The definition of petite varies from one dictionary to another, referring to a woman as either 'having a small, slender, trim figure', or being 'short in stature, usually under 5'3'’.
But what is the universal height for a petite woman? What is petite clothing and who exactly is petite?
What size am I?
Women may be petite on the top half of their body but not so much on the bottom half. A shoulder width of 31 to 34 cms is classed as a petite torso. The common misconception petite women have is the belief that they're not petite if they weigh more than 9 stones. Weight has nothing to do with being classified as petite, it will only contribute if you are top heavy and have big shoulders. If this is the case then petite plus is more your category.
How do I know if I am petite?
The best way to figure out your size is to stand in front of a mirror with a measuring tape to check if you have the typical petite body measurements:
The distance between your shoulders should be 31 - 35cms,
The distance from your neck to waist should be 37cms or less
The distance from your shoulder to wrist should be 51 - 55cms
Your height should be under 162 cm
If you measure up for at least two out of the four points above, you most definitely have a petite body frame and would need petite clothing. In brief, petite clothes tend to cater for women with short arms, narrow shoulders and short stature, so if you are standing 5'3 tall you will have to go for petite-sized dresses, skirts and trousers and can mix with regular-sized tops depending on the size of your shoulder or arms.
What height is a petite?
The universal height accepted worldwide for the category of petites is 5'4 and under, but this can vary due to demographics. See our graphic on world petite heights.
The US population has taller women on average than UK women therefore petite clothing brands in the UK would use 5'3 as standard. 'Petite' is predominantly an English/western term and isn't synonymous with other countries, so women across the world who are actually petite are not aware of the fact and buy ill-fitting clothes from standard-sized brands.
The bottom line is there is no universal answer to the exact height as it depends on location, so 5'3.5 would be the best compromise for petite height.
Petite sizes vs regular sizing
So what is the difference between regular and petite clothes?
Petite clothing is specialised at the cutting stage of the garment where unique pattern blocks are used compared to the fashion industry standard. Jeetly's Petite clothing is not only designed specifically for petite proportions to use smaller buttons, smaller prints on fabric and petite-friendly necklines; it is also cut differently to take into account measurements such as shorter neck to waist length, shorter arm and leg lengths. If you shop for regular clothing your petite frame will be swamped at the shoulder, ankle and arms, because a top will be cut with larger armholes, longer sleeve lengths and wider shoulders .
The body frame of a petite woman will drown inside regular clothes; this is why petite clothes exist to take into consideration smaller button size, belt thickness, floral patterns and pockets - all contributing factors to give the petite woman perfect proportions. Alterations become non existent and therefore cut down costs of purchase.
Can taller women wear petite clothes?
Petite clothing is still suitable for women taller than 5'3 who have narrower shoulders than standard or short torsos (petite above the waist) or short legs (petite below waist). Many tall women struggle finding clothes to fit as they can be petite on their top half or bottom half of their body, therefore they purchase petite separates such as petite jackets, tops, shirts, skirts or trousers to mix with their regular sized clothing in order to get the perfect fit in their outfit. So ladies of all sizes from the height of 4'10 to 5'7 shouldn't feel shy of walking into the petite section of stores to try on petite clothing because you're most likely to find you're pleasantly surprised at finding a garment with your perfect fit!