Petite Body Types

Body types are so great! They’re all so different, and once you have a handle on what your body type is, you can follow all those amazing tips on how to dress your particular one. Easy peasy right?

Ahh…but here comes the hard part.

Guess what…being petite throws a wrench into the whole process.

Petite body type advice is usually lumped into one category.
Magazines, books and websites love to put us all in one big category. Since we’re short, obviously we all look alike, and can abide by the same fashion rules, right? Wrong.

Petite curves are proportioned smaller, so body type measurement information isn’t tailored for our size.
Ways to figure out your body type often include taking your shoulder, waist and hip measurements, and then comparing the difference in inches.  For petites, the differences in our measurements will be smaller, which makes figuring out our body types in this way difficult.

Women don’t always fit just one body type.
I’m a total nerd over this stuff, and even I’m not exactly sure what my body type is. I’m somewhere between a boyish, and a hourglass figure. But then, throw in the fact I’m short-waisted, and now I’m not sure if I’m an “H”. Ugh…so hard!

So, how do you figure out your petite body type?
I’ve found a few resources that I like to mix and match.

• This helpful chart from Stylish Planner gives body type measurement ratio information scaled down for petites.

Petite Measurements

For example, my measurements are approximately 30 – 23 – 32. The difference between my measurements are:

chest to waist = 7 inches
hip to waist = 9 inches
chest to hips = 2 inches

According to this chart, I’m an hourglass shape.

Of course, this is a bit flawed because it asks you to use your chest measurement. It should really ask for your shoulder measurement, since women of all body types can vary wildly in bust size.

Inside Out Style is another great resource. It’s a blog written by personal stylist Imogen Lamport, with clear and easy to understand descriptions of body types, and tips for dressing them. Her series on real life body shapes is especially helpful. I spent hours reading through these when I first found her site.

Imogen even came out with an ebook dedicated to petites last year. The ebook features 77 pages of advice directed towards petite women. I had the pleasure of reading through Imogen’s ebook, and while I found myself a little confused on body type (I fit into various descriptions of X, I and H body shapes!), I enjoyed the in-depth explanations of body proportions, and body types.

One of my favorite tips she gives in the ebook is about petite brooch placement. See how the higher brooch placement makes the figure look taller? Cool right?

Petite Brooch Placement

Disclosure – Imogen gifted me her ebook, Never Short on Style.

• I picked up The Pocket Stylist by Kendall Farr when a local Borders Bookstore closed and liquidated all its merchandise. This handy little book has since become a favorite reference of mine. Kendall Farr is a personal stylist, and her book has tons of well organized information she uses to dress and teach her clients about clothing and shopping.

The Pocket Stylist 1 600px

Kendall Farr breaks women into three basic body types, and even gives specific advice for us short girls. By packing women into just three body types, I found it hard to pick just one, as I tended to fit into descriptions of two of them.

I’m short waisted with thin limbs, so I better fit the description of the “C” body type (less defined waist, short torso, thin legs). But since Kendall suggests “C”‘s run away from wrap dresses and double breasted coats (two items I own, and think I look pretty darn good in thankyouverymuch), and frolic in empire waist clothing (which looks awful on me), I’m thinking I veer more towards being a “B”.

The Pocket Stylist 4 600px

Beyond body types, The Pocket Stylist has handy tips for organizing your closet, what wardrobe staples every woman should have, and a whole chapter on alterations.

Tip – Kendall Farr suggests trying a tailor that advertises specializing in custom menswear. A tailor skilled in menswear tailoring will be more likely to be able to handle your most difficult alterations.

—–

Of course, very few women will fall perfectly into one category, shape, type, or whatever you want to call it. But it’s still nice to get a general idea of what direction to head when it comes to dressing your body.

What are your favorite resources for body type advice?

 

Read More Tips & Tricks »

83 Comments

  • Brittany says:

    This is great! I attempted to do a post a few days ago on petite and large chested/hourglass, but I don't have any personal experience! I like what you said about the proportions being smaller. I had realized that a given chest size looks bigger on a petite woman, but I hadn't really thought about it in terms of overall proportions and body type. It makes perfect sense that say, a petite hourglass would need less "extreme" measurements to be considered an hourglass.

  • FB @ FabulouslyBroke.com says:

    I have the same book and like it a lot.

    I'm definitely an inverted triangle. I'm pretty much straight up and down everywhere, but with big shoulders.

