Glamour Magazine Picks Dresses for Petites – March 2011 Issue


This month’s Glamour Magazine picks some dresses for petites, and indulges us with a few fashion tips…




Here are my thoughts:

  • Wear above the knee, & overall short hemlines – While I agree that petite women can be easily swallowed by skirts and dresses that are too long, just telling short ladies to wear short skirts is a huge generalization. Proportions play a major role, as well as personal modesty levels (the dress they put on Gabby above is WAY too short for me!) and age. Read Jean’s helpful post for advice on how to measure your leg proportions and calculate your ideal hem length.
  • Wear higher cut waists to elongate your legs – Petite ladies need higher waists in general, since we have shorter torso’s than a taller woman does. But, again, body proportions dictate how high your waist line should go. Ladies with short torso’s can make their torso’s look even shorter with a high waistline, and so are better off with waist details that sit a little lower than the natural waist.
  • Wear close fitting styles – Fitted garments are important to me, since I can easily get lost in too much fabric.  I tend to abide by this rule, but there’s nothing wrong with a flouncy skirt or looser style if that’s what you fancy. =)
  • Draping? – Why are they telling petites to wear dresses with draping? I’m not sure what that’s supposed to accomplish.
  • Only one “petite” brand? – LOFT got a nod for their petite dress in this article, but the other brands (White House | Black Market, Michael Michael Kors & Gabby Applegate) are not listed in petite sizes. Micheal Micheal Kors does make petites, but maybe not in that particular dress? Come on Glamour! Give petite clothing manufacturers some love!

What do you think of Glamour’s petite dress advice?

      Join the Conversation


      1. says: Rosanna

        I agree with the draping comment, I think it's probably good for every body type (as long as it's draping in the right spots). But w.r.t. to petites, perhaps it's to "fill us out" or some visual interest?

      2. says: couturecoco

        Some helpful tips, thank you!
        Re the draping, I think you have to be careful as it result in too much fabric that we can get lost in.
        Perhaps what they mean is the drape creates a longer line as the eye follows it making a petite appear longer? Curvy petites can look really wonderful with the right draping that compliment their curves. For me, as I was pretty flat everywhere, a little draping really, really helped to make it look like I have some curves.

      3. says: Banhannas

        For a minute there I thought I read that Gabby was 5'5 … I was like hmmmm. Hahaha. That green dress is adorable but WHAT HAPPENS IF SHE SITS DOWN. I would be so uncomfortable with a dress that short!

      4. says: fashionforteens

        I really like the green dress but it is even short for me and I love my miniskirts and am a teenager. I agree with the generalizations: yes, shorter skirts/dresses show off more of your legs so they might make your legs look longer but they aren't always flattering or appropriate. I think that one of the best "tricks" is to wear a pair of nude heels to really elongate your legs. Also, I am a short-waisted petite so I don't think high waisted skirts always look good on me. Thanks for sharing though, glad to see petites are getting acknowledged more.

      5. says: curls-and-pearls

        I think fitted garments for structured items are important but I really love loose fitting and flowy tops – but they cannot have TOO much fabric or it could be "drowning" as you mentioned. The hem line thing I don't agree with either – her dress is WAY too short in my opinion! The draping could be to create the illusion of curves and someone else mentioned.

      6. says: Anonymous

        Honestly! Who really abide by these fashion rules? Short leg ladies should never wear skinny jean or jegging but I see more skinny and jegging than the universal flattering straight leg version.
        No one understand our body shape better than ourselves. I set our own boundary and rely on common sense.

      7. says: Erin

        Hmmmm I agree with YOUR assessment, not Glamour's! The hemline comment was especially annoying… they might as well have said "always wear heels"! Psh!

        I disagree with the high waistline suggestion too – there was a picture of Kourtney Kardashian on Fashion Police this week and she looked positively STUMPY in high waisted denim. She might be short, but it doesn't work on her body type.

