What To Do
If You're a
Petite, Plus, or Tall Size
What can you do if you aren't an "average"
size? What choices do you have if you're a petite, tall, or
plus size, and every clothes-shopping
trip you take becomes an exercise in frustration?
Well, don't give up! There are a number of things you can
do-IF you understand a few basic tenets. Let's review them:
1. Don't Expect Chocolate In A Sea of
The fashion industry offers the largest bulk of its
merchandise in "standard sizes", which encompasses women sizes
4-14, 5'4" to 5'8" in height (European sizes 34-44 and
1.6256-1.7272 m), who also have an hour-glass shape. Because so
many women fit these parameters, this is the most profitable
If you don't fit this description, your choices are
considerable reduced...but not non-existent. You just can't go
into a regular, "vanilla" clothing store, and expect to have
success in finding your non-standard size. If you do find what
you need, consider yourself lucky. Otherwise, head for
specialty clothing stores.
Some online options include:
La Petite Femme
The Petite Wardrobe
Tall and All (UK)
2. Understand Your Body
Have a large bust but small hips? Have large hips but no
bust? Need one size on top and another size on the bottom? Then
accept it and move on. Your goal is to dress the shape you
have, not the shape you wished you had. Yes, it's common sense
advice...that's ignored much too often, I'm afraid. Accept your
body and move on.
3. Learn Some Sleigh-of-Hand Tricks
You can appear larger or smaller depending on what kind of
clothes you choose. Some elements to beware of include:
*Lines - horizontal lines on a garment will make you
look wider; vertical lines will make you look taller and
*Color-light colors will make you look larger; dark
colors will make you look smaller.
*Texture-smooth textures make you appear smaller; chunky
or shiny textures add bulk
4. Experiment With Different Elements
Once you've found clothes that fit your shape and size, try
experimenting with different clothing elements to bring about
the desired effect.
For example, if you're heavy...
*Try adding a long beaded necklace or pendant to your
ensemble to give you a slenderizing vertical line.
*Avoid clothes that add visual bulk, like chunky
sweaters, horizontal stripes, or light-colored
*Opt for monochromatic looks, blending colors from head
Or, if you're very thin...
*Use gathers and soft fullness to visually add
*Use multiple layers to create fullness and
*Wear contrasting colors on top and bottom.
Once you understand your body shape and realize that you're
going to have to hunt down retailers to serve your petite,
tall, or plus size body, your
clothes-hunting duties become a lot less frustrating. Make a
list of stores where you know you can find clothes that fit,
and stick with them. Ask for recommendations from family and
friends. Go online and look around. Then, experiment to find
what looks best on you.
|Diana Pemberton-Sikes is a
wardrobe and image consultant and creator of
Plus Size Style, a seminar
that offers dressing tricks for plus size women.
Visit her online at
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