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How to Dress as a Petite Model

By Abby Rozens

I feel like it’s important to say that our style has significantly changed from when we first started out. I started modeling when I was 11, and let me tell you I did not dress like Kendall Jenner or Bella Hadid. My closet was mainly Justice and Aeropostale. Even as I got older, I still did not fully understand how to dress as a model, only wearing business attire and looking as if I worked in a corporate setting at the age of 14. However, as I matured and continued to receive advice from other models, I finally understood the concept of working in this industry and looking your best. In a world where being petite is not the norm, it is crucial that we stay looking and feeling the part of a model!

It is essential for petite models to understand how certain types of clothing fit and what flatters us most. Industry-standard models are typically taller than 5’6”. For petite models, making ourselves appear elongated to create the illusion of height can be a challenge.

When attending castings, the most effective pieces to wear are those that give the illusion of making the body look more extended. One fashion tip of mine is if you are looking to make your legs appear longer, try wearing black seamless leggings or high-waisted jeans that give that exact appearance. If you want to make your torso look longer, I’d go for low-waisted pants and a black top that goes all the way down to your belly button. Always avoid wearing baggy clothes to castings as it hides the shape of your body.

Try practicing model street style attire when you go out to dinner or have brunch out with friends. It should be chic yet relaxed and have a touch of flair, that’s the whole point! Look for heels or booties to add just a touch of elegance to it. A good way to find outfit inspirations is by going through Pinterest to see how to combine different elements to create something that expresses you–a gorgeous petite model!

For us petite models, since we are the outlier in this industry, I think it’s a great opportunity to get creative and demonstrate your ability to pull off different unique looks. Exploring colors and patterns that flatter you are what stands you out as an individual in a crowd, not only for castings but for networking events as well (which is extremely important)! Take a look at colors that flatter your skin tone and patterns that can enhance your silhouette such as vertical stripes, V-shaped necklines, monochrome, and asymmetry. Everything revolves around the body’s long lines, so take advantage of all designs that enhance it!

Photographer: Scottie B

Now fashion can be unpredictable, which is what makes it so fascinating.

You can still be stylish outside of castings and fancy networking events. Have you ever heard of the “Model Off Duty” look? This comes from the idea that someone even casually dressed can still be perceived as fashionable, as if they were a model just coming from work. While it may seem little, this aesthetic is sought after, and it’s really important for us petite models to have this mastered!

The best part about these off-duty looks is that they can be easily recreated. It is the basic outfit formula for models that you can use for years to come! In my own opinion, the “M.O.D” Look is a skill and talent. The key is having a variety of basics in your closet. I recommend wearing cropped blazers and neutral-colored tops paired with high-waisted straight-leg or skinny jeans/pants. Try also investing in two-piece sets as it pulls your outfit together.

Things like blazers or leather jackets can be used for any occasion and worn with a range of colors to create a sophisticated image. It’s a terrific way to add a touch of refinement to any outfit–I have a few jackets of different colors to add layering to any outfit. All tops, pants, or jackets with neutral colors can be mixed and matched with statement pieces to produce a one-of-a-kind look for you as a model. Find what flatters your body the most, and I say go for any outfit or pizzazz that represents you!

Saving the best for last, your shoes! Heels are no stranger in the modeling world, but there are so many more varieties to have than just the plain black heels just sitting in your closet. For example, try wearing strapless heels to accentuate your legs when wearing dresses or shorts. This gives the appearance that your legs are longer than they actually are. Clear translucent heels can also have this effect. As with tops, it’s good to have a range of different colored heels, and neutrals can cover a lot of ground!

Gratefully in today’s society, the industry has become more accepting of people with all different body types. I used to always think that I have to dress like all high-fashion models where the features that I have were hidden. But that’s not the case. I can embrace my features and make myself look unique. Now fashion can be unpredictable, which is what makes it so fascinating. You can convey who you are as a model by how you present yourself. Don’t let an unflattering outfit keep you from landing that casting! Choose your attire based on the message you wish to convey.

The truth is, the modeling profession needs petites. The industry presents a variety of body shapes that are relatable to a wider audience by accepting and showcasing their beauty. Petite women establish new standards of beauty in the fashion industry with our originality and grace. The prominence of petite women in the modeling business will only increase as we progress toward a more inclusive future.

Best of luck to all models, you can do this!

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