It’s hard for the slim petite woman to get much sympathy when it comes to her struggle finding clothing that fits. In this world, slim equals things like beautiful, enviable, lucky and blessed. Therefore, because of the reaction of “boo freaking hoo” when the slim petite woman can’t find clothing to fit her delicate frame, who can blame her for not wanting to talk about it? Yet this is a very real thing and it is frustrating.
We all know that glamour sizing exists. Designers have been putting smaller size labels on larger clothing long before there was actually a name for it. Studies have shown that women buy more clothing when they think they wear a smaller size. While glamour sizing has been going on for decades, it’s only in the past ten to fifteen years that we have seen the biggest surge in this practice. If you’re like me, you saw the inevitable train wreck of glamour sizing coming years ago. I was on the show Good Morning America Weekend back in 2005 and talked about this very point. “Sure, you can put a size six label on a size 10 garment but if it keeps going this way what happens to the smaller sizes?” I challenged. “We’re going to have to start using negative numbers.” Today we have sizes like 00, XXS and XXS petite, which is basically the same thing.
Everyone says that Marilyn Monroe wore a size 12 or 14. Curvy, voluptuous girls love tossing this fact around but neglect to realize that a size 12 or 14 in Monroe’s day was probably closer to an eight today. In fact, back then there were no sizes that existed below a size six. Let that sink in, six was the smallest size that was available.
And let’s all not forget that clothing sizing is completely arbitrary. This is why you can be a size four in one store and an eight in another. There is no standardization of sizing in the fashion industry. The size you cling to so dearly is about as real as a unicorn. Yet, fashion knows what it means to you and fools you each and every time you associate your self worth to the size on the tag. What adds to the frustration for super small women is when that supposed XS they try on wears them like a tent. A size XS isn’t a guarantee that a slim petite woman will fit into it, and this is because of glamour sizing.
I am not and have never been considered petite. Even when I was a size four (which was like an eight in the 90’s), I was still curvy. I’m 5’7″ with a 34G chest. The only way I can relate to smaller, slim women is from the eye rolls I get when I explain the difficulties that come from being large chested. I so wish flatter chested women could understand what it like to lug what feels like two cantaloupes under your tops or what it is like to look inadvertently sexual when it’s not considered appropriate. I’d also like to take them bra shopping with me. Yet I still get them “oh please” remarks when I try to complain about how big my boobs are.
I may not know personally what it is to be so slight that finding clothing is impossible, but I have worked with many clients who do have this issue, and I can assure you it’s no different than what the plus size woman goes through to find clothing that fits. In no way am I trying to minimize what a plus size woman goes through to find well fitting clothing. It can be a frustrating and often demeaning process that no woman should ever have to live through. Yet, with the average woman over a size 14 in the US, more and more retailers are working to cater to her. What we need to understand is on the opposite end is another group of women who are finding fewer and fewer places to find clothing small enough. And because our relationship to how we often see small people as blessed and in no position to complain, nobody seems to want to give the small woman any sympathy.
When I work with a petite slim woman I have to understand how each label sizes so that I can be sure that and XS will actually be a true XS for my client. Over the years I have cultivated my own list of brands that I shop because they either carry petite clothing or size their missy selection small enough that the clothing will fit. Check out my recommendations and some shopping suggestions below.
For career minded gal, Reiss can be a great resource for slim petite women. They don’t have a line specifically for petites, but being British, the line runs very small, so small that many of my size four clients have needed to size up to an eight in their clothing. Reiss does carry XS so it’s worth checking out the line for their smaller sizes. You still have to try on, however. In some cases even their extra small sizes swim on my slimmer clients.
BCBG is a line that I have always gone to when I have worked with clients who are true extra smalls. They have sizes as small as XXS which tend to fit my petite slim clients well. I find their more structured pieces are usually better than their drapey ones for smaller sizing.
Here is what I have found with slim petite clothing. If you have the money to invest you’ll likely find something that fits. Mid-range clothing typically has the greatest amount of glamour sizing, but once you start moving into designer price points the sizes aren’t as forgiving. A line like Max Mara is one of them. It’s expensive, but one that many of my clients need to size up in making their smaller sizes ideal for the super slim.
Michael Kors Collection is another designer price point line that runs small and slim. I’m not talking MICHAEL Michael Kors, the sizing there tends to be more generous. The Collection line isn’t. It’s another line where my clients typically need to size up making the smaller sizes ideal for petite slim women.
Ann Taylor and LOFT
Getting back to mid-range prices points, Ann Taylor and Ann Taylor LOFT both cater to the slim petite size customer well. What I like most about these lines is they usually offer the same looks, and as generously, as in their missy line. I don’t shop there often with clients but many of my clients have told me this is a great resource for finding clothing that fits.
Thank GOD for Theory’s size P which has gotten me out of more sizing pickles with petite slim clients than I care to count. Generally speaking, Theory runs small and this smaller sizing is what makes the P size slim enough to fit my tiniest of clients.
I am so grateful for MM. Lafleur’s recent launch of their extended plus sizes. I’m also happy to see that they have been doing more and more petite sizes as well. MM. Lafleur is another line that typically runs small (their sizing is very similar to Theory’s) which is what makes their petite sizes so workable.
Like Ann Taylor and LOFT, Banana Republic’s petite sizing works for very petite slim women. One of my newer clients came to me because she was tired of always having to shop at Banana Republic. She had developed a bit of love/hate relationship with them because, while she wanted something different, she was just relieved she could shop somewhere. It’s definitely a good price point filled with plenty of smaller sized options.
Fast fashion European lines like H&M and Zara can be great for the super slim woman. I know my days of even fitting an arm into clothes from these types of places are long gone. If I can barely get my body into their size larges, their XS’s must be perfect for the petite slim.
Nic + Zoe isn’t a line that runs particularly small. In fact, I find it can run quite large. However, what I do like is they offer a petite line that does a pretty decent job of catering to the smaller woman. I find that often super small clothing tends to be trendy whereas Nic + Zoe has a broader appeal for women who are small but not in their 20’s and 30’s.
I honestly can’t remember the last time I was in an Anthropologie. I used to shop there personally and with clients all the time. Yet, lately, the clothing just hasn’t been resonating. This does not mean, however, that I don’t applaud giving options to the slim petite. For those whose sensibilities and styles match the Anthro look, definitely check out their petite extra small sizing.
There are plenty of other lines that do a great job of catering to the slim petite woman. The above are my selections from professional experience. If you know of any others I’d love to hear them.