What are some clothing brands for tiny people?
February 18, 2015 10:21 PM   Subscribe

XS is frequently too large on me - where should I try to shop?

I'm 5'1, 95 pounds, 32-24-32 measurement small lady. I recently bought a great down jacket sized XS and had to return it - it was both too long in the sleeves and not fitted enough. I look like I'm wearing a sack. And this was Cole Haan, which I thought would cater to smaller folks.

So I'm asking the hive's tiny members - where do you shop? I thought maybe looking into brands popular in countries where people are on the petite side, like maybe some Asian brands? But I'm not sure where to begin... (I hope this is not racially offensive - Being small is great! But clothes-challenging...)

Thank you!
posted by namesarehard to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (19 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
There are some great fashion bloggers who give petite shopping and alterations advice.
Maybe browse, Alterations Needed, and Extra Petite, which also has a solid blogroll of other petite bloggers.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 10:29 PM on February 18, 2015

Uniqlo (where at 5'1 but no where near 95#, I'm an XL).
posted by jamaro at 10:34 PM on February 18, 2015 [3 favorites]

I'm an inch shorter and about 10 lbs heavier, but I can relate. What is your budget, and what kind of clothing are you looking for? (For instance, as far as functional active clothing goes, Patagonia's small sizes, while they do need to be hemmed, are actually small -- I'm looking at you, 00P Prana pants that hang off my butt).
posted by halogen at 10:48 PM on February 18, 2015

Beaten to it! Those were the exact two blogs I was going to recommend. Both Kelly and Jean are very small and incredibly stylish, although the styles and brands they feature tend to skew preppy/businesswear. They also detail the tailored and DIY alterations they both make, like slimming blazers and shrinking sweaters.

You don't mention issues with shoe sizes or bras, so perhaps you have those parts covered, but if not you may consider Cinderella of Boston (which goes from size 2 to 5.5) and The Little Bra Company (which, now that I look at it, isn't really unusually tiny; they start at a 28 band). And not to state the obvious, but have you tried shopping in the kids' sections? You'll definitely have to wade through a lot of (presumably) age-inappropriate designs and cheap manufacture, but every once in awhile you find a gem, especially if you are not also busty. Both the girls' and boys' sections are good for this, and you'll see them featured occasionally on Alterations Needed and Extra Petite. I've had good luck at thrift stores and stores that carry higher-end designers and lines, like Nordstrom/Nordstrom Rack, and I know Jean has mentioned boys' Brooks Brothers blazers. A girls' size 12, 14, 16 may do the trick for you (great for small underwear and other inexpensive clothing), and a child size 3 shoe is approximately equivalent to a women's size 5. As a bonus, kids' sizes are usually cheaper, and some brands construct them just as well.

Related, does your style gravitate to vintage clothes at all? Vintage can have its own issues, but most of them are both smaller and better-constructed. Etsy and eBay both have large selections of true vintage clothes with measurements.
posted by spelunkingplato at 11:15 PM on February 18, 2015

Oh this is my wheelhouse! J. Crew goes to xxxs, with xxs and xxxs only carried online. Theory 00 might fit you okay, with alterations. Club Monaco and Banana Republic and Nau do xxs. Nanette Lepore 0 is narrow in the torso/ribcage: good for jackets and shirts. Ibis does a very lean xs, and make great light wool t-shirts, tanks and hoodies. Enza Costa is great for lean sweaters: their xs is very small. Three Dots and Velvet both run pretty small, for t-shirts. If you want plain buttondowns Brooks Brothers has 00 and 00P, although they are best for women who are tiny but curvy.

I am small too, although not quite as small as you. I've found that apart from the ones named above, the brands that fit me best are either very cheap (aimed at teens) or very very expensive (Dolce and Gabbana, Rick Owens). The older and more middle American a line skews, the boxier it tends to be. It's hard to find Asian brands outside Asia, unfortunately. But if you ever go to Japan, you'll be in heaven :)

Good luck!
posted by Susan PG at 11:58 PM on February 18, 2015 [4 favorites]

Everlane runs small and recently starting making their T's in XXS.
posted by asphericalcow at 1:45 AM on February 19, 2015

I think you might like some Japanese brands since they cater to smaller sizes. Try Jshoppers, nissen, and rakuten. (The last one can be difficult with shipping.)
posted by Ms. Moonlight at 3:23 AM on February 19, 2015 [2 favorites]

American Apparel runs super small.
posted by sea change at 4:28 AM on February 19, 2015

I am your height, though I am a size 8. I find that I need to shop exclusively at shops that offer a specific petite line because otherwise the sleeves are too long on coats, shoulders are too wide on blazers, pants are too long, etc. I sometimes get stuff altered but it takes time. J.Crew has a great petites line, IMO.
posted by sutel at 4:31 AM on February 19, 2015

Also, you might want to look to brands that cater to juniors, like Forever 21. Sizes there run VERY small.
posted by sutel at 4:33 AM on February 19, 2015

What's your style like? I can recommend some Japanese brands. I'm a big fan of Ships, United Arrows, Beams, and Journal Standard. I'd compare them to J.Crew in terms of price and target demographic, if that's your cup of tea. Some items will be "free" size, which means one size fits all, which means too small for me but should be fine for you!
posted by chocotaco at 6:33 AM on February 19, 2015 [1 favorite]

You need to shop for Petites. They're scaled for the shorter and thinner woman. My mom is 5'1" but she has long arms and big boobs, so it's harder for her to find a good fit.

