It’s indicative of the fashion world’s view of short women, that they choose to label us ‘petite’ instead of just short. It’s not a pejorative term, but perhaps the fashion world sees us that way. We are the minority, we do not fit their ideal. So they don’t cater for us properly. Most brands don’t make petite sizes at all and many brands claim to, but they get it wrong.
It’s not just about shorter sleeves and hems, there are five vertical measurements on petite dresses that have to be adjusted. And don’t forget that other features have to be reduced in proportion also. Frills must be smaller and fewer, cuffs must be shorter, patterns smaller.
I have spoken to several brand designers, asking if they would design a petite range. They were not interested because it meant re-working the design for a minority market. This is when the fashion itself suffers. When it’s not about giving great fashion to the women who want it – but about making as much money as possible.
Of course creating a full range of petite clothes does increase the stock holding for shops/warehouses, and because it’s all about profit, down to using cheap buttons and zips, the businesses don’t want to have those extra costs and financial outlay.
I’ve spent many years looking for the petite items in fashion shops, they were always at the back, a tiny section or one rail. What that says is ‘we’ve got some petite stuff so that we can say that we cover all sizes but we don’t give it any real importance’. And why are the petite designs different? Why make a different range that better suits much older women, rather than well-heeled fashion conscious shorties. Well thank you! And that’s how we petites feel, that it’s lip-service from the fashion industry, nothing more.
In fairness, more recently things have improved in some areas, and of course got worse in others. We have seen a favourite petite brand close, only to be bought and completely changed by a chain store. They raised our hopes only to dash them! More brands are creating limited petite ranges, but other brands are dropping their petite ranges. Win some, lose some.
Presumably the fashion industry isn’t so concerned because people can wear clothes that are too big. I know – because I’ve spent my life doing it and hating it! But it’s not good enough. We don’t want to look like a sack of spuds and we don’t want to have everything altered. Not forgetting that not all garments can be altered.
The fact that there are dozens of Petite bloggers out there dedicating time to seeking out petite clothing to help us find it, tells me that there still is a real problem.
Where we do see some larger brands creating a petite range it is usually quite limited and also tends to be the brands aimed at the younger customer and the casual market. So what are we supposed to wear to work? I wish I had a pound for everyone who said I could buy children’s clothes. Oh, how we laugh at that!
We are all so desperate for decent petite designs that the problem is being addressed mostly by small startup businesses online. Petite women are starting their own lines of petite clothes. It’s crazy that we have to do this. Thank heavens for the Internet, it has allowed women with no fashion background to get into fashion at the deep end and then their tiny businesses can send petite products all over the world. Watch out big brands! The petite girls are doing it for themselves.