What Does Petite Mean in Clothing Sizes?

Last Updated on April 7, 2022 by

There are different clothing sizes, and petite is one of them. Men and women have different body sizes, but women use the term petite. Petite size is about proportion for a perfect fit, and it is tailored for women 5’4 and under. Petite sizes tackle this issue with an extra stitch, dart, and pleat in clothing for the most flattering fit. Having distinctive characteristics makes finding the right fit a challenge. Women should celebrate their unique shapes and body sizes.

How Did Petite Clothing Size Come to Be?

How Did Petite Clothing Size Come to Be

A fashion designer, Hannah Troy from New York City, came up with petite in the 1940s. She surveyed that many women wore clothing bigger than their body sizes, and it looked like they were swimming in them. Being a designer, she knew that the key to finding the style and building a good wardrobe begins with a proper fit. 

Troy leaned into her findings to create appropriately fitting clothing for women. She took measurements from women who wore military uniforms during World War II and perceived that most women were short-waisted. 

She designed a clothing line with the shorter women in mind with this information. Her innovation brought better-fitting couture to the consumers, and she managed to introduce petite sizes to closets nationally.

She got the name Petites from the French, which means small, and she named her collection featuring shorter inseams and shoulders Petite. It was the beginning of the journey to empower women everywhere to find their style and the precise, petite size fit.

What Height Is Considered Petite?

Designers design petite sizes for women 5’4 and under, regardless of their size. Sizes range from extra-small to plus-size in the petite category. Most clothes have a P label to show a smaller and proportioned fit. 

Petite size and regular clothing are different because it has shorter sleeves, hemlines, inseams, and rises. Many designers also make fit considerations like knee and armhole placement to accommodate smaller frames. 

However, height is primarily the defining factor for petite sizes, but that’s just the start. Women’s body shape and measurements help determine the right size and silhouette to ensure they look and feel their best. Women have different inseams, preferred sleeve lengths, and specific details are essential for designers to create a flawless fit.

How Is Petite Size Different from Regular Size?

Petite size is different from regular size, especially in height. Designers design regular sizes for women who are 5’4 to 5’8. Traditional size hemlines and inseams might be too long on a 5’4 or small frame, whereas petite sizes offer a shorter, tailored fit. Height remains and continues to reign supreme when differentiating between petite and regular sizes.

Retailers often provide women with a size guide to help establish what best fits their frame. If women find it challenging to find the optimal size and fit, getting their measurements taken by a professional tailor is advisable. A friend or a family member can also take the measurements to know the exact size. The measurements will be useful when identifying what petite sizes work best for different women.

The US Petite Size Chart in Inches

Bust28 – 2929.5-3131.5-3333.5-3635.5-3636.5-3737.5-38.539-4040.5-41.542-43.544-45

When Should Women Wear Petite Sizes?  

Women should wear petite sizes whenever and wherever it seems fit. Women can wear petite sizes when they have fit challenges, as smaller crafted clothing will assure a better fit. While women discover their preferred size combination, it is essential to tune their body proportion. Not all women under 5’4 will wear petite size because there are women with a long torso or a full chest and prefer regular size tops. 

Other women have long legs and a short torso, and in this case, petite tops and regular-sized bottoms might be the best magic blend.

Women of average heights, such as 5’4 to 5’9, usually go for regular sizes, and some may also benefit from petite sizes. Some women who are5’7 with a small frame may prefer the fit of a petite top. 

The unique cuts and silhouettes for petite sizes can help women of all sizes uncover items tailored to their frames.

Women should consider everything from head to toe when determining if petite sizes are suitable. It is just the beginning of exploring if petite sizes are a natural fit. Women’s body shapes don’t fit into one category, and it should be like that. Women should celebrate what makes them stand out in a crowd.

What Should You Wear for Petite Sizes?

The first step for women is building a wardrobe where they feel comfortable and confident in finding their optimal fit. Once they have found their optimal petite size, women should start experimenting with the parts of themselves that they want to highlight. Below are a few styles and silhouettes that look amazing on petite frames.



Denim is always a good idea and an essential part of any wardrobe. Women find it hard to decide which pair to wear when dressing up or down. The great news is that all denim silhouettes look great in petite size with the proper fit. 

Nonetheless, there are a few tips to remember when selecting a pair of jeans.

First, consider the rise and silhouette as high-rise denim is a dream because it highlights the waist and provides definition and balance to women’s ensemble. Women can choose from skinny, straight, or bootcut silhouettes in an array of blue washes. The rise and silhouette combination is an easy trick for petite women that want to lengthen their legs. 

Women can style the ideal pair of denim jeans with a pop-up top. Women don’t need to ditch their skinnies and embrace the wide-leg trend. They can meet in the middle, opt for a pair of straight-leg denim, and style it with romantic puff sleeves. It is the summer trend that is making waves. 

The Best Tops

Petite sizes tops are anything but basic, it fits a smaller build in many ways and offers a more tailored fit. Women can wear V-neck and scoop necks tops as it shows a little skin and highlights their collarbone. It is a perfect neckline to pair with a fabulous frame for a trending coin pendant necklace. 

If women are looking for more coverage, they can opt for turtlenecks or mocks. It is better to stick to one color head to toe to add the illusion of length to their look.

Suppose you are looking for silhouettes that will make you swoon, then opt for a cropped top that flatters the petite figure and elongates your ensemble, adding a modern flair. You can add polish to your wide-leg pants with structured tailoring and a fitted crop top. The pairing will highlight your waist and give proportion and definition to your outfit. 

Stripes are a stylish essential in every women’s closet for a classic look. Vertical stripes extend their frame and are a go-to for petite women, and they can wear a vertically striped button-down with slim-fit trousers for a more timeless look, perfect for any occasion. They can tuck in their shirt and add a belt to show their figure. It is better to opt for a thin belt in a similar color to the top to balance the outfit. 


A famous designer once said that the dress must follow the woman’s body and not the body following the dress shape. And this is true for petite women. Petite cuts make selecting a dress silhouette easier than ever. With petite lengths, women can embrace a midi dress. 

Tall women also wear petite clothing because they have a small bust and waist. Therefore, they purchase petite separates such as petite jackets, tops, shirts, etc., to mix with their regular size clothing to get the perfect fit.

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