Anyone 5"3 and under will know that clothes shopping can be a bit of a nightmare. Midi dresses become maxis, jeans come up six inches too long (we can't all have the legs like Cameron Diaz, sadly), and jackets can make us look like American football players gone wrong.
There are petite lines out there, of course. Annoyingly, for us smaller girls though, there's normally a paltry selection, if any at all, in stores. Luckily, e-tailers are not confined by rail space and there is a growing presence for petites on the web.
We've trawled online shops (and made a purchase or two) to bring you those we think offer the best selection and the slickest shopping experience at home and on the go, as well as taking into account how hassle-free (or not) they make delivery and returns. We've tried high street favourites - the likes of Topshop, Next and Debenhams - online-only operations like Asos and the new and innovative kids on the block - collaborative petite design, anyone?
Here's our selection. Let us know what you think.
Click on the gallery to see the IndyBest buys
15 best online clothes shops for petites
15 best online clothes shops for petites
With over a thousand pieces to choose from in sizes 2-18, Asos is the go-to site for on-trend, affordable clothing. Alongside its own brand, there are items from the likes of New Look and Glamorous. The user experience is excellent, with videos of all the products available. The site also stands out for its hassle-free delivery and returns. Options include Collect + (pick up and return at a local shop), as well as the great value Asos Premier for £9.95 a year which includes unlimited free next day delivery. The IOS and Android apps are slicker than most too. From £3-£150, asos.com
Topshop’s petite offering might be a quarter of the size of ASOS’s, but shoppers go to the brand for their fashion-forward, quality designs scaled down from the main range, alongside a few exclusive pieces. As a 5”1 girl, I swear by their 28-inch leg jeans; with 20-plus styles and colours to choose from, their trouser selection is better than a lot of other petite lines. As for delivery, they also have the ultra-convenient Collect + system. The app, available on IOS and Android, is one of the cleanest-looking and most efficient we tried. Sizes range from 4 to 14. From £6-£79, topshop.com
Next has a well-deserved reputation for producing good-quality, good-value staples. The good news is that over 500 of these pieces come in petite versions, in sizes 6-18. While the website may not be as clean-looking as some, you can really refine your search. Search for trousers, for example, and as well as the usual size and colour, you can refine by fit, leg length, waistline and design features. There are apps you can use on iPhone, iPad and Android too. From £4.50-£110, next.co.uk
4/15 Miss Selfridge
On the first visit to the website, smaller girls know they are in the right place as Miss Selfridges' petite section has a tab on its own on the home page (a rarity for a high street store with petite line). With 100-odd pieces, their range isn’t the biggest, but it’s particularly good on party dresses. Sizes go from 4-14, and like the store, styles are aimed at teens and younger women, but there’s plenty there for us older gals too (I own a couple of Miss S maxis that I've lived in this summer). You can also shop the range on IOS and Android devices through their app. From £7-£99, missselfridge.com
5/15 Bomb Petite
Where's the fashion content aimed at shorter girls? Bomb Petite is on the case. Founders Yuliya Petryk and Eugene Ten, previously at Net-a-Porter and Agent Provocateur respectively, have combined quality editorial with an online store. They list 140 brands from 24 retailers. There's a broad selection from the UK, but it’s the range from the States that got us clicking. For occasion wear, try Ann Taylor, or browse Nordstrom for the likes of Michael Mickael Kors and BCBG MaxAzria. All stores listed ship to the UK in 5-12 working days but check shipping costs as they vary a lot. There are a few problems to be ironed out, but keep this site on your radar. From £25-£400, bombpetite.com
6/15 J Crew
The American store once known for its well-cut but preppy style has evolved into a go-to destination for shoppers looking for quality pieces with conversation-starting details (think unexpected coloured linings, unusual embellishments and cashmere with a difference). While the physical shops are only in London in the UK, they have an impressive online-only petite offering, including some maternity and bridal pieces. They ship free to the UK in 4-8 days and, unlike with many US stores shipping over here, you won’t face any extra duties on receipt and returns are free. The customer service line is insanely helpful too. From £60-£595, jcrew.com
Confusingly, these three online shops (part of one umbrella group) have the same range of petite pieces on their sites. There are over 150 items from the stores’ respective South, Savoir, Resort and Definitives ranges. They’re good on basics and affordable casualwear, most of which you can view in videos on the site so you can get a good feel for a piece before you click and buy. All the sites offer Collect + and handily, there’s a morning delivery option between 7am and 12pm. Their iPhone and iPad app is not as good as some, though and there’s no Android offering yet. From £7-£120, very.co.uk, isme.co.uk and littlewoods.com
