2018 Update: We still stand by this advice on where to get suits for short women — you may also want to check out our recent roundup of where to find petite-friendly clothing for work, or our work fashion tips for petite women.
We’ve had several requests from readers on where to get great suits if you’re a petite woman. We addressed this a bit last summer, when we advised a reader how to shop for suits if you’re not in the “normal” sizes of 4-12. But we thought we’d recap, as it’s an important topic and we have more readers now, who will hopefully weigh in with more advice. From the very petite friends we’ve polled:
- Theory is reportedly amazing (which makes sense to this author, as my normal size of 4 or 6 becomes a <cough> 10 in Theory — in other words, size 0 will be legitimately teeny, and size 00 practically minuscule.). The Max C pant is a “cult” item.
- We’ve also heard great things about Victoria’s Secret — the pants have a lower rise and come in different inseam lengths.
- If you’re short enough, you can resort to children’s wear. For example, CW Designs is apparently made with upscale pre-teens and tweens in mind (see some of their collections here); other upscale designers labels can work well also.
- (Updated): Banana Republic, J.Crew, and Ann Taylor all have petite lines as well, but we’ve heard mixed reviews from our friends who are very small in stature — from the pants coming too high for their likings to the suits being way too big.
One of our friends notes that she often has to resort to wearing separates that fit really well. For example, jackets from Nanette Lepore and Rebecca Taylor fit, but the pants and skirts can be too big. Similarly, stretchy skirts from American Apparel can be a good basic. Readers, what advice do you have for the petite professional woman? We also got a request from one reader with a unique problem (living in the Netherlands):
Here’s the problem I have: I’m short. Actually I’m not that short – I’m 5 feet 6, which is just a little shorter than most women in the Netherlands, but I do have short legs and arms. Because of that, *every* suit I try on is too long in the arms – and though I can sew a little bit, the problem isn’t just that it is too long at the wrists – it’s also that the elbows end up in the wrong place and such! To make matters worse, I’m also always cold – limiting my choices to suits with pants so I can wear woollen pantyhoses and boots underneath them and stay warm. It would be nice to have a suit that doesn’t make me look like a dwarf!
This is a really tough question. It sounds like what you may need is a brand where you can buy a petite-sized jacket but regular-length pants — you may want to check Ann Taylor or Banana Republic for those options. Otherwise, well, there’s always the bespoke route — just buy some fabric you like and schedule a vacation to India. (That’s totally doable, right?) Readers, do you have any better advice for our short-armed friend? Where are your favorite spots to get suits for short women?
Looking for some great shoes to go with your petite workwear? These are some of the Hall of Famers styles and brands offering narrow widths and smaller sizes…
Comfortable Heels in Narrow Widths & Small Sizes
In our last roundup of classic black heels for business attire, we rounded up some pumps that came in extended widths, including:
- Extended widths (AA, C, W): Target (M/W), Vionic (MW), Rockport (NMW), Ferragamo (2A, B, C), Trotters (M,W, WW), Sam Edelman (NMW), Bella Vita (AA-EE), LifeStride (AA-E), Naturalizer (N-WW),
- Extended sizes (4-13): Target (5-12), Calvin Klein (4-13), Ferragamo (4-11),
Some Comfortable Flats in Narrow Widths & Small Sizes
In our last roundup of comfortable flats for work, we rounded up some flats that came in extended width sizes…
- Extended widths (AA, C, W): Børn (M-D), Sam Edelman (NMW), Ferragamo (N M W 2A B C D),
- Extended sizes (4-13): Børn (5-12), Sam Edelman (4-13), Ferragamo (4-11), Sarah Flint (4-13), Rothys (5-12)
Social media images (2018) via Stencil.
i am short not petite. Petite is cut toooooooooooooo small. Please offer suits that just provide shorter length in waist, sleeves and legs.
I’ve been on the hunt for a suit for a few weeks and haven’t found a lot that works. Jcrew sizing never ceases to confuse me. They can also stop with the vanity sizing. There are plenty that are smaller than I am and if I’m an XXS what are they?
I’m 5’3, 117lbs, 34A. In J.crew suiting I fit the size 0 skirt but the 0 pants feel like pajamas, waist too big, length too long. 0P pants fit lengthwise (both times wearing a 2inch heel) but the thigh area is just a smidge tight.
0P jacket was too big in the back but tight in the shoulders. So that leaves me with a skirt…hmm not quite enough. Anyone else figure out what size to get at JC and what can be taken in well?
I am 4’10” and let me tell you, even casual blazers in the junior’s section at Kohl’s are too big in the XS size. It is very frustrating. I will be applying for optometry school soon, and I have nothing to wear to the interviews. Since I’m a junior in college, I can’t afford to spend hundreds of dollars on a good suit. Also, even tops and dresses are too big in the shoulders, and i can never find the latest trends to fit and i have to resort to wearing clothes i bought years ago. No wonder in the last month I have had multiple people think I am twelve. I tried getting a really cute bob haircut, and it sort of helped, but I still want to look older, and professional when necessary. Any help here on where to find cute trendy clothes and professional attire?
One of the things that bothers me about petites is that companies either don’t know whether they are marketing towards shorter women, or they believe that all women under 5’4″ are also smaller in other areas. I’m 5’2″ but I’m a regular-sized 6 or 8, just short. So trying to find pants that don’t pool around my ankles or skirts at a decent length is difficult – the petites pants also assume that I am narrower in the hips and thighs, which means that when I get the pants the waists are huge. And the suit jackets are too small in the bust if the sleeve length is right; if they’re right in the bust, the sleeves are too long.
I know the correct answer is to buy and get them tailored, but I’m a graduate student and so I don’t have the money yet. Luckily, I also don’t need to dress in work wear all the time yet, but I do know for the future.
Oh, and as for me, I like Ann Taylor’s petite sizes – but that’s because their petite sizes are great for women who are short but otherwise regular-sized. I would imagine women who are petite in more ways than me might not like them.