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Whether it's the trousers that sit comfortably around the waist but drag on the floor enough to almost send you flying, or the dress that's the perfect length but wouldn't stretch over your boobs in a million years, finding clothes that fit like a glove is a universal struggle for shorter women over 60. That's why we've sought the advice of our gransnetters and come up with a few tips to help you find stylish petite clothing that actually fits no matter your body type.
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"It's so frustrating when you see something you really like only to discover that it isn't made in small sizes."
While petite clothing is typically standard size garments designed to fit shorter women, i.e. 5 ft 4in or under, the reality is that petite ranges don't often come up trumps. So how can you ensure that you find clothes that actually fit?
"I am currently a size 18 on top, but I can wear size 14 jeans. I am only 5ft 2in."
This might seem obvious, but when it comes to petite clothing it's less about actual size and more about length and proportions. Shorter tops suited to taller women might actually serve as regular length tops on petite women and you might find that you have to go for two different sizes when it comes to dressing your upper and lower body.
"I suffer from the off-the-shoulder look as I really should be 'petite', but getting anything over my boobs means I have excess fabric on the shoulder!"
Petite ranges can be misleading, but many brands like Bon Marché look beyond the classic 'short', 'regular' and 'long' labels to offer shoppers a choice in inches when it comes to trousers and jeans, which may give you a more accurate fit.
"If you often have a problem with clothes not fitting around the waist or hips, look for either a dropped waist or an empire line."
Never heard of an empire line before? All you need to look for here is a waistline that cuts just under your bust, which will elongate your shape and make you look taller. You'll often see one on dresses with a low, V-neck neckline and it's often a failsafe option for women who are larger up top. Moving your waistline up or down will help you find comfortable clothing that doesn't cinch at the waist or look too long or too short.
"Dresses are impossible for me unless I get them tailored to fit or make my own."
While it's not always the ideal option, particularly if you're shopping on a budget, opting for tailored clothes, particularly when it comes to dresses and jackets, will ensure that you won't have to roll up those sleeves or deal with baggy tops that do nothing for your shape. You can develop your own form of tailoring, however, by picking out monochrome outfits that will create a pleasing vertical line and make you look taller. Choose a colour and strip out your wardrobe with every item of clothing in that colour that you can find, be it black, navy, grey or even biege! Piece outfits together from there.
If all else fails, get out the old sewing machine and try your hand at making your own clothes. Not only will you be able to choose fabrics that showcase your personality, but you won't have to worry about unflattering shapes or sizes.
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When it comes to petite fashion, you're probably thinking that you may as well chuck the style rule book out the window. But believe it or not, there are a few staples that might just serve you well. So what type of clothes and styles are flattering on shorter women and where are the best places to shop for stylish petite clothes?
"I've got a Fenn Wright Manson dress with a V-neck and under-the-bust seaming, which is lovely."
Yes, we know we've mentioned these before, but they really are a boon when it comes to petite fashion suiting different body shapes, from busty to curvy and everything in between. Play with hemlines too to see what works best for you, whether it's above the knee, below the knee or even asymmetrical!
Where to shop:
Boden are always our go-to when it comes to dresses, but they also have a petite range featuring a variety of styles, from shift to midi to jersey...with more than enough empire lines to be getting along with.
"I think the V-neck effect is most flattering, especially if you have a short neck like me - even though it doesn't cover the wrinkles."
Everyone loves a good V-neck. They're comfy, complimentary and, for shorter women, create a gorgeous vertical line that lengthens the body (not literally) to give the illusion of height. You couldn't ask for more really could you?
Where to shop:
Dorothy Perkins have a fabulous selection of wrap and V-neck dresses with plunging necklines and petite exclusives going up to a size 18.
"It is possible to find skirts for shorter women that are actually just below the knee. I got a lovely black pleated one recently."
While the consensus might be that knee-length skirts aren't the most flattering of styles for petite women, throw a high waist in there and anything is possible. High waistlines will, again, help to lengthen your body and tuck in those areas that you might want to hide.
Where to shop:
Head to John Lewis to scout out a variety of skirts with higher waistlines.
"I have just purchased a pair of black, straight leg, short length jeans from Bon Marché. They fit beautifully and only cost £16! I can't wear jeggings or skinny jeans as they wrinkle on my legs and are baggy around the ankles."
Jeans and trousers are a tricky buy no matter the variables so it might be worth stocking up on a few pairs once you find some you like. Most of our gransnetters prefer straight-legged styles as they make your legs look longer and cater to shorter body types. Invest in a black pair to elongate your legs even more.
Where to shop:
"I go for three-quarter sleeves where possible as I often find that no matter how carefully I roll them back, I end up pushing my sleeves up to the elbow and eventually stretch them."
Jackets are also a pain to buy if you're on the shorter side, which is why our gransnetters stick to petite versions wherever possible. This doesn't automatically mean a perfect fit, however - there's always that irksome sleeve issue to contend with. So if you're finding that the sleeves are either too long or too short, go half way with a three-quarter length jacket. You can always wear a long-sleeved top underneath if need be.
Where to shop:
Take a look at Debenhams' petite clothing, which starts from size 6, and Prècis Petite for lovely occasion wear. If you're after a longer length, Next are the winners here as they adjust their sleeve lengths to suit!
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