  • kileen says:

    oh how cool! these are cool references and i'll have to check out Kendall's book sometime!

    cute and little
    come join the Color Brigade!

  • Frankincensy says:

    "Petite body type advice is usually lumped into one category."

    It's so annoying when writers do this! The whole "Tall/Petite/Hourglass/Pear/Athletic/Plus-Sized" thing… as if nobody fits into more than one category. Trinny and Susannah's 12 body shapes are worth a look, though not everyone finds them helpful (and some people were downright offended by T&S' down-to-earth language and use of terms like "brick" to describe shapes). Whilst I have mixed feelings myself, their Lollipop shape describes me better than just about any other I've come across.

  • curls-and-pearls says:

    Excellent post Kelly (as usual). I don't really know what my body type is. I feel like I'm generally straight up and down as I feel like there isn't a huge difference between each of my measurements but I do have some curves so I don't know if I could be considered to have a "boy" shape. It's all very confusing! Thanks for all the great references!

  • AubreyOhDang! says:

    Oh man, I don't ever want to be a Diamond. That must be hard to fit into clothes.

    I feel like I'm 1/2 and 1/2. 1/2 boyish figure on top, but hourglass on the bottom? but not exactly pear shape either? and w/such small proportions, I can't tell sometimes on myself, much less have someone else tell me.

  • CynthiaC says:

    I didn't realize one could be curvy/hourglass with just a 6 inch difference between the waist and hips/bust and hips. I thought it had to be greater. Still, though, I feel more "ruler-y" than "curvy" Maybe it's because my waist is kind of short.

  • Jen says:

    I come up as hourglass too which makes me lol.

    shouldn't it be a % and not whole inches?

  • prosephina says:

    This is so perfect! I always wondered how to determine body types. I remember stumbling upon Imogen's blog some time ago, have to check her out again.

  • Stylepint says:

    Interesting tips about body shapes. I don't follow body shape tips because what might work for the average person/petite, may not work for me. But they are good tips to keep in mind.

    I learn best through trial and error and following my own style since I know my body best or at least, I should. =)

  • A.Li says:

    I always had a hard time firguing out my body shape too. I usually search online and read a lot of alteration books with different types of body shape and measurements. I might pick up a copy of the "Pocket Stylish" though. Thanks for the review.

  • Anonymous says:

    Bradley Bayou's book "The Science of Sexy" is terrific (despite its terrible title). It takes into account height *and* body shape for its recommendations.

    http://www.amazon.com/Science-Sexy-Unique-Figure-Shapeand/dp/1592403360/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1295389371&sr=8-1

  • Vicky says:

    I have been reading your blog for a while. Love your post.

  • Callandra says:

    I love this post!! I have read the pocket stylist, Science of Sexy and of course the styling book by Stacy and Clinton. I love these types of books and devour them by the dozens anytime I'm near a large bookstore!

  • Anonymous says:

    I am just under 5'2" and 33/25/33. I am hourglass although that is deceiving since I wear a 30DD bra. I am more cup than band size. I have very small shoulders and straps fall down all the time.

    I have worked as a dressmaker and have made my own clothes. Without getting into too much detail, there are different types of petites. I am a long torso/short legs petite. Other than alterations for my large bust, I really just need to hem garmements. I find Junior sizes fit better than even Misses Petite.

  • fashionforteens says:

    I love the pocket stylist! I just did a post on it a few days ago. The advice is so helpful, but I couldn't really figure out my body type either. I am basically just a "rectangle" shape, since I have very little curves. The chart that you posted is really helpful. Thanks so much! Your tips are so helpful. It's hard to flatter a petite figure.

  • Alterations Needed says:

    @Frankincensy – Sweet! Thanks for the Trinny and Susannah links! I'm going to go look through them now. I love this stuff! =D

    @curls-and-pearls – I thought I was boyish for a while too, but I think that's just because my curves are so much smaller than a taller woman. They're there, they're just smaller. =)

    @Jen – A % would be ideal! Then it could work on everyone.I wonder if that exists somewhere…hmmm…

  • Alterations Needed says:

    @Anonymous – I think I know what my next book is going to be! Thanks for the recommendation. If anyone wants a click-able link, here ya go:
    The Science of Sexy

    @fashionforteens – Just read your style book post. Great books in there!

