Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Let's Hear It for Short & Curvy

Have you ever noticed that in movies and books, whenever a girl is supposed to be short she's automatically also waifish? Other common adjectives include pixie-like, elfin... pretty much any of those tiny fantasy creatures (big exception: hobbit). You really never hear or see a petite, busty character. I can't think of any small and voluptuous pairings besides maybe Jenny from the "Gossip Girl" books - and we all see how well that went over with the casting director!

I am 5'1. When I go to fashion week, models tower over me. When get on the subway, average people tower over me!! While I have lost some surplus pounds over the past two or three years and have a small frame, I rock a pretty ample 32C and seem to always look a touch stocky due to my non-lithe muscles.

The average height of a woman in the US is just shy of 5'4. The average bra size of a woman in the US is a 36 C. So why is that most "Flatter Your Shape" articles will feature petite or curvy, yet rarely both in one?!?! I am here to remedy that, so get ready for some first hand knowledge!
  1. Buy petite sizes. I know it seems obviously, but for a long time I thought buying regular sized clothing and having them hemmed was the same thing. Trust me, if there's a petite version it will be more flattering on your figure! Jeans in particular need to be petite, otherwise the knee area will end up somewhere over your shin. But could someone please explain to some companies that petite is not the smaller than size small size??? XS and Petite are NOT interchangeable!
  2. Stock up on medium & skinny belts. I used to worry that belts would cut me in half, thus making me look shorter, but a good belt will define your waist and make you appear longer and leaner! But be wary or wide belts, when you have a short torso, like me, they can make it look even shorter! I recommend staying at 2 inches and under.
  3. Also stock up on heels. There's no denying that heels will make you look taller and leaner. And can wreck havoc on your feet! But remember that even a tiny half inch wedge makes a surprising difference! And a platform provides extra height without adding too much of a pitch. Finally, a shoe with a low opening tends to lengthen you while things like ankle straps cut you off. This doesn't mean you can't wear booties, but it's easiest to pull off if you're wearing the same color tights.
  4. Don't fear tightness. An empire waist will lengthen you, but only if it's on the formfitting side. Forgo wide-legged pants for more flattering flared shapes. Baby doll dress and trapeze tops will never be your friend unless you belt them. And if you have your heart set on something like a boxy blazer, make sure it's cropped! Again, it's all about waist definition and showing off your shape! One of my friends is petite and plus-sized, she used to wear loose tops to hide her thicker waist and tummy. One day I forced her into a snug (in her opinion) v-neck dress with a dark waist band and she was shocked to see that she looked 10 lbs lighter!
  5. Watch proportions. Always consider hemlines. Pants tend to look best past the ankle and skirts are usually most flattering above the knee. I love my minis, but a skirt that's about an inch above the top of your knee looks great for the office! Long skirts can actually be shortening, particularly with a full shape, so tread carefully. And beware the dreaded tea-length, which even some models have trouble pulling off!
Here are some great wardrobe options for the petite and curvy out there:

It's so important to be proud of your shape! Often women try to emulate a beautiful celebrity, but pick some one with a completely different body type! Only a handful of women are born shaped like Kiera Knightly, sorry! I will never be willowy like Nicole Kidman or statuesque like Christina Hendricks. I suppose could near kill myself to be pixie size like Natalie Portman... I think I'll pass!But you know what? I could be voluptuous yet tiny like Scarlett Johansson (who's 5'4!), Salma Hayek or Kim Kardashian (who are both 5'2!). So you have any petite, yet curvalicious celebrities that inspire you?


Alyssa said...

Great Advice :-)

Anonymous said...

Selma Hayek is the ultimate in curves! And way to preach it my dear. :)

Your Friends,

Anonymous said...

i am SO glad you posted this! i'm 5'2 with 34DD boobs and it's SO frustrating when i read those dress for your shape articles and i can't decide which set of advice to follow! it would be fantastic if i could be miniscule, but the fact is my body is just plain bigger. always will be. and i dnt think that i'm going to be growing any time soon. thanks for this.

LC Bat said...

Your words are music to the ears of this 5'2", 145 lb, 34D lady! Style on, and thanks for the call-out on something that really needed to be said.

I do contend a bit on the point of wide belts though. I love wide belts, corset-belts, and even a full-on corset from time to time to exaggerate them curves! Of course, it may well work for me just because I'm longer in torso and shorter in leg. YMMV.

Unknown said...

I think your advices are good. But this "flatters your shape" articels in mags are a joke anyway. what to do when your tall & curvy (like me)?

I think the best is alway: show yor chocolate side. The decoltée or the legs ;)

good start in 2011 and sorry for my bad english.

Stylepint said...

Great tips! Did you know that there's a petite forum and there's shorter people of all shapes and sizes...you should check it out! I know there's a lot of curvy petites in the blogosphere and it would be great to join the forum and build up the community resource!

Alterations Needed Petite Forum

Alterations Needed said...

Sing it sistah! I hate those "dress for your body type" features for that very reason. Just because I'm petite doesn't mean that advice will work for me. What if I'm busty? Or totally flat chested? How about if I'm pear shaped? Or hour glass? Or broad shouldered. They don't include that in the "petite" advice. Ugh.

Have you see the petite fashion blogging community that's popping up? My blogroll has a bunch of petite blogs listed, and of course, I'm a very petite 4'11"!

Tayler Worrell said...

you go girl! love this post! even though I am not petite myself i definitely think that normal body types are under represented in media.

come check out me giveaway! here!

Gem said...

Great post, not seen anyone address this before!

Ashley said...

Sooooo true! I'm 5'3" with a true hourglass figure - my chest is a 32D! It's so frustrating finding that most "petite" retails figure I must be some tiny little thing without any curves, when I'm actually a tiny little thing with hips, a booty, boobs, and a waist! Just because someone is technically "petite" or "tall" doesn't mean there aren't other sizing qualifiers that may apply to them!

Francesca said...

This is so true! Thanks for posting it :)

kimmy said...

i love this. i'm barely 5'0 w/ hips and a 36D chest. Scarjo and Kim are two of my favorites. they are my work out inspirations b/c have bodies that are actually attainable for someone like me. no matter how much i work out, i will always be curvy!

emily//thelesserpanda said...

This is the best post i have read ALL YEAR! (It's actually saying a lot I read a ton of blogs)

You are so right! Why aren't the articles focusing on petite curvy women?! I'm 5'1 and I'm a size 32DD and I have plenty of friends who have bodies very similar to mine. It's ridiculous to think that we have to try so hard to find clothes that fit us! Thank you for the great post and reminding me that I'm not alone!

Brittany said...

Me! I write about it! *grins and waves hand in air*

Well, ok, my blog is called Thin & Curvy, and it's for women of all sizes who are curvy. I write about how to find clothes and bras if you are curvy, but relatively slender. I'm trying to fight the stereotype that all big-breasted women are fat, and that "curvy" means fat.

I personally am on the tall side, but I attempt to address all types and heights of curvy women. I've actually been thinking about doing a post soon about petite and curvy specific fashion issues- since you asked, I'm gonna go work on it now! ;-)

Vyque said...

I'm so glad this struck a cord with so many people! I got the idea to write about this issue when I started searching for designer petite clothing and discovered many of my results used "petite" to mean "x-small." Umm, not the same AT ALL!