THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO SHOPPING FOR SUSTAINABLE PETITE SIZE FASHION
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: we need more size inclusivity in the sustainable fashion space.
While more and more brands are offering sustainable clothing options, not enough (currently) are catered to those who fall outside of ‘normal’ clothing sizes, namely plus size and petite.
Although it is great that there has been a definite shift over the past couple of years for sustainable retailers to offer a wide range of sizing options, many only include plus size (check out this post for more information), leaving very little sustainable petite-size options.
One common misconception that I believe has prevented the same surge of petite sized options that we see in plus size, is the belief that petite women are individuals who just fit into smaller sizes, meaning if a retailer offers XXS-S, petite women should be able to fit in their clothes; however, that is not the case.
What Petite Size Actually Means
Petite sizing actually has nothing to do with weight… being skinny does not mean petite.
Rather, it refers to height and is made to fit women 5’4″ and under.
Thus, you can be petite and plus sized too!
This is why retailers offering small sizes, does not imply petite-size inclusivity.
Petite sizing takes into consideration these body features to ensure an accurate fit:
- Arm Length
All of these areas on a garment are shortened as well as the knee cap area and inseam (the length of the inner leg from thigh to ankle).
Who Should Wear Petite Size Clothing
While it may seem obvious that by definition, anyone who is 5’4″ and under should wear petite size clothing, the reality is that not all petite clothing will fit shorter women.
Additionally, women who are taller than 5’4″ may benefit from wearing petite size over regular size clothing for various reasons.
So, who should really be wearing petite size clothing?
You should consider giving petite size clothing a try if:
- you have narrow shoulders
- you have a short torso
- you have shorter arms
- you have shorter legs
However, even if you are under 5’4″, petite size clothing may not be right for you if:
- you have wide shoulders
- you have a long torso
- you have longer arms
- you have longer legs
Sustainable Retailers Carrying Petite Sizes
If you fit the criteria above, check out the sustainable retailers carrying petite sizes below the next time you’re in the market for a new piece.
If you’re unsure if a garment will fit correctly, be sure to take your measurements before and compare with the retailer’s measurement guide.
Unfortunately petite measurements vary from retailer to retailer so while a petite piece may fit perfectly from one retailer, keep in mind a regular size may suit you best from a different retailer.
For reference, pricing is in USD and the size range is based on US sizing.
$ = typically under $100
$$ = typically under $200
$$$ = typically under $300
$$$$ = typically $300+
Carry women’s dresses, loungewear, jumpsuits and overalls, bottoms, tops and blouses, slips, sweaters and outwear, footwear, kids’ clothing
Fabrics: organic cotton, deadstock fabric, organic cotton silk, upcycled cotton voile
Based in California
Give Back Programs: Farm-to-Closet
Price Range: $$$
Favourite Item: The Brooklyn Dress Petites
Image by Christy Dawn
They carry clothing, shoes and accessories
Fabrics: organic cotton and linen, Tencel, responsible wool, recycled cashmere, polyester and nylon
Certifications: Blue Sign Certified
Based in New York City
Price Range: $$
Favourite Item: Organic Cotton French Terry Jogger Pant
Image by Eileen Fisher
They carry dresses, jeans, basics, sweaters, loungewear, swimwear and underwear
Fabrics: Tencel Lyocell, Viscose, Tencel Modal, Linen, recycled cotton, organic cotton, econyl, recycled cashmere, alpaca, deadstock fabric
Certifications: Bluesign Certified facilities, OEKO-TEX 100 Standard
Packaging: 100% recycled LDPE bags with biodegradable polymer
Based in California
Price Range: $$$
Favourite Item: Petites Zoe Skirt
Item by Reformation
Fabrics: Tencel, Modal, organic linen, organic cotton
Packaging: packaged in recycled paper
Most of its supply chain is traced
Based and manufactured in California
Price Range: $$
Sizing: 0-10; has length customizations on some products (petite, regular, tall)
Favourite Item: Ryan Trouser in Linen
Image by Sotela
How to Find Secondhand Petite Clothing
For physical thrift stores or online secondhand shops that don’t have a specific petite section, keep your measurements in mind as you shop and try to find pieces that align with your measurements as closely as possible.
You may have to get pieces tailored if for example, a jacket fits your arm length but is longer on the torso (a common issue for shorter individuals).
As Nordstrom Trunk Club explains, keep in mind that tailoring an item extensively will likely change the structure and style of the piece. You also cannot alter the placement of arm holes or shoulder seams.
If these areas fit incorrectly, or extensive tailoring is required to adjust them, consider selecting something else.
For a deep dive into shopping secondhand and some secondhand retailer suggestions, check out this post.
Regular Size Items That Fit Petites Best
If you have a sustainable retailer in mind that does not offer petite sizes, here are the best clothing options to invest in according to Nordstrom Trunk Club:
For individuals with shorter torsos, regular sized crop tops are a great option to choose since the fit will be similar to a petite size top.
Opt for skirts that fall above or just below the knee for a flattering fit.
Regular size cropped pants are perfectly proportional for individuals with shorter legs.
If you’re a petite person, do you have any tips for how to shop regular-sized sustainable brands to ensure a good fit?
Let me know in the comments below!
Until next time,