What Is the Difference Between Petite & Regular Women's Sizes?

By Carla Slavey

To find the type of clothing that best suits you, you must understand your body shape and how it relates to general sizing standards. If you know whether clothing designers consider you petite, or whether you should shop in the women's section, you'll quickly find clothing appropriate for your body type.

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Knowing what petite means helps when shopping for clothes.

Sizing Standards

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Petite clothes are designed for women shorter than 5 feet 3.

Petite clothes fit women 5 feet 3 inches tall or shorter. They're designated by a "P" after the size number. Petite does not necessarily mean slender and includes full-figured or extra-large sizes. Misses sizes fit women of average height, generally 5 feet 4 inches tall up to 5 feet 8 inches tall, and weight. Labels on pants with extra length for taller women include an "L." Women's sizes, also called plus-size, fit full-figured women, indicated by a "W" after the size.

Petite Features

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Petite clothing flatters a woman's shorter frame with a size-appropriate cut.

Petite clothing flatters a woman's shorter frame with a size-appropriate cut. Petite-size pants have inseams up to 2 inches shorter than regular women's sizes. Also, petite clothing will generally have shorter sleeves and torsos to match a petite person's frame.

Style Considerations

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Designers of petite clothing often use fabrics with different patterns than they would for other sizes.

Designers of petite clothing often use fabrics with different patterns than they would for other sizes, such as smaller prints or vertical stripes to make short women appear taller. Petite clothing may also have smaller buttons, narrow collars and shorter trim to keep them from being overpowering.