Thursday, October 12, 2006

Petite and Reverend People

A petite and young minister wrote to ask for some clothing tips.

PeaceBang wistfully recalls the days she was a petite. Granted, she was always a petite size 12 or 14 or 16, but she's short, and she wore petites. Now, PeaceBang finds that petites are often very cropped (blazers and shirts) and that isn't flattering for her meatballosity, so she generally avoids them. But this isn't about PEACEBANG, is it?? Please let me slap myself out of my reverie.

Petite Rev, have you checked out Anne Taylor Loft? Like these skirts, for instance?

They're a bit pricey, but with a challenging-to-fit body type, you're better off investing in some really nice classics and sticking to a few garments.

I dig this jacket from Boscov's, where I used to shop when I lived in upstate New York for about five minutes:

H&M is also a good place to look for petite sizes. They cut their clothing really slim, and while a lot of their garments could be described as "Hootchie Mama Officewear For Recent College Graduates Who Are Definitely Going Out Drinking After Work," they also have some nifty and fashionable more classic pieces. Their tweedish suits are inexpensive and made like crap but they look GREAT!

I think the trick for petites -- whether men or women -- is to stick with classics that are impeccably fitted, and that aren't too fusty lest you risk that "oh look! The little person is dressing like a GROWN UP" effect. Women should avoid cutesy details like Mary Jane shoes or flowery anything, or matchy-matchy ensembles or anything that even vaguely resembles what the kids are wearing in high school. No hoodies, no flippy short Old Navy skirts (shudder) -- and in order to avoid looking like someone's adorable little grandmama -- no holiday themed shirts or lacey collars. Avoid childish jewelry. Find classic accessories and carry a killer bag. Avoid wearing schoolgirl headbands and hair accessories or styles that evoke extreme youth. No need to go around in a super conservative pageboy or a Nancy Reagan helmet head 'do, but put some serious thought into your hairstyle. I often see very petite women in hairstyles that make me immediately think they're auditioning for Peter Pan. All they need is the green tights.

Many very tiny women are quite slim and not very curvy. I encourage these gals to have fun finding garments that give them some shape, and not to be afraid of it. Layers are also wonderful on you, so take advantage of all the fun vests and jackets and nubby, textured sweaters out there -- but FITTED, so you're not lost in the fabrics. Do NOT cover yourself head to toe in fabric -- you will get lost. That means if you wear a turtleneck, keep your skirt knee-length. Etc.

Hold out for good fit in everything. If you try on a skirt and can detect no derriere in the mirror, put it back on the rack (the skirt, not your derriere). Ask a salesperson to help you locate a well-cut, interestingly designed skirt that will give you some budunkadunk. There are all kinds of beautifully designed, affordable pieces out there for petites with curve factor. Don't fear the curve. Having a body does not mean being overtly sexual. When we walk around in swathed head to toe in fabric, I really feel that we are subtly projecting the message, "Hello, I am a walking head. Let's not be distracted by the rest of the story."

Male petites, you should also avoid high school boy clothing, even if the fit is good and the garments conveniently available. On the other hand, if you're really youthful looking, don't feel you have to don a pair of suspenders and a cardigan to look older. You're 40 and you look like you're 22? Don't worry about it! Do put some thought into your haircut, as that can be one way to help you look more mature (WHERE OH WHERE HAVE SUBTLE SIDEBURNS GONE?? PEACEBANG MOURNS THEIR ABSENCE).

Don't wear bow ties, or you'll look like it's 1954 and you're running for student council president. I don't want you to get beaten up in the parking lot by the football team.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is the ivory-robed preacher of a few days ago--I'm also petite and have a terrible time finding clothes that fit. I prefer Ann Taylor to Ann Taylor Loft...wait for the sales, it's worth it for the superior material and cut. Also, check out vintage stores for classic pieces that were made when women seemed to come smaller...especially good if you're built like me: short, pretty slender, but with quite a bust. The 1950s and 60s are your friend. And for goodness sake, FIND A GOOD TAILOR. I find that even petite pants need to be hemmed if I'm wearing anything under a 3 inch heel. Wearing pants that look too long just makes you look smaller and younger, I think. I am already small and young, so my pants are nicely hemmed.

10:53 PM  
Anonymous jinnis said...

Just a comment on the current stock of Anne Taylor Loft - I took a look in person the other day and had some concerns. The skirts may work well on slender petites, but most of them had bunching and pleating that I have learned the hard way to keep far from anything resembling hourglass hips - petite or not. And after five minutes in there, I felt overcome with fear that I would come out looking like "Marion the librarian" - way mousy and swaddled in tweed.

How labels address the sizing for petite is a mystery to me, I must say, especially with regard to pants. As an slightly taller than average woman, I have been known to find a good fit in the petites. That seems just wrong and unfair to people who really need a smaller size.

On a different note, I do like the spelling of "budunkadunk".

12:44 AM  
Anonymous Philocrites said...

My wife's guest post for Beauty Tips for Ministers is worth revisiting: Guest Blogging by Petite Mrs Philocrites.

Now, as for bow ties: One Sunday at the First Parish in Concord, the men on the church staff (senior minister, children's choir director, sexton, and me, the youth director) thought it would be kind of fun to all show up wearing bow ties. And it was!

I even wore a bow tie on a handful of occasions at my super-top-secret day job at an undisclosed location next to the Massachusetts State House. Until Tucker Carlson became famous and I realized that Inner Fifties Liberal has been reclaimed sartorially by neoconservative flacks. Argh. (I own three hand-tied bow ties, by the way, but can't come up with an occasion to wear them any more.)

10:33 AM  
Blogger PeaceBang said...

Philocrites and my Director of Religious Education are two of the only men I can think of who look handsome and appropriate in bow ties.
Jen, how DO you spell "budunkadunk?" I didn't know where to look.

11:31 AM  
Anonymous jinnis said...

For spelling - I might change out a "u" for an "a" - badunkadunk. Or even a little hyphenation - ba-dunk-a-dunk. But then, therein lies part of the fun of slang and messing with language. What's more fun is being creative with how we communicate.

As for Philocrites and the bow ties - add a seersucker or linen jacket for that Southern gentleman look. Along with an attitude of confidence and a sense of humor. I would stay away from suspenders, though. No need to go overboard. I'm sorry that Tucker Carlson has put the kabosh on enjoying the well-tied bow.

12:10 PM  
Anonymous Donna B. said...

Petite ladies, check out Hanna Andersson's petite women's collection. I'm currently wearing their petite a-line skirt with matching espresso tights, and a fabulous forest green v-neck cotton-rib sweater. Nothing cost more than 52 per piece, it's all washable, doesn't wrinkle and it wears like iron.

Yeah, yeah, mostly hanna anderson makes kids' clothing, but their grown up stuff is really a great buy.

1:10 PM  
Blogger claire said...

i've also seen it spelled *badonkadonk*

and i have a professor who is a super-sharp dresser, mostly vintage with the occasional bowtie. i love his class partly because i get to see what he's wearing every week. he pulls it off very well.

11:26 PM  

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