        Also, does that say 5'3"? Gabby looks shorter than me next to those girls! Wonder how tall they are and if they're shown to scale? Or maybe I'm shorter than I like to imagine myself :)

      8. says: Miss. Studios

        I agree with all of your comments. Can't agree more with the first two comments. I have shorter legs than my torso so at least for me it's important to wear bottoms that elongate my legs. I should say especially skinnies are not mine.

      9. says: PetiteAsianGirl

        Ditto on your comments…those thoughts were racing through my mind as I scanned the page. Even for someone like me who loves short hemlines (for non-work occasions), I thought that dress was scandalously short for the girl.

        Higher waisted items may work for some, but I know you have a shorter torso and such silhouettes may not work for you. I personally prefer waists to hit at my natural waist.

        Ah well, these magazines have to appeal to women of all shapes and sizes and thus slap together some general guidelines. They are fun to read, but in the end we pick and choose what to follow based on our own style, preferences and body type.

      10. says: Anonymous

        The thing that drives me crazy about these kinds of articles is that is lumps everyone into separate categories, when a lot of the time, there's overlap – busty petite, plus size petite, pear shaped petite, etc. So while a short hemline might work on a slender-legged, it won't look so good on my thick thighs!

      11. says: yancey

        Thank you for this fantastic blog – as a petite myself (4ft.11in.) I really appreciate it. I am never able to click on your "continue reading" link – am I doing something wrong? would love to read more.

      12. says: Petite Mom

        The article is very interesting! Thanks for sharing! Most of the advice makes sense, but the bottom line as always is to make sure the item fits well on your own body. That would apply to all the body types. But I guess that would make for a very short article!

        And speaking of short, that skirt length is scandalous! She would've done better with a longer skirt and nude heels or pumps instead of cutting her leg off at the ankle like that.

      13. says: ShortieK

        I'm glad that they included LOFT, but most of the time I really dislike the "best X for your shape" styles. I'm always drawn to styles that they tell me aren't suited to my shape.
        I LOVE the full skirted dresses for the pear shape and the waist defining plus size dresses.
        Hmm… Full skirt + really short legs = ?

        I guess the idea of not over embellishing a small frame is sound, but the green dress they choose reads BORING to me. And the higher doesn't do much for her shape either.

        I'm surprised they styled her with booties! I always thought that shortened the leg. The "pear shaped" girl's heels seem better suited for a petite.

      14. says: littlenashua

        I really hate articles/features like this. They just gloss over individual body types and generalize. This is not unique for "dress for your body type" posts, it's used for virtually all features. There is the typical "exercise for your problem areas" spreads (that inevitably show silly spot-toning exercises that won't do a damn thing if not combined with an entire exercise regimen), there are the "best makeup colors for your skin tone" features, "best hair cut for your face shape", etc, etc. I have been reading fashion magazines for over 20 years, starting with 'Teen (what a mess that was), graduating to Seventeen and YM, then finding Sassy (a godsend to a teenage girl) and then Vogue, Elle, and all the others that we read now as adults. And every issue is the same damn thing over and over again.

        Whenever they do these types of photos they always exaggerate the petite girl by printing the photo smaller. If you look at the women next to her in the pic, they would be close to 6' tall and about 2.5' wide if everything was to scale. The deliberately shrink the photo. Think of this – when we see photos of each other on our blogs, we don't look that short. There are many photos I have seen of all of the petite bloggers who look normal size, because they dress to flatter their height/body type.

        I ignore suggestions like that and instead simply try on a bunch of things until I find something that looks right. And yes, that dress is scandalously short. It does not make her look tall, it makes her look skanky.

      15. says: Anonymous

        I think most dresses should be beyond the fingertips with arms straight down, for proportion and decency. Tall gals can get away with shorter but I think it is a good rule of thumb if you don't want to flash when you sit. Unflattering neckline on the green dress as well.

        Otherwise, meh article. I noticed the plus size dresses weren't exactly photographed in plus sizes. They look like the same fabric proportions as the petites right next to them.

        The pink Zac Posen for Target dress looks really cute, though.

