|Petite Sizes for Clothes Definition for the Clothing Industry presented by Apparel Search|
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Changes in pattern measurements and design
Regular misses' size clothing is designed for a woman roughly 5'5" tall (without shoes) and will not fit a woman of significantly shorter height well. Even if the bust, waist and hip circumferences are appropriate, the sleeve lengths, leg inseam lengths and vertical torso measurements (such as the back length and bust-waist length) must be altered significantly to fit well. Misses' size dresses cannot be easily altered to produce the equivalent petite size, since, in general, these lengths (particularly the critical torso measurements) cannot be altered without introducing an unsightly seam. Significant errors in the torso measurements will make a well-fitted look impossible, e.g., if the bust-point darts are off by three inches.
In addition to its measurements, a petite-size garment may have a different design from those intended for taller women. For example, style elements may be added to give a longer, slimmer look, e.g., vertical stripes, princess seams, short skirts, large patterns or patterns arranged helically around the whole body. Unfortunately, many modern "petite" sizes are actually re-named half sizes intended for mature women and, as a result, tend to boxy and unfashionable for younger women. Designs for taller women may also have style lines that appear to shorten the figure, such as horizontal lines (e.g., clamdigger pants or midcalf skirts); hence, even if the measurements are adjusted correctly, a petite-size version of a regular-size garment may be unflattering.
The average height of an American woman is roughly 5'4", with a standard deviation of roughly 4". Thus, 40% of all American women are 5'3" or less (z < = − 0.25) and roughly one-quarter are 5'1" or less (z < = − 0.75). Different ethnic groups and age groups may also have a high population of shorter women. Thus, it is rather remarkable that clothing manufacturers have not responded to this large, relatively untapped market.
Limited choice of styles
In general, manufacturers do not make their clothing in every standard size. Instead, clothes are often made only for the sizes most common in the general population, presumably for a better profit margin. As a result, women who wear petite sizes have significantly fewer options for fashionable clothing, mainly basic bottoms and tops.
There are stores that offer a full range or larger of petite clothes online or via catalog. These lines include Banana Republic and J.Crew, the latter of which only sells petites online and through catalog. Banana Republic recently opened some petite-only stores, which sell a larger range than stores with only a petite department.
Compared to the plus-sizes industry, promotion of petite sizes in magazines and the fashion world is less prominent, even though many well-known celebrities are small. These include Reese Witherspoon who is listed as 5'2, Jada Pinkett Smith, 5' even and Eva Longoria who is about 5'1. The few "petite models" seen in fashion magazines are actually slightly above average height (5'7 or so).