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The ultimate guide to...

Petite

Officially, if you are female and 5ft 4inches, or shorter, you may call yourself petite. Unofficially, the term is used to describe anyone with a small body frame, even if it is only on their top, or bottom half.

With a range in body shapes and changes in style, the need to mix and match clothes from the standard and petite range is more apparent than ever. Before you shop, get to know your body shape...

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Long body, short legs

For this body shape, dress to accentuate the top half of the body, avoiding wide leg or cropped trousers as these can both make your legs look shorter. If looking to add to height then a knee length skirt is a great option, while a long line jacket will flatter curvy hips and thighs.

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Short body, long legs

The key to this body shape is to make the top of the body look longer by accentuating the legs. High waist trousers will make the body look shorter, but low waist trousers are a great style for this shape. Team with short fitted jackets or tops for the perfect combination. Dark, plain colours can also help to make the body look longer - or simply add an accessory for a spot of colour.

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Small above the waist

The classic petite form, accentuation of the shoulder and arm areas is key to dressing this shape. Strappy and sleeveless tops are a must-have, but avoid anything that draws attention to hips. Darker colours are great for making a petite person look taller and more proportionate, but it's not recommended to wear pleats or gathered skirts.

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Top heavy

With this particular petite body shape it is important to stay away from horizontal stripes and polo necked tops - legs and hips can look narrow so the key is to enhance. Fitted V-neck shirts and tops will flatter the body, while three quarter length sleeves will flatter the arms. Wide legged trousers and long skirts are ideal must-have options to lengthen your shape.

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Top Tips

  • Scale things down - if wide belts are in fashion, opt for a slightly thinner style so that it will look in proportion with the body frame and height
  • Be careful when buying big, bold prints - small and delicate is the way forward
  • Make sure to choose the right size. Little lumps and bumps showing through the clothes is never a good look.
  • Don't be afraid to lighten up darker colours with accessorises - a fabulous pair of shoes or a statement piece of jewellery are all you need to go from drab to fab.