Ann Taylor, major department stores and Talbots all have petite lines.

You will LOVE how well the clothes fit, straight off the hanger.

There is a HUGE difference between a straight size 4 and a petite size 4.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:33 AM on February 19, 2015 [1 favorite]

Just throwing another recommendation in for J. Crew. I am a little shorter than you but I weigh the same you do and their xxs and 00P are great. Petites are really good. I also have luck at banana republic on occasion with their petites.
posted by sockermom at 6:55 AM on February 19, 2015

I'm your size almost exactly. I buy nice clothes at Ann Taylor and Ann Taylor Loft. I wear size 00 there. I just bought a suit at Talbots - I think the jacket is 2P or 4P. Lands End sometimes has XXXS (that's three Xs, for real!). High end stuff meant for athletic and outdoorsy people tends to run small, like Patagonia and Arcteryx. Rock-climbing gear in particular, I guess larger women don't do too much of that.

Check the clearance racks everywhere you go - a lot of really small stuff doesn't sell. Avoid places like Kohl's and Eddie Bauer, they're a waste of time.

For casual clothes, I buy tons of stuff in the boys department (size 12 or 14). No one can tell the difference between, e.g., a plain black polo shirt from the boys department and a plain black polo shirt from the women's department. Frequently they are even better quality than women's clothes, because I guess boys are assumed to be rough and tumble. They are definitely less expensive.
posted by desjardins at 7:11 AM on February 19, 2015 [1 favorite]

Maybe a bit more juniors than you're looking for, but, on the cheap end, Mandee has clothes that run very small without being child sizes.
posted by bananana at 9:44 AM on February 19, 2015

I'm taller than you but have a very small frame, and know well the pain of XS being too large. Nthing everyone who noted that stores like J Crew and Banana Republic sell clothes online in smaller sizes (XXS, 00, etc.) than what they carry in stores.

A word of warning about Ann Taylor/Ann Taylor Loft sizing -- I found the fit of XXS and 00 sized clothes to be pretty inconsistent, and got burned on some online clearance sales. Some things in that size would fit fine and some would be just...weirdly baggy, like they just didn't scale down the size right.
posted by desuetude at 10:10 AM on February 19, 2015

I see that the blog Extra Petite has already been recommended, but in case you didn't notice, her "About" page has her measurements, which are exactly the same as yours, though she's about an inch shorter. I highly recommend the blog - I actually follow it despite not being petite, because she gives such good fit advice. She frequently goes into stores and tries things on so that she can post about how well they fit - this would probably be very helpful for you.
posted by insectosaurus at 4:03 PM on February 19, 2015

I'm almost exactly your measurements and about 10 pounds heavier. I've figured out which brands work and I look for them gently used on ThredUp. Before this thread, I only knew of J. Crew and Banana Republic, so THANK YOU for this thread!! I've noticed that Banana Republic is a little inconsistent with sizing - som 0P are too large on me (I wear them anyway and just deal with it). The trickiest for me has been bras - and I second The Little Bra Company. If you ever need to shop there, they are expensive but the quality of the construction (not to mention the fit) is amazing, as is their customer service.

I second the comment about Ann Taylor Loft's sizing - they are super inconsistent and I've stopped looking for their brand when shopping online. One other brand to try might be Michael Kors. I received a MK trenchcoat as a gift and it is sized perfectly. Regarding jeans, I've done well in stores where they are measured per UK sizing - I've had the best luck with the Vigoss brand. Nordstrom Rack is a great place to find many UK sizes/styles in the same place.

I feel your pain - and I dislike shopping - so being on the "smallest" end of the "small" spectrum can be really challenging. Yet another reason AskMe is so awesome - so many great suggestions in one place!
posted by onecircleaday at 5:54 PM on February 19, 2015

I don't think anyone has mentioned H&M yet. I have the same problem as you, where I am sometimes swimming in an XS or size 0. But at H&M, I usually wear a 2, if not a 4. True, some of their items can be hit or miss in terms of quality, but I have found several attractive blazers and work dresses there that fit off the rack and have held up well.
posted by oiseau at 8:43 PM on February 19, 2015

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