A Guide to Wearing Jeans for Petites

“Petite” may be defined as anyone standing 5’4″ and under in the jeans world, but that doesn’t mean that everyone below that height has tiny waists and small butts. Just like any other height, petite also comes in a variety of body types. And that’s why this post focuses on giving tips on ways different petites can wear jeans; we know that vertically challenged ladies come in all shapes and sizes, too! Here, we’ve listed the most popular jean silhouettes and how petite ladies can rock them. Some jeans look better on some body types, but remember that the key thing is to keep everything in proportion. Also keep in mind that any outfit can look 10 times better when worn with confidence.

1. Skinny and Straight-Leg Jeans

BEST FOR: all petite body types

Skinny and straight-leg jeans are the number one most recommended silhouette for petites because the way they hug the legs creates a lengthening illusion. They also make hips look narrower and legs skinnier, which in effect makes the wearer look taller. Skinny and straight-leg jeans are also the easiest to hem, and doing so doesn’t destroy the original shape of the jeans. Petites should stay away from skinny and straight-leg jeans that are cuffed because they’ll only make you look shorter. Those that have too long hemlines will also bunch up at the ankles and break the long line that you want, and those with large embellishments will look too overpowering.

DO: dark washes, ankle-length or longer hems, and stretchy fabric for that seamless no-break look

Current/Elliott The Skinny Jeans, $194.00; DL1961 Emma Legging Jeans, $158.00; Citizens of Humanity The Ava Straight Leg Jeans, $189.00

DON’T: leg cuffs, too long and bunched up hems, and big embellishments

Height- and length-shortening leg cuffs; Jada Pinkett Smith’s sloppy bunched-up jeans; Isabel Marant “Renell” jeans that are not friendly to petites

2. Boot-Cut Jeans

BEST FOR: apple- and hourglass-shaped petite body types

Another recommended jean style for petites is the boot cut. Although this one also looks great on all body types, apple and hourglass shapes will benefit the most from this silhouette. The slightly roomy leg on the boot-cut jeans will balance out the rounded upper body on an apple shape. It will highlight the tiny waist and curvy hips on an hourglass shape. Dark-wash boot-cut jeans will minimize your bottom half and would help draw the eye up toward your upper half. Petite ladies should pick boot-cut jeans that are at just the right length because anything too short will make your legs look wider and anything too long will drown you.

DO: dark washes and boot-cut jeans made specifically for petites

Citizens of Humanity Dita Petite Boot Cut Jeans, $158.00; Joe’s Jeans Provocateur Boot Cut Jeans, $178.00; 7 For All Mankind Petite Boot Cut Jeans, $178.00

DON’T: too wide boot cuts and too short or too long hem length

Too wide and too short boot-cut jeans; Nicole Richie is already stepping on her boot-cut jeans; too long boot-cut jeans

3. High-Waisted Jeans

BEST FOR: hourglass petite body types

The high waist just very recently came back into fashion, but it’s now considered as regular jeanswear. Petites who want to take part of this trend have got the high waist’s lengthening effect on their side. Some things to keep in mind are choosing high-waisted jeans in a solid wash so you can retain that unbroken long line. The fit is crucial to the high-waisted jeans; anything too tight will create creases and will squeeze your curves and anything that doesn’t sit right at the narrowest part of your waist will just make your figure appear to be straight up and down.

DO: actual above-the-waist high waists, dark colors, and monochromatic outfits

7 For All Mankind High Waisted Skinny Jeans, $189.00; J Brand Maria High Rise Legging Jeans, $200.00; Monochromatic Outfit with the Citizens of Humanity “Rocket” Leatherette Jeans, $229.00

DON’T: paunch-creating, waist-hiding, and curve-flattening high-waisted jeans

Jessica Simpson wear hip-widening high-waist jeans; Emma Roberts’ tiny waist disappears in her boxy shirt and tight high-waist jeans; Emmy Rossum’s wrinkly and bunched-up high-waist jeans create unflattering shadows at her midsection.

4. Boyfriend Jeans

BEST FOR: straight petite body types

Aah, the comfortable boyfriend jeans. Though tricky to wear for petites, it’s still a very viable jean choice. The trick is to choose boyfriend jeans that are tighter and more form-fitting, so that you have a slimmer and sleeker line of view. We know that boyfriend jeans have to have leg cuffs, so do cuff these jeans as narrowly as possible. You can also choose boyfriend jeans without cuffs so long as you don’t pick one with a wide length-shortening cuff. Also stay away from too slouchy boyfriend jeans and super baggy ones that are tapered toward the leg. It will create a wide bottom-heavy silhouette that will work against you.

DO: more form-fitting boyfriend jeans with narrower leg cuffs

7 For All Mankind Josefina Boyfriend Crop Jeans, $198.00; J Brand Aidan Slouchy Boy Jeans, $218.00; Jimmy Taverniti Boyfriend Chino Jeans, $198.00

DON’T: wide cuffs, super baggy or slouchy styles, and dramatically tapered cuts

Too wide leg cuffs; Rachel Bilson’s boyfriend jeans don’t do her petite frame any favor; Kylie Minogue’s unflattering tapered boyfriend jeans

5. Flare Jeans

BEST FOR: pear-shaped and straight petite body types

Petites are told to avoid flares, but there are a few ways to make this cut look smashing on you. One is to pick a pair with a flare that is narrower than your hips. Use this nature-given guide to choose the right amount of flare for your figure. Second is to shop for flares that are made specifically for petites, so that you don’t need to rehem them. Rehemming flare jeans almost always alters their shape and takes away some of the flare. Third, choose a pair of flares that cover most of your shoes (but not all the way to the floor). This length will make your legs look like they go on forever. Lastly, and, as mentioned in the previous jean categories, pick flare jeans in a dark wash. The dark color will not only help draw the eye upward but also lessen the bulk of the jeans.

DO: a slight flare not wider than the hips and dark washes

7 For All Mankind Dojo Petite Flare Jeans, $169.00; 7 For All Mankind Petite “A” Pocket Flare Jeans, $178.00; Paige Denim Lou Lou Petite Skinny Flare Jeans, $179.00

DON’T: flare jeans that need to be rehemmed, too short flare jeans, and flare capris

Heidi Klum literally sweeps the streets with her now destroyed hem ultra-flare jeans; Olivia Wilde can’t be bothered hemming her flares; flare capris are unflattering on petites

There are several points petites should consider in wearing jeans, but there are also many ways to make it easier. For example, wear tops with a bit of embellishment, in an eye-catching halter cut, or in a fun, bright color to highlight your upper half. Choose dainty prints instead of big prints. You can also stick to shopping at the petite departments. Of course, the easiest way is to wear heels! Your podiatrist might not approve, but the instant height and the style that heels provide can’t be beat!

Credit: Patricia Schlein/WENN/Michael Wright/Aruna Gilbert/Apega/Agent47