Style

The 13 Best Petite Dresses

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Petite clothing has its own set of considerations — from dress length to proportions — so it’s not surprising that an entire cottage industry of fashion blogs has cropped up dedicated to the subject. From too-long hems to straps that don’t cater to your torso length, shopping for a dress that will actually fit petite dimensions can be a real nightmare. Fortunately, the best petite dresses either come in dedicated petite sizes or feature a cut that naturally works without having to make a trip to the tailor.

If you prefer to keep things simple, the blog Petite Dressing highlights that the best knee-length dress length for petites is around 36 inches from shoulder to hem (for people 5-feet-3 inches or shorter). If you’re after a shorter dress, look for pieces around 32 inches long — and, for maxi dresses, 54 inches should do the trick. This will vary somewhat depending on your individual proportions, but having these numbers in mind will help you to quickly filter choices when you’re shopping.

For very tailored pieces, like a fitted sheath dress, you’re better off sourcing items that are sewn specifically to petite proportions because their construction is so precise. But, since not every brand offers inclusive sizing, certain styles in “conventional” size ranges will let you adjust the fit better than others and might be great choices in their own right. The on-trend drawstring ruched dress comes immediately to mind with its adjustable skirt length, and a split hem can be worn as-is or knotted if you need. The midi length often reads as a maxi on petites but sometimes that equation totally works. And “regular” dresses that are notorious for running short often turn out to be practically perfect in every way for shorter people.

Ahead, the 13 best petite dresses (and one chic pair of palazzo pants) to stock your wardrobe — no tailoring required.

01
Editor’s Choice: A Silky Midi Slip Dress That Fits Like A Maxi

Conveniently, a midi dress often hits petite shoppers at just the right length to qualify as a maxi — one that won’t drag the ground. This satin slip dress has adjustable straps, too, so you can tweak the length until it’s right for you, and a short slit hem that keeps it easy to walk in. The lingerie-inspired slip is effortlessly luxe with a ‘90s vibe that makes it easy to style, and you’ll find ways to wear it year-round. "I'm shocked by how often I wear this dress,” wrote Bustle associate commerce editor Carina Finn. “The fabric is thick, silky, and feels more expensive than it is. It's perfect for WFH days when you want to feel chic but comfortable, and it's nice enough to wear out at night. It layers super well under crop tops or slouchy sweaters, too. I'm 5'1" and this fits me perfectly, not too long or weirdly short!"

  • Available colors: 15
  • Available sizes: XX-Small — 3X
02
A Bright & Stylish Dress With A Square Neckline

With its square neckline and geometric seams in a saturated pink, this colorful sheath dress is hard to pass up. The stretch crepe and overall simple shape make it totally office-worthy, but structural details and vivid hues can kick up their heels at a party. Wear it under a white blazer with nude heels by day, then ditch the layers and add a colorful clutch with some chunky gold jewelry for cocktails.

  • Available colors: 1
  • Available sizes: 2 — 24 (regular, petite, and plus)
03
An Adjustable Plaid Overall Dress

A quietly brilliant solution, this plaid overalls dress has adjustable straps so you can shorten it as much as you need to get the proportions just right for your frame. “It stops a couple inches above my knee and I’m 5’3,” one shopper reported, while another fan dubbed the straps “a big win for petite ladies.” A hidden zipper makes it easy to step into, and two patch pockets (big enough to hide a smartphone) make a cute yet practical accent. Best of all, it gives you the ability to create a ton of different looks depending on how you layer.

  • Available colors: 11
  • Available sizes: X-Small — X-Large
04
A Timeless Wrap Dress With a Pretty Tulip Hem

If you need a dress that can be worn casually yet still styles well for more formal occasions, this classic wrap dress has the versatility you need. It has short sleeves for light coverage that’s still easy to layer, with an adjustable tie waist and curving tulip hem. The buttery-soft polyester jersey knit is woven to resist wrinkles, so it's an especially great piece to have when you travel. "I love this dress so much that I bought it in two colors," one shopper confessed, confirming that "it fits nice and is stretchy. It can easily be dressed up or down."

  • Available colors: 5
  • Available sizes: Small Petite — X-Large Petite
05
The Perfect Little Black Cocktail Dress

Accessories are optional when you slip into this fabulous Calvin Klein cocktail dress. It’s studded with a thick band of pearls along the neckline and the fitted silhouette zips up the back for a tailored shape with a bit of stretch thanks to its poly-rayon knit that features 4% spandex. Just add killer shoes and you’re ready to go. It's dry clean only, but the extra effort is worth it. "This is a gorgeous dress, and it fits perfectly! Very dressy. Now I just have to wait for the perfect occasion to wear it," one shopper shared. For more colors and sizes, this flowy cocktail dress also has an embellished neckline.

  • Available colors: 1
  • Available sizes: 2 — 12 petite
06
This Casual Midi Dress With A Split Hem

This casual midi dress could potentially work as a maxi, depending on your height, with a length that starts at 41 inches. Its split skirt gives you the flexibility to knot if you want a shorter midi hem (or just a different look) and the drawstring can also be secured a little higher if it falls past your natural waist. The only thing better than its absurdly soft rayon knit is the fact that it comes with pockets. "Short girls dream of a maxi like dress," a petite reviewer declared. "Perfect for a summer cookout or even a wedding guest dress if you add a belt and heels."

