Shopping Tips for Petite Women

When I first began shopping for my own clothes, I’ve definitely made a handful of mistakes. I learned it the hard way that retail sizing doesn’t always mean there is something that fits your body shape and size. As a petite girl, shopping can be #firstworldproblems.

Sizing for retail is simply an easier method for us to find the nearest size that fits us because we can’t afford to tailor every single piece of clothing.

Thankfully, I made most of my shopping mistakes at cheap fast fashion retail places like Forever 21 and H&M, the latter whose sizing can be quite meaningless not to mention I’ve had instances where their clothes shrank on me upon a single wash. While I definitely had my bitter moments, it matters more that I had my takeaway lessons.

So here goes my shopping tips for petite women!

#1 Have your body measurements handy.

I have my body measurements (bust, waist, hips, etc.) all measured and written down both on my laptop and phone just in case I forget when I’m shopping. This is especially handy for online shopping when you can only match your size to the product size, but cannot try on the item.

Throughout time, I’ve also learned which length of dresses look the most flattering on me and have that included in my measurement notebook. A lot of times, something that looks good on a western, white model doesn’t flatter me. For example, a Forever 21 mini skirt on a 5’9 white model can appear like a midi skirt for my 5’2 stature.

Visuals can be deceiving and during my younger days, I’ve definitely bought a handful of items from Forever 21 online where the item looks spectacular on models, but I had buyer’s remorse. The worst is their return policy that only gives you back store credit.

#2 Shop for jeans at stores that offers different lengths like American Eagle.

Ever since I bought my first favorite pair of jeans from American Eagle, till this day, the majority of my jeans are still from them. While I’ve definitely had those times where a pair of jeans from AE threw me off in terms of their meaningless sizing, there is one thing that brings me back to them: they offer the same pair of jeans in short, regular, and long. How thoughtful, right?

I always get them in short (for girls 5’4 or shorter) now though they run out pretty quickly sometimes. Nothing like a pair of jeans that is clean and hits right at the ankle.

#3 Shop at stores with a petite section like Macy’s.

I don’t shop for clothes regularly at departments stores only because they have a knack for being expensive to begin with, but only last year did I start visiting their clothing department more often. Sale items can go down to as low as Forever 21’s regularly pricing and I’ve snagged a red poncho from their American Rag line for under $25!

Anyway, sale stories aside, it took me a while to learn about Macy’s line dedicated to petites. Again, how thoughtful, right? Of course, I don’t hoard out everything from that line, but I found it great to shop for high quality basics like V-neck sweaters or button-down shirts. I love some of my pieces oversized for a comfortable, effortless look, but when it comes to more formal looks, you need certain pieces tailored. This is when you hit that section.

#4 Know which styles, silhouettes, and pieces look best on you — but still explore!

A few years ago, I thought I would never be able to pull off a maxi dress at 5’2, but these days, I feel confident enough to wear them just to run errands. It doesn’t need to be my Sunday chill piece, it just need to fit in with my mood — and maybe the weather. I use to be all about those short skater skirts that looks terrific and cute on petite Asian girls, but I have a hard time finding that my style anymore. Shrugs.

Also, not every trend/piece is created equal. For example, the western kimono that’s been trending during festival season is something that really took me a long time to figure out. Every kimono comes with their own quirks and tweaks. My arms are not naturally long and the bell-sleeve kimono appears longer than I wish. However, that doesn’t mean I’m giving up on kimonos altogether. I realized the sleeves that hit above my elbow flatters and makes me most comfortable.

What do you think?

If you’re petite, what have you learned over the years about shopping for your body type?