folks. Well, I have found that Lands End has predictably terrific petite button down shirts ALL the time. Love the supima cotton. The dresses are a mixed bag. Kat reported here a couple of months ago on one sleeveless one which is absolutely terrific (I have it in multiple colors and machine washable and cheap cheap at $69.00!) but the other dresses I have gotten have been awful in terms of fit.

  18. What I have trouble finding, but it’s well worth looking for, is clothes for plus-sized petites. In particular I look for blazers, since it’s harder to alter the sleeves on those than to hem a pair of pants or a skirt. I have found good deals online at Lands’ End, but my favorites come from Talbots. Does anyone else have any good leads on this?

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