Petite Fit Guide: Improper Fit of Regular Size Jeans on a Petite Woman

Recently, I was hanging out with two other fellow petite ladies (they are about 5’2″-5’3″), who routinely shop for regular sized clothing. They dress fantastically, however, when I pointed out to them how my regular size jeans (that I hemmed to wear with heels) are improperly proportioned for my petite size, they both looked at their own jeans and were surprised to find the same thing happening to themselves!
I’m very guilty of this improper fit offense, because I’ve yet to find a fit in petite jeans that I like better than the fit of my regular size Paige Premium Denim, so I deal with this, but it still bothers me. I think it’s important for petite women to know how regular sized garments are not meeting their needs, and let them choose to be concerned about the fit or not.
So…here are my Paige regular size 24 jeans that I’ve had hemmed and the waist taken in. Can you spot what offense I’m talking about in the fit of these jeans? Click “Continue Reading” to find out what I’m taking about.

 If you think the knee is to low, as evidenced by the extra low fading…then you’re right!
Check out how low the fading on these jeans go. It’s more than 1/2 way down my shin! To prove my point, here is a comparison of my regular size jeans, to a pair of petite Gap jeans I recently tried on:
 Fading on regular sized jeans tailored down for a petite woman
Fading on petite size jeans (not tailored) on a petite woman
Do you see the difference between the fading on the regular jeans and the fading on the petite jeans? Fading on jeans should end a little below the knee, around the spot where the jeans would see sun fading when you are sitting down. Because the petite size jeans are made for petite women, the knee has been raised, and the fading has been raised along with it.
The regular sized jeans are made for a woman of around 5’5″-5’6″ tall, which means the knee has been lowered to accommodate the longer legs of a taller woman. Thus, the fading is way lower on me than it should be.

This is just another example of improper fit of regular sized garments on petite women, even after tailoring. Sometimes you just can’t get that perfect fit unless you are purchasing petite sized garments.

Join the Conversation


  1. says: CynthiaC

    I think regular pants are tailored to someone closer to 5'7" and wearing 3 inch heels, considering that the inseam is often 34" these days.

  2. says: Alterations Needed

    Cynthia – I think heels are definitely factored into the inseam, which I think is a good idea. I have a friend who is 5'7", with really long legs for her height, and she wears 34" inseam pants with flats! She has the hardest time finding jeans to wear with heels. She needs those super long super-model jeans just to wear her cute heels!

    Hi Anonymous – I've found the fit in the thigh of regular Paige jeans to be slimmer than the petite styles I've tried on. I'm also a big fan of bootcut jeans, and for some reason Paige boot cuts are more like bell bottoms on me. I prefer the size of boot cut I get from chopping a few inches off the bottom of the regular sizes. Weird huh? Maybe I just haven't found the right petite style yet.

    And just for the record, I've tried other petite styles from other brands as well, like 7's and Citizens. Too big!

  3. says: stylepint

    I had the same problem with the knees being too low when I had faded bootcut jeans. Especially when they make the knee part slimmer than the rest of the pant, it ends up more towards my calf and it looks funny after it's hemmed.

    Now, I'm going for straight leg styles that are one color all over so it's not so noticeable.

  4. says: CynthiaC

    AlterationsNeeded: Have you tried Allison Izu's jeans? They're only available online right now (unless you're in Hawaii).

  5. says: Stacey

    It's so subtle that no one will ever notice.

    Besides, I totally agree that petite jeans just fit weird. I get frustrated when manufacturers don't get that petite does not just mean short. It's all about proportion.

    I too find that bootcuts work better by just chopping off the length because it naturally adjusts the proportion of the leg opening.

    Finding jeans that aren't baggy in the knee is a major concern of mine. It's almost the most important thing to me – everything else is pretty fixable. I had two pairs of Paiges years ago that were perfect, but had to give them up because the rise was just too low and the size I had been wearing were just a little too small (I put on about 7 pounds since then)and the next size up fit weird.

    If they weren't so stretchy I would say Delias jeans are great. Very narrow in the knee and run small. They tend to stretch quite a bit though and the colors are a little off. But they're uber cheap and so I keep buying them!

