Petite Style Tip: The Number One Rule to Follow to Get Your Proportions Right

I’m sure many of you would agree with me when I say it’s not my goal to appear taller. I don’t mind being short at all (I’m 5’1 by the way), but I also don’t want to appear any shorter than I already am (or wear anything that makes me look frumpy!).

This is where proportions come into play. Just because something physically fits, doesn’t mean that it’s flattering. Proportion is just as important as fit and should be taken just as seriously.

This leads me to my number one rule for dressing proportionately – the rule of thirds.

Perhaps some of you have heard of the rule of thirds, which is most commonly applied to photography. Think of a photo as having two imaginary vertical lines, dividing the photo into three equal sections. The rule of thirds states that the subject of the photo should land on one of those imaginary lines (either at the 1/3 or 2/3 mark) but never in the middle as this is not visually appealing.

The same rule can be applied to fashion styling and should be the number one rule you follow when dressing for your petite frame. Break your outfit up into thirds rather than in half and it will instantly make your outfit more flattering.

Embed from Getty Images
Embed from Getty Images

I love using Kourtney Kardashian as an example for how to dress a petite figure. She (almost) always follows the rule of thirds and her proportions are on point. Above are some examples of her following the rule and looking amazing.

You can see in the first photo that she’s wearing high-waisted bottoms that take up the bottom 2/3 of her body and her shirt takes up the top 1/3 – such a flattering look that makes her legs look nice and long. In the second photo, her dress takes up the top 2/3 and her bare legs are the bottom 1/3 – another flattering look and a great way to nail the proportions.

Embed from Getty Images

And here is a photo of America Ferrera wearing a full-length gown, but the gathered waist detail hits her at the 1/3 point of her body. This makes her legs appear so much longer – you would never know she’s 5’1!

So how can we apply the rule of thirds to our everyday outfits? Here are some easy ways to achieve this:

  1. High-Waisted Bottoms – Lucky for us, these don’t seem to be going out of style anytime soon! High-waisted bottoms take up the bottom 2/3 of your body and make your legs appear nice and long.
  2. Cropped shirts and jackets – When I say cropped, I definitely don’t mean you have to have your stomach showing. But a shirt that shows off your high-waisted bottoms will help to give off that illusion of longer legs that I just mentioned. If cropped isn’t for you, just tuck in your top to show off the waistline.
  3. Outerwear that hits just above the knee – The whole point of the rule of thirds is to give the illusion of length, whether that’s on the top or the bottom. A longer coat or jacket will definitely achieve this, just make sure it’s not too long so it doesn’t overwhelm your small frame. (Another tip – when wearing a long coat, make sure it’s a more fitted style so you don’t get lost in all that fabric!)
  4. Maxi skirts & dresses – Don’t be afraid to go long! These styles are super flattering on petite ladies because they elongate the body. But just like the outerwear mentioned above, avoid excess fabric. With these skirts and dresses, try either bodycon or an added detail (like a defined waistline or a tie waist on a maxi dress) to create definition and give you shape.

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