      16. says: Alterations Needed

        @Rosanna – Draping is very good visual interest, so I like that theory. Filling out the wearer is another good theory, but would only be good for really skinny ladies. I hope Glamour didn't assume all petites were skinny!

        @couturecoco – Good idea! If the drape follows vertical lines, then it could definitely be used to create a longer look.

        @Banhannas – I know! That hem is way too short! I would be so self conscious!

      17. says: Alterations Needed

        @Victoria – Yup, this article assumes petite women are generally the same shape and size, which we all know isn't true. That's the bad thing about this kind of advice. =P

        @fashionforteens – I'm glad to hear this dress is even too short for you young whippersnappers! I'm quickly growing into an old fart, grumbling at the ridiculous short lengths "the kids" are wearing "these days"…LOL.

        @curls-and-pearls – There is a fine line for flowy, isn't there? Some flowy can be nice, but too much flowy and you're overwhelmed in fabric. It depends on your build too. If you're really thin, it's REALLY easy to get lost in fabric. If you have more curves, it's easier for your curves to show through flowy fabrics.

      18. says: Alterations Needed

        @Anonymous – Very true! I've found that even if you're "not supposed" to wear a certain style for your body type, you can generally find an item in that style that happens to be the right cut, or the right fabric, that works for your shape. It's just a matter of looking!

        @Erin – Poor Kourtney Kardashian, looking frumpy in high waisted jeans. I can't pull that style off either. Gabby does look ridiculously short, while all the other girls look the same height. I smell Photoshop re-sizing. =P

        @Alex – Heels do help lengthen your legs (as well as make your calves look fabulous!), but I wouldn't make it a rule. I've seen so many petite girls rock flats, without looking frumpy or little-girlish, and now I'm on the hunt for the perfect pair of ballet flats. =)

      19. says: Alterations Needed

        @PetiteAsianGirl – Glad to hear you shared my same thoughts.

        I kinda wish, instead of adding petite as a separate category, that these magazines would add a few "if you're petite" tips to each body type. I think that would be more helpful than lumping us all together.

        @Anonymous – Yup, women are so different in shape and size, that lumping us all into a "category" is pretty much impossible to get right.

        @yancey – Thank you for the kind words! Sorry the "continue reading" links haven't been working for you. Here is another way to read the full post: click the red post title – this will take you to the full post, without the continue reading.

      20. says: Callandra

        It sounds a bit too generalized to me. For instance, I would combine the petite and pear shaped information together for the ulitmate "how to" dress advice for me. I really like the "science of sexy" for that particular detail per body type. That being said, I love reading any new information for petite's that I can get my hands on ;)

      21. says: Alterations Needed

        @Petite Mom – Oh wow…I didn't even take a good look at her shoes! If they were really concerned about lengthening her leg line, they would have put her in nude heels as you suggested, or at least a shoe with a low vamp.

        @The Little Dust Princess – Perhaps the Glamour editors should consult us petite bloggers next time. We'll set 'em straight. =)

        @ShortieK – My favorite dress was the "pear shape" one too. I think short legs and a full skirt would work great! Especially styled in a similar hem length as heel type as the "pear shape" model is wearing. And yes, thank you for also pointing out those shoes! What a great way to chop her leg line in an unflattering way!

      22. says: Alterations Needed

        @Russian Chic @PetiteAsianGirl – LOL…I don't want height THAT bad.

        @littlenashua – So true…I've been reading the same advice since junior high when I started reading Seventeen Magazine. I remember reading those articles like they were gospel, and were going to make me into the "perfect" whatever I wanted to be at that time. =P I tend to just read magazines for the photos these days. They still give me styling ideas, as well as color pairing ideas.

        @Anonymous – The fingertip rule is a pretty universally acceptable one, and that's probably as short as I'd want to go to. Any shorter and I'd be afraid of "falling out"…eek! Very good point about the plus size dresses. They don't appear to be plus size proportions in the photos, but at least they're all listed as coming in plus-size sizing. They only choose one dress in petite sizing for the petite dresses.

