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Featured Topic: Being Petite

Posted November 13th, 2008 by YASPY Chick · 22 Comments
38,810 views seems that the general public like to dismiss issues petite women face as non-issues. And it doesn’t help that many petite women feel the same. In fact, there are a lot of misconceptions about being petite. There are those who believe that it’s only about being skinny, as in less than size 6. However, this is NOT TRUE. If you’re petite all over, you’re under 5’4”. Period. This means you could be plus, a size 24, and still be petite. This makes shopping a major issue at times.

As I said in the intro paragraph, many people don’t seem to understand petites. It isn’t only about the size itself, but also the need for petites. People often wonder why we can’t just make do with alterations, because unlike people who are larger, petite people can make things shorter so that things would “fit.” First off, alterations can be expensive, and secondly, it isn’t only about hemming pants and skirts. It’s also about the knee break for pants, length of jackets, where the waist is in a jacket and so forth. For example, a petite pair of pants not only has a shorter inseam (generally 29” or 30”, opposed to the 32”-34” for “regular” lengths), but a shorter rise and higher knee break. This is what makes the pants fit best. Without the higher knee break and shorter rise, the pants would just look odd, baggy, even. We don’t want to look like 16 year old boys!

Many brands offer petite sizes. However, many are also very matronly-looking, such as Eileen Fisher and Talbots. While J.Crew, Banana Republic and Ann Taylor/Ann Taylor Loft offer amazing petite styles for women in their 20s and 30s, one can’t live on these three brands alone. One needs variety. The petite line for these three brands has less to choose from and out of reach for people who are on a very limited budget. Also, people who have very small frames are often sized out, as even the smallest sizes fit too big (though not too long). Many of these brands are known for vanity sizing – lowering the size number, but not the actual size. In other words, a size 2 is really a 4 or even a 6. For example, I have been roughly the same size since 2002. Yet, I’ve gone from a size 2P to a size 00P!

Recently, I have been able to find several designers who specialize in petite sizes. However, they are mostly unknown. Many “legitimate” fashion magazines don’t consider anything not “standard” (i.e. clothes that tall, skinny models can fit in) as “fashion.” Rather, it is a “niche market” even though 40% or more North American women are considered petite. Until the media come around and start realizing that petite women (like plus sized women) have size issues as well, I, unfortunately, don’t see that much change happening.

INTERESTING NOTE: Because many Asian women are petite, Wal-Mart Canada recently launched a line of clothing called Black Koi. The marketing, according to their press release is a petite line for “Asian body types.” Now, generally, when I hear “Asian body type,” I think a straighter frame. However, I have seen the size charts for Black Koi, and it is pretty much in line with many other brands. A medium is cut for someone who measures around 35-28-37. Wal-Mart Canada is actually doing a disservice to non-Asians who happen to be petite, just by marketing Black Koi.

Contact Cynthia for more information regarding anything petite.

Last 5 posts by YASPY Chick

Tags: Chinese · Clothing · Featured Topic · Japanese · Korean · People · Vietnamese

22 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Joy // Nov 18, 2008 at 2:59 pm

    AMEN! I’m a size OOP and I have the hardest time finding clothes…. I too, also shop at Banana and Ann Taylor, but even in those places, with a OOP size, I STILL have to alter the length of my sleeves and the length of my pants….

    If you have any websites or brands that you know of that sell affordable petite clothing, PLEASE share!!


  • 2 Ming // Nov 30, 2008 at 11:20 pm

    Very true. Finding that one pair of perfect jeans is like winning the lottery THEN marrying Brad Pitt THEN learning how to fly (and then you need some more luck trying to find a pair that’s affordable).

  • 3 Angel // Dec 16, 2008 at 3:27 am

    from your closing paragraph:
    – “Rather, it is a “niche market” even though 40% or more North American women are considered petite.” –

    … Okay Toronto girl, you may definitely be right about the vanity sizing (Victoria’s Secret totally does it too in just the span of a couple years)… but have you never crossed the Canadian border into the United States?!!!

    2/3 of the nation is overweight, 1/3 is morbidly obese.

    Population approximations:
    USA: 303 million
    Mexico: 106 million
    Canada: 33 million

    You’re Asian, you do the math and then couple it with common sense:
    For 40% of North American women to be considered “petite”, taking into account population proportions of each nation, either one or both of the following must be true:
    1. American men are hugely more obese than American women… hah! Everyone’s huge, not just the men by any means.
    2. Mexicans and Canadians must be really really tiny for 40% of NA women to be petite due to American obesity rates.

    … No way, I don’t think so. There is a reason there isn’t a clear market for petite sizes in every age grouping like there are in plus sizes; the market is SIMPLY NOT THERE, otherwise people would already be making big money off of it.

