It keeps us up at night… why is shopping for fashionable petite clothing brands so hard?
Petite is defined, albeit loosely, as anyone below the height of 5ft 4inches. So, you might be surprised to know that according to the Office of National Statistics the average height of women in the UK is actually 5ft 3in. With the average woman in the UK actually considered ‘petite,’ petite women aren’t actually ‘other’. They’re the norm. So why, then, does shopping for petite clothing brands feel like such a lucky dip? It’s just not good enough to have buy something of ‘average’ fit and chop off the hems or visit a seamster for alterations.
Kate Hutchins is a content creator and is 5’4″ tall. She knows the struggle is real. “It is so important for petite women to have access to petite clothing ranges – typically our proportions are different to the standard model sizes brands will use. It’s the things you wouldn’t necessarily think about – the length of a sleeve or how a top or blazer fits on a shorter torso. For example, a regular size blouse may look drop waisted on a petite woman if the sizing isn’t adjusted to fit.”
And while we love an oversized fit, when it’s intentionally done, clothes that swamp a smaller body just don’t look chic. From cuffs that hang over your hands, fitted shirts that don’t fit and knee-rips in jeans that sit over your shins, wearing clothes that fit is a short cut to looking chic. Kate says, “I often have to get my clothes tailored to ensure pieces fit properly. I would love to see more petite ranges – well-fitting clothing is a small detail in an outfit that makes a huge difference. Not only visually making the look seem more expensive, but also for me, making me feel more confident and comfortable.”
Ahead, the best petite clothing brands that we really rate.
Our go to site for pretty much everything, you already know that ASOS stocks almost every brand on the high street and their in-house range, ASOS Design, is completely chic. ASOS’s own Petite line has over 1000 pieces online rn with everything from baggy cargo pants to sequin trousers, wedding guest-worthy dresses to simple slips. They run from sizes 2-16.
There isn’t a huge array of petite pieces at Boden but we’ve found some excellent items that will become wardrobe staples if you’re petite. Available in sizes 6-16
The classic high street brand from the Noughties was a gateway to our grown-up fashion habit. Miss Selfridge is back on ASOS serving super sweet, trend-led pieces, and the dedicated petite offering comes in sizes 4-16.
Ok, talk about iconic. Topshop Petite is the ultimate one-stop shop for all things cool. The denim offering is legendary but from swimwear to party dresses, whatever you’re looking for Topshop will have it, in sizes 4-18.
We’re currently all over Free People for their retro bohemian vibe that’s ideal for helping us live out our Daisy Jones and The Six fashion fantasies. The denim section is where you’ll find our favourite pieces for women looking for petite jeans and petite denim brands. Look out for the items that come with choices of inseam length. Denim goes from size 24-33 with a short inseam perfect for petite women.
The poster brand for sustainable fashion, Reformation has a dedicated hub for all things petite tagged “goodbye tailor.” They get it. And while it’s lovely to have things made semi-bespoke, sometimes you just want to buy the thing and wear it immediately! Reformation Petite runs in sizes 4-16 and is a dream destination for considerately made garments that think about the planet in their production.
H&M don’t have a dedicated petite line but their sportswear, which comes in sizes xs-xl, does come in petite cuts. The length of sleeves on the tops and jackets mean your hands won’t be flapping under excess fabric when you’re trying to swing a kettlebell.
Best for sustainable basics and classic wardrobe builders, you won’t find any crazy trends at Everlane (that’s a good thing.) What you will find are some jeans that come in shorter lengths – there is a 26.5inch inseam on some styles.
A gem of a brand we spotted on ASOS, the vibe is fancy, dressy and occasion-worthy. Although it’s obviously up to you how you style it, the patterns and embellishments feel ideal for date night, weddings and cocktails with the girls. Available in sizes 6-16.
Sleek, chic and available in sizes 6-16, Vila has a similar mood to Y.A.S (these are special pieces you’ll wear to show off in) but at a more accessible price point.
Beyond basics, this petite clothing brand runs from size 4-16 and caters to a more weekend-y, casual vibe. This Spring the cargo trousers became a viral hit on TikTok and the size guide on their site shares exactly how long the leg lengths are for each size item.
In our investigations, we’ve found the most established British High Street brands are some of the best at offering petite clothing options. They’ve long known the stats about the average height of the UK woman, obviously. River Island is one of our faves for dressy pieces, in sizes 4-16.
Known for their flirty, fun dresses and cheerful array of prints and patterns, Nobody’s Child focuses on sustainability in their fabric choices. Their petite dresses come in sizes 6-18 and are cut for women 5’3″ and under.
We applaud the fact that M&S has remembered that you can be petite in height and plus in dress size at the same time. The jeans and trousers are available in petite sizes 6-24 – we love to see it.
A fresh launch for 2023, we’re thrilled that Whistles is bringing its contemporary, cool styling to petite women – in sizes 4-20 (yes!) made from considered fabrics. There isn’t a vast range but we’d rather see an excellent edit of pieces we absolutely want to wear than pages of overproduced garments that could never be sustainable.
Our go-to when we want looks that pull us together, sartorially, Kate is also a fan of Reiss’s Petite offering, which is designed for women under 5’3″. “Reiss also has an extensive range of petite options which is fab because at a higher price point you want to have that good fit.” Available in sizes 4-16
New Look’s petite clothing range comes in size 4-16 and while they tick off all the trends, they carry some useful foundation pieces too. The prices are some of the lowest on the high street.
Bright colour and sharp shapes characterise Extro & Vert’s petite offering. In sizes 6-16 these are statement pieces that won’t need a trip to the tailor before you wear them.
Designed for women under 5’3″ Karen Millen Petite carries the same luxurious and sleek mood from it’s mainline through to the petite options, available in sizes 4-16. We particularly love the tailored workwear and smart trench coat that are signatures of the brand.
Our current favourite site for *add to basket* appeal, Warehouse offers petite clothing cut for women 5’3″ and under, in sizes 4-16. Everything onsite ticks off this season’s trends and we are particular fans of the sparkly, metallic fabrics that feel extra-special.
Kate Hutchins relies on petite brands and rates Abercrombie & Fitch. “They are *great* for including petite sizes on the majority of their bottoms and even dresses too – it really is a game changer.” The collection comes in sizes XXS-XXL and the Long-Sleeve Satin Drapey Shirt Dress comes in three lengths.
For bridesmaid dresses, wedding guest *lewks*, statement pieces and fancy ‘fits in general, Coast is a must shop. The petite collection comes in sizes 4-18.
Acai is disrupting the average activewear options, which are based on ‘pink-ing and shrinking’ best-selling menswear pieces. (Hey, we’re in 2023?) Instead, they focus on outdoor-wear designed for women’s bodies – and that include every woman’s body. The leggings and trousers come in four leg lengths between 26-36 inches and waist measurements from 24-40. Seriously, game-changing.
Read more from Glamour UK Fashion Director at large Alex Fullerton here or follow her on Instagram @alexandrafullerton