Sharing my first-hand shopping experience being a petite woman in India, here's a plea for fashion inclusivity for the petite section of society.
Shopping as a petite woman can be quite overwhelming and frustrating at the same time, and being a petite woman I thought I'd pen down my first-hand experience while shopping in India. It's surely taken me a while to get here, and possibly write my first-ever personal experience on my website but it's a start. The aim is to create an understanding in our society about the need for introducing a petite section in a country like India. While the petite population might be a minority, as we transition to a world of inclusivity in fashion, I am strongly of the opinion that homegrown and multi-designer stores in India should cater to the need for petite women that are stylish at once and also affordable. Because we want to breathe a sigh of relief and know that we can walk into a store in India to find clothing of our size. The plus-size market surely exists, so why can't there also be a petite section?
** Who is a petite person?
Petite is the term used in the fashion industry to describe a woman who is 5'3" tall or under. Petite women come in all shapes and sizes, whether they're a size 4 or 14.
It's a well-known fact that fashion stores in the west have a dedicated petite section, and quite frankly it's a part and parcel for all brands and multi-designer stores. From Nordstrom Lord & Taylor, to Macy's, ASOS to MissSelfridges and Topshop, shopping in the West is definitely a breeze. But the struggle comes in India, and this is the sad truth. Yes, being a 27-year old, petite woman in India is a tough one, shopping isn't as easy as it seems. The crux of the problem? Finding the right fit in clothing and the right aesthetic being a full-grown adult. While some pieces are way too loose and baggy, others are long, ill-fitted and often overshadow my petite body frame. As a petite woman when I style myself I understand the importance of the right fit -- a gorgeous ensemble can often go wrong if the fit is incorrect. Think drooping shoulders, oversized sleeve length, micro-dresses that come up to your calves, bottom wear that fit well at the waist and hips but is just too long, or details like decorated trouser hems being altered or sleeve trimmings -- these definitely limit our shopping options in the market.
With limited styles and silhouettes that fit perfectly, I often find myself giving in to the advice I receive from people around me. Some suggest shopping from the kid's sections but well, of course, these styles are way too child-like and lack a mature approach to the adult-dressing aesthetic. As time passes our sense of style changes and you CAN'T expect us to shop from the kid's section those really aren't the kind of silhouette and style choices we'd go for at 27! Others suggest getting every outfit tailor-made, while this is possible, it is also a tiresome and time-consuming task - from scouting for the design to finding the right tailor because the stores won't do it for you -- and with a time-crunch, it's almost impossible. Another set of people suggest having a tailor on speed dial to alter every piece of clothing I purchase off the rack -- like come on, each garment ends up costing you double of what you paid because of alterations. Yes, all these solutions are possible but only up to a point. I crave entering a store, visiting the petite section and being sure of walking out with a piece that works for my body type.
On the flip side, it does stretch my creative ability and helps me find new ways to style a piece that most others would wear in a conventional manner, but might I add that I owe this to my styling degree. Not every petite woman in India has the creativity or aesthetic to extend to their clothing. And let's be honest, it may surprise a handful of designers to actually know the number of petite women in India looking for these options -- and today, I speak on behalf of all these individuals in society. Just like a plus-size section has been introduced, so should a petite section. I'm not suggesting that the entire collection be made in petite sizes, but definitely, a few pieces that are a mix of trendy and wardrobe staples should be made available. For instance, a range of dresses, -- that are not too long for petite women, because we wear dresses as maxi's -- bottom wear that is shorter in length, tees with shorter hems and sleeves, for petite women and maybe a few trench coats too.
While DIYs and trying to find fashion hacks are a great way to extend our sense of style, this is a gentle plea on behalf of all petite women in India to make shopping in the country easier. Because why do we always need to rely on other countries for our shopping woes? Why not help add to the economy of our own country and make fashion lines inclusive to all kinds of individuals? Why does shopping always have to be a nightmare rather than a pleasurable experience? And why can't we also walk out of a store feeling satisfied that we found a great outfit? If the plus-size market exists, why can't a petite section? Is fashion truly inclusive when some section of society are left out? Let this be an eye opener and let's pay attention to truly make fashion inclusive.
This is just a thought to ponder upon! And while you may have stumbled on my first ever first-hand account, I'll leave you with a few images on how to rock every look despite being petite.
An oversized sweater as a dress and accentuate the waist with a thin belt.
Co-ord sets - knot up tees with longer hems.
Monotone - Use oversized blazers as a layer or opt for cropped blazers.
High-waisted pants to tuck in those long hem tees and wide-legged ones to cover the heels.
Accentuate the waist
Vertical stripe pants for an illusion of length.
Indio-Western - Lehenga with a knotted shirt are always a safe way to use a tee with long hems or you can also use the same tee front open layered with a bustier.