Fashion tips for petite women
Everyone knows that "good things come in small packages."
But try telling that to a 5-foot-2-inch female shopper who's just spent the day searching the mall for a pair of jeans.
Kim Williams Dahlman knows the frustration of trying on apparel that is too long or disproportionate to her body -- or styled more for a middle school student than a 40-something.
With more than 20 years experience as a petite-fashion buyer in New York and director of sales for a petite-clothing line, she is considered an expert on the subject and shares her wisdom at events around the country.
Dahlman will play host to a runway show featuring spring styles and silhouettes for petites on March 29 at the Ross Park Mall Macy's. She also will offer wardrobe tips and discuss shopping strategy for petite women.
She says the most common misconception about petite fashions is that they are designed strictly for the diminutive woman whose size is in the single digits. Petite sizing actually is based on height, not weight. Petite clothing is geared to women 5-foot-4 and shorter, regardless of whether they wear a size 2 or a size 16.
"People mistakenly perceive petite as being for small women," she says. "There are a lot of women who would get a better fit with petite sizes, but they don't realize it. There's still a lot of educating to do."
Although petite-sized women account for more than 56 percent of the female population, Dahlman says, they have a difficult time finding petite specialty stores. In her hometown of Casselberry, Fla., near Orlando, she says "there's not a single one for 100 miles. It's a real void in business."
Heather Hannan, Macy's Midwest public relations manager, says that Macy's "is dedicated to serving the fashion needs of our customers -- and this absolutely includes petites."
She says that fashion experts at the department store chain realize "that petite women want to find clothing that not only fits but accentuates their style. Our petite selection delivers a variety of wardrobe options for our customers. Whether she is a traditional, neo-traditional, contemporary or a fashion customer, Macy's has something to appeal to her in our petite department."
At speaking engagements, Dahlman says she consistently answers questions and offers advice about which styles, shapes and colors work best for petite women. Finally, she says, she decided to compile the information in a recently published book, "The Petite Handbook" (Fidelity Press, $10.95)
The spiral-bound book includes facts about petite sizing, suggestions for choosing accessories and shoes that flatter rather than overpower a petite figure, and shopping strategies to help petite customers save time and money.
By following guidelines that are as basic as "A V-neckline makes a short body frame look longer" and "Wearing the same color from head to toe always makes a petite woman look taller," petites can make the most of their figures, the author says.
Top 10 petite tips
- Shop for clothing with strong vertical lines -- zip-front styles, cable-patterned knits, ribbed knits, vertical pleats and wrap or sarong styles.
- Dress in monochromatic colors. Choose solid or patterned suits with jacket and skirt or pants in the same shade or pattern, or coat dresses.
- Put outfits together in tonal combinations. You can appear taller by wearing one family of color -- such as shades of green -- or colors with a similar intensity, such as all pale colors.
- Wear unbroken lines of color on the body. For example, match a top and a bottom in the same color or pattern, and add a layering piece such as a top or blouse in a contrasting color or pattern.
- Divide the petite figure with short-over-long or long-over-short silhouettes. Pair a short tailored jacket with long pants, or a long tunic style top with a short skirt.
- Choose a V-neckline or create the illusion of a V-neckline with a vest, shawl collar blouse, halter top or cardigan.
- Balance the horizontal line created by a round or square neckline with something vertical. Some vertical details include pintucking, ruffles, cable stitching or a necklace or pearls.
- Keep the focal point high with eye-catching details such as crochet trim, epaulettes, novelty shoulder treatments or embroidery.
- Use the "Fist Rule" to determine whether a print or pattern is right for you. If the pattern is larger than your fist, the print is too big for your petite frame.
- Shop for soft, fluid, lightweight fabrics. Good choices include silk, rayon, cotton, crepe, microfiber, cashmere and lightweight denim.
Petite Fashion Event with Kim Williams Dahlman, author of "The Petite Handbook"
March 29, 7 p.m.
Macy's Ross Park Mall
RSVP to 412-232-2313
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Starkey: Pederson had to go at Pitt
- Pederson’s 2nd tenure as the athletic director at Pitt comes to abrupt end
- Chryst returns home, named football coach at Wisconsin
- Donation another step toward new roof at Cowansville veterans center
- Officials get early start on NuMine bridge replacement planning
- Munhall’s $8.3 million spending plan has no tax hike or furloughs
- Steelers, young and old, thirst for opportunity to reach the postseason
- Philly DA says no affidavits claimed by AG Kane in bribery case existed
- With 3 more players possibly affected, Pens’ mumps fight escalates
- Harmar developer sells 15 hotels in Western Pa., West Virginia
- Toast of the Town: Explore Lawrenceville’s many watering holes