Petite Tops

Flattering tops in petite sizes

Many shorter women have a hard time shopping for flattering outfits, especially when it comes to minimizing or maximizing the top half of the body. Slimming and lengthening the figure is not as easy as it may seem—choosing the appropriate colors and the correct cut can make all the difference when it comes to creating that sought-after "vertical line." Not all petite tops are created equal, so it is important to know what features to look for, and what to avoid, in order to perfect your look.

Fits that Flatter

When it comes to tops, bulk is a major concern. Fitted petite shirts will do more for your stature than billowy blouses, since extra fabric will tend to make you look heavier. To create height, choose V-neck or scoop-neck tops, and three-quarter length sleeves that show a bit of skin. For cooler weather, the most flattering petite sweaters are thin cardigans or fitted pullovers that are cut longer—the more texture and bulk a sweater has, the wider it will make you look. As for petite jackets, long lapels will offer an evident vertical line, and you'll find that many petite suits feature these clever stylistic details.

Best Brands

For good selection, you can't beat Nordstrom's petite department, which stocks over 25 high-end brands like Calvin Klein, Maggy London and NYDJ. Land's End and JCPenny are good department stores for petite casual tops and relaxed outerwear that is affordable and sophisticated. It's difficult to pin down the best petite brands, as your body type will determine which brands work best for you. Though they are both considered petite, a 5-foot-4 woman may not look the same as a 4-foot-11 woman in a given style, so it's best to experiment with a variety of labels instead of settling for a mediocre fit.

Style Secrets

In order to trim and lengthen your body, match the color of your top to the color of the rest of your outfit, including your shoes. A darker color will slim your figure and one uniform color from head to toe will sidestep any proportion issues. To accessorize petite blouses and dresses, use belts to your advantage—worn higher on the waist, a belt can lend the illusion of a longer lower body. Conversely, wear a thin belt at hip height to lengthen a short torso and accentuate the vertical line.

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