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.
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:
Petite Plus Size Clothes: UK retailers
The petite line comes in UK sizes 12-32
Petite sizes 12 – 32
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.
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!
US 2P – 16p
Petite sizes US 0-16
Petite sizes xs – L
Sizes 00P – 16P and XSP – XLP
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.