Ask Our Style Techs | Trend Styling Tips for Curvy Petites


Q: As a petite woman with an hourglass figure, I am struggling with how to be “on trend” this season. I’m fit and in good shape (size 2-4P), but I can’t seem to find any styles that work on me this year (they all seem to make me look heavier than I am) and think I might have tried everything. I’d love to find the right sundress and appropriate clothes for a casual work environment — not sexy, but want to avoid the frump factor. Help! — Stephanie S.

Pictured above: One of our favorite curvy petites, Salma Hayek!  Photo Credit: Google images

A: You are not alone. The cropped pants and voluminous tops in particular that are so popular right now are tricky for the majority of women to wear, especially if you are petite. Here are several key tips to keep in mind, as well as some pieces we found that will work for your figure.

  • Volume in the right places. There are a ton of voluminous styles this season (often combined with off-the-shoulder) and you’ll want to avoid too much volume around your waist in particular. Think tailored volume — small or no ruffle around the neckline and belted or nipped in at the waist vs. poufy and full.
  • Show off your waist. Call attention to your waist with a belt (slimming!), but avoid really wide belts as they will shorten your torso and you want to avoid the corset look. A tailor can also nip in dresses and tops at the waist to reduce volume and enhance your midsection.

Trend 1 | Bell-Sleeved Dress: Bell sleeves are a great way to embrace the “voluminous look” without adding artificial pounds. Add a belt in the same color as the dress to define your waist and you have a monochromatic effect that tames the volume and slims. The open V-neck also elongates and the shorter hemline along with a nude shoe lengthens the leg.

bell-sleeve-dress-AOST_0Dress, Chelsea28 at Nordstrom // Belt // Shoes, Vince Camuto // Earrings, Kendra Scott // Clutch

  • Proportion is key. Flared denim is an important look right now (ode to the ’70s) and paired with a chunky wedge or platform shoe, this will give your shape balance and is slimming. Skinny jeans are more tricky to wear, but if you find a style that you love, just be sure to pair them with a chunky wedge, block heel or platform to ground your curves. Keep your top tailored, not too tight but skimming your figure. And, yes, you can wear cropped pants! Just go with some that are lighter in color and pair them with wedges for a more proportionate look. Plus, make sure they hit just below the knee and are not too flared as they can visually shorten your legs.
  • Elongating prints. Boho and ethnic prints are making a big statement this season. Avoid horizontal prints and instead think vertical patterns that draw the eye down and elongate your shape. Both prints in the styled outfits below are great examples.

Trend 2 | Off-the-Shoulder + Flared Jeans: Tuck a cute boho top with embroidery that runs vertical down the front into a pair of flared jeans and anchor with chunky wedges for an overall slimming effect.


Top, Parker // Jeans, 7 for All Mankind // Wedges, Ivanka Trump // Handbag, Rebecca Minkoff

Trend 3 | Cropped Pants: Go with pants and heels in a color close to your skin tone to create one long line. Darker colors will “chop up” the line, making you appear shorter. The top pictured here can be tucked in or left out and belted, both ways will help define your waist.


Top, Mango // Cropped Pants, Lafayette 148 New York // Shoes, Via Spiga // Bracelet, Kendra Scott

  • Dress length. When wearing a dress or skirt, go for above the knee or long to the floor styles. Avoid the midi (mid-calf) length that is popular right now, it will make you appear shorter than you are. Remember you can always shorten your favorite styles to achieve the optimum length for your height and heels are always helpful to elongate.
  • Nude shoes. Shoes that match your skin tone are always a good choice when wearing shorts, skirts and dresses. Petites can even pull off ankle-wrap shoes if the ankle-wrap matches your skin tone. And then there’s the knee-high gladiator sandal (or any gladiator), which is generally a no-no if you are petite. However, if they match your skin tone, they are definitely doable! But just say no to any darker shades or bright colors. For these colors, stick to styles that form a V-shape at the front end of the shoe. Pointy toes are elongating as well.
  • Find a great tailor. If there’s a top or dress that has volume or is overwhelming to your shape, a tailor can custom fit it to you. Take a blousy top that fits in the shoulders and bust, but is too wide through the waist — have it nipped in and you will shave off the artificial weight the cut is creating.

Trend 4 | Breezy Sundress: The V-neck draws the eye down and the tie shows off your small waist, plus the above-the-knee length is ideal. Add a nude shoe to lengthen the line of your leg. Add a jacket and wear the dress to work or go without it for everyday or events.


Dress, Rebecca Taylor // Jacket, Diane von Furstenberg // Shoes, Kate Spade New York // Handbag, Coach

Want more tips on dressing slimmer? Check out these stories.


3 responses to “Ask Our Style Techs | Trend Styling Tips for Curvy Petites”

  1. Linda Miller says:

    Really cute

  2. Linda Miller says:

    Really great idea’s.

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