Petite plus size clothes: where to find them

Measuring tape on pink background

Why is it so difficult to find petite plus size clothes?

Recently we invited you to submit your fashion questions for us to answer, and Fashion Police reader Nosila asked:

“What are the best clothes for women who are Petite and Plus at the same time?”

Good question. In fashion/retail terms, the word “petite” refers to height: or, at least, it SHOULD do. Most petite lines are aimed at women of around 5’3″ or shorter, so they have shorter inseams, shorter arms, and waistlines designed to hit at the actual waist of a petite woman, rather than somewhere mid-thigh, as so often happens if petites wear clothing from the regular lines.

Too often, however, “petite” lines are just smaller all round, so a size 10 from a particular brand’s petite line, say, won’t just have the aforementioned shorter inseams and arms than the corresponding item in the regular line, but will be smaller all over, as if the assumption is that small women are small everywhere. Now, obviously this isn’t the case. Short women come in just as many shapes and sizes as tall women do, and have exactly the same kinds of body/issues as their taller counterparts – they just have them at the height of 5’3″ or under.

Plus size woman in petite clothes

That’s OK, though, because in this day and age, surely clothing companies recognise that we’re all built differently, and that not all petite women are petite in exactly the same way? Um, no. Which is a shame, because there are tons of plus sized petites out there, and they need plus sized clothes that won’t be too long in the leg or too wide in the shoulders, too. Sadly, though, it can be a real challenge to find plus size clothes that are also petite – and even more of a challenge to find clothes that aren’t, how can we put this, FRUMPY.

(It’s true: why do so many clothing brands assume that plus size women don’t actually care what they put on their bodies? This will forever be a mystery to us.)

The issue: while there are lots of plus size clothes lines, and lots of petite clothes lines, there aren’t a whole lot of petite plus size clothes lines.

Of course, it’s unreasonable to expect clothing manufacturers and brands to cater to every possible size, so instead of criticising those who don’t, let’s take a look at the ones who DO. Here are some online sources of plus size clothes designed specifically for petites:

Woman in green dress and black heels

Petite Plus Size Clothes: UK retailers

Marisota
The petite line comes in UK sizes 12-32

JD Williams / Simply Be
Petite collection goes up to size 36

Fashion World
Petite sizes 12 – 32

Very 
Petite size up to size 22

UK Petite Clothes up to Size 18

Many of the well-know high street brands also have their own petite lines, however these tend to be very limited, both in selection and in sizing, with most of them only running to a UK size 18. We’ve included them in a separate list, especially for petites who wear size 18 and under.

Minuet Petite

Precis

Debenhams

Dorothy Perkins

Marks & Spencer

Woman in black had and classic 50s purple coat

Petite Plus Size Clothes: US retailers

The issue is slightly more complex with US retailer, because many of them use the S,M,L method of sizing, and it can be hard to know just how “large” that XL is. We also ask you to go easy on us (and feel free to drop us some suggestions), because as a UK-based site, US sizing is more of a mystery to us than would otherwise be the case. That said, here are some petite ranges and the sizes they offer, and if you know of some more, please tell us!

Talbots
US 2P – 16p

Ann Taylor
Petite sizes US 0-16

Old Navy
Petite sizes xs – L

Gap
Sizes 00P – 16P and XSP – XLP

Land’s End
Petite sizes XS – SL

A quick note about finding petite plus size clothes

We’ll be honest: with quite a few of these retailers (especially those who describe themselves as “plus size”) you might have to do a bit of digging, and also to engage your imagination when trying to work out how you’d wear the clothes. For some reason there seems to be a tendency for those tasked with styling plus size clothes for retail shoots to assume their audience is made up entirely of what’s euphemistically terms “the more mature shopper” and the photography often reflects this. Don’t give up, though: if you take the time to look through some of the sites in question, you might be surprised by what you can find.

Know of any great petite plus size clothing stores we’ve missed? We’d love to hear from you in the comments!

5 Comments

  • Reply January 21, 2013

    Ana

    This is a great post. I used to be sligthly overweight and I’m only 5’4 foot tall, so it was really hard to find clothes that fitted correctly. The pants weren’t a problem, since I could shorten the lenght, but the dresses, it was a nightmare.

    Also have a friend who as the opposite problem. She is really tall and skinny and she never finds clothes that are form fitting, because the ones that hug her body are usually too short.

  • Reply January 22, 2013

    Helen

    I’m a plus sized woman, if not a petite one (I’m 5’9) and even though I’m apparently the right size for plus sized brands the sizing and fit is still a nightmare. First off, there is no standard sizing. This is true at lower sizes also but for plus sizes I can wear anything from an 18 to a 26 depending on the item of clothing, sometimes in the same brand. Many plus size tops are cut like a square, they have no shape what so ever. Also, there is the matter of breasts. As a large plus sized lady I am very well endowed and a style that looks modest on a slimmer person does not look the same on me. There seems to be no middle ground. Many other styles sold are dowdy and unattractive to the plus size figure. The best solution I’ve found is to have a local seamstress make me dresses and skirts.( I use http://www.etsy.com/shop/bettyfloored?ref=pr_shop_more) It’s a bit pricy but at least they are quality and they FIT!

  • Reply January 28, 2013

    Claudia

    I don’t know how it is in the UK, but in Germany men are offered four sizing ranges: average with broad shoulders and narrow hips, slim (slightly taller and with narrow shoulders), short (under 5’7″) and tummy sizes. For women, there is one range only, and short or long sizes are only available in few stores. I am no plus size, so I don’t know how the patterns in specialty plus size lines are, but I have noticed, when I watched more curvy ladies try something on from HIgh Street, that the construction of the larger sizes, up to 48 (UK 22?) seems to be analogous to those in the “normal” sizes. Who is to fit into those without massive shapewear of the old-fashioned kind?

    For me personally there is the problem that obviously the female population is becoming more and more apple-shaped and the manufacturers follow suit. When I try on a pair of pants and am able to stuff my legs in, the midsection is like a kangoroo’s bag. The only alternative to very extensive alterations is to buy young fashion, which really do look cheap on a 47-year-old. Women buy much more clothes than men, so why don’t we have pear-shaped and apple-shaped sizes?

  • Reply December 2, 2013

    Kate

    I’m a little sad you left out ASOS and Forever 21, whose plus sized lines tend to be geared towards more petite plus sized women.
    Saying this, I am US 20, 5’3”, have been for most of my adult life and I’ve had my share of dealings with these companies.
    Also, if you’re looking for jeans, Torrid is pretty good about separating between petite, regular and tall.

  • Reply March 18, 2014

    Sue

    So I know it’s an olds article but in case anyone still finds it, here is my list: old Navy (on line only), Talbots (mostly only online), lands end, forever21 not specifically petite plus but I find I can get outerwear and just need to hem sleeves, and that is it! Ann Taylor petites are too small for plus size. The Bay here in canada sometimes. Don’t like additionelle in Canada but they do have plus petite tops and bottoms but cheap and sometimes stodgy.

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