How to Dress: What Not to Wear When Petite With Big Hips ‘Pear Shaped’

By on January 13, 2013
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Recently, I was asked by a reader for some petite fashion advice and what she should avoid wearing since she is a petite woman with big hips.

Firstly, I want to stress the importance of understanding your figure type. If you are a petite woman with big hips that means your figure type is pear-shaped.  If you are thin, curvy and plus-size with a pear-shaped figure you may want to follow these suggestions for what not to wear.

WHAT NOT TO WEAR: TIGHT CLOTHINGKelly-Clarkson-Pear-Shaped-Tight-Dress

1. For most women super tight fabrics may be unflattering to your figure type, even on the most slender frame.  This is especially true for a petite woman with a pear-shaped frame as you can see with petite celebrity singer 5’3″ Kelly Clarkson.

You really want to select styles that fit well and give you a graceful, slender, elongated appearance to look your best!

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  1. Sec

    January 22, 2013 at 1:31 am

    The advice for pear shapes always says to wear fitted things to emphasize the waist,but if I do that it just emphasizes my hips even more, because you can tell how large they are compared to my waist even more! Basically it shows off how disproportionate my hips vs waist are, so why do they keep saying, emphasize your waist, wear belts, etc….

    • bellapetite

      January 22, 2013 at 6:46 pm

      Hi Sec, that’s a good question and the reason for the suggestion is to deemphasize your hips and the belt you select should not be too large. Your blouse selection needs to be proportionate to your frame. It should be a lighter color than the bottom. And I agree that you don’t want your top to be too tight fitting. You want to select top styles that balance you out, to take the focus away from your hip size.

    • Kate

      January 28, 2017 at 7:58 pm

      I am a mix between an apple shape and an inverted triangle and I WISH I had a pear shape because I would wear the heck out of anything that showed off my cute curvy womanly hips.

    • Rene

      May 26, 2017 at 9:06 am

      Great post smart advice! I agree with many of the points here. May I suggest that you add a bling belt and nice necklace brings the attention to that part of your beautiful body.

  2. Kristin

    February 12, 2013 at 4:33 am

    Very frustrating. So basically everything is off limits except for too long flared pants, v-necks and heels. I guess we need to hide that we are short and have a big butt and try to appear as taller and longer.. which only says to petite curvy women ‘you are not the ideal body type.’

    No knee high boots. No flats. No straight legs. No wide belts. No layers. No light colored bottoms. Sucks.

    • sayda

      January 8, 2014 at 11:13 pm

      i compleatly agree…this makes me feel terrible about myself.

    • Danielle

      April 14, 2014 at 9:29 am

      Am I the only one who thought the first two pages’ no-photos were cute and attractively plump, while the Kardashian yes-photo was drab and boring despite looking thin and tall, like someone who would shrink into the background rather than a woman with personality and confidence? I know fashion and advertising are all ‘god forbid people look anything other than tall and skinny,” but for Bella Petite I’m disappointed to see this repeated blindly. Short, plump, and/or obviously pear-shaped can look great while shown off rather than hidden.

      I don’t care if straight-legged pants make me look taller, I rarely wear them. Platforms and heels are literally too impractical and/or painful to bother much with. My knee-to-ankle length skirts, cross-ankle-strap ballet flats, and coordinated-and-layered tops have all garnered genuine praise. Confidence really is the core of your outfit, to wear what makes you feel great rather than worrying about it making you look short or plump.

      Seriously, even I and my closest friends forget that I’m a mere 4’6″ because I’m so contentedly confident and happy with myself! Come on, let’s start enjoying a variety of body sizes and looks instead of finger-wagging each other towards a single mold.

      • Lulu

        April 14, 2014 at 10:22 pm

        You are completely rude! I think Bella Petite is the best and only magazine that I care to read on the planet! This magazine has empowered petite women and helped petite women immensely we are now in the realm of the fashion planet, thank you very much. I find this to be very helpful advice and seriously doubt this magazine goes out of their way to make petite women look bad as you suggest! In my opinion those photos accurately depict how both Kim K and Kelly Clarkson look they didn’t use photo shop to make them look thinner or shorter clearly both of those ladies need better stylist, maybe they ought to hire Bella Petite to help them out, LOL! I am 5ft and I find the fashion advice to be very helpful and I love how they use real petite models and actresses in the magazine hooray! Lets get real these are fashion tips you either can do or choose not too, but your slams are the real joke when this was a thoughtful article for me, since I can use this advice since I tend to carry a lil extra weight around my hips. I definitely think ballet slippers and flats make petite women look frumpy and unattractive and that’s just life, so you can choose whatever you want, but try not to kill the messenger who is only being helpful as I see it!!!

