It seems that the general public like to dismiss issues petite women face as non-issues. And it doesn’t help that many petite women feel the same. In fact, there are a lot of misconceptions about being petite. There are those who believe that it’s only about being skinny, as in less than size 6. However, this is NOT TRUE. If you’re petite all over, you’re under 5’4”. Period. This means you could be plus, a size 24, and still be petite. This makes shopping a major issue at times.
As I said in the intro paragraph, many people don’t seem to understand petites. It isn’t only about the size itself, but also the need for petites. People often wonder why we can’t just make do with alterations, because unlike people who are larger, petite people can make things shorter so that things would “fit.” First off, alterations can be expensive, and secondly, it isn’t only about hemming pants and skirts. It’s also about the knee break for pants, length of jackets, where the waist is in a jacket and so forth. For example, a petite pair of pants not only has a shorter inseam (generally 29” or 30”, opposed to the 32”-34” for “regular” lengths), but a shorter rise and higher knee break. This is what makes the pants fit best. Without the higher knee break and shorter rise, the pants would just look odd, baggy, even. We don’t want to look like 16 year old boys!
Many brands offer petite sizes. However, many are also very matronly-looking, such as Eileen Fisher and Talbots. While J.Crew, Banana Republic and Ann Taylor/Ann Taylor Loft offer amazing petite styles for women in their 20s and 30s, one can’t live on these three brands alone. One needs variety. The petite line for these three brands has less to choose from and out of reach for people who are on a very limited budget. Also, people who have very small frames are often sized out, as even the smallest sizes fit too big (though not too long). Many of these brands are known for vanity sizing – lowering the size number, but not the actual size. In other words, a size 2 is really a 4 or even a 6. For example, I have been roughly the same size since 2002. Yet, I’ve gone from a size 2P to a size 00P!
Recently, I have been able to find several designers who specialize in petite sizes. However, they are mostly unknown. Many “legitimate” fashion magazines don’t consider anything not “standard” (i.e. clothes that tall, skinny models can fit in) as “fashion.” Rather, it is a “niche market” even though 40% or more North American women are considered petite. Until the media come around and start realizing that petite women (like plus sized women) have size issues as well, I, unfortunately, don’t see that much change happening.
INTERESTING NOTE: Because many Asian women are petite, Wal-Mart Canada recently launched a line of clothing called Black Koi. The marketing, according to their press release is a petite line for “Asian body types.” Now, generally, when I hear “Asian body type,” I think a straighter frame. However, I have seen the size charts for Black Koi, and it is pretty much in line with many other brands. A medium is cut for someone who measures around 35-28-37. Wal-Mart Canada is actually doing a disservice to non-Asians who happen to be petite, just by marketing Black Koi.
Contact Cynthia for more information regarding anything petite.
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