"Petite" is a term literally derived from the French word for "small". In fashion, it is generally used to denote clothing for women with a height of 5'3 / 163cm or less. It is not, as some may think, a term relating to how skinny or slender a figure is - Petite clothing ranges in sizes just as Regular clothing does, with the Piccoli ranges going from UK sizes 6-12.
Am I Petite?
If you are 5'3 (163cm) or under, you are generally considered as Petite.
According to a 2019 NHS survey, the average height of women in England is 5'3. In general, stores design Regular clothing to fit women 5'4-5'7. This means a lot of women in the UK are technically Petite, even if they've never shopped in the Petite section (trust me, once you go Petite, you'll never go back).
But what if I am taller than 5'3? If you are 5'4 or 5'5, you may fit Regular clothing, but it may still occasionally feel too big. Depending on how your body is proportioned, you may benefit from trying Petite clothing. Taller women who have a longer torso and shorter legs, could still find Petite trousers helpful, and vice-versa for women with the inverse proportions. If you have ever felt that Regular clothes don't fit you 100%, give Petite a go.
Are Petite Clothes Just Shorter?
In short, no. The definition of Petite is height based, and so naturally Petite clothes are shorter. But as any Petite who has ever hemmed her jeans or shortened the sleeves of her blazer has soon realised, it is not just about the height.
Petites, in general, share other attributes besides their height. Slimmer shoulders, for instance, as a result of the smaller frame. Likewise, adjustments have to be made to the height of armholes, knee or elbow placements, and the height of our waist in the torso. It is not simply a matter of chopping off a couple of inches from the garment, it is a matter of re-designing it entirely for a smaller frame.
Why Shop Petite?
Buying Petite should help you overcome the challenges of hemming Regular clothing without full-blown tailoring. In the long run, buying quality Petite clothing works out simpler and more cost- and time-effective than tailoring Regular clothing.
The issue is, naturally, that Petite clothing is hard to come by. It is estimated that roughly 3% of clothing in the UK is designed for Petites, despite such a large portion of the population fitting this category. This is what drives Piccoli to design for Petite-section-only.
How Do Petite Sizes Work?
As with Regular sizes, it is advisable that you check a size chart before purchasing. The reality is that every retailer bases their sizes on a slightly different body (needed for fitting of their samples, and designing their patterns), and as a result, sizes vary across the industry.