  • olyvia says:

    this is a very interesting post, I have never thought of looking at books for styling tips. I'm glad you shared the brooch placement bit! My bf had called me a pear-shape and I wouldn't believe it, but when I tried that chart from stylish planner above, lo and behold, I am a pear! It's so weird, cause when I look at styles for pear-shapes in magazines, they aren't the styles I like, so hard! to find stuff that I like and look good in! I definitely need more styling tips, hehe

  • Megz says:

    I love the guides Angie from You Look Fab puts out about body types. If you are still not sure, post a pic in the forum and she'll give you a definite answer :)

    http://youlookfab.com/category/body-type/

  • SewPetiteGal says:

    I fall very perfectly as a triangle :) Love the brooch placement comparison – I would have never thought of that. Can't wait to try!

  • PetiteXXS says:

    I'm a little confused and not exactly sure what I am according to that chart! I seem to fall in the "curvy" column but my chest vs. hips difference isn't +/- 4? Anyway, very interesting post and thanks for sharing the brooch placement tip!

  • melina bee says:

    I'm quite petite and really enjoyed this post. In general, I don't believe trying to figure our your body type is a worthwhile pursuit because women's body's vary so so much.2 women may have the same measurements, but if one is larger boned than the other, the same garment may not flatter both. I think trial and error plus a good tailor are the best bets. I've noticed many women who pull off trends that aren't suggested for their body type– personality has a lot to do with what will and won't look good on you, too. Also, not every woman who is short wants to look taller nor every woman who is larger wants to look skinnier.

  • Tori Mistick says:

    I have never seen that brooch placement advice before, but what a good idea. It's too bad that people these days tend to dress for trends not their bodies. I also think that tailoring is MAJOR for a petite girl — hem those pants and sleeves!

  • fashionforteens says:

    @Alterations Needed
    Thanks! There are some really great books out there!

  • lifesobsessions.com says:

    Awesome post!!
    I too have a petite body type, and have a hard time trying to figure out if I cam wear certain things.

    Also I have been in search of another book to read, thanks!!

  • Heather Fonseca says:

    Great advice! I'm not even sort of petite, but still this is the closest I'v gotten to understanding if I'm a pear or an hourglass. Thank you!

    Love,
    Heather 
    http://heathersdesignblog.com/

  • poet says:

    This is very useful! Thanks for posting!

    Cheers,
    poet

  • steveshot says:

    Seems like a good book to pick up. I think I'm a pear shape, but leaning towards the hourglass… it's not super extreme, but you know. :)

  • Irene @CouturePetite says:

    Thanks for posting this. I came across your post while I was researching "body types" for my body type calculator. I really like how you also have information backed by a variety of petite sources!

    Give it a shot and let me know how it is. :)
    http://couture-petite.com/style/how-to/body-types

  • Susanne Heydenbluth says:

    The best I know is from Jan Larkey “Flatter your figure”. She gives advice for each body part. 

  • Kat Landreth says:

    Ha! I’m curvy?! I just always thought that since I’m slender and wear a small bra size that I was more boy shaped or stick shaped. But according to this, I’m curvy! That made my day :)

  • Kelsiehoagland says:

    I think I’m curvy? 32-26-36. Can anyone help me out. I think that that chart is kinda confusing :/ maybe I’m just thinking too much into it, though haha. I always thought I was pear shaped.

    •  According to the chart, you’re curvy! Another way is too look in a mirror and see if your shoulders are about the same width as your hips. Pear shaped ladies usually have narrow shoulders that are shorter in length than their hips. You might also be somewhere in between, so you can pick and choose tips from either “curvy” or “pear” advice.

      • Kelsiehoagland says:

        So what shape is “curvy” exactly? Because, in magazines, when they say curvy they mean heavier set. But I’m not heavier. I’m about 105 pounds. I have wide bone structure (I think, but that’s the Greek in me!), but I’m fairly thin.

        •  I know exactly what you mean. “Curvy” has been used recently to mean voluptuous in a heavy, plus-size way. But “curvy” has traditionally meant a woman with an hourglass figure. I read an article recently that disputed the new “curvy” as heavy meaning by showing that a plus-size woman has less difference in measurement between her bust, waist and hips than a thinner woman does. Thus, thinner women are actually curvier than plus-size women. However you use the term in your real life, this chart means hourglass when it says curvy, so be happy that you have the figure every girl wants! Va va voom! =)

          • Kelsiehoagland says:

            Awh thanks! :) This really made my day! I love your blog, by the way. I came across it last night and I can’t stop browsing through it :)

  • Holy man, I love your blog!  Thank you for this post, I was searching for pictures in Google, and found you by chance.  It seems I have stumbled on greatness.

