Founder of Petite Ave, Vanessa Youshaei, shares her best advice for styling and shopping for petite frames.
When it comes to fashion, petites often get the short end of the stick (pun intended). Not all stores carry petite sizes and those that do tend to offer a limited selection. As a result, shopping and dressing for a smaller stature can be a challenge. But if you’re hoping to gather some great petite fashion tips, you’re in luck. Vanessa Youshaei, the founder of the styling service Petite Ave, is here to help.
“Throughout my life, I struggled to find casual and professional clothing that fit,” Youshaei tells InStyle. “Standing at 5’0, everything was always too long on me. As a result, I spent a lot of time and money finding and altering clothing.”
Once Youshaei realized she wasn’t alone in her search for petite clothing, she left her position at Google and launched Petite Ave, a personal shopping subscription box that caters to people 5’5″ and under, exclusively.
Here’s how the service works: Customers submit a style survey online, detailing their body measurements, clothing preferences, budget, and more. Then, through that data, extensive research, and partnerships with brands that deliver quality pieces that are both on-trend and fairly priced, Youshaei and her team of stylists help petites find their perfect fit.
“Our mission and long-term vision at Petite Ave is to expand the fashion-forward options that are available to petite [people],” Youshaei says.
Since she’s such a pro, we asked Youshaei to share her best petite fashion tips, including petite shopping and styling advice. Ahead, she breaks down which styles look best on petite bodies and the quick tricks she keeps in mind while getting dressed.
1. Know Your Measurements
“There are a few measurements that are really important when trying to find your exact size: Bust, waist, hip, and inseam measurements,” Youshaei tells InStyle. Knowing this information will help to make sure that you’re purchasing the correct size garment once you look at a brand’s size chart and the product description.
2. Identify Your Body Shape
Every body is shaped and proportioned differently and petites are no exception. Before you start shopping for petite clothing, Youshaei suggests identifying what your body shape is first, this way you can research stores that carry clothing that is meant to complement that specific shape.
“For example, for [people] who are ‘triangle’ shaped, researching stores that carry A-line dresses and skirts is a great place to start since these pieces help balance out their lower half,” Youshaei advises. “Once they’ve found the pieces they’re looking for, they can check the product description to make sure the garment isn’t too long.”
3. Shop Petite and Non-Petite Sections with a Specific Purpose
Just because a store sells petite fashion doesn’t mean those pieces are fashion-forward or suitable to your personal style. But that doesn’t mean you’re at a loss. Youshaei recommends purchasing basic wardrobe staples from the petite section, then shopping for trendier items from the regular department.
That being said, when shopping in regular-size departments, keep in mind the ideal lengths for petites in tops, bottoms, dresses, and jackets.
“Look for traditionally shorter pieces that will likely be full-length on petites,” Youshaei says. “For example, crop tops, mini skirts, and cropped pants might be full-length on petites.”
4. Keep Regular-Sized Blazers and Jackets Unbuttoned
According to Youshaei, doing so creates “a long, uninterrupted central column that runs from head to toe,” while buttoning up “interrupts this vertical line and therefore has the opposite effect.”
5. You Can Use Accessories to Appear Taller
Believe it or not, heels aren’t the only accessory that creates the illusion of height. One of Youshaei’s best petite fashion tips involves belting a dress above your natural waistline, this way your torso will appear shorter and your legs will look longer, thus making you appear taller overall.
She also reveals that going monochromatic with your footwear can have a similar effect. For example, wearing skin-toned, nude shoes with skirts should make you appear taller. But, “if you’re wearing an outfit that calls for black tights, then it’s best to pair that outfit with black shoes,” says Youshaei.
6. Choose Delicate Over Chunky Accessories
If you choose to wear jewelry or carry a handbag, Youshaei says, choose delicate pieces like minimal chains and small purses that match your small stature. These smaller items won’t overpower you.
7. Less Is More When Picking Out Maxi Dresses
“While maxis might seem overwhelming for a petite frame, petites can definitely pull them off by picking dresses that are monochromatic or have smaller prints,” Youshaei tells us. These designs, in tandem with higher waistlines and V-necklines, will help petite women appear longer and leaner, and don’t take away from their small frame.
8. Balance Oversized Pieces with Form-Fitting Items
Oversized sweaters and jackets can ‘swallow’ up a petite frame, but petite women don’t have to miss out on this cozy trend. According to Youshaei, the key to pulling off oversized pieces is to pair them with more form-fitting items, such as skinny jeans or leggings. This creates balance within the outfit and will help show off your figure without getting lost in its loose form.
9. Over-the-Knee Boots Can Elongate Your Legs
“When styling these boots, tuck your top into a pair of high-waisted pants or jeans in the same color,” says Youshaei. “Matching the color of the boots and pants, along with elevating your waistline, helps your legs appear much longer.”