Finally, Brands Are Coming Out With Chic Petite Pants

No alterations required.

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Petite pants
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I’ve always liked being 5’2.” A few perks? I can still get away with shopping in the kid’s section (which can save some money!) and leg room on airplanes or in cars is never an issue. There is a downside, however: Bottoms that cater to my height (and don’t overwhelm my frame) are not always easy to find, and I’m sure many of you reading this can relate. That’s not to say it’s a lost cause, though, as many fashion girl-favorite brands are coming out with chic petite pants. These silhouettes are specifically designed to fit women under 5’4” — so no, they won’t drag on dirty sidewalks or require a steep hemming fee.

Brand strategist Madeleine Cohen is all too familiar with the struggle for clothes that fit a shorter frame. So she took matters into her own hands by creating Nelle Atelier, a Los Angeles-based brand that creates denim for petite women, in Nov. 2023. “I'm 5’1”, and I was standing in front of my closet one day and was like, ‘wow, I have 30 pairs of jeans, but I hate all of them,’” she tells TZR over the phone. Afterward, Cohen did a quick Google search for the best petite jeans, only to be met with options that she described as much more “mass market” than the rest of her wardrobe. She goes on to explain, “I launched Nelle Atelier because half of the US population of women, myself included, are below 5’4”, and we believe that we should have access to high-quality wardrobe essentials tailored to fit us.”

As part of the design process, Cohen conducted interviews with petite women. A common pain point she heard during the conversations? A mid-rise pant is likely going to fit like a high-rise. “And if they buy a mid-rise [style] knowing it'll be high-waisted, then the knee isn’t in the right place,” she adds. With this insight in mind, the founder opted for styles with inseams of 25 inches (the Emily), 28 inches (the Claire), and 31 inches (the Léa) — this variety allows shoppers to have options for different heel heights.

Thomas Robinson, womenswear head of design at Asos, notes the importance of knowing the inseam, waist, and hip lengths of pants— as well as your own measurements — before placing an order. “[This] will help when choosing pants that fit your frame well,” he tells TZR. Typically, the product description will disclose the right information.

And when it comes time to style your purchase? Carla Calvelo, the creative design director of petite-friendly label Favorite Daughter, encourages you to play with proportions to achieve a nice balance. “For example, when wearing a more relaxed pant silhouette, I recommend pairing a fitted top that accentuates the waist,” she tells TZR. “If you are opting for a skinny or slimmer cut trouser, it’s nice to play with the volume on top with an oversized sweater or looser blouse tucked in the front.”

Calling all my fellow under 5’4” women: Shop an edit of petite pants, including denim and trousers, below. Sorry in advance to your tailor, who is about to lose some business.

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