Style Guide:

How to Dress for a Petite Frame

Do you struggle with dressing your petite frame? Dressing for your petite frame doesn't have to be a hassle! We created this style guide to help you!

Finding clothes that perfectly complement your body can be frustrating for many women. Since every woman has a different body shape and size than the next, one size and style certainly does not fit all!

In this style guide, we’re aiming to resolve some of the frustrations petite size women experience. Our petite style guide highlights a few of the best petite dresses and jumpsuits for short women, along with some petite size women’s fashion tips.

Determining Petite Size

Height and proportions have everything to do with determining if you’re a petite woman. Petite size women come in all body shapes and sizes. 

Here are some petite size characteristics: 

  • You’re 5’ 3” and under. 
  • Your inseam measures 27” or less. 
  • Regular sleeve and strap lengths are often too long for you. 
  • Pockets, shoulders or lengths of dresses or jumpsuits tend to fall in the wrong place. 

3 Rules on Choosing What to Wear When You're Petite


Know your shape

Petite women come in all shapes and sizes, so knowing your body shape will help guide your wardrobe decisions. (Check out our guide to body shapes!)



If you’re 5’ 3” and under, the goal is to always improve your proportion by elongating your body. 


Expect alterations

If you’re not specifically shopping in the petite size section, expect that you’re going to need to alter your clothes. Make friends with a local tailor!

Styling Tips for Petite Sizes

  • Use the Rule of Thirds -- The Rule of Thirds states that ⅓ to ⅔ ratio is the most aesthetically pleasing division of space to our eyes. Applying this to how you dress will instantly change the visual proportions of your body and make your body shape look figure flattering!

  • Choose the right neckline -- Choosing the right neckline can change your -- yup, you guessed it! -- proportion! Lower necklines are more flattering for shorter women. It helps to elongate the neck. Consider the sweetheart neckline of our best selling Grace and Gracie dress. It’s a feminie neckline that is generally flattering on shorter women, as well as helps create curves for rectangular shape body types. 

  • Show off your shoulders! -- Cold-shoulder or off-the-shoulder styles are universally flattering and will work well on petite size women. 

  • Pay attention to your sleeve length -- Sleeves are sometimes an overlooked detail, but are essential for choosing styles that fit your body. Avoid full sleeve lengths that are too long, causing you to look frumpy. Opt for sleeves a bit shorter: like elbow length or raglan sleeves. We recommend our best-selling Sasha Red Floral Knee Length Dress. Sasha’s raglan sleeves are perfect for all petite size women! 

  • High waists are your best friend! -- High-waist dresses, high waisted jumpsuits or any high waisted bottoms are a must-have staple in every petite size woman’s wardrobe. They help support the Rule of Thirds and help create the illusion of a longer bottom half.

Let's Get Specific

Now that you know your shape and have established a baseline, it is time for some details. When shopping for petite pieces, these are the best silhouettes, sleeve types, lengths, and accessories to look for!


It is important to look for silhouettes that help to elongate your body and flatter your curves. Whether it be dresses, skirts, or pants, look for these three details.


Universally flattering on anyone and cinches the waist in all of the right places.

High waisted

Creates an illusion that helps your bottom half look a little longer.


Helps to elongate your body and show off the curves!

Sleeve Type

When it comes to sleeves on dresses, tops, and jackets, it is important to shop for pieces that make your arms look longer and not overwhelmed with excess fabric. However, don’t be afraid to stand out by making a statement! Flounce, raglan, and cold shoulder are all great options! 

3/4 length

Make your arms look longer without the extra fabric of a long sleeve. 

Cold shoulder

Helps elongate the area between your chest and neck.


Make a big impact on a smaller frame. Statement sleeves pack a punch.


Create movement and height with the length of your dresses! Show off some leg without hiding in a dress that can be too long and overwhelming for a petite frame. 


Replace your maxi with a midi to help elongate your body while also showing off a little skin. 

at knee

Saves you from drowning in excess fabric with the subtle amount of leg showing. 


Elongate your body without hiding in a dress that’s too long! 


Make a big impact on a smaller frame with the subtle change of your accessories! Pack a punch with statement jewelry and make your legs seem a little longer with your shoes! 

High heels

A subtle height boost! Just a little height is always helpful, it doesn't need to be a stiletto! 

Pointy-toe shoes

Pointy-toe shoes, whether high heeled or medium height or flat, makes your legs seem longer.

Cropped jackets

Hits right at the waist which compliments your natural curves and gives the illusion of your legs looking a little longer! 

Outfit Ideas for a Petite Body Frame

See these tips in action with a few outfits we picked out just for you! Learn how to dress for your petite frame no matter the occasion. Don’t forget to take these tips with you the next time you’re shopping for a new look! 

In the office

Take on the work day looking as good as you feel in a dress that flatters your silhouette in all of the right ways. Our Lisa dress is one of our best selling styles, especially for a petite frame. Her faux wrap is universally flattering and also helps to cinch the waist in. The Lisa 2.0 features the perfect elbow sleeve length with a flounce detail. Add a pointed toe flat or heel and a staple work bag. Show up to your 9-5 feeling comfortable and confident! 

Day out on the town 

A striped knee length dress is the perfect piece to help elongate a petite silhouette. Throw on the Brandy asymmetrical panel dress and immediately flatter your frame. Simply add a block heel or fresh pair of white sneakers and a cropped denim jacket to create the perfect look to keep you comfortable and chic! 

Night out with the girls 

Nothing says night out like the perfect little black dress. The Sunny Little Black Dress is the perfect piece with a V-neckline and flounce that lengthens the area between your chest and neck. The bodycon silhouette will show off your curves while also elongating your mid section. Add a strappy heel and some simple jewelry pieces to complete the look. 

Want to know more?

Here are a few commonly asked questions about how to dress a petite silhouette. 

Is petite sizing only for thin women?

No, petite does not have anything to do with your weight! It is more based on your sizing proportions. Figure out your body shape with our helpful style guide here

Can I wear petite sizing if I am taller than 5’3”? 

If you have a shorter torso or legs, then you still may need petite sized clothing. 

What if I don’t like wearing high heels?

Just because you are a petite woman does not mean you have to wear a high stiletto heel everyday! Substitute a heel for a pointed toe flat which will still help to elongate your legs without the suffering of wearing a high heel. Comfort is key!

Shop CA’s Petite Styles

Check out some of the tried and true petite size styles below and put together a wardrobe you love, without the frustration.