Petite—the nice term for short people—has become a daunting word in my mind, especially at the mall. 5’1” and proud, I have battled the many fashion obstacles that short girls all over the world have also faced—the jeans that swallow your entire leg and foot; the long sleeves that leave you with no hands; and the dresses that are either too short or not short enough. We’ve experienced it all. Time and time again, the petite clothing section at our favorite stores let us down. The promise of perfectly fitting pants and shirts that don’t go past our hips fades away with each hopeful purchase. Still, the search for the best retailers with petite clothing continues on, and short girls need to unite to share their finds. 

As a petite woman, one of the most difficult items to shop for is professional clothing. Fortunately, there are various styles that we can rely on that not only look professional, but also fit us well. From one short lady to another, I’m sharing the essential pieces of clothing that you need in your closet. The best five styles to wear are high-waisted pants, mid-lengths skirts and dresses, professional leggings, puff sleeve blouses, and flounce dresses. 

From mid-length skirts to sweater dresses, you can easily turn these simple styles into suitable and comfortable office attire—and customize them to match your personality. You can also buy clothing that visually extends your legs and torso. High-waisted pants and skirts are go-to petite attire that will complete any professional look. 

Together, we’ve taken one too many trips to the tailor. Typically, I would settle for my deceiving petite clothing by hiding the extra length in my jeans or folding the ends of my sleeves. However, the truth is that it just doesn’t look good when I do that, and that’s not really appropriate for work. Surely that would suffice for a trip to the mall. But when it comes to professional settings, you want to make sure that your clothes look good and fit you well. Depending on your office environment, you may have the liberty of dressing down. Whether you need to wear a suit every day or you’re allowed to wear jeans, one thing remains the same. You want to look and feel your best. It’s difficult to find petite clothing that magically fits our bodies perfectly, but we can avoid clothing that doesn’t suit our height well. 

When dressing for work, there are certain styles that work best for petite women. And here’s the good news—There are stores that customers proudly salute for their successful petite clothing line, such as LOFT, Banana Republic, and Nordstrom. Not only do these retailers sell high-quality petite clothing, but they also offer an extensive selection. When you style yourself for work, you can take pieces from your favorite petite clothing lines and combine them to make outfits that fit you well. It’s all a matter of knowing which styles suit your body best. Everybody is different, but there are five guidelines that I like to follow when shopping for petite professional clothing. 

The 5 Essentials for Women’s Petite Professional Clothing

To successfully create professional looks with petite clothing, consider buying these essentials. These closet must-haves will not only defeat the common fashion challenges that you face as petite women, but they will also compliment your short figure by stretching your torso, arms, and legs. You can easily find these clothing items at most stores. If you’re already a fan of a retailer’s petite clothing line, search its selection to get these styles from a brand that you know and trust. As a petite woman, it’s easy to want to stick to one brand, but I encourage you to read reviews and venture out to check out what other brands are offering their petite customers, too. Dressing nice for work doesn’t constrain you to blazers and pencil skirts. You can customize these styles and mix and match as you please to achieve a professional, comfortable, and appealing look. 

High-Waisted Pants

A flashback to the 80s, high-waisted pants are one of the best pieces of clothing that petite women can own. High-waisted pants come in various styles, ranging from jeans to pants for suits. They warmly hug the frame and clinch at the waste, which is perfect for petite women who have a pear shape. Because they come up past the hips, they give the illusion of longer legs and help frame the entire body. High-waisted pants are essential because you can pair them with any top, which makes them versatile. You can also find them in any color. For high-waisted pants, I love a bold pop of color, like teal or yellow. Pair that with a neutral white blouse and you have a complete look. On mornings when you’re in a rush, grab your high-waisted pants and tuck in your favorite blouse. 

Mid-lengths Skirts and Dresses

Arguably, the biggest challenge for petite women’s clothing is length. When something isn’t too long, it’s too short—and vice versa. Mid-length skirts and dresses provide the perfect solution to this problem. Because mid-length clothing is meant to stop around the mid-shin, you won’t have to worry about it being too long or too short. The clothing naturally ends at a spot that is both appealing and comfortable. Additionally, you can find mid-length skirts and dresses in various styles, including form-fitting and flowy. This allows you to choose a style that you feel most comfortable wearing. To elevate mid-length skirts and dresses, add a pair of nice shoes. Because this clothing doesn’t come all the way down, everybody will be able to see your shoes. Add a touch of professionalism and a dash of your personality to really accentuate the look.   

Professional Leggings

Professional leggings are a new find for me, and I’m happy to tell the world about them. If you work in a more laid back professional setting, professional leggings are a great addition to your closet. They are the perfect combination of comfortable and professional because they mimic typical work pants but offer extra space for you to move. They are especially wonderful for petite women because they are form-fitting to the leg, meaning you won’t have to worry about them being too baggy or too long. Professional leggings stop right at the ankle, giving you the option to pair them with sandals and flats, or tuck them into a closed-toe boot. They also work beautifully under sweater dresses and overs-sized blouses. 

Puff Sleeve Blouses and Sweaters

With this style, it’s all about the arms. Puff sleeve blouses and sweaters are exactly what they sound like. They are normal tops that have a slight puff in the sleeve. They are also form-fitting at the end of the sleeve and hug your wrist snuggly. This is a great option if you typically have trouble with sleeves being too long. Most of the sleeve’s material is dedicated to the poof, so you won’t have to worry about rolling up any loose ends. These tops pair nicely with any pants, giving you the freedom to mix and match how you please. 

Flounce Dresses

Flounce dresses never go out of style. Even in the winter, you can pair them with tights or leggings. A typical flounce dress clinches at the waist but flows freely at the bottom. A flounce dress is essential for work because you can simply wear it with a blazer to elevate the style.