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Shorter women often think they get short-changed in fashion. But our expert says it's all about stepping away from the petite section and into the tailor.

"The surprising fact is that the average height of the American woman is just under 5'4". So, that poses a lot of problems, fashion-wise, for a lot of women," says Image Consultant Rebecca Matthews.

She adds, "The top half of your body can be petite and your bottom half can be regular or vice versa, so it makes it really hard to get all of that in one garment to fit correctly... So, your tailor can be your best friend."

Here are some of her petite tailoring tips:

Jacket Sleeve Length

  • Sleeves that are too long can make you look dumpy.
  • You want your sleeve length to be longer than any shirt you might wear under the jacket. You also don't want it to be too short when you bend your arm.
  • Sleeve should hit right around the wrist bone.
  • When they tailor a sleeve, they should take the entire cuff of the jacket off and reapply it so you don't miss any of the great detail on the jacket.

Jacket Torso Width

  • If you have extra fabric channeling down your back, it's going to make you look heavier than you really are. If you get the jacket taken in, you'll look smaller and more polished in your jacket.

Pants Hem

  • The most common thing a petite will come up against is the hem of their pants. When your pants pool at the bottom around your ankles, you're really taking away your height, which you can't afford to do. You really want to elongate your leg by getting the length correct.
  • It doesn't matter what heel height you have on, for skinny pants, get the length right at your ankle bone.
  • For wide-legged pants, make your hem an inch from the floor in whatever shoes you're wearing.


  • The difference between petite and misses sizes is about every vertical line that's on a garment.
  • Sometimes the biggest alteration you need is for the shoulder to come up.
  • Be sure the waist of your dress really hits at your waist. Otherwise the look can just drag you down.
  • Make sure the hem of your dress hits above the knee to elongate your leg.

One final tip, pre-wash and dry cotton or shrinkable items BEFORE you take them to the tailor!

More info:
Rebecca Matthews
Owner  Rebecca Matthews Image & Style

Special thanks to:
Altering & Tailoring By John
5164 Buffalo Speedway
Houston, TX

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