Petite Pants

Choosing trousers, jeans and shorts in petite sizes

So much clothing is simply not made for shorter women. While a piece may vary in width, waist size and cut, length is too often overlooked by major clothing labels. This frustrating fashion flaw is most evident when it comes to pants—every shorter woman has undoubtedly struggled with damaged cuffs, alteration fees and difficult assessments in front of dressing room mirrors. While you can continue to buy ill-fitting pants and try to modify them, a better solution is to find petite pants that can accommodate your inseam, keeping you comfortable and stylish.

Fits that Flatter

The first and foremost quality to look for in petite trousers or petite jeans is an appropriate inseam for your leg length. Find a pair of your own pants that fit you well and measure the inseam—that is, the length from the underside of the crotch to the bottom side of one ankle. It is very important that the pants fit well everywhere, since a loose waist will mean the legs hang lower than they should. As for style, stay away from petite skinny jeans unless you have very slender legs, and opt for petite slacks with a boot cut if you want to minimize wider hips. Plus-size petite pants with straight legs and a higher waist will be the most flattering style for an ample yet shorter figure.

Best Brands

You can find some familiar stores and brands that carry a petite line, like Land's End which features pants with a traditional fit and a selection of shorter inseams. If you lean toward a trendier style, the Gap has a line of petite jeans that are flirty and playful. And for generous proportions, the trouser jeans from Lane Bryant are expertly designed plus size pants that are sure to fit you well. As for petite capris and petite shorts, which can be exceptionally hard to find, Banana Republic offers a couple of sophisticated styles that are well-proportioned.

Style Secrets

To gain length in your legs, opt for darker colors and vertical elements like cords or pinstripes. Also, be sure that the pants are not too short—a half-inch longer than usual can really create the illusion of height, particularly when combined with a bit of a heel. The downside to a vertical line is that it can straighten out the body too much; if you want to create curves, look for decals on the back and front pockets, or you may want to wear an interesting belt to dress up your look.

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