Cheap Ts for the short-waisted gal?
June 9, 2010 8:45 AM   Subscribe

Petite and/or short-waisted women of AskMe: at what stores, brick-and-mortar OR online, have you bought inexpensive, casual knit tops that'd fit someone with a short torso?

I'm looking to supplement my summer wardrobe with some casual everyday knit shirts: baby Ts, polos, tanks, etc. I'm short-to-average height, with a fairly (although not freakishly) short waist. ~5 years ago I had no problem finding shirts that fit, but it seems as though nowadays every single store I try stocks exclusively looong-bodied tops with waistlines that hit me right at the hip.

I could try going with specifically petite-sized tops, but the ones I've seen are all either too dowdy and boxy-looking (I like a more fitted style, and generally shop juniors' sections for everyday wear) or too expensive (I refuse to pay more than ~$10 apiece for the kind of throwaway jersey tee that regularly retails at Target for $5.99). I can't help feeling as though this is a question of finding The One Store that happens to carry a line of relatively short-skewing tops (at which point I will buy one of everything and be done with it), but I totally do not have the time to canvas every shirt-rack in the area until the right T turns up.

I'm on the middle East Coast of the US, with access to pretty much every mall and strip-mall retailer you can think of. So far I've tried Kohl's, Walmart, Boscov's, American Apparel, and Target without luck. Can anyone suggest some likely places to try next?
posted by Bardolph to Shopping (13 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Old Navy has petite length t-shirts in sizes S-XXL. I usually buy them online, but I've seen them in stores too.
posted by kimdog at 8:50 AM on June 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

H&M? They tend to have a lot of very trendy stuff but also just tanks and tees that are 5.99-9.99 or so.
posted by Medieval Maven at 8:53 AM on June 9, 2010

Ann Taylor Loft, though probably out of your price range, has petite t-shirts that fit me great. I'm 5'2" and very short waisted.
posted by ImproviseOrDie at 8:57 AM on June 9, 2010

I refuse to pay more than ~$10 apiece for the kind of throwaway jersey tee that regularly retails at Target for $5.99

You may have to reconsider this. The more specific you are about quality, fit and style, the harder it is to find a bargain. You can find a t-shirt for $5.99. Doesn't mean you can find a t-shirt that looks good, fits you, and holds up for more than a season for that price. And if you plan on wearing something a lot, quality and fit are more important than price.

That said, Lands' End carries a lot of basic styles in petites, and is pretty affordable with decent quality.
posted by Metroid Baby at 9:01 AM on June 9, 2010 [3 favorites]

If you look online at, you can check out the Banana Republic, Gap and Old Navy inventories. For me, wearing Gap's regular clothes, even in an XS, is like putting on a tent. However, their petite stuff is fan-freaking-tastic. (I'm 5'0 and ... well, a size XS. I'll leave it at that.)

Gap doesn't carry petites in-store, unfortunately, and the better deals are definitely in the sale section, which requires a bit of clicking, but their basic shirts are lovely. I can tell you from experience that this one is perfect.
posted by inmediasres at 9:07 AM on June 9, 2010

Ann Taylor and Ann Taylor Loft's petites clearance sections are hit or miss, but there are some great finds out there. I'd say for a money to quality ratio, they're tops.
posted by litnerd at 9:17 AM on June 9, 2010

Old Navy petites. You might have to buy online, but their petite shirts are great for the short waisted. I am 5'1" and also short waisted, which has led me in the past to wear CHILDREN'S shirts when I wanted something that didn't hang on me like a tent, and I find Old Navy's petite shirts fit me very well. Old Navy also often has sales on their camis and tees -- they can run as cheap as $5, though I find $8-$10 is more common.

LOFT petites are also good, but their shirts tend to have less of a waist and so are a bit boxier. YMMV depending on how curvy you are. (I am very curvy. Buying clothes is a huge PITA for me.)
posted by devinemissk at 9:21 AM on June 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

Also, if you want a shorter button-up, this shirt is exceptionally good -- it hits me just below the naval and has a nice fitted shape. It has been a huge go-to for me with summer skirts. It is a little too short, however, to wear with my typically-low-rise jeans.
posted by devinemissk at 9:23 AM on June 9, 2010 has a terrific selection of petite tops, and they are better made and will hold up better than really cheap ones. If you buy cheaper all-cotton tshirts, hot water & the dryer will, over time, make them fit. I've got 2 cotton tees from Coldwater Creek. 1 shrank in length, the other didn't, so this is wildly unpredictable. Cheap tees are cut cheaply, so some percentage of them will also skew in weird ways.
posted by theora55 at 10:19 AM on June 9, 2010

5' 2" and short waisted here: nthing LOFT petites. Check their sale section, I have gotten good deals on basics.
posted by AV at 10:35 AM on June 9, 2010

nthing LOFT petites.
posted by spec80 at 10:58 AM on June 9, 2010

You will have to spend more than you want, sorry. Long t-shirts have been the trend at cheap stores for the past 3 years are so (the last time I bought an affordable jersey shirt that wasn't too long was that long ago). Loft is really good for this, and not that expensive.
Gap petites are still too big for me, at least, width-wise nowadays (used to wear a S t-shirt, now XS is even too big even though I got bigger, not smaller.). Banana Republic is not, because they haven't been making their sizes bigger over the years.
posted by fructose at 5:36 PM on June 9, 2010

Response by poster: Ducking back in here to (a) thank everybody who took the time to answer last year, and (b) add that I've found in the intervening year that thrift shops are a surprisingly productive place to shop for cheap short-waisted tees. Based on the recs here, I did order a few new tops from Old Navy, but was disappointed in the quality (their fabric selections seem to have veered toward the flimsy and saggy over the past two years). Since then, though, I've regularly had great luck finding appropriately-sized tees-- some brand-names like GAP or Ann Taylor, some not-- at the Goodwill around the corner. So I just wanted to throw that in the mix, in case anyone's still reading!
posted by Bardolph at 5:14 AM on May 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

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