How to Wear Midi Dresses if you are Petite: Top 10 Best in 2021

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Looking to add a petite midi dress to your wardrobe? You are not alone. Dress season is upon us! About time, right? I’m always anxious to pull out dresses and wear them as often as possible when it gets warm enough. Midi dresses are a huge trend this spring and summer season. 

As a petite woman myself (I am 5’2″), I was a bit hesitant when I saw this trend come onto the fashion scene. It’s been said time and time again the midi dress lengths aren’t flattering for petite women. The reason is the midi length could really be a challenge for shorter women, given they end under your knees and above your ankle.

Normally, I suggest petites to go either shorter, or longer. If you like shorter, go with a mini dress that is above your knees, 3-4 inches at least. The mini length is great for those who want your legs to look longer. Or, if you are not a big fan of mini, then a longer dresses at ankle length could also look good on petites by lengthening our short frame.

Midi dresses, on the other hand, is sort of an awkward length, because it does have the potential to make your legs look cut off since it ends on the calves and it can also make your calve look thick.

Now, quite a few readers have reached out to me (mostly mature ladies) who mentioned that midi length is the length they are most comfortable with. I do understand that petite women have the need to wear midi dresses, for various reasons.

For instance, if you are shopping for dresses for women over 50 or style for women over 60, the majority of them are midi length, especially mother of the bride dresses or mother of the groom dresses.

That’s why I want to dedicate this article on best petite midi dresses to all my readers.

There is a solution for everything! Here is the great news for you.

You CAN wear midi dresses if you are short!

In this post, I will first share with you the tips how petites can wear midi dresses WELL, since this may be an intimidating dress style to jump into. A lot of these are based on my observation of petite celebrities (did I mention I am ALWAYS observing what short celebs wear to figure out what works and what doesn’t?), and of course some of these are based on my personal experience as a petite shopper.

Then, I will also give me my recommendation of the top 10 best midi dresses for petite women this season, so that you can wear them with confidence!

Photo: Unsplash

I have summarized my tips in this Youtube video, but I highly recommend you read through the article after you watch the video to get the detailed styling advice!

Table of Contents

Choose the Right Length for Petite Midi Dress

First, what is midi dress? According to wiki, midi is used to refer to any dress or skirt that has a hem which hits at mid-calf – halfway between the knee and ankle. So, traditionally midi dresses are below the knee in length. However, as you can see, the length can vary quite a bit for a petite midi dress. It can lay just below the knee anywhere or just above the ankle.

When you’re petite, just like when selecting any other type of dress, choosing the right length in your petite midi dresses is key to styling this trend successfully.

The trick to finding the right length in a petite midi dress is to select a dress that rests just above or just below the widest part of your calf. This is going to allow you to fully embrace the midi dress trend but ensure that you’re still flattering your petite frame.

Here is the most important part.

You’re going to want to avoid any petite midi dresses that rest at the widest part of your calf. The reason behind this is because when a midi dress is at the widest part of your calf, it accentuates that area and causes you to appear shortened.

This is especially critical for those of you who are self-conscious about your wide calves. If you have really athletic and wide calves and you do not want to draw more attention there, then choose a midi dress either shorter or longer than your mid calf.

When you make a minor adjustment to just above or below the widest part, it instantly slims and lengthens your length – a petite woman’s dream!

Best fabrics

Since the midi length has the risk of making us petite girls look shorter, you really have to be selective with the fabrics. Here is a hack I have learned from one of our favorite petite celebs Emilia Clarke. Standing at 5’2″, this dragon mother in Game of Thrones is famous for feminine and edgy style on or off red carpet. One of her most frequently photographed favorites is the midi dresses. If you pay attention, you’ll notice most of them are made of light and airy fabrics, especially laces.

Photo: Emilia Clarke, 5’2 (Getty Images)

Because lace midi dresses have a bit of see-through effect, they will reduce the risk of making your legs look cut-off in them.

Dresses with a Slit

When wearing a midi dress as a short girl, the added length is what tends to cause some of the struggles. One of my newfound favorite ways for short women to rock the midi dress trend for the season is to select a midi dress that has a slit.

Featuring Rachel, 5’2″, instagram.com/rachelmichella/

The slit could be on the side or in the front. Either way, it is going to look more flattering on a short girl.

The reason?

The slit shows a bit more leg which instantly creates more of an elongated leg line. The aspect that’s so great about a petite midi dress with a slit is you’re getting the best of both worlds, where you have the midi dress trend but get to show more leg as you would in a shorter dress style.

Plus, a slit adds a flirty feel to the midi dress!

Uneven Hem Dresses

One of the hottest trends right now is the uneven seam. What that means the seam of the dress is not the traditional straight line. The most popular type of uneven seam is the high-low dresses. The front of the dress could be above the knee or right at the knee, but the back of the dress is typically below your knee and above your ankle.

The benefit of uneven seam or high-low dresses for petites is that you enjoy the best of the two worlds! The front is shorter, so you get to show off every inch of leg length you desire. And, the back is midi, so you get to enjoy the midi trend!

Form Fitting Top

As midi dresses are one solid piece, it’s crucial that you pay attention to the entire dress and how it fits to make sure you’re selecting the right dress for your petite frame. Aside from the length aspect of the petite midi dress, I also want to encourage you to pay close attention to the top half of the dress.

In order for the midi dress to look good on a short woman, you will definitely want a dress that has some detail at the waistline so that it highlights your waist for major figure flattery. In addition to the waist aspect, always make sure that the petite midi dresses you wear are form fitting at the top half.

