The Petite Capsule Wardrobe That Makes You Look Taller
Asking for help reaching the top shelf. Getting swallowed by oversized clothing. Receiving a slew of height-focused nicknames. Navigating life as a petite woman comes with its attendant burdens.
Fortunately, a petite capsule wardrobe can solve a few (okay one) of the aforementioned problems.
Why Build a Petite Capsule Wardrobe
A petite capsule wardrobe is a curated set of clothing that can be easily mixed and matched to create flattering outfits for those 5’4 and under. The wardrobe consists of intentionally selected garments that complement each other in color, style, and fit. The result? A simplified approach to getting dressed that accommodates the needs of your petite frame.
It’s easy to look overwhelmed by clothing when you’re small in stature. By selecting a core group of clothing that defines specific points along your frame (details on this later), you’ll look more polished. You wear your clothes, not the other way around.
Less Stressful Shopping
Gone are the days of sifting through pieces built for those that tower over you. Building a capsule wardrobe requires focusing on quality pieces built to suit you. As you define your personal style and set your capsule color palette, the sea of available clothing options shrinks to a manageable array.
Reduced Clothing Waste
In addition to style benefits, capsule wardrobes usher you into a more sustainable mindset around clothing. Your petite wardrobe will consist of a manageable number of clothes that you mix, match, and re-wear for the season. The beautiful thing about a wardrobe that covers all your bases is that there’s no need to impulse buy new items.
Table of Contents
Why Build a Petite Capsule Wardrobe
A Length-Enhancing Petite Capsule Wardrobe
Petite Wardrobe Outfits
How to Build Your Perfect Petite Wardrobe
Best Petite Clothing Brands to Shop
Petite Style FAQs
A Petite Capsule Wardrobe That Helps You Look Taller
As a petite woman with a penchant for elegant styles, I’ve learned how to simplify getting dressed while lengthening my 5’3 frame. The capsule wardrobe and my small-stature styling tips below will help you do the same.
Below, I’ll explain how each piece flatters your figure and sprinkle in advice on what to avoid when styling them.
Petite Wardrobe Essentials
The full petite capsule wardrobe includes 20 items that each work to visually lengthen your frame. It includes:
- V-neck top
- Cropped blouse
- Sweetheart top
- Off-the-shoulder top
- High-waisted trousers
- Striped pants
- Cropped jeans
- Wide leg shorts
- Midi skirt
- Mini skirt
- Midi dress
- Striped dress
- Long coat
- Cropped jacket
- Belted trench coat
- Pointed flats
- White sneakers
- Heeled boots
Open necklines are a must in your petite capsule wardrobe. The simple v-neck creates a downward pointing line that elongates the chest area, stretching you vertically.
The classic turtleneck is a cold-weather essential that will do your frame a favor. Since the shirt goes all the way up the neck, it creates a long uninterrupted line. It’s an optical trick that the 5’4 and under crew can use to our advantage.
Styling Tip: To avoid looking frumpy, choose a fitted option rather than an oversized one.
You’ll notice cropped clothing popping up in this closet. That’s because slightly shorter cuts that sit above the hips won’t cut you off visually.
Sweetheart Neckline Top
If you’re a fan of dainty, feminine wardrobes then you likely have this neckline in your shirt rotation. Sweetheart tops display the neckline and chest area, balancing out the top.
Styling Tip: If you have a smaller upper body, pick a puff sleeve style to balance out your proportions.
Aside from being alluring, an off-the-shoulder top balances your proportions. This is because they highlight the shoulders and collarbone. Pick one that you can tuck into high-waisted bottoms to define your figure.
Trousers are a petite capsule wardrobe staple I can’t live without. High-waisted ones do a beautiful job of visually lengthening the legs. The right pair will also accentuate the waist, adding definition to your frame.
Stripes of the vertical variety give the illusion of length. So sprinkle striped pieces in if you want to appear taller. Striped pants are especially helpful for those with shorter legs and longer torsos.