  6. says: Anonymous

    I am a little taller than you (between 5'3 and 5'4) but I have found Joe's Jeans petite cut (provocateur) in size 24 to work well for me and not require alteration! Thought it might be something for you or others reading to check out.

  7. says: Anonymous

    I know this is an old blog, but thought I can mention anyways. I'm 5'2, 95 lbs. The jeans that fit me really well are AG Angel jeans. Only the Angel fits, everything else fit funny, the Legend works sometimes. I even saw a pair at Marshalls for 20 bucks in size 24!

  8. says: Alterations Needed

    I'm glad to hear about AG jeans. I have a friend who swears by them! I'll have to give them a try. Thanks for the tip!

  9. says: kikila

    Great post, sorry for the super late comment. This is exactly why I buy the darkest washes with as little fading as possible. I like Paige for fit, but Joe's wins out for the least distressed looks. For great prices I've had the most luck at Saks Off 5th, back in November they had tons of petite cuts for $60 -$80.

  10. says: Anonymous

    I never thought about where the fading on jeans ends! I have Delia's Reese low rise boot cut jeans on right now, and the fading on my 28" inseam jeans stops at the correct level. My number one concern when shopping for all pants is the thigh area. The rise is also usually a problem, but…the thighs! I could have covered the entire state of California with all the excess fabric in the thighs of pants I've tried on!

    I love Delia's jeans, which you can buy by inseam (26" on up) as well as by size. They are a bit too stretchy, but there are certain times of the month that works for me, lol. They shrink back after being air dried on a delicate heat setting and removed while still (barely) damp in the leg. Please try and review!

  11. says: Alterations Needed

    Anonymous (12:38am) – I've had a few people tell me Delia's jeans work for them. It's definitely great they have no many inseam options.

    The reason I have not reviewed Delia's is I'm not interested in keeping any Delia's jeans (I love my Paiges), and in order to get my hands on Delia's jeans, I'd have to pay for shipping and returns! I review items I'm either really interested in keeping for myself (and so don't mind paying the shipping), or that I can get free shipping and/or free returns/the ability to return in store. There is no Delia's near me here in SoCal, so I'm just not going to spend $20+ just to try some jeans on and give a review. =(

  12. says: Emmey

    i never realized this was such a problem until i tried on my first pair of petite jeans and realized WHY they looked so much better on me. i can't even go back to any of my other bootcuts because i've realized how much stumpier i look in them.

    david kahn petites, by the way, are fantastic. but they seem to have disappeared.

  13. says: bigbeigebox

    THANK YOU!!!! As a 5’3″ shortie, it’s virtually impossible to find nice designer jeans. Even with a good tailor, you’re right, the knees don’t line up. I’m never shopping regular again. 

  14. says: joanne

    I noticed this a few years ago, but don’t think it’s just petites who have this problem. Women’s designer jeans are usually made with inseams between 34 and 36 inches. They are made for people of all heights to be able to buy and get tailored to fit. Petite women usually have inseams shorter than 30, while a woman who is 5’5″-5’6″ usually has an inseam of around 32. That means an average woman (5’5′-5’6″) would still need to get these jeans hemmed. Their knees would be at most 2-3 inches lower than a petite woman’s, and I often find that the fading goes well below 6″ below my knees (I have about a 30″ inseam). This would imply that the fading is only made to fit very tall women (5’8″+) well. 

    I don’t agree that the fading is necessarily supposed to end at the knees, especially since the most tapered part of the jean for a bootcut fit, which should be the knees, is generally not at the bottom of the fading. The fading going below the knees used to bother me, but after seeing it on women of all different heights, I think it looks perfectly fine for the fading to reach down to the shins. 

  15. says: Ruth

    I’m short (5 ft. 2 in.) but have a short waist and a long rise (crotch). I often wear misses’ short pants instead of petite pants so that the rise is long enough for me.

  16. says: Bia

    Am I the only one who actually thinks the regular looks better on you? I find the ‘light’ going straight down to (almost) the end elongated your legs. Just my perception though.

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  18. says: Erin

    I’m 5’5″ my waist is 20″ inseam 33″ I just bought some levi’s jeans size 23×33 501’s and high rise bootcut, levi’s Taylor shop will only hem them and won’t take the waist in. Is there any petite jeans that would fit me?or some one who could take my levi’s in 3 or 4″ ?]

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