        • Louise

          October 19, 2015 at 3:17 pm

          I think this article is better for some than other but each to their own. However I don’t understand how ballet shoes can make short girls look flumpy I myself wear dolly, ballet and flat shoes daily. Despite the fact I am only 5ft and like to feel abit taller, heels are a very rare appearance to my wardrobe due to my droped arches (which cause my feet alot of pain in heels apsecialy). This problem means it’s hell to wear heels for just a few hours whilst I’m on a night out let alone all day walking around, or at work. So does that mean because I wear flat shoes as advised by doctors (which may I add can be very fashionable and not as dull as they are made out to be) I am making myself look frumpy? I refuse to agree with that lable. Fashion in my eyes has too look good and feel good whilst your wearing it too otherwise it’s not fun and it doesn’t seem reachable to be fashionable. My point is that this article is slightly unrealistic in places as it suggest that because you are short you must try too look or be taller by wearing long trousers and heels. Otherwise you are labeled flumpy or wearing the wrong or totally unflattering clothes. I don’t think these tips are for everyone but I agree some people may find them helpful and these style tips and looks may suit some people who have the ability and confidence to pull it off. I however do not have that confidence due to these labels of the “fashion world” and i am not one of those people who feels they suit long trousers unfortunately. so to me this article doesn’t give me personally the tips that suit me and my needs for a short “plus size” or as I prefere to say curvy (as it’s a much nicer term that’s less shameful)girl that I am. Despite this it is a good article for those who whish to take on board and follow these tips, and I can in some sence see how it could help people unlike myself.

      • Betty

        April 15, 2014 at 8:27 pm

        To Danielle you certainly swallowed an ugly pill this is why I hate the internet because it allows mean girls like you to spew hate and rudeness because in reality it is who you are MEAN!!! Too bad Kim Kardashian in my opinion always looks terrible I don’t like her clothing line either. Kim Kardashian in general tends to wear clothing that makes her butt look even bigger and her hips always look enormous if the photos look bad to you than that’s your opinion. I like this advice and really found these tips to be helpful that’s the point of ADVICE!!!

        • Amy

          November 28, 2014 at 7:18 pm

          Why is she being rude? That’s not rude at all. All this article has done is say “Don’t wear this, don’t wear that.” It’s basically saying that we can’t wear shirts that are short but also not lond, don’t wear tight dresses but they can’t be baggy, all pants should be avoided except boot cut, anything else will not work because it won’t completely change your body, because you don’t want to be pear shaped. What’s wrong with being pear shaped? Who ever decided that big hips were a bad thing? Also I think it’s quite hypocritical for you to say she’s spewing hate and then say Kim and Kelly look awful, which they don’t.

          • Kate

            January 28, 2017 at 8:04 pm

            I totally agree!! Who decided that pear shape was a bad thing to be? Since when is it bad for women to have hips when curvy hips are one of the very things that define a womanly shape. Hmph. Again, I WISH I had cute, curvy, womanly hips. I’m all big on top and little on bottom—-so very unwomanly.

    • Jj

      February 21, 2016 at 5:45 am

      i’m a 32 year old masculine classic gentleman, and to all the pear-shaped women out there PLEASE follow this advice from this article…this article advises not to emphasize the hip/waist ratio or the size of the hips because you will emphasize your figure flaws..cuz let’s be honest unfortunately most women with big hips have a big butts and it is hard for you to look good, maybe should try some exercising and not depend on clothes to make you look good.

      • Alnilson

        April 6, 2016 at 6:58 pm

        You sir should hold back on the snidely comments that may hurt others whether the fashion advice his is right or wrong. Thanks Bella Petite for your expertise in fashion and explaining what not wear when you are petite and pear shaped to help is look great. This helps me alot!

      • Kim

        June 18, 2016 at 5:40 pm

        Maybe you should do a little more research yourself. No amount of exercise will change a pear shape. And who are you to decide what is, or is not, attractive?

        You certainly not a “classic gentleman.”

    • Juju

      June 19, 2016 at 8:13 am

      Exactly, I will follow this advice! I know a pear shaped figure has limited options most styles are not flattering and this advice is spot on.

  3. Christine

    July 6, 2013 at 8:46 pm

    I LOVE THIS! Finding the right clothes for your shape does so much for you self confidence. We put together a few looks for pear-shaped woman to off their fabulous shapes. xoxxoox

  4. Tigris

    August 22, 2013 at 5:48 pm

    This is the first website that has actually talked about PETITE pair-shaped women and I’m very impressed. I wish there were more photos that told me what I can wear, and less “don’t wear all these general things”. This article manages to tell me not to wear nearly everything and that all of the clothing that’s available in stores (which are all severely lacking in the petite dept) will look terrible on me and that basically there’s no hope. We need a petites-only store.

    Flat shoes look dumpy? Actually, I think flats look quite cute with a nice A-line dress, which work very well on pear-shaped petite ladies.

    To be honest, wide-legged pants look very dumpy on a short girl that’s 5’3″ and under. The pants take away from the fact that her hips are huge, but they also make her legs look ultra-fat instead, thereby making the girl look even shorter.

    I’ve heard from other sites that wearing a frilled top adds volume to the bosom area, which helps to balance out the hips. Don’t know if it’s too overwhelming on a petite girls figure, but it works for normal-sized pear-shapes.