  • marina says:

    Really nice article. But what about people that doesn’t perfect fit in those categories? There are lots of people who doesn’t. I’m 5ft 2″ and 35-26-40. I have a breast-waist difference of 9″  (way too much to be a pear),  but my breast-waist difference is 5″ (way to much to be a hourglass). 5″ is just a bit more than 4″, so I could be curvy, but since the b-w-h differences are a lot bigger than 6″, that makes a poor description either. Since I have well balanced shoulders and hips despite the narrow rib cage/back,  I look more like an “unbalanced hourglass” than with a “pear with breasts”, but I think both descriptions would be fair enough. Either way, I’m in-between a pear and a hourglass, so I try to match both  categories tips, but I would like to find some expertise advice on how to match characteristics of 2 different categories.

    •  Whoops, just now seeing this. Sorry for the late reply! These kinds of things are only meant to be a loose guideline. You’re spot-on in that most women fall within one or two of these body types. If you find this to be the case, it’s up to you to pick and choose which advice from each of the types you fall under to follow or ignore.

  • Layla says:

    Can you have chicken legs and still be considered “curvy”? The chart says I am, but I’m not so sure.

    •  I don’t see why not! I have chicken legs and according to that chart I’m an “hourglass”…hehe.

      • Tanya says:

        I just found your blog, I’m 4’10 and was wondering how you weighed 5 pounds less than me.  Must be what you call your chicken legs. They look fabulous in the pictures.  I have curvy, sturdy legs.  What is funny about my body type is I’m quite small-chested, almost flat really, and I’m still a curvy by the chart.   I don’t look curvy in most of my clothes but in fitted dresses or bathing suits it is obvious.  

  • guest says:

    5ft3inch, 33-23-35, used to be 34-19-33, working back towards that now. yeah i know what you mean! 
    I’m quite small so people just say I’m petite and give me the “you have no curves look”. curvy isn’t fat. curvy can be skinny

  • Petite Caja says:

    Thank you! Finally I can be sure I’m an thin petite hourglass (I’ve always heard I’m a pear which doesn’t make sense since my shoulders and butt are the same size). I will look into those books :)

  • RobininCO says:

    Urgh. I am 5’3″, short waisted, slightly plump, and very curvy. 40-34-40. If you ignore my head, I’m a double scoop ice cream cone. Nothing on the planet is made to fit me. I wear t-shirts and sweats most of the time and feel very frumpy.

  • teraytaray says:

    This is so informative. It is very rare that I can find a perfect fit for me. I am pear shaped but not a simple one. I am 5 ft tall, have narrow shoulders, small bust, wide waist and wider hips. 33-29-38. In Macy’s they have this Petite Pear shaped and I thought that should be good, but not really. The problem is always my waistline. I guess I have to lose 3-4 inches in the waist to be able to say I am a perfect pear shaped woman

  • TessaRhae says:

    This is impossible. I’m 5’2″, no butt, no chest. And a small waist. I can’t wear anything with looking 20 pounds heavier.

  • I’m 5′ nothing size 2 shoe thats in kids so heels are not in option to look a little taller I have small C cup boobs I’m less than 100 pounds nice size butt for my weight but I’m not sure of my body type I now I’m petite but I’m not a stick nor am I super curvy its hard to Explain I have curves but I’m slim, does that mean I’m a hour glass body type?

    • Hi Kayla! You can certainly be an hour glass. A little trick I’ve learned is if you have curves, but you’re not Sophia Vegara (curvy), then you’re probably either a pear or an hourglass. One way to tell is to look in the mirror and look at where your shoulders and largest part of your hips (can be your thigh) ends. If they appear to be equal, then you’re probably an hour glass. If your shoulders look narrower than the largest part of your hips, then you’re probably a pear. But remember it’s not cut in stone. Most women have traits of two or more “body types”, so don’t feel like you HAVE to be one or the other.

  • Nat says:

    Im 5ft even! and in 34-27-34..so there’s no difference between my chest and hips. What would that make me then???

  • Natalie says:

    Im 34-27-34 and im 5ft even. What does that make me?

