Petite Maternity Clothes | MARION | Petite Maternity Leggings, Petite Maternity Dresses, Petite Maternity Jeans, Petite Maternity Tops, Petite Maternity Work Clothes

Petite Maternity Clothes: A How-To Guide (Part 1)

The Problem with Petite Maternity Clothes

Dressing as a petite woman is hard.

Dressing as a pregnant person is hard.

Dressing as both can be PAINFUL. 

If you're a petite woman, you already understand the challenges, but let's just go over them for the sake of catharsis. Despite the fact that petite women (defined as under 5'4") now represent more than 40% of the US female population, most fashion still seems to be made for leggy supermodels.

No hate to leggy supermodels, but we don't share closets for a reason. 

In "standard sized" clothes, our shirt hems hang below the hip, pant legs drag on the ground, even the most professional tops are made revealing by too-long straps, and our sleeves fall to our knuckles. 

Short woman wearing a maternity tank top made for tall women. Petite woman trying on a standard J Crew dress that is much too long in the straps.

Non-petite styles (maternity tank and nursing-friendly dress) on my 5'2" frame. 

This realty doesn't change when we petite women become pregnant. If anything, maternity tops get even longer and most styles feel even more oversized, leaving us looking like little girls playing dress up with our moms' clothes. 


The Good News About Petite Maternity Style

Petite maternity clothes, petite maternity leggings, MARION, shop the collection.

MARION Petite Maternity Collection Page


Wait - there is good news! First, maternity brands like MARION have begun actually making maternity clothes for petites - offering a high quality line of workwear, basics, and fashion for short mamas. 

Second, the rules for dressing as a petite pregnant woman aren't all that different from dressing as a petite non-pregnant woman. With a few exceptions. Read on for the most important rules to looking great during your pregnancy, short mama:

Rules for Petite Maternity Fashion 

With some celebrity help...

1. Avoid boxy, oversized styles 

Fitted maternity dress, black, worn by Natalie Portman.  Natalie Portman in boxy maternity dress.

Petite Mama Natalie Portman in Fitted vs. Oversized Styles 

As tempting as it can be to try to hide our growing bodies in cascades of loose fabric, this is the opposite of helpful. For tall women, oversized pieces can look attractively slouchy and chic. For short women, oversized styles tend to swallow and overwhelm our frames. We're much better off wearing fitted pieces that draw attention to the slimmest parts of our silhouettes (especially when we want to provide a counterbalance to our expanding middles). Natalie Portman could look gorgeous wearing a burlap sack, but the fitted black dress above flatters her frame and showcases her cute bump much better than the oversized piece. 

I knew this principle long before I was pregnant, so naturally tried on dozens of fitted maternity dresses when expecting my first son. The problem was that my body was covered in new pregnancy bulges and rolls, and nearly every fitted maternity style I could find was made with paper-thin fabric. I don't have to tell you how unflattering the combination was. This leads me to a maternity-specific petite rule:

2. Choose Structured, Substantial Fabrics

There is nothing worst than feeling exposed as your body changes and expands. Quality, structured fabrics act like Photoshop's magic eraser tool on all those bulges. It's usually true that pieces made from quality materials are more expensive, but the difference is 100% worth it. For great examples of this, try MARION's Into the Blue Petite Maternity & Nursing Dress made with luxe Italian suiting fabric, or White Collar Petite Maternity Blouse made with TENCEL. Just remember to look for breathable fabric, or you'll be cooking more than a bun. 


MARION's Petite Into the Blue Maternity Dress & Petite White Collar Maternity & Nursing Blouse.


3. Wear Full-Length, Slim Leg Pants

Red Petite Maternity Pants | Scarlett Johansson Black Petite Maternity Pants | Eva Longoria

Petite Mamas Scarlett Johansson and Eva Longoria in Slim Leg Maternity Pants

We know, we know - it's always tempting to jump on-trend when pant legs go cropped or super wide. But the reality is that those styles are never going to be the best fit for petites. That's even more true when petites are pregnant. The cropped leg of a shorter pant creates a visual break halfway down our ankle, making it appear that our legs are several inches shorter than they are. Yikes.

Our frames also have very little length with which to elongate a flowy pant. Instead, the wider silhouette stretches us out horizontally until we risk looking square-shaped. Especially when pregnant, slimming our legs balances out our bellies and makes it clear that our thickening middle is from a baby, while the rest of our bodies still look like our bodies (well, mostly)

The most flattering petite maternity pants are always going to be slim cuts, which can include skinny, straight, or boot. MARION's petite-friendly Favorite Maternity Work Pants are a slim leg office trouser in luxe Italian suiting fabric and a pregnant petite favorite. 


Petite-Friendly Favorite Maternity Work Pants by MARION 


 4. Wear Solid Colors, and Go Monochrome When You Can

Petite Maternity Outfit | Kim Kardashian Red Petite Maternity Dress | Jenna Dewan

Short Mamas Jenna Dewan and Reese Witherspoon in Solid Petite Maternity Looks

It's a well-known fashion principle: wearing the same color from head to foot elongates and slims. This rule absolutely holds true for pregnancy. Wear various pieces of a similar hue, or keep it simple and wear a solid maternity dress with matching shoes. 


The Sarah Maternity & Nursing Dress | MARION | Petite & Standard Sizes


Next time you're struggling with the question, "What should a pregnant petite wear?", start with these 4 simple rules and rest easy that the results will be absolutely gorgeous.

1. Avoid boxy, oversized styles 

2. Choose Structured, Substantial Fabrics

3. Wear Full-Length, Slim Leg Pants 

4. Wear Solid Colors, and Go Monochrome When You Can

Stay tuned for Part II of Petite Maternity Clothes - A How To Guide, where I'll talk about petite maternity dresses, maternity tops, and accessorizing - among other things. 


What are your petite maternity style struggles? What are your style secrets? Let us know in the comments below. 

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