What is the difference between short and petite jeans?

Updated April 17, 2017

Jeans are made out of a thick cotton-blend fabric that is difficult for the non-professional to alter. It is important to be able to tell the difference between short jeans and petite jeans because sending a pair of jeans for alterations can cost extra money. Short jeans and petite jeans are made for two different types of women.

Features of petite jeans

Petite jeans are designed for women who are 1.6 m (5 feet 4 inches) tall and under. The waist on petite jeans sits lower than on jeans in regular women's sizes. The position of the waist on petite jeans is due to the size of the rise. The rise on jeans or trousers is the measurement between the waist and the top of the inside leg fabric. The hips are also slightly narrower than on regular-sized jeans. The leg length on petite jeans is proportioned to fit women who are 1.6 m (5 feet 4 inches) tall.

Features of short jeans

Short jeans are designed the same as regular-sized jeans. The difference between short jeans and regular jeans is the leg length. Unlike petite jeans, which are designed for shorter women with a smaller rise and hip width, short jeans will fit exactly like a regular pair of jeans. Short jeans work well for women who are 1.57 to 1.62 m (5 feet 3 inches to 5 feet 5 inches) tall and find that petite jeans are too small in the rise and hips. Short jeans have a leg length of 75 cm (30 inches) as opposed to petite jeans, which are 70 cm (28 inches) in length and regular jeans, which are 80 cm (32 inches) in length.

Types of petite and short jeans

There are many different types of petite and short jeans. Jeans come in different shades of blue as well as colours such as black, grey and white. Petite and short jeans are also found in cropped styles. Cropped jeans have a hemline that sits halfway between the ankle and the knee. The width of the leg for petite and short jeans varies depending on the current fashion trends. The most common leg widths are skinny, classic and boot cut. Skinny jeans fit snugly on the leg while boot cut jeans flare out a short distance above the ankle.

Sizing considerations

Petite sizes are slightly different than regular sizes. The waist and hips are a half inch smaller on petite jeans than on regular jeans. This means women will need to go up one size in petite jeans. For example, women who normally wear a size 10 in regular women's jeans will need to wear a size 12 in petite jeans to fit the waist and hips.


Jeans are made out of a thick cotton blend named denim. Denim can shrink in the washing machine or when exposed to heat from a washing machine or clothes dryer. Petite and short jeans should always be washed inside out in cold water and hung to dry. Dark blue and black jeans have a large amount of dye in the fabric. They should be washed separately from other garments in to avoid having the colour run, which would stain white or light-coloured clothing in the same wash load.

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About the Author

Cathy O'Brien is a San Francisco/Bay Area native. She has 15 years of experience writing corporate training materials. Her corporate background is in human resources, sales, management and high-tech start-ups. O'Brien has published business and fashion articles on eHow and Answerbag. She earned her Master of Business Administration from Dominican University and her Bachelor of Arts in English/writing from the University of San Francisco.