M&S’s petite range isn’t huge – 70-odd pieces strong in sizes 6-18 - but fans of the M&S Collection and Per Una will find plenty to like. Like Next there are more search options than most sites including care instructions (no more buying dry clean-only by accident). Delivery options include collecting in store, often if you place the order by 12 noon it will be available after 12 noon the next day. There are Iphone and Android apps though they are not as slick as others. From £5.99-£249, marksandspencer.com
9/15 Dorothy Perkins
Dotty Ps is a good bet for catwalk-inspired pieces that won’t break the bank, and go up to a size 18. The petite section of their site has a more editorial feel to it than most of the high street shops’ online offerings and the collection’s good too; there are over 200 pieces on sale from their main line, some petite exclusive and dresses from Little Mistress and Alice and You. They offer a speedy collect in store option and you can browse on the run with their apps – we found the iPhone one more efficient than on Android. From £7-75, dorothyperkins.com
Over 100 pieces from Boden’s range come in petite, including, unusually, a number of trouser styles which are available in the same ten colours and patterns as the main line. While the site doesn’t have as sophisticated refining options on the search as most of the other websites, we reckon the range, not available anywhere else, warrants its place on the list. Boden is, however, slightly behind the times when it comes to delivery options (choose from standard, premium or next day delivery). And there’s only an iPad app. From £35-£149, boden.co.uk
With so many sites to trawl, petite shopping online can be a bit of a minefield. Fashionchick takes away the hassle, listing over a thousand pieces from many of the high-street petite lines (there are selections from Miss Selfridge, New Look, House of Fraser etc) as well as ranges you don’t see everywhere like French brands Les P’tites Bombes and La Petite Robe De Chiara Boni. Once you register for the site, the ‘quick view’ function lets you see individual stores returns policy, delivery costs and payment methods, so you're not caught out by expensive charges. Then you can click through and buy. There’s an IOS app too. From £4-£280, fashionchick.co.uk
When 5”1 Jess Jeetly kept being mistaken for a child at work, she decided on an image change – and to help other smaller women find office-appropriate clothing. Jeetly's an exclusively petite e-tailer selling office-wear alongside giving consumers a say in garment design. Jeetly showcases samples, shoppers vote using their ‘In or Out’ function and suggest changes – a different colour or sleeve length, say and share these across social media. The design with most votes gets made. The site’s still operating on a small scale - 20-odd pieces - and isn’t as slick as the others we used, but designs are getting input from consumers all over the world. Most importantly, the clothes deliver – the jacket, dress and shirt I tried were a perfect fit. From £24-£95, jeetly.com
Debenhams.com stock their own lines, The Collection Petite and Principles Petite by Ben de Lisi (strong on casual wear). Alongside this, there are pieces from petite stalwarts like Minuet Petite, Precis Petite and Wallis, all good for workwear, as well as the likes of Coast if you’re after occasion dresses. They offer a Click and Collect’ service and have a slick app on IOS, Android and, uniquely for the sites we visited, Kindle. From £9-£175, debenhams.com
If you’re after bigger sizes, BHS’s own brand – taken from the main range - has over 70 pieces available in size 20. As you’d expect from this high street stalwart, they offer good value – nothing in their range will cost you over £40. Alongside their own petite line, they also stock selected Dorothy Perkins and Wallis clothes. They offer Click and Collect and if you want to shop on the go, there are IOS and Android apps. From £6-£55, bhs.co.uk
15/15 House of Fraser
While HoF don’t have their own in-house petite range, there is a larger-than-average offering from concessions including CC, Coast, Precis and Minuet Petite, Dorothy Perkins and Miss Selfridge . You can also really refine your search; categories include fabric, sleeve-length, waist and neckline. They offer a Buy and Collect service as well as Collect + options. Android users are out of luck though as they only have an iPhone app for now. From £7-£299, houseoffraser.co.uk
Asos is hard to beat for sheer variety and quick and hassle-free returns (particularly if you subscribe to Asos premier). For traditionally tricky trouser shopping, our go-to sites are Topshop, Next and Boden. To get a feel of everything that's out there without faffing on ten different sites, try newcomers Fashionchick and Bomb Petite. And our one to watch is Jeetly, with its unique collaborative design concept, we'll be having our say in the next collection which goes online later this month.