Are short statured women represented enough within the fashion industry?

Short Statured women cannot buy clothing like everybody else. They cannot just waltz into the women’s section of a well-known high-street retailer, know that everything in their size will fit them, and buy whatever they desire.  It’s a struggle to find clothing that fits all over – the chest might fit, but the length of the arms may be too long, and the waist might fit perfectly, but the length might cause the garment to drag on the floor. So this brings me to my point…

Does the fashion industry do enough to include women who are short-statured?

I spoke to Caitlin, a 3″8 eighteen year old student from Devon, who has a passion for fashion and runs an Instagram style account @asliceofcait

Caitlin has Achondroplasia which means she has shorter limbs, but an average size torso and chest. She says that being disproportionately built means it’s significantly harder to purchase clothing. Due to her being a size 4 in womenswear sizing, with a DD chest, she finds herself in the adult section of retailers “as they are more suited to [her] chest despite the never-ending sleeves.” She said that, “It’s a case of having to prioritise items in which are practical.”

Caitlin also finds it difficult to shop for the lower half of her body too. Avoiding jeans because they’re a “nightmare”, and finding herself in a constant “battle of prioritising width over length” – Caitlin said that because of these troubles “the scissors are dug out from the cosy habitat of the sewing box ready to wage a war with the remaining inches of fabric that drag along the floor.”

Not a lot is done for short statured women. Petite ranges still aren’t ‘personalised’ enough to people who are shorter than the average-sized petite person – and for a society that is becoming more and more inclusive, shouldn’t this topic be talked about more?

Due to Caitlin’s short stature, she often has to shop in the Children’s section of fashion stores, as well as shopping from the petite ranges too. Caitlin does not seem phased by this in the slightest, she understands that it is not “viable to larger companies, as profit is priority over catering for the minority of a minority.” – but surely companies (especially the large high street stores) have enough income to make a small section for smaller people? Or could they incorporate it into the children’s section by using short statured people in their children’s marketing, and then even rename the section? ‘Children and below 5″0’?

I asked Caitlin if she thinks that high-street shops do enough for people of her size, and she said that there does not seem to be a rush to cater for those with a short stature, but she does believe the petite movement is “very appropriate for the community for the time being.” 

Although petite clothing offers a wide range of the latest trends to shorter women, that is suitable for the most part, due to her shorter stature, sometimes even buying from petite lines can be troublesome. Expressing her views, Caitlin said that even the petite ranges need to cater for wider hips and shorter legs. 

Not only do shops have limited clothing for short statured people, but marketing campaigns rarely include them either. Petite models are often used within marketing, but those of a shorter stature generally are not. Apart from an appearance at Paris Fashion Week in 2015, when you type into Google “Short Statured Models” not many other results are shown. Caitlin said that if high-street stores used short statured models, the clothing “would be shown in a different light and it would allow consumers to visualise the items on themselves realistically instead of a curated image in which leads to disappointment.”

Originally published on

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