Petite size

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

In fashion and clothing, a petite size is a U.S. standard clothing size designed to fit women of shorter height than the average, between 153 cm (5 ft 0 in) and 163 cm (5 ft 4 in).[1][2]

Changes in pattern measurements and design[edit]

Regular female sized clothing is designed for a woman at least 163 cm (5 ft 4 in) tall (without shoes) and will not fit a woman of significantly shorter height well. Even if the bust, waist and hip circumferences are appropriate, the sleeve lengths, leg inseam lengths and vertical torso measurements (such as the back length and bust-waist length) must be altered significantly to fit well. Non-petite size dresses cannot be easily altered to produce the equivalent petite size, since, in general, these lengths (particularly the critical torso measurements) cannot be altered without introducing an unsightly seam. Significant errors in the torso measurements will make a well-fitted look impossible, e.g., if the bust-point darts are off by three inches.

In addition to its measurements, a petite-size garment may have a different design from those intended for taller women. For example, style elements may be added to give a longer, slimmer look, e.g., vertical stripes, princess seams, short skirts, large patterns or patterns arranged helically around the whole body. Unfortunately, many modern "petite" sizes are actually renamed half sizes intended for large women and, as a result, tend to be boxy and unfashionable for small-framed women. Designs for taller women may also have style lines that appear to shorten the figure, such as horizontal lines (e.g., clamdigger pants or midcalf skirts); hence, even if the measurements are adjusted correctly, a petite-size version of a regular-size garment may be unflattering.

It always made sense to service the majority of people which in the fashion industry meant the average sizes . This was always so, as it was costly to produce on an assembly line or factory single units and today this fact still holds true. Moreover, not only the cost is higher but the market is smaller. So on both ends it never made sense to produce plus size or petite size clothing if there wasn't a critical mass of people to support its sales.

Today however, we see the trend reversed as niche markets have flourished while in tandem, modern production has become more efficient to cater to smaller audiences. Business owners looking to differentiate in otherwise flooded markets where competitors existed at the turn of every corner, began to look in serving the fringe sizes where less competition existed. Plus and petite size clothing were the surfacing markets. Previously it was a question of style , color, season and look that until today is the key differentiation in store brands and sales. But none of these categories answered for the shortage of apparel options for petite or plus size sized women for that matter.

It must be noted here, that the young have gained huge exposure online to fashion and style catapulting their maturity for fashionwear. It isn't hard to see that a much younger woman previously called a "girl" would now savor the styles of a petite women's fashion piece. These adolescents represent a huge market that was otherwise extinct prior to the advent of the internet and it's proliferated Facebook, Whatsapp and Instagram debut. Adolescents grow, and often not petite at all, but they now represent a hefty portion of the petite fashion market of women's apparel, adding to the flourishing production of this market.[3]


The average height of an American woman is roughly 163 cm (5 ft 4 in) (5'4"), with a standard deviation of roughly 10 cm (3.9 in). Thus, 40% of all American women are 160 cm (5 ft 3 in) or shorter () and roughly one-quarter (25%) are 155 cm (5 ft 1 in) or shorter ().

In the UK and throughout much of Europe and Australasia, the average height varies from 152 cm (5 ft 0 in) to 168 cm (5 ft 6 in). The old clothes sizes tended to correspond to the UK's 1951 size survey, which took 157 cm (5 ft 2 in) as average height, and also took a slim, hour glass figure as standard. In the 1990s the Size UK project examined 16,000 people and changed the measurements for the 'average' size. This was widely reported, but stores responded to the headline (people getting bigger) rather than the facts (height rising only slightly but many individuals fatter). The fashion industry provides most of its merchandise in "standard sizes", which encompasses women sizes 4-14, 5'4" to 5'8" in height (European sizes 34-44 and 1.6256-1.7272 m), because this is the most profitable ready-to-wear market.[4]

See also[edit]


Adults: U.S. Population, 1999–2002 - Page 20, Table 19.