      23. says: Petite-ish

        Clearly the draping is to add volume seeing as we're so miniscule other people might miss us if we don't? Come on, glamour! The dress they picked for Brittany looks terrible in my opinion. Kelly, you looked much better in your posts!

      24. says: Darcie

        Thanks so much for posting this! Yes, there are some variations to how to dress for petites, but I think they have the general ideas right. Expect, for that draping thing. They were way off on that!

      25. says: Vicky

        Wow that girl's dress is short and the hair looks ridiculous. :) To tell you the truth, I stopped reading articles like this long time ago. If I can find a glamour magazine from 10 years ago, I bet they have the same suggestions. Never changed and always generalize. So take it with a grain of salt I guess. Thank you for sharing, Kelly.

      26. says: CynthiaC

        It's another one of those "the only way a short girl can be attractive is to go the sexy route." If you look at celebrities, the vast majority of pretty petite actresses and singers fall into one of two categories: "cute" or "sexy" I think Natalie Portman is probably one of few who are considered by people as "sophisticated." (Lady Gaga is another story…she's just plain weird).

      27. says: PetiteXXS

        I honestly have never really found these articles that helpful. Since petite women only share height in common and still have such a variety of body shapes, I don't see how a few pieces of generalized advice can work for everybody! They're fun to read but I take everything with a grain of salt. I also really wish they would feature more of the actual petite-friendly brands like you said… I had never even set foot inside LOFT since a little over year ago and had no idea about any other petite brands until I found the petite blogger community!

      28. says: kileen

        wow, the hemline on that petite girl is wayyyy too short for me. there's no way that's work appropriate and i would even feel uncomfortable wearing something like that in the daytime on weekends! i generally don't hold a lot of value on suggestions from magazines as i feel like it rarely suits my taste. thanks for the info though on Glamour magazine.

      29. says: Jackie

        I agree with the other commenters. Draping can look really good petites in the right places.

        I love Glamour, but I think that when it comes to petites they get a lot wrong.

        Above the waist – duh! Close fitting things look better on EVERYONE. Draping- okay, yeah I can see that. But why does everyone always assume we wanna look taller? I mean, we certainly don't want to look shorter but it sounds to me like they're think we must be insecure about our height. I'm happy with my 4'10" figure, thank you.

      30. says: Lisa - respect the shoes

        I've got a question for you, since spring is coming and "midi" length skirts are apparently the new rage – do you think we petites can successfully wear a midi length skirt? I have always loved the skirts that graze below the knee but haven't been able to successfully pull it off yet!

        I guess the good thing with the midi lengths is that for most of us, we just buy normal length skirts! ;o)

      31. says: Alterations Needed

        @Lisa – respect the shoes – I've seen petites do it, like Callandra from Petite Early Morning Style. I would only attempt it with heels, to keep your legs from looking stubby, but it's going to be a tough style to make work. Can't wait to see if you can pull it off! ;)

      32. says: Darcie

        Thanks so much for posting this! Yes, there are some variations to how to dress for petites, but I think they have the general ideas right. Expect, for that draping thing. They were way off on that!

      33. says: The Little Dust Princess

        Thank you for the scans! It was a rather interesting read. Your critiques are very true, but I don't think they have "petite experts" who edit their articles like the petite bloggers do. hehe

        xx The Little Dust Princess

      34. says: kileen

        wow, the hemline on that petite girl is wayyyy too short for me. there's no way that's work appropriate and i would even feel uncomfortable wearing something like that in the daytime on weekends! i generally don't hold a lot of value on suggestions from magazines as i feel like it rarely suits my taste. thanks for the info though on Glamour magazine.

      35. says: Alex

        I actually think "Always wear heels" is a great tip and should have been included (unless you're going out for a jog).

      36. says: Arizsix

        According to the tips, I got it right when I began to shop again. I am 4’11” busty, hippy and about 10 pounds over weight, but I am firm. I bought my fall/winter clothing  from Macy’s and Charlotte R.  along with a few other hit or miss outlet stores. The style(s) discussed work. I was amazed at the compliments I received recently. 

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