  5. surette

    October 17, 2013 at 4:32 pm

    I’m short, pear shape AND my legs are super short. And I can’t wear heels. Most trouser pants or flared jeans in petite sizes are still too long and aren’t ideal for my lifestyle. All wide leg jeans make my legs look shorter which makes me feel uncomfortable in public.

    • Louise

      October 19, 2015 at 3:30 pm

      You sound just like me I’m the same when it comes to heels and straight legged trousers too

  6. Lucie

    November 14, 2013 at 8:18 pm

    Hey there! Do you use Twitter? I’d like to follow you if that would
    be ok. I’m undoubtedly enjoying your blog and look forward to new updates.

  7. fabulosity

    December 8, 2013 at 7:35 pm

    I agree with the comments above. The advice to emphasize the waist and wear wide legged pants has never worked for me. It just makes my hips look bigger and legs look elaphantine.
    Skinny jeans actually make my short legs look longer.
    Ultimately you cant hide who you are. You have to learn to love it.

    • Sarah

      May 3, 2014 at 5:30 pm

      Classic skinny jeans always look best on me, though jeggings and super skinny jeans are a no-no!

    • Louise

      October 19, 2015 at 3:38 pm

      I totally agree with you well said I love skinny jeans too And totally agree you shouldn’t hide who you are you should love and embrace it and show it off in the best way you can

  8. Ki

    December 28, 2013 at 1:02 am

    Natalie Portman is good with fashion — good enough that she’s avoided showing off the bottom heavy nature of her figure too often on red carpets — but she has been dressed horribly in some movies. V For Vendetta for instance has her in very tight slacks, making the bloom of her generous ass and hips stick out like a sore thumb.

    Moral of the story? I have the same shape and I dressed like that *all* the time. I saw that, saw how unflattering it was (petite women with big asses may be a thing in Latin America but not here) and threw out all my tight-fitting slacks.

  9. Amox

    February 21, 2014 at 6:41 pm

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  10. Nina

    March 20, 2014 at 6:09 am

    As a pear-shaped petite girl, I find flared pants very unflattering, at least on my body. They make my legs look like shapeless columns, therefore making my legs look heavier everywhere. I know that skinny jeans are widely considered a no-no for us, but I have a very comfortable pair that I practically live in. They’re not super clingy, and they emphasize that my legs have some shape and definition, unlike flared jeans and pants.

  11. Christine

    March 30, 2014 at 1:12 pm

    “For most women super tight fabrics may be unflattering to your figure type, even on the most slender frame. ” I think I look rather good in tight clothing, cause I’m very skinny. Skinny pears can look good in tight clothing… Just look at Leighton Meester (who is obviously a pear, she has larger hips and a bigger but compared to her torso). I’m so frustrated at no one giving clothing tip for skinny people. Cause skinny figures are always only described as “boyish”, but there are different skinny types too… You can have ANY shape as a skinny girl as well

  12. Lana

    April 10, 2014 at 4:31 pm

    What I find very cool is how Bella Petite has managed to become the best and only magazine dedicated to us petite gals! Thanks for all your effort and hard work it shows in how professional the articles are written and the photos are fab! I wonder who pays for all of this to happen? Are their any petite clothing designers paying you to feature them? Why don’t we see Ralph Lauren or Ann Taylor paying your magazine so us petite women know what is new with them, do they even care about their petite consumers?

  13. Penny

    April 11, 2014 at 10:34 pm

    This is the best magazine I am so happy you exist! Wow I never thought anybody would ever be smart enough to create a petite fashion magazine! My dreams have been answered! You even have a model search and a radio show that I am listening to for sure! Thanks for all you are doing for us petite ladies to have a reliable magazine that makes us look fab! Great advice too I never know how to dress to look my best thanks!!!

  14. Chancey

    July 27, 2014 at 4:30 pm

    I really appreciate your fashion advice and opinions here and do agree! You have made my life better and removed the stress of how to dress with my figure type. Some of the styles I shouldn’t wear I do just because it seems fun, but it makes me look not so good I get it. Thanks keep doing all you do BellaPetite!

  15. Seta

    August 25, 2014 at 2:20 am

    whoah this weblog is great i like studying your posts.
    Keep up the great work! You understand, many individuals are looking around for this information, and you are aiding
    them greatly. I like coming to Bella Petite daily! Thanks for your fashion advice, luv it 🙂

  16. Raina

    August 26, 2014 at 10:36 pm

    Thank you for your fashion advice! I am a petite woman with a pear shaped and find it hard to look good in clothes, so your points really helped me. Thanks Bella Petite 🙂

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  19. Rye

    January 23, 2017 at 12:24 pm

    I agree that short and pear shaped is a difficult figure to dress without looking unbalanced. As to the tips in this article I find them to be helpful. I acknowledge some styles are clearly a no no for me, I have worn some others, noted as off limits in the article. I wear flats, leggings, tall boots etc. With a pear shaped body fit and balance are crucial like this article implies. Get a full view mirror and experiment. Eventually you will find what you like that makes you look and feel good. But most of all don’t try to follow trends. They can make you feel bad about yourself.

  20. Zara S.

    April 4, 2018 at 11:56 pm

    Don’t feel terrible about your body! Brains over braun.

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