(of a woman) attractively small and dainty.
“she was petite and vivacious”
Origin: late 18th century, French feminine of petit ‘small’.
Hello my dear petites!
In today’s article I want to clarify some aspects regarding the etymology of the word petite and its meaning in today’s world. As the definition suggests, petite is the feminine of the French word petite – which means small and refers to women which are small and thin in an attractive way (according to the Cambridge English Dictionary). In the fashion industry, petite may also refer to the size of clothing for small women.
Are you really a petite?
Sometimes the word petite creates a lot of confusion. Most of the time, when people hear the word petite, they assume petite means small. The answer to this question is highly influenced by the region or the country you are from. Each country has its own height reporting methods. In my country, Romania, where the average height is 5 feet 6 inches, I am definitely a petite – I am only 5 feet (153 cm). On the other side of the globe, in the U.S. for example, women are considered petite if they are shorter than 5 feet 4 inches.
But petite doesn’t only mean that you are short. Going back to the definition, petite means “small and thin”, so the term doesn’t only refer to the height, but petite is also about the weight and body proportion to a certain extent. Don’t get me wrong – petite doesn’t mean skinny, or XXXXS!
Petite vs. Regular
I tell you that is nothing more disappointing than seeing a piece of clothing that you instantly like and realizing that it’s tooooo long – petite girls, you feel me? In the fashion industry, petite clothing items are smaller than standard sizes – doh…, but they also have other specification.
Skirts, dresses, and pants are definitely shorter and have smaller waist measurements.
Tops are also shorter.
Jeans and pants have a shorter rise than regular sizes. And if the designers are highly dedicated to understanding how the petite body works, they will also consider the knees and will adjust their placement to suit short legs – I must admit that this is one of my biggest problems when I go shopping for pants/jeans, but I have an entire article dedicated to short legs. 😊
Jackets, shirts, and blouses have shorter sleeves, and torsos, and less material across the shoulders. And let’s don’t forget about the details – pockets for petite clothes are smaller and the items are slightly accessorized.
Unfortunately, in my country, Romania, there are not many petite-friendly fashion brands. I must admit that most of my clothes are regular XS or XXS, but I follow some guidelines I have talked about in this blog post. As a petite, is very hard to transform shopping into a pleasant experience, and not a frustrating and anxiety-inducing one. Not once I’ve spent 6-7 hours looking for a fit pair of jeans, not to mention finding the perfect elegant dress for a special occasion when the amount of time for this task is limited.
I would love to hear some of your petite shopping stories. How and where do you find the perfect clothes?
This article reflects my own beliefs and experiences.