Tiny, Demure and Under 5’ Tall
By Ellen York
Seattle, US

The definition of a petite woman is 5’4” and under, from ideal weight through plus sizes. But if you’re under 5 feet and weigh somewhere between 89 to 100 lbs., you are tiny by most people’s standards. You may wonder at times why people don’t notice you. Some groups may not hear or pay much attention to what you have to say! The truth may be how you are dressing your tiny little frame.
Reach in your closet and put on the business suit, jacket, skirt or pants and top you plan to wear to work. Look in the mirror and ask yourself the following questions:
• How is the jacket styled?
• Is it cut to fit very closely to your body, perhaps snug?
• Are there darts and seamlines that hug to your already tiny body?
• Does your jacket end right at your waist or slightly above?
• Are the arms of the jacket clinging to your very slender arms?
If the answer is “yes” to three of the above questions, you are ready to make some changes in how you dress and look to other people. You may need to make some changes to display your image and intelligence a more positive way.
No one wants to get lost in the crowd and everyone wants to be listened to in business environments and at social events. Tips on jackets for a better look:
• Look for jackets that are less tailored.
• Check each jacket you shop for to make sure the sides are not curved in and very fitted.
• Try on jackets with a medium to narrow collar and lapel.
• Look for tweed jackets: a jacket with fringe on the collar, lapel, hem or sleeve edge—a patterned jacket.
The above jacket style suggestions will give you the appearance of being bigger, more assertive, more confident, and having more power! The demure little lady is starting to fade away and the beautiful, talented woman you are starts to emerge. Your stature begins to look taller—more confident.
When shopping for pants and skirts to enhance your appearance in the business world, the following tips will help achieve that look to blend with the new jacket styles suggested:
• You may be looking in the Junior or Petite departments. Macys, J. Crew, Banana Republic, Nordstrom, Sears and JC Penney are stores making the effort to stock appropriate clothing in their Junior and Petite Departments.
• Look for pant fabrics that are career-oriented (better quality).
• Look for pants that are not cut below the bellybutton. They look too young and are not appealing in the business environment.
• A pinstripe or tweed fabric will add bulk to your tiny body.
• Skirts are easier to fit because you’re not dealing with the crotch seam.
Count on it—you’ll still need to shorten most pants and skirt hems.
Don’t hem skirts more than 1½ inches above your knees. Sometimes you get a net clothing image going, then you sink back to old habits of too short and too tight. Remember, you want to become successful. What you will be looking for as your new look starts to emerge is:
• You’ll appear taller wearing a looser fitting jacket
• You’ll be wearing pants that aren’t skin tight but have a fuller leg cut and look more professional.
• You’ll be choosing better quality fabrics for your suits, jackets, pants and skirts.
When purchasing tops, you may choose knit tops just because they’re easy and often washable. A slight V-neck or an open, rounded neck will help to make you appear taller. Keep the side seams straight. Don’t revert back to a snug-fitting knit top. Remember, the rest of the world already can see you’re small and short—you don’t want to accentuate that!
Blouses are abundant in retail so pick carefully. Some ideas to keep in mind are:
• A collar and button front are good, but leave the top one or two buttons undone so a little skin shows. You look more open and confident!
• A ¾ sleeve is good because long-sleeved blouses often end mid-way down your hand!
• With a long-sleeved blouse you can move the button over to fit your tiny wrist. Problem solved.
• Look for fabrics that are a step above your current professional position — silk, silk/rayon, and polyester are good choices.
If you feel like you’re out of step, too little to be noticed, and not big enough to be at the top in your company, consider revamping your wardrobe. Look at your hairstyle and color. Perhaps it’s time for an update. Staying current in your appearance is important. Avoid cute, trendy clothes. You’ll only look smaller and too young, and probably won’t be taken seriously. Remember that self-confidence equals success.
(Ellen York is the president and CEO of the Seattle-based Image Institute and author of the new book, Dressing the Petite Woman, Ellen York Image


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