Cropped denim styles are petite-friendly and chic. My tip? Pick a pair that hits at the ankle. This gives the appearance that your legs are just too long for the pants. You can’t help that they’re just soooo lengthy.
Ready for a slimming leg look? Replace tight shorts with a looser fitting option that cinches at the waist. The fabric will hang slightly away from the body, creating a slimming effect for your stems.
Styling Tip: Playa round with short options. Mid-length, paper bag, and bermuda shorts are all stellar short options to test out.
Skirts & Dresses
A midi skirt is a versatile, elegant, and petite-approved bottom that has my heart year-round. That’s because it sits at the natural waist, accentuating the narrowest part of the torso. While maxi skirts have the potential to overwhelm, midis offer added length without that risk.
Styling Tip: Pick a midi skirt with a slit. The slit will add a vertical line, drawing the eye towards the long line so you appear taller.
Make room in your closet for the midi skirt’s more daring sister- the flirty mini. To create the “I have legs for days” effect, pick a skirt that ends above the knee and slide on skin-toned shoes.
Slip a few midi dresses into your petite capsule wardrobe for a chic one-and-done outfit option. Styles that have an open neckline are particularly petite-friendly.
Styling Tip: Don’t pick a dress that cuts you off at the knee as this will split your body into two halves.
Vertical Striped Dress
Lines, glorious vertical lines. To fake a few extra inches, slip on a striped dress that cinches at the waist. This way, you get the figure-defining benefits in the middle and the stature-enhancing benefits all throughout.
We know that dressing in the same color from head to toe creates a continuous vertical line. Well, you can create that one long line in one garment. Petites, take advantage of the jumpsuit.
Who says short women can’t wear long coats? Well, lots of petite advice does. But my 5’3 self begs to differ. Lengthy coats can create a long visual line that elongates the frame. Just be sure the coat hits the correct points on your body.
Styling Tip: Pick a coat with sleeves that end at or just above your wrists. What about the legs? I like a coat that hits just below the knee. If it hits above the knee, it tends to cut my body off.
Cropped clothing we meet again. Since the raised hem of a cropped jacket lifts the waistline, it’s a great addition. If you tend to look overwhelmed by your outerwear, slip a cropped option into your closet.
Belted Trench Coat
The timeless trench coat has made an appearance in my French capsule wardrobe among others. Petites can benefit from a belted version of this classic coat, which you can tie in many ways. This option defines your waist so you’re not swallowed by your outerwear.
Pointed shoes are another must-have in a petite capsule wardrobe. Unlike rounded toes that visually truncate the feet, pointed shoes create a sleek and elongated effect along the leg and foot.
Styling Tip: Look for shoes with a low vamp. These show more of the top portion of your foot so you can maximize the lengthening effect.
Reliable, timeless, and plays well with others- there is lots to love about a pair of shoes that goes with everything. Add a sturdy pair to your petite wardrobe ASAP.
A quality pair of heeled ankle boots will give you a boost in the height department without making you uncomfortable.
Styling Tip: Avoid square-toed boots as these can cut off the leg and make you look shorter.
When shopping for heels, boots, and beyond look for styles in nude tones. Shoes in colors similar to your skin tone will create a seamless continuation of your leg.
Petite Wardrobe Outfits
You have the rundown of petite wardrobe essentials. Now, let’s explore outfit ideas for different seasons.
Petite Outfits for Summer
Petite Outfits for Winter
How to Build a Petite Capsule Wardrobe
Let’s craft your closet with intention so you look put together every day.
Understand Your Proportions
Your capsule should support your stature, not hide it. To ensure you pick the right clothes, start by taking measurements of your body. This includes your height, inseam, waist, hips, and bust. Knowing your inseam is especially important as it will make pants shopping much simpler.
