Sweet Petite

Sweet Petite

Five foot two, eyes of blue /
oh, what those five feet could do / has anybody seen my gal?    —Ray Henderson


At 5’ 1 ¾” in my stocking feet (I count the stockings, too) I am what is deemed “petite”—namely, a woman 5’4” and under.

Yet according to the U.S. National Health Statistics, the average American woman stands 5’3” ¾”.  This makes her a petite also.

The media and the fashion industry would have us all believe that “average” for a woman is 5’ 6” or taller.  Turns out, not so much.

All of the tired “short” jokes aside (How’s the weather down there?  Har de har har), many famous beauties are what is deemed to be “vertically challenged.”  Consider:

Kim Kardashian  (5’ 2 1/2”)
Jane Seymour  (5’4”)
Salma Hayek  (5’2”)
Reese Witherspoon  (5’1 ½”)
Natalie Portman  (5’3”)
Giada DeLorentis  (5’1 ¾” but officially 5’3” for publicity).

The list is long.

It’s not “challenged.”  It’s biology.

Given that virtually all designers dress petites we have an astounding array of fashion choices!  Most fit wonderfully well; the lengths are correct, the styles fantastic.  It seems like I spent my youth hemming every single garment I owned.  I cannot tell you how grateful I am for this development, mostly as I can’t sew worth a damn.

It’s kind of weird to me that the mass delusion of the “average” woman‘s height being 5’6” was so off.  Why?  And who knew it was completely wrong?  (Well, most likely very large numbers of petite women did.)

Used to be the petite fashions looked almost childlike with dorky bows and big buttons.  The fit often was as though we were another species altogether with very short arms and no bosom.  I have regular length arms and more “lakefront property” than I can use.  This odd fit issue still crops up occasionally, with a few inexpensive brands.  If you are petite, it can be helpful to invest in good quality clothing.

Toning shades, top to toe are more flattering on petites.  Large prints can overwhelm us.  Taking a tip from designers, I scale down the high heels and jewelry proportionately as well.


Size has never been a liability for me.  Rather, I have found 5’2” extremely convenient for making any man feel impressive.  I am always surprised if someone refers to me as “short.”  I don’t feel like I’m “short” on anything.  I certainly don’t view myself as lacking.  I am quite capable, very strong and tall enough.  To paraphrase Mr. T, “I pity the fool” who assumes that my stature equals my ability.

My own husband is 6’.  I come right to his heart, which he tells me is exactly the right size.  Of course, line me up in a photo next to my very tall in-laws and yes, I look petite.  So what?

Height is irrelevant, like age.  As in everything, it’s what you do with it that counts.

Now if the stores would just realize this and move their racks lower.  Most of your buying public is down here, folks.

And the weather is just fine, thank you.

*Anne enjoys shopping when she is not poking clothing down from ridiculously highly placed racks or hurling cans over her head into shelves at big lot stores.

By Anne Ambuhl


One Responseto “Sweet Petite”

  1. Caroline says:

    This is fabulous! Love the perspective on different heights and the tips for clothing for those of us who are smaller!

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