If you’re petite (or just a woman, for that matter), you’ve probably had to try on 32,000 pairs of jeans before you found the right one. It’s kind of like dating. You try some, you drop some, and in the end, you usually find one that you absolutely love.

Sound familiar? To make it easier for us older women, I’ve put together a list of five tips for finding the perfect jeans for any petite shape:

Find the Right Rise

For most body shapes, a mid- or high-rise is best for lengthening the legs and slimming the waist. A mid-rise is usually 8-9’’ and sits around the bellybutton or just below. A high-rise is 9-10’’ and sits at or above the navel.

Mid- and high-rise jeans give the illusion that your waist is higher and therefore, your legs are longer. High-rise jeans are especially on-trend right now – just make sure you’re shopping the petite section to get the right rise for your under 5’5 frame.

Know Your Measurements

It might sound obvious, knowing your exact measurements, but it’s amazing how many women blindly order jeans hoping they’ll just work.

Although they eventually might, the process can be a lot less frustrating if you know your measurements beforehand. Here are the most important ones to know:


The inseam is the length from the bottom of your zipper (or crotch) to the bottom of your pant leg. Depending on the style you’re wearing, the inseam will vary.

For example, the inseam of a cropped pair will be much shorter than an ankle or flared pair. Using this as you search – online or in-store – will help you save a lot of time and agony.

Most petite women will have inseam measurements between 21’’–23’’ for cropped, 25’’–27’’ for straight and skinnies, and then 28’’–30’’ for bootcut and flare.

If a store doesn’t have a petite section, searching for ‘cropped’ jeans or typing in specific inseam measurement in a site’s search bar makes the process a lot more efficient.


If you choose your jeans by your hip measurement rather than your waist measurement, you’re more likely to get a better fit. This is because it’s always a lot easier to take in an area that might be a little big (like the waist) than to expand an area that’s too snug (like the hips).

Note: If you try on a pair and it feels too tight, that doesn’t necessarily mean you need to size up. Depending on its composition, denim will stretch (often up to half a size!), so if the jeans are snug but not uncomfortable, they’ll snap into shape and feel perfect after a couple of wears.


Don’t Get Washed Away

For maximum figure flattery, aim for a dark blue wash denim. This will lengthen and slim your lower half and look more polished for the office or an evening out. You could also look for pairs in black or other dark hues, which tend to have the same effect.

If you do go with a medium or light wash, try wearing a top in the same or very similar color. Wearing the same color from head to toe creates a seamless visual line that makes you look taller.

Embrace Your Shape

Another season, another “It” jean – the trends for denim never stop changing. But certain styles are always going to work better on certain petite frames than others.

If your shape is a pear or triangle, meaning you carry most of your weight in your bottom half, bootcuts, flares, or wide legs will help balance your hips with added volume at the calf and ankle. Similar styles work if you’re an hourglass shape.

Inverted triangles, who carry more weight in the top half of their body, will have more luck reaching for a straight leg or cigarette style jean (though not too skinny at the ankle), while oval shapes can go for skinnier styles to highlight their slimmer legs.

And for rectangle shaped women, who need to create their own curves, a slouchy trouser or boyfriend jean will often do the trick!

Consider the Composition

When it comes to fabric, not all jeans are created equal. A pair with a lot of stretch will lose its shape with just a few washes, but denim made from 100% cotton will keep that same fit you fell in love with.

The less cotton in the composition of the fabric, the less likely it is to keep its shape in the long run. If the jeans aren’t 100% cotton, then there’s likely a blend of elastane, polyester, or elastomultiester.

So, whether you like a little stretch or a lot, be sure to check the tag or product description before buying, so you end up with your favorite blend.

What do you look for when buying jeans? If you’re petite, do you have special requirements you always consider? What material composition do you prefer in your jeans? Let us know in the comments below.

Let's Have a Conversation!