As a style consultant, I know that scale is a combination of height and bone structure and may be petite, average or large. Your body scale will determine the size of patterns, the weight of fabrics and how much texture you can wear, as well as the size of your accessories. Petite figures are generally under 1.6m with small facial features, fine fingers and often have a shoe size under 37.
In dressing a petite figure your three main aims are firstly to wear clothes that don’t swamp you, secondly to never to wear anything that cuts your body in half and thirdly to always try to draw attention away from your lower body and towards your face.
Neat fitting clothes with clean and uncluttered lines are ideal and a monochromatic head to toe look is excellent for creating the illusion of height. Everything you wear, from clothes to accessories like belts and handbags must be in proportion to your small frame or you will look overpowered. Accessories like scarves and earrings are a brilliant way to draw attention to your face and always having a neat hairstyle and fresh make-up will also draw the eye upwards.
Always look to buy fine to medium-weight fabrics with little texture since this can create too much bulk, particularly if you are layering. Go for shorter length fitted jackets and high-waisted trousers – again to lengthen the leg. Vertical stripes help to give a longer line and a taller appearance. Necklines shaped in a V are especially flattering on petites because the V-shape draws the eye up and gives the illusion of a longer neck. The wrap dress is a good way to wear a V-neck.
With regard to shoes, it is a misconception that shorter people need to wear very high heels. Any heel over three inches will make a petite woman look like someone who is trying to be taller. Medium height heels work best since they are in better proportion to your frame as well as being more comfortable. Generally your shoes and hosiery should be a similar colour. If, for example, you are wearing a blue suit you should pair this with a nude shade of tights and fairly neutral shoes to create a long-legged illusion. Another way to make your legs look longer is, within reason, to show as much leg as possible. Straight skirts and dresses that end at your knee or slightly above are the most flattering lengths for a petite frame.
Wherever possible, smaller framed people should avoid any large accessories and prints as well as oversized t-shirts, frills and horizontal stripes, all of which will create the wrong effect. Although colour blocking is good, if you wish to wear two colours try to ensure that the brighter colour is used on the top one third of your frame otherwise you will not look correctly balanced.
For more advice about your scale and how to dress to look your best, contact a style consultant.