Petite Dresses

Skirts and dresses for petite women

In addition to a modified dress length, petite figures need the right dress style to really look their best. From playful to flirty to dazzling, a petite woman can enjoy any look that a taller woman can sport, but it may take a little more searching and some attention to cut, color and embellishment. Smaller statures rely on the right cut to accommodate their slighter or shorter proportions, since an improper length in the torso or flare to the hips can lend a boxy or bulging effect. The best petite dresses and petite skirts will respect the shape as well as the size of a petite figure.

Fits that Flatter

Accentuating the vertical line is an important approach with petite suits and pants, but it's vital for petite dresses. This is because a one-piece outfit leaves less room for decals or layers of different cuts that can cleverly draw the eye up and down instead of side to side. Instead, you'll need to rely on V-necklines to lengthen the upper body and vertical details that run down the center of the dress to create height. As far as length is concerned, beware of any style that ends at mid- thigh or mid-calf, as that horizontal line will tend to overpower the slimming and lengthening vertical line. A hem that falls at or just above the knee will show enough leg to grant you some height.

Best Brands

There is a huge variety of department stores to check out for the latest trends in dresses, but JC Penny, Talbots and Nordstrom offer some of the largest petite selections. For classic designs that are a little more delicate, check out Calvin Klein's line for petites, and for exquisite elegance you'll want to consider Vera Wang's collection. If you're in the market for a plus-size petite dress, explore some online options: Catherines, Jessica London and Woman Within will offer a much greater selection for the shorter, ample woman than many department stores.

Style Secrets

When shopping for women's petite dresses, color matters. Any dueling colors will likely make you look shorter and fuller, especially different colors on the top half and bottom half of the dress. Aside from a decal down the center of the dress, one uniform color or a monochromatic color pattern is best, as it won't create a specific focal point to break up the illusion of length. Petite special occasion dresses and skirts should fall right to the foot instead of stopping at the ankle; combined with a plunging neckline, this can be a dramatically slimming and sexy look.

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