  • Available colors: 11
  • Available sizes: 2-4 — 22-24
07
This Trendy Ruched Drawstring Dress With A Conveniently Adjustable Length

This ruched drawstring dress is ultra on-trend right now, but the adjustable skirt is secretly so convenient for petite people who struggle to find the right length in stores: You could literally turn this dress into a top if you wanted to. It's made from a thick yet breathable ribbed rayon knit that got rave reviews from shoppers, who loved the ability to style it many different ways. "We went to a nice restaurant for brunch so I paired the dress with heeled thigh high boots and a long sweater and later we did an escape room so I switched to white Converse and ditched the sweater...Completely different outfits and looked so cute both ways," a fan reported.

  • Available colors: 10
  • Available sizes: Small — X-Large
08
This Effortless Beach Dress You’ll Live In

In 100% cotton, this shift dress is as much of a staple as your basic tee. A straight cut through the body is easygoing yet still put-together, with a tunic-inspired notch neck that leaves room for jewelry and two pockets tucked on the side. This particular tie-dye colorway feels of the moment, but there are also nautical stripes, gingham, and leopard print, plus classic solids to choose from. “This dress is amazingly comfortable and has pockets to boot. I love how I can dress it up or down and move comfortably in it,” a reviewer praised.

And if full-length dresses are typically too long for you, Lands’ End also makes a petite maxi dress in tropical prints.

  • Available colors: 25
  • Available sizes: X-Small — 3X (regular, petite, and tall)
09
A Sharp AF Colorblock Sheath Dress

Go from desk light to date night in this super stylish sheath dress. It has classic lines in modern color schemes: You can slip the sleeveless style under a blazer if needed, but it looks elegant in its own right. The colorblock motif is its own kind of tailoring with vivid insets. This is another dry-clean only dress, but the poly-spandex blend feels soft and fluid. "Beautiful, classic," one shopper raved. "Excellent material! I loved how classy this dress is. Perfect for a wedding, work, or celebrating an anniversary!"

  • Available colors: 5
  • Available sizes: 2 — 12 Petite
10
This Chic Floral Dress With A High-Low Hem

This floral midi dress is a showstopper that’s easy to throw on for a lunch date with enough oomph for a wedding. Its dainty pleated halter neck cinches at the waist with a self-tie belt over the frothiest ruffle high-low hem. A sleek keyhole back and zip closure make for the perfect fit. The polyester chiffon is fully lined, and it’s even machine washable for hassle-free care. (Because you will wear this on repeat.) Although it has no reviews, the brand is well-known for making high-quality clothing and shoes that retail at Nordstrom.

  • Available colors: 1
  • Available sizes: 2 — 14 Petite
11
A Best-Selling T-Shirt Dress In A Wearable Length

If you struggle to find short dresses that are actually short enough, this T-shirt dress could be the answer to your prayers: The overall length starts out at 32.7 inches, for a hemline that falls about knee-length on petite shoppers. Boasting more than 20,000 ratings on Amazon, it’s comfy casual in soft rayon with plenty of drape. Plus, you can easily dress it up with a wide waist belt to create more shape if you choose. “This dress is exactly what I wanted! Cool in the heat of summer. I ordered a small, I’m a petite, and it’s a perfect fit,” a reviewer confirmed.

  • Available colors: 41
  • Available sizes: Small — 3X-Large
12
This Hippie-Chic Floral Dress In Moody Embroidered Velvet

Wear this velvet smock dress with ankle boots in the fall and add leggings to take it through winter. It’s made from a luminous crushed velvet with artisan-style floral embroidery for a rich yet earthy look, with a split tassel neckline and lantern sleeves for even more whimsical details. As for the fit? “I am 5'2" and it falls about 3 inches above my knees,” reported one shopper, and the dress measures approximately 35 to 37 inches long so it should prove quite wearable on most petite frames.

  • Available colors: 5
  • Available sizes: Small — 4X-Large
13
This Maxi Dress That Is Editor-Approved For Mid-Heights

Clocking in at 5-feet-4-inches, associate commerce editor Amanda Fama notes this maxi dress is a good option if you’re right on the cusp of petite sizes, “It's seriously one of the most comfortable dresses I own. It's lightweight and feels like a nightgown in the best way; I usually wear it with Converse or strappy sandals. It's perfect for hot summer months, but I definitely plan on wearing it with a denim jacket when the temps drop.” The skirt is a cropped ankle-length on taller shoppers and just skims the ground if you’re petite, with adjustable spaghetti straps for shortening and a smocked bodice that will stretch to fit.

Editors weren’t the only ones in love: “The fabric is dreamy! So soft, light and airy, flowy and comfortable,” one 5-foot-tall Amazon reviewer confirmed. “I just want to wear it every day! My favorite parts are the adjustable straps and the fact that it’s a maxi and it’s not dragging the floor...because I’m petite!”

  • Available colors: 15
  • Available sizes: X-Small — XX-Large
14
Also Nice: A Versatile Dress Pant In A Petite-Friendly Length

If you’ve stayed away from trousers because they’re always too long, your time has come. These petite palazzo pants are made with smaller proportions in mind. Airy layers of chiffon create an almost maxi skirt appeal with the same flowy comfort, and they even leave room for a pair of tights if it’s chilly. You can find styles with a comfortable elastic waistband, but the ones with a sash tie belt are especially festive. “Loved these pants! Exactly what I wanted and as described,” a reviewer praised. “They were a good length. I’m 5’3” and I wore them with flats, with just a quick roll up at the waist, and could easily wear them with heels.

  • Available options: 20
  • Available sizes: Small — 3X-Petite