Fashion

Holiday dresses for petites

It’s that most wonderful time of the year: Holiday party time! As our calendars fill up with office parties, family parties, and New Year’s blowouts, I thought it was timely to do a post about petite-friendly holiday dress shopping.

It can be tricky to find just the right holiday dress. You have to consider the context; some dresses really aren’t office party-appropriate. And of course, the weather — it’s December in Montreal, which means that baby, it’s cold outside!

Luckily, there are good options for petite dresses if you know where to look. Here are my reviews of some of the dresses in my wardrobe:

The Lace Drop-Waist Dress

I bought this lace a-line drop-waist dress from Laura Petites a couple of seasons ago on sale:

Laura Petites is far from my favourite store; their demographic tends to skew older, and so do their styles. But as one of the few local retail chains that carries petite items in stock, they’re useful in a last-minute pinch when I don’t have time to order online.

I like but don’t love this dress. The drop waist and slightly a-line skirt are flattering, and the silver lace makes it festive. But I find that the moulded top is a bit big on me, the all-over pattern is a bit busy, and the high boat neckline is both itchy and a little conservative. But I like that it isn’t too clingy, and it’s appropriate for a variety of holiday situations.

Dress: Laura Petites, size 4P, $55.99 CAD (purchased in 2015)
Shoes: Aldo, size 6

The Sweater Dress

Here’s a great option for colder weather: This comfy sweater dress by Calvin Klein is made of warm, cozy knit with lacy sleeves:

Paired with high heeled boots and the right jewellery, it’s chic enough for a dinner party, and yet entirely work appropriate. In my usual size of PS, the dress fits fairly well, with the sleeves being just a little long. I’ve tucked the cuffs under in this photo, which looks slightly odd but gets them out of the way.

Like many petite pears, I also struggle with the sheath silhouette, which I find draws attention to my hips. I added a skinny belt, which I find instantly improves the dress by drawing the eye upward towards my waist.

Overall, I still find this dress to be slightly conservative. And solid black is not a great colour on me. But comfort makes up for a lot.

Dress: Calvin Klein Petite, size PS, $53.99 USD (Purchased in 2016)
Boots: Lavorazione Artigiana, size 36 (really, really old)

The Cutout LBD (Little Black Dress)

Okay, here’s the antidote to conservative: This sexy little bodycon sheath dress by Guess with a cutout top:

With a cutout top and back, and a stretchy silhouette that is at once revealing and unforgiving, this is the dress to wear when you want to draw attention. They don’t call it bodycon for nothing. It’s definitely not office party appropriate! At least, not at my office.

Unfortunately, sheath dresses like this one are really hard to pull off when you’re petite and pear-shaped. I find that this one draws much more attention to my hips than I like. And I can barely sit down in it without having rolls and bumps appear in places where I really don’t want them to be. This also isn’t a petite dress, so the proportions are slightly off. And this may be petty, but I hate dresses that require me to wear a strapless bra. Not to mention, solid black is not a great colour on me since it makes me look so garishly pale in contrast.

I’ve owned this for about a year and a half now, and it’s gotten basically zero wear. It’s one of those pieces that I keep around in hopes that I’ll have an occasion to wear it, which never quite seems to materialize. But hey, you never know, right?

Dress: GUESS, size 6, $98 USD
Shoes: Aldo, size 6

The fit-and-flare illusion dress

Okay, so this isn’t strictly a holiday dress. But with lace illusion trim and a flattering, fit-and-flare silhouette, this dress by Tahari ASL can work for a range of occasions:

Overall, I like the silhouette of a fit-and-flare or a-line dress far, far more than a sheath dress. I just find it’s so much easier to pull off for pear-shaped petites like myself; it skims over my hips and makes my top half look smaller.

This dress, I think, would work better in the summer or warmer months with bare legs and sandals. But, paired with tights and boots, I think it could make a convincing holiday season dress, too.

Dress: Tahari Arthur S. Levine, size 4P, $79.99 USD
Boots: Lavorazione Artigiana, size 36 (really, really old)

The metallic lace fit-and-flare dress

Okay, now we’re talking: I bought this cute little red and black lace dress by NY Collection at a screamingly low Cyber Monday sale price, and it has quickly become my favourite holiday dress:

First off, it’s not black. The lovely maroon red colour is still season-appropriate, but is so much easier for me to pull off with my super-pale complexion. The fit-and-flare silhouette and v-neck with cap sleeves are a great look on me. And while the top of the dress was a little bit big, it was nothing a quick sewing machine hack couldn’t fix.

Paired with a chunky long necklace and a pair of boots, this dress is fun, flirty and totally festive. And did I mention the amazingly low price?

Dress: NY Collection, size PS, $24.99 USD (Cyber Monday sale, purchased in 2016)
Boots: Lavorazione Artigiana, size 36 (really, really old)

Whatever you celebrate at this time of year, you should do it in style. Happy holidays!

4 thoughts on “Holiday dresses for petites

  1. The sweater dress is my favourite, followed by the Guess dress.
    The dark red one is awful, very dowdy/dootsey (old fashioned) – for someone older perhaps?
    3/4 length boots imo are a no no with party type dresses – they make the legs look stumpy in general on anybody, even with the opaque tights.
    Few people can carry off black, brighter colours are more youthful and flattering in general.

    1. Thanks for your feedback! I love the sweater dress too, though I have to admit my favourite is the dark red one that you think is “awful” — everyone who’s seen me wear it has given it rave reviews. So I’ll chalk that up to varied opinion.

      Also, re: 3/4 boots — they’re tricky, but so are knee-high boots when you’re petite and every knee-high boot sold in stores is too tall for your legs. I actually love the boots in the photo and find that they lengthen, not shorten, the leg. The key is the small ankle area and the pointy toe, both of which have elongating effects. And it’s just so much easier to walk in boots than in pumps, especially with my narrow feet, which fall out of most shoes.

      Agree with you re: black. I prefer colours too!

      1. I’m glad you weren’t offended by my comment, I was a bit worried about that and actually was going to try to delete it but couldn’t figure out how to!
        You’re right about the pointy toes of the shoe or boot elongating and definately wearing dark tights helps the effect too.

  2. oops I should have read the whole blog! you already have bought the dress and you like it! sorry!
    differing tastes so don’t let me put you off your new dress.

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