    Petite women definitely do not add up anywhere near 40% of our continent. Appreciate your blogs but your information needs to be more legitimate. I think you need to step out of Asian bubble world for a change.

  • 4 MR // Dec 16, 2008 at 3:44 am

    So go have a tailor MAKE you some clothes like the rest of us in Asia do. Geez.

  • 5 Steve // Dec 16, 2008 at 3:49 am

    You must not live in the US. If you did, you would realize how fat most of North America is. The American market determines what gets sold. Who cares what Canada wants when you have 10% of the amount of people we do? I feel your pain, but I’m just explaining why it’s that way. “Oh no! I’m skinny and healthy!” Quit whining.

  • 6 B2 // Dec 17, 2008 at 1:19 am

    I agree a lot with what Angel and Steve said. It sounds like the author is somewhat ignorant to how economies work in a capitalistic society.

  • 7 buxum babe // Dec 29, 2008 at 10:25 pm

    I don’t feel sorry for you petites! Imagine living your life as a 100% Korean who is 5’8″ and curvy, as in 36D and booty. And no, I’m not fat but truly volumptuous, looking good in a bathing suit. I have had no work done and I don’t even have an eye crease. With boobs like this, no one looks at your eyes anyway! LOL. Although I have felt out of place and self conscious around other Asians all my life, I have never had to hem a pair of pants or alter my clothes.

  • 8 Hana // Jan 5, 2009 at 2:28 am

    Angel, Steve, and B2 need to actually read the opening of your post, and a dictionary, and realize that being petite is based on HEIGHT, not WIDTH.

    As for your post, I feel your pain. I am a mere 5′ and it is impossible to find clothes that fit well. I mostly buy from juniors sizes, and just yesterday I bought sweats from the boys section at Walmart. Joy.

  • 9 sighs // Sep 3, 2009 at 7:34 pm

    yup…i could go into a clothing store and look at ALL their jeans and maybe find one or two that fits me and that i actually like

  • 10 Ai // Nov 22, 2009 at 1:37 pm

    I have problems finding jeans that fit as well..not asian however, I’m only around 5’1.5 and its a bother sometimes because i can find pants that fit my slightly curvy frame but the legs would WAY too long..>.<..

  • 11 AZNPRYDElol // Nov 25, 2009 at 6:44 pm

    i have the same prob as Ai(omg love) im like a 1 or 3 but the pants are too long ): but that black koi thing is interesting (:

  • 12 Kim // Jan 13, 2010 at 1:49 am

    Thank you SO MUCH for giving this issue air-time. Us Asians got it rough – not only does the U.S. like to ignore petites, they also like to forget that Asians can be a minority. Blacks and latinos get all the minority props, while Asians are oddly missing.
    You say, “Recently, I have been able to find several designers who specialize in petite sizes. However, they are mostly unknown.” PLEASE tell me who these people are!!! I particularly hate shopping for dress pants. Most 00P’s are still far too large. Theory was the closest I came to fitting anything, and they were still too big (and super expensive). It seems like if you are petite, you cough up a premium for clothes.

  • 13 Manda // Mar 4, 2010 at 1:25 am

    this makes me want to go to art school get my fashion degree even more and have a line of clothes that actually fit ‘straiter’ body frame women be they short or tall. I may be white but I feel your pain. Most of the pants I have can look like footie pajamas seeing as to get them large enough (around 32 inches at the waist) and having that be half my hight is really hard.

  • 14 People these days... (*shakes finger*) // Mar 21, 2010 at 5:50 am

    @Angel, Steve, and B2, the author meant HEIGHT. Yes, 40% of American women are “petite” (actually, “short” would be a better term), seeing as the average American height for women is 5″4. I myself am an Asian female, 5″7, and I am taller than almost all the white American women I know.

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  • 16 Jane // Jul 28, 2010 at 4:23 pm

    Check out AIIWA.COM for all your ’straiter’ body types.

  • 17 QiFu // Sep 6, 2010 at 3:43 pm

    You petite WOMEN complain. Now, try being a petite teenage asian girl. Not only are you stuck in that awkward phase of “can’t fit into girls’, but can’t fit into juniors’” but you’re differently proportioned on top of it.

    I’m around 5ft. I’m not fat, or incredibly wide, but my legs are waaay different from caucasian girls. Jeans that fit are like pure gold. Seriously.

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  • 21 Madd Butcher // Feb 16, 2012 at 2:23 pm

    My dominating Chinese mom still worries about me being “too fat,” but when I was in Germany and England last year, and eating *everything* that was in sight, European women everywhere would comment on how “slim” I was. I had a few store owners tell me that I was too thin for their smallest dresses. I’ve just decided that Asians are generally thin and shouldn’t care too much what our even skinnier mothers say.

  • 22 ilovehorseyrides // Sep 26, 2015 at 7:52 pm

    My mom wears petite sized pants

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