Petite women often find themselves with a lack of options in ladies’ dresses. We present handy tips to pick the right stuff online.

We live in an era of choice. There is so much to choose from, whether it is a bank to open a savings account with or a new dress.

But while there is much choice and variety when it comes to online shopping in India, the problem stems from not being able to sift through what’s unnecessary to find what actually is. This is particularly true of fashion for petite women. In the fashion world, any woman who is below 5’4” in height is termed ‘petite’.

Too often, you might end up buying something that is totally unsuitable for your small frame and lack of inches. The following guide will help you make the right clothing choices for your petite frame:

* Create the illusion of height. The first thing to realise when picking ladies’ dresses when you are petite, is to pick pieces that will elongate your torso. This is easily done by picking clothes that stop just at or little above the knee. This gives a visual vertical ‘A line’ to your torso. Automatically, the dress makes the eye move in a vertical direction, thus creating an illusion of height. The easiest way to do this is to wear buttoned down shift dresses that graze the knee. Or a long tunic over leggings. Make sure that the dress has one colour and not too many jumbled prints which will upset the visual symmetry.

* Go really short. If you want to wear a short dress, then make it sure it grazes your mid-thigh. Ditto for shorts and tops –don’t tuck the top inside the shorts. Short dresses look great on petite women who have thin thighs and narrow hips.

* Wear horizontal stripes if your waist and hips are small. Some petite women appear so because they have narrow hips and waists, and shoulders that might be wider than the mid-section. In this case, you can balance your silhouette by wearing horizontally striped ladies’ dresses. Leading online shopping sites in India also stock longish T shirts with horizontal stripes – pair these with a pair of plain black or navy blue jeans, so that the top catches the eye first. But avoid horizontal stripes if your waist and hips are wide – vertical stripes will be better in this case.

* Use the ‘rule of thirds’. This is an important rule when picking dresses for petite ladies. It simply means that you divide your vertical self into two-thirds instead of into half. For example, when browsing the online shopping site, look for empire cut dresses (where the bigger part of the dress is two-thirds, on the bottom) or a knee-length dress with a thick, detailed hem (where the larger two-thirds is at the top). Never dress in halves, i.e. a blouse tucked into your skirt or trousers. If you must wear a skirt and blouse, make sure the blouse is worn over the skirt to break the half-symmetry.

* Pay attention to the fit.Petite women cannot afford to wear ill-fitting clothes. Baggy trousers and loose dresses give the appearance of additional bulk, which throws the entire silhouette out of balance. Whether a simple tee and jeans ensemble or a dress, the fit has to be just right so that you don’t look boxy and even tinier.