Clothes for Small Sizes + Wedding Attire 101

Personal stylist Annie Brumbaugh offers wardrobe wisdom for the petite, plus her picks for the perfect wedding outfit.

By Annie Brumbaugh

Clothes for Small Sizes

Dear AB,

Most articles address diet or weight loss. Where is the help for gals like me who are underweight? I am 47, five-foot-four, and weigh maybe 105. I need some tips about what to wear and how to find clothes that fit. It is getting even harder now that the clothing industry wants to change the sizing. I’d like to be able to buy a size 2 instead of a 0 or 00. Am I alone?

Patty

Dear Patty,

You are certainly not alone! Finding clothes that work for you, no matter what your size or shape, can be frustrating. Don’t get hung up on the number; the only thing that matters is the fit. The industry has reduced the sizing because most people want to wear a small size!

You need things that are scaled for you in both length and width. The contemporary department should be a good source, although some styles will be too young. Theory makes grown-up clothes that work well on small people. They have some wonderful tailored summer dresses and great pants and jackets. Many of their pieces come in a linen blend fabric that has both substance and drape. Diane von Furstenberg and Vivienne Tam are two other brands to try for dresses and more feminine pieces.

What you don’t want is droopy, drapey, dark clothes. The right fabric is key. I would recommend wearing lighter colors where possible because light comes forward and dark recedes — especially where you are smallest. Look to your personal coloring (hair, eyes, and skin) to determine really flattering colors for you. You can add volume by wearing a chunky knit or pieces in fabrics that have some body, like cotton poplin or denim. Try wearing a print or a pattern (but not too big!). Horizontal stripes could be your friend.

As for silhouette, a piece with a little structure — like a tailored jacket or dress — will give you a stronger profile. Or how about an A-line or shift dress with a kind of ’70s feel and some great flat shoes? Be cute! Be happy!

The Perfect Mother-of-the-Bride (or Groom) Outfit

Dear AB,

My son is getting married in Florida in November. My future daughter-in-law would like me to wear something short or long in a neutral color. The bridesmaids are wearing chocolate brown. I am five-foot-one, 58 years old, with very short gray/brown hair and dark brown eyes. I look good in browns and golds. I do not want a predictable mother-of-the-groom or -bride look. I find all the wedding magazines advertise outfits for mothers that do not suit me or appeal to me. Can you help?

Gloria

Dear Gloria,

Your question brings to mind an Eileen Fisher ad featuring beautiful, natural-looking women in simple garments — not your traditional MOB approach, but I think it will be just right for you. For August, Eileen Fisher will have a steel satin long jacket in cassis, which I think we can consider a neutral and will work well with the bridesmaids’ dresses. Steel satin has some shine, texture, and body. The jacket should be lovely on you paired with a soft stretch silk jersey skirt and tank. Eileen Fisher’s people are very helpful, so I would recommend calling them. They carry petites, and you do need a petite to get the proportions right.

Once you get the main pieces set, think about a great pair of earrings or a necklace to complete your outfit. The biggest challenge will probably be finding the right shoe. Stuart Weitzman has good "occasion" shoes, and Beautifeel has some styles such as "Jesse" in a lovely bronze color. I hope you’ll look at the wedding photos years from now and be pleased with your timeless, elegant look.

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