  • Joann says:

    I am 5feet 6 inches tall and weigh 160 pounds recently
    I tried on a beautiful coat that was a 12 petite
    And it fit me like a glove. Should I have felt funny
    Buying a petite coat?

    • Hi Joann! You should not feel funny at all! No matter what your height, you might have different proportions at different parts of your body. Some people are longer in their torsos than they are in their legs, and others are the opposite, so they have long legs but short torsos. Women with short legs and long torsos may find that petite length pants fit them better, while regular size tops work well. Women with long legs and short torsos may find that regular pants are perfect, but petite tops are a good fit. I’m going to guess one of two situations is true for you: a) you’re of the long leg/short torso variety, and just happened to fit perfectly into a petite coat, or b) outerwear is often oversized to accomodate layers, so maybe you’re the kind of girl who prefers her coats nice and fitted, so a petite coat fit the bill perfectly because of it’s smaller proportions. Either way…nothing to worry about…you found a beautiful coat that fits you like a glove! Who cares what department it came from! Enjoy! =)

  • bree says:

    What am I? I am 5.1 110 lbs a 34 d cup chest but my measurements are 35 shoulders, 34 bust, 27 waist, and 36 hips.. My bum is not very curvy though, but my waist is kinda defined. My best assets are my chest and legs I’m told. I’m short, but I’m all legs! This is also after 5 kids and 32 yrs of age. I’ve been told I’m an hourglass, but my bum is flatter like an apple… I’m so confused. What shape would u say I am?

  • Vicky says:

    Hello~ I am 5.3 and 110lbs and my measurements are 31-25-28, i was wondering what body type i was ? Thank you :)

  • Rosa says:

    I’m 5’2
    I weigh 110
    I have small hips a big bust and a pretty big 36B cup size.
    what am I?

  • little lady says:

    hi

    im 4ft 11 weigh around 7 stone.. measure approx 32, 24,33, what type im i its frustrating being petite

  • Kato1979 says:

    I love this! I’m 4’11” and weigh between 98 and 103 lbs on any given day and sales associates tend to think I’m nuts when I go out shopping for petite jeans and end up trying on a stack of “curvy” jeans. Thanks to this chart I can see that with my 33-26-35 frame, I am not crazy!

  • Aespen Houston <3 says:

    Well,I’ve always had small boobs I wear a 34b and I’m 5’2 and I weigh 110. I’m 17 years old I’m limited on what I can wear because of my boobs….its really frustrating. If anyone has any tips or suggestions please let me know. Thanks! :-)

  • Papaya says:

    Hi! I’m really confused on how to find my petite body type, I’m 5’1 btw and my body measurements are 33-29-36
    Weigh apprx 115 pounds.
    It would be of great help!

    • Well…the difference between your waist and your bust is 4 inches (33-29=4), the difference between your waist and your hips is 7 inches (36-29=7) and the difference between your bust and hips is -3 inches. According to the chart, you’re closest to a pear.

    • summer_love says:

      Hey! I’m also the same height and about the exact measurements! I weigh 108 and I don’t know..I think we’re pears, but I don’t have tiny shoulders either.

  • Carolina says:

    I’m 5’2 with ridiculous measurements (thanks, body – it’s not even pudge, it’s all my dang bones!).

    40 bust, 39 hips, 27 waist.

    I’m hovering somewhere between a D and C cup (Australian measurements, last time I got measured I was a 10D).

    Any idea what I am? I’d like to say hourglass but maths does my head in.

  • Caitlyn says:

    I’m 4’10” measuring 36-28-38, looks like I’m hourglass that makes me kinda happy :D Thanks for all the research

  • Ash says:

    I’m sorry for asking, but I can’t seem to figure out my body type. It’s confusing. Probably because I suck at math. My measurements are 31-23-32.

  • Sophia says:

    What am i? I”m 29-22-30. I’m 5’0 and about 87 lb,

  • Juliana Castro says:

    Hi my measurements are 32-23-35, I’m 5’0 and I weigh about 103 lbs I’m not sure if I’m curvy or hourglass. Help?

  • lexie says:

    I’m 5″1″ and i’m 33-24-33. Some people say i have an hourglass shape while some say i have a pear shape. I’m puzzled. What shape am I really?

  • Deidre says:

    I think I’m leaning towards a pear/triangle. 30B- 25 -32.

  • Nelie says:

    I’m 5’1 32 27 35 what shape I’m ?

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