Which garments belong in every short woman's wardrobe? Here are my top ten picks of essential clothing pieces selected especially with the petite woman in mind. All of these pieces are appropriate for short women of any age.
1. Wrap Dress
Universally flattering, a wrap dress belongs in every short woman's wardrobe, which is the reason that the wrap dress is on my list of the top five dress styles for petites. If you have only one dress, pick a wrap dress. The surplice styling and the V-neckline are both flattering features for petites, as is the skirt style, which will be either a straight pencil skirt or an A-line skirt.
It's a fashion basic--the white button-down shirt--because it goes with just about anything, and so it makes a good mix-and-match piece that's timeless. To get the most fashion mileage from a white button-down shirt, choose one with classic styling: pointed collar, long sleeves, button-down front, and cotton or cotton blend fabric. When you button the shirt, leave a couple of the top buttons unbuttoned to form a flattering V-neckline.
A deep V-neckline can sometimes pose a problem because it's too revealing. When a show of cleavage is not in order, just layer the top over a camisole, and you'll still maintain the flattering V-shaped styling. Dressy camis come in handy too. Wear a beaded or sequined cami with a pencil skirt for special occasions. Or choose a lacey cami to wear under a V-neck top so that the lace trim shows. Another benefit of the camisole is that you can find shapewear in cami styles, so the camisole can do double fashion duty. It's not necessary to try to find a camisole that's made especially for petites because the extra length won't make too much difference for this type of garment, and a camisole can be shortened easily if necessary.
A tank or t-shirt functions as a casual basic, which can be paired with jeans or a simple skirt. Choose a tank or t-shirt with a V-neckline, which helps petites look taller. For casual wear, choose a tank or t-shirt of cotton or cotton blend knit, and if you want a dressier look, choose a tank or tee of luxurious silk or cashmere.
A cardigan sweater makes a good take-along whenever you may need a light topper whether it's in a frigid, overly air-conditioned restaurant or in the office where someone else has control of the thermostat. The best style of cardigan sweater for petites is long-sleeved and lightweight. It falls to the hip and has either a V-neckline or a jewel neckline that can be folded under diagonally to form a V. The best length for a cardigan that a short woman wears is to the hip. Avoid bulky, chunky knits for the slimmest appearance.
Another versatile piece, the tailored jacket goes to work or play and can be mixed and matched with pants, jeans, skirts, and dresses. You can wear it with a cami, tank, t-shirt, button-down white shirt, or any other top. Instantly rev up your business appearance by adding a tailored jacket for a meeting or presentation. The best jacket style for the short woman falls just to the hip, it's single-breasted, and it has a shapely, rather than boxy, style. Buy a tailored jacket in a neutral fashion color, and it will go with anything. Extra added bonus: wearing this multi-tasking wardrobe basic is one of the best ways to hide a tummy.
7. Dress Pants
Dress pants come in handy for work, so the best colors to choose are fashion neutrals that will go with anything. For petites who want to look taller and slimmer, basic black dress pants are always good, but charcoal, navy, or dark brown work well also. Avoid pants with cuffs as they make the end of the leg obvious, thus making petites look shorter. Well-fitting, nicely tailored pants are the best, so they should have a zipper and fit well through at the waist and hip with straight-leg styling or a slight boot cut for those who want to balance hips. Avoid pants with elastic waists.
Straight-leg, dark wash jeans make the best appearance for most petites. You can tell whether or not jeans have a straight leg by simply folding the leg of the jean, bringing the hem up to the knee. If the jeans have a straight leg, the width will be the same. It's a good idea to avoid skinny jeans (unless you are a tiny size) and light-colored jeans because they can make petites look bigger and shorter.
9. Pencil Skirt
A pencil skirt is a versatile wardrobe builder, which can be worn for many different occasions. Every petite woman should own at least one pencil skirt, and if it's to be only one, make it a dark neutral--black, navy, or charcoal--for the greatest versatility because dark neutrals will go with anything. If you wear tights with your pencil skirt, match the color of the tights to the pencil skirt for a longer, leaner look.
10. A-Line Skirt
An A-line skirt flatters women with many figure types, and especially those who have hourglass and triangle-shaped figures because an A-line skirt skims over the hips. Choose a skirt in a dark neutral for a basic wardrobe builder that you can mix and match with other essential pieces, go trendy with a pretty floral print, or enhance your wardrobe with a bright primary color. For the best fit, choose an A-line skirt with a zipper, rather than one with an elastic waistband.