This week, I’m shaking things up with a fresh perspective from Bivi of Alive as Always. I’ve been following her for a long time because I can’t get enough of her razor sharp wits and delightful style. You’ll find a treasure trove on her blog. From interviews with illustrators to tasty recipes to–my favorite–spotlights on ethical fashion designers, her blog is always exciting to read.
Now, at 5’3″, most American and European designers would consider her a textbook petite lady, but in her home country of Indonesia, she’s actually taller than average! After spending time in Germany, though, she got to experience what it’s like to be petite–and she’s offered up some of the things she learned about fashion while she was there.
Petite, huh? Now that’s a word I never thought would be used to describe me. With the height of 161 cm—which, if online length converters serve me right, makes me about 5’3”—I’m actually one of the tall ones among my girlfriends. Pair that up with a mature face, people tend to think I’m older than I am—repeatedly mistaking me for an older sibling to my big sister and the twin to my late mother. But all of that changed the minute I moved to Germany.
Living in a country where the average woman is an inch taller than me, for the first time in my life, I was considered the small one—granted, that most of the girls in my class were 5’6” at best. Delivery men and landlords kept asking me if I was already at a legal age of 18 when I was already 21.
It was here, too, that I discovered a sudden passion for clothing. I’ve shopped more than I’ve ever shopped in my life and, ironically, in a country where my size is considered small. I could shop in the children’s sections—which saves a lot of bucks, I must say. I could buy oversized items and make them look adorable on me. But, to be honest, I prefer getting secondhand stuff instead of buying new. Here are some of the things that I have learnt from the experience:
SIZE IS SECONDARY
First and foremost, when it comes to thrifting—whether you’re petite or not—you should know that there is a very slim chance of finding an item which will fit you perfectly right. And that’s okay! You should first look at the style of the item, whether or not you will get a lot of wear out of it, and see if it can be altered into something you’d prefer. Then and only then can you look at the size and see if it’s possible for you to wear it at all despite it being a few sizes too big. Then we move on to the next one.
LEARN TO SEW
You don’t have to be a pro about it, it’s fine. Just learn how to put a thread through a needle and sew a hem or take in a waistline—anything simple that will be very useful to tackle the size problem. If you’re afraid of making drastic changes, do it like me: fold the waistline and sew it in place. That way, if you need to take it out again, you can just pull the thread loose. Of course, if you want to take it a step further and actually learn how to sew your own clothes, that would be even better.
LOOK TO YOUR INNER CHILD
As everyone who is categorised as petite would tell you: never underestimate the children’s section. Well, I’m just here to repeat the message. I can’t tell you how many times the children’s section saved me—or more like how my size saved me because children’s clothes are just so much cuter. I don’t know how the section works in the U.S. but in Germany the sizes are based on your height, so it’s so much easier to find an item which will no doubt fit you better than adult clothing.
FIND OTHER OPTIONS
Aside from thrifting—both online and offline, you can also find ‘new’ clothes by swapping with friends. The best part of this is you can ask a friend with similar sizes as yours to do it. You can even make a whole party out of it, gather all your similar-sized friends and serve out drinks and snacks with the clothes. This would not only be the perfect chance to give addition to your wardrobe, but also get rid of something you don’t wear anymore and grab that top of your friends’ which you may or may not have been eyeing for some time now—score!
EMBRACE YOUR SIZE
You know, being petite isn’t so bad. I think it’s actually the perfect excuse to be able to wear oversized stuff without having to bust out our wallets buying the newly delivered boyfriend items. At least, that’s what I decided to do. Often, I forgot to look at the size tag on items before I dragged them to the cashier. With everything fitting too big on you and the whole boyfriend/oversized stuff being back on trend, our petiteness actually allows us to be chic without trying too hard. Embrace that and swim in those sweaters—because we can!
Okay, I guess that’s it from me! I hope these tips would really help you find clothes for your size—though I still feel like a fraud calling myself petite. By the way, I blog over at Alive as Always, where I usually show off my mostly thrifted outfits, interview illustrators, share recipes, take you on my adventures and—best of all—showcase ethical fashion. Do come by and say hello!