As you measure away, take note of your body shape too. This will guide the pieces you’ll look best in. Here are a few common petite styling goals and corresponding sartorial solutions:
|Balance Small Upper Body||Puff sleeves, ruffled tops, boatneck necklines|
|Lengthen Shorter Legs||High-rise pants, vertical stripes, pointed shoes|
|Emphasize Your Waist||Belted dresses, cinched tops, fit-and-flare silhouettes|
|Create Illusion of Height||Monochromatic outfits, vertical lines, V-necklines|
|Flatter Your Bust||Wrap tops, sweetheart necklines, scoop necklines|
Choose Your Core Pieces
Let’s design your dream wardrobe with a set of foundational pieces. The exact styles you choose will depend on your personal style. But the silhouettes and cuts should be strategically selected to enhance your petite frame. Structured jackets, tops with open necklines, and waist-accentuating dresses all aid in this endeavor. Your list of core pieces may include:
- Cropped t-shirt
- Sweetheart blouse
- Striped button down
- Cropped jeans
- Paperbag shorts
- Midi skirt
- A-line dress
- Belted coat
- Pointed toe heels
Once you’ve selected functional core pieces, you can add your statement items to round out your closet.
Take it to a Tailor
Petite women who look polished and put together have a secret– they took a trip (or many) to the tailor. Tailors work their magic by raising a hem here, taking in the waist there, and revealing a perfectly suited garment.
So find a reliable tailor who can adjust clothing to complement your proportions. It’s an overlooked step that will elevate your petite capsule wardrobe.
Focus on Footwear
As petite women, we need to be intentional about the shoes we choose to wear. The right pair will elongate you while an ill-suited match can cut you off visually. A pair of heels with an ankle strap, for instance, look lovely on my 5’7 sister. But when I slip on the same pair, they cut off the line from leg to ankle, robbing me of precious inches. Instead, I suggest petite-approved shoes like:
- Pointed toe flats
- Slingback sandals
- Heeled boots (pointed toe, obviously)
Best Petite Wardrobe Brands to Shop
The cool-girl brand known for effortless basics offers clothing in a “short” sizing option for those under 5’3.
A slow fashion brand boasting built-to-last pieces exclusively for petites.
For polished modern looks, shop this London-based clothing brand.
A petite’s denim paradise. Find essential jeans and basics at this size-inclusive retailer.
The self-labeled “boutique for the vertically challenged” offers cool, out-of-the-box pieces. All petite-friendly, of course.
The feminine frocks you know and love are available in perfectly petite proportions at Ref. Oh, did I mention they make a perfect addition to a sustainable capsule wardrobe?
Your perfect petite jean fit may be waiting at Mother Denim, a California-based brand with a dedicated following.
Petite Wardrobe FAQs
What are the best wardrobe essentials for petites?
To lengthen your frame, opt for clothing that guides the eye vertically, creating uninterrupted lines along the body.
For tops, choose open-neck options like v-necks, sweetheart, and off-the-shoulder silhouettes. For bottoms, look for high-waisted pants and skirts, cropped denim, and wide-leg shorts that cinch the waist. When selecting shoes, opt for pointed-toe footwear and nude shades that extend the line of your legs.
What accessories belong in a petite wardrobe?
The full capsule wardrobe accessories guide is here for your viewing pleasure. Here’s a quick rundown of some ideal accessories for those of shorter stature.
Quality Belt: Function and fashion meet in a waist-defining belt. Long-torso ladies should opt for a thicker belt. If you have a shorter torso, thin is the way to go.
Properly Proportioned Bag: Choose a tote that won’t overwhelm your frame. A structured bag in a standard size is ideal.
Dainty Necklaces: Reach for delicate jewelry, especially pieces that create long downward pointing lines.
Wrist Candy: Small cuff bracelets and dainty watches add a sophisticated touch to your outfits without adding bulkiness.
Structured Hat: Hats add more than personality to your outfit; they add height. So pop on a beret, a sun hat, a baseball cap, or a knit beanie for a final touch.