Helen Mirren, 5’4″, 73 (Getty Images)

This is going to create a lot of balance in your shape with the midi dress length and keep from it being too much material on your petite frame. It doesn’t necessarily have to be SKIN tight just as long as it fits closely to your body on the top half.

Monochrome Colors

Petite midi dresses can be found in various styles, colors
and patterns. Because we need to focus on selecting petite midi dresses that
aren’t going to shorten our shapes, I suggest choosing something to provide you
with a monochromatic color scheme.

Similar to what I mentioned previously, about cutting off your leg line in multiple places, selecting a petite midi dress with a consistent color and/or pattern is going to help keep from the rest of your shape getting cut off. When you choose a petite midi dress that’s either one solid color or a print/pattern that is consistent throughout the dress, it’s going to create the appearance of a longer, slimmer line on your body.

If you want to take it a bit further and really keep it consistent with the monochromatic styling, keep your shoes in the same color scheme. Even if you have a petite midi dress that is in a print or pattern, select shoes that are in a color similar if not the same as the color(s) in the dress.

I will also talk a bit more about choosing the right shoes to wear with your midi dresses, especially if you are a short girl.

Intrigued about how to work the magic of monochromatic colors? We have a post on “Why Every Short Woman should Know Monochromatic Dressing“.

Top 10 Midi Dresses for Short Women 2020

Now that you know the best tips on how to wear midi dresses if you are petite, here’s my recommendation for the best 9 midi dresses for short women for the season! Majority of these picks are good for any age. I selected a combination of dressier and casual options so that you can consider what you need in your closet and add them accordingly.

Anthropologie Sidonie pleated petite dress

The Aline shape is the most universally flattering to any body type. V neck elongates your neck, as most petites have shorter necks. The elevated waistline smartly elongate your legs and optimize your proportion. Plus the light and airy fabrics won’t make your legs look cut off!

Jcrew Boatneck Sheath Dress in Tweed

j.crew: petite boatneck sheath dress in textured tweed for women, right side, view zoomed
$188

I’m in love with this petite tweed midi dress! This is the perfect balance of classy and feminine design, one that is similar to Jackie Kennedy’s signature style. This 3/4 sleeve length makes this the best midi dress for short women in transitioning weather like the fall or spring. If you live in a warmer area, you can wear this throughout the winter, with a winter coat on top.

Petite pleated midi shirt dress

Petite Pleated Midi Shirt Dress
$125

Beautiful animal print petite midi dress for dressy occasions like cocktail hour or wedding guest. A line is the universally flattering shape for women of any age. Animal print is the staple of the fall season.

Halogen long sleeve wrap petite midi dress

This is a wonderful choice if you are looking for a petite midi dress to wear to smart casual occasion or everyday wear. The aline shape suits any body type and wrap dress is the universally flattering style for any body type. The elevated belt is the perfect design to define the waistline and improve proportion of shorter ladies.

Anthropologie petite dress

$168

I love this petite size midi dress from Anthropologie because the print is the perfect fall color palette! With the midi length, this dress is pretty versatile to look either polished or casual.

Philippa Petite Midi Dress

Another great midi dress for petite women from Boden. The vertically inspired pattern is very flattering for petite women. The waist sits higher than your natural waist, creating the illusion of longer legs for petites.

White House Black Market petite dress

$55

This midi dress from White House Black Market is a great option for petites because the open V neckline, the 3/4 sleeves are all super flattering for shorter women. The ruching is a bonus for anyone who want to make their mid section look slimmer. The price is a pleasant surprise to me, as this brand typically is in the $100 to $150 range for their petite dresses.

Michael Stars petite midi dress

$88

Your everyday go to midi dress! What I love about this dress is the ruching from mid section to thighs. Even though it’s a body hugging dress, the ruching makes it much more flattering to women who have midsection concerns (like the apple shape or plus size ladies).

Talbot classic poplin petite shirt dress

$49

There are 4 reasons why this is one of the best midi dresses for short women. First, the vertical stripes! It draws eyes up and down and creates the illusion of height. Second, the 3/4 sleeves, which elongates your arms AND your legs. Third, the fit and flare shape which is universally flattering. Finally, if you are like me with sensitive skin, the 100% cotton fabrics is a no brainer,

Talbot denim petite dress

$119

Such a fun dress! I love how this midi dress is made of denim and have the cute buttons. The belt sits higher than your natural waist, which makes petite women’s proportion look better.

Finally, I want to take a minute to talk about shoes to wear with midi dresses if you are petite.

Style Shoes Accordingly

We’ve established the length aspect of midi dresses is the biggest factor that needs to be worked with when you are a petite woman. Once you’ve selected a petite midi dress you love, you’re going to need to style it up with some shoes, obviously!

Due to the length factor in a midi length dress, heels are going to be a must when you are petite. For obvious reasons, they are going to add some height to your shape to prevent the added length of the midi dress from shortening you too much.

Of course, not all heels are created equally. I suggest avoiding any heel (or shoe in general) to pair with your petite midi dresses that has an ankle strap or cuts the leg at the ankle. Think of ankle strap sandals, ankle booties, etc. Because your leg line is being cut off where the midi dress rests, you want to make up for that by wearing more flattering shoes. On the other hand, if you style it with a shoe that cuts off your leg at the ankle, you’re essentially chopping up your leg multiple times! That is going to cause you to look much shorter and dare I say stumpy in the dress.

Instead, stick to a shoe that’s simple in style like a stiletto pump. This shape is perfection for flattering a petite woman in a midi dress.

Sam Edelman $119.95
Sam Edelman $119
Nine West $48.3

If you want to know more about how to find the best shoes for petites, we have another post on “The Best and Worst Shoes for Short Women“.

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