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Alexis Parente
Apr 14, 2015 @ 12:17 pm

As someone who is still waiting for the day when she breaks the 5-foot mark, I know there's nothing harder for petites to find than a well-fitting dress (yes, even tougher than the elusive "perfect" pair of pants).

When you are under 5'2", finding a dress with a flattering length is usually just the start of your issues. Shorter arms mean that cuffing sleeves is not a choice but an absolute must. What might be a well-placed waist seam on taller women magically becomes drop-waist on us. Standard armholes end up exposing rib cages, and scoop necks mutate into plunging neck lines. The list goes on.

Even the petites section can pose a major sartorial challenge, since many designs ignore our need for a silhouette that elongates legs and defines curves. With that in mind, we scoured the market to find the best styles for us "snack size" girls. Shop our picks below.

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Flare

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Banana Republic dress, $150; bananarepublic.gap.com

A front hem with a higher cut makes legs look longer, while the skirt's narrower flare is less overpowering on a smaller frame.

Shirtdress

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BCBG, $198; bcbg.com

This one hits the jackpot. An above-the-knee hemline with shortened side seams give the illusion of a few extra inches in height.

Midi

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Topshop dress, $60; topshop.com

Most midi dresses end up being maxi dresses on us. Not this one, which features a perfect mid-calf hemline as well as a torso-lengthening faux crop top.

Shift

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Gap dress, $70; gap.com

One of the most flattering shapes, the shift is neither boxy nor tight. It's tailored to have a loose cut without a defined waist, which balances smaller proportions. Opt for something with structure, since flimsy fabrics will highlight every bump.

Belted

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Theory, $383; farfetch.com

A cinched style defines waists and accentuates curves—something that's often hard to achieve when you're small.

Drop Waist

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LOFT, $50; loft.com

A flounce hem and tweed stripes make this the ideal tennis dress for those with short torsos. When it comes to prints, try to stick to smaller, subtle patterns, which won't overwhelm a tiny frame.

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