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On Being “Petite” | BEDA Day 23

I am what the fashion industry classifies as “petite.” I am 5’1” (on a good day), have small proportions, and can still fit into kids shoes. Almost everything I buy has to be from a petite section or tailored until I can actually wear it without looking ridiculous. I’m privileged in that I can go to a store like H&M and actually find clothes in my size, but they rarely look right on my body.

This all makes shopping extremely difficult. And expensive.

The petite sections of most department stores are pretty terrible. They’re full of bland pantsuits that even Hillary would pass on and basic blouses and pants that are fine, but not particularly trendy or fun. There’s something to be said for sticking with well-made basics that fit, but I want to have the choice to branch out and try new things. I shouldn’t be shut out of having fun with my personal style just because I’m short.

If I decide to venture out of the petite section, I eventually end up paying extra for tailoring. It’s usually worth it, but that’s an extra $20+ I wouldn’t have to pay for a garment were I a few inches taller. I may just be stubborn, but I’m on a budget, yo! I’d like to only pay for my new pair of jeans once.

And what about the ladies who are curvy AND petite? A lot of petite lines seem to cater to tiny, waifish figures (much like the rest of the fashion industry), effectively shutting out anyone who is short and above a size 12. That just doesn’t seem fair.

I like to think things are getting better for us short girls. Trendier brands like LOFT, Anthropologie, Topshop, and more offer pieces in petite sizes, even dedicating (small) sections of their stores to us. There’s even more selection online on sites like ASOS. I’ve also managed to find a few petite fashion bloggers, like Alterations Needed and The View From 5 Ft. 2, to get more style inspiration.

Despite all this, I never feel like I’ll get this whole “shopping” thing right. I have a tendency to walk into a store, try on a bunch of stuff, and leave with nothing. This is great for my wallet, but not great for my closet. The petite struggle is real, y’all. I think I’ll just stick with the juniors section for a few more years. They seem to get me.