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What is the difference between petite & regular women's sizes?

Updated July 19, 2017

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.

Sizing Standards

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 trousers 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

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

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.

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About the Author

Carla Slavey has been a professional writer for over 11 years. She began by working for a small daily Indiana newspaper, "The Sullivan Daily Times," and has continued by freelancing for several online publications. Slavey graduated from Western Kentucky University with a Bachelor of Arts in English writing.