Petite Evening Wear

Formal wear that offers petite elegance

To look your best at that special event, you'll need an elegant, eye-catching ensemble that will show off your figure. For a petite woman, this will be a fitted outfit that hangs just right and at the proper length to accentuate height and minimize width. But petite evening wear can be hard to come by, especially in traditional department stores that often carry formal wear only cut for runway models. Luckily, more designers and specialty retailers have begun to satisfy the demand for petite formal wear, creating petite prom dresses and petite cocktail dresses that cover a range of styles, colors and shorter body types.

Fits that Flatter

Look for a slim-fitting dress with straight straps and little flare to maintain a vertical line, which lengthens your body. Spaghetti straps will highlight a svelte upper body, while a scoop or V-neckline with wider straps will slim a wider frame while showcasing some sexy cleavage. An empire waist immediately lengthens the body and hides any trouble areas with gorgeous flowing fabric. Would you rather some definition for your waist? A sheath or tie-back style will work wonders your figure, but steer clear of strapless styles if you want to appear taller, as the horizontal top will cut through that vertical line. And regarding length, a knee-length petite formal dress will best suit a shorter figure.

Best Brands

Check out the petite departments at Macy's or Nordstrom for a good selection of elegant and playful petite evening dresses. Calvin Klein and Michael Kors offer classic styles, while BCBG designs tend to be bold and trendy. Catherines is known for sophisticated and trendy plus size clothing, and they offer some good styles for smaller statures. There are also a variety of online retailers that specialize in petite wear, but be sure to read their return policies carefully and pay attention to the size charts—not every petite size will fit the same, so it is best to use accurate measurements to determine the appropriate size.

Style Secrets

As you may expect, heels are the best accessory for petite formal wear. They quite literally make you taller, and together with a comfortable and elongating style, they can significantly boost your posture and poise. Consider small embellishments to dress up your outfit, as large brooches, chunky jewelry and flashy belts will likely detract from your sleek and slim look. The timeless little black dress is always a good pick for a petite figure—look for a simple, fitted style.

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