How to dress 'petite' by Natasha Poliszczuk

Good things may come in small packages, but it can be tricky knowing what to wear when you're on the shorter side. Some clothes can be taken up, but others will overwhelm a petite frame no matter how tempting they are, which can be frustrating when your style heart says 'yes', but your head says no.

I turned to my good friend and ex-colleague Natasha Poliszczuk, Books Editor, Style Maven and author of the brilliant 'Book-ish' newsletter (do subscribe, it's fabulous) for some tips on dressing when you're on the smaller side. Natasha always looks good and having worked on magazines has seen it all when it comes to style...

"I am 5ft3" and like to consider myself on the cusp of being petite. However, if I allow common sense (and the evidence of trousers which are almost always too long) to prevail, I am forced to concede that I am on the shorter side. Herewith the lessons I have learned...

  1. If you can't do it yourself, make friends with your tailor. It's amazing the magic they can perform. Rare is the pair of trousers which don't require hemming. 
  2. It's all about balance. I love a pair of wide leg trousers, but I wear them with a knit or blouse, like this stunning one tucked in. If this feels too formal, try just tucking it in at the front. 
  3. Skinny faux leather leggings are your friend. Wear with a longer-length knit
  4. (also good for not flashing your bottom - unless your bottom happens to be as peachy as Gisele's), or try a shirt like this layered under a knit like this for a very French look. If I'm wearing a longer knit, I tend to do the French tuck (i.e. tuck a small part of the front hem into the waistband), so it doesn't overwhelm my frame.
  5. In my twenties, I could gallivant around town in heels all day - and evening. Now the thought strikes fear into my heart. Try pointed ballet flats - they seem to elongate the leg, especially under on-trend wide-leg trousers. I also liked them to balance out cropped trousers (skinny or wide leg). 
  6. I have been forced to concede that there are looks I love which do not love me back. See: unstructured midi dresses. I adore these on others, but on me they are tent-like maxi dresses. Far better to opt for something nipped in or belted at the waist. belt is a useful addition to your wardrobe arsenal - I knot one over cardigans for a more structured silhouette. Try one over a coat, too. 
  7. Be wary of overwhelm - as Coco Chanel absolutely did not say, there can be too much of a good thing on a small frame. I love festive party sparkle but too much and I resemble a bauble. Try a skirt with a sweatshirt or simple knit. Or opt for just a hint of sparkle - like these dream jumpers. Similarly, if you feel an excess of colour can be a bit much, wrist warmers are the perfect addition to a simple sweater. With bonus cosy factor.

Lais shirt, cashmere wristwarmers, Sienna sequin cuff merino knit, champagne sequin skirt, Ava rollneck and Kaylee leggings, Crest dress.

 Do follow Natasha on Instagram (@natashapoliszczuk) for fabulous book reviews, style picks and life chat. Also, subscribe to her Book-ish newsletter for the best book reviews, cultural essays and style round-ups.

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