Simple Ways to Improve an Outfit

Simple Ways to Improve an Outfit

petite work outfit tips
After: Ann Taylor blouse (similar – on sale), Theory pull-on pants 00 (current version; similar for less), Sarah Flint pumps 5.5, Edited Pieces belt xxs

I was organizing my closet over the weekend, and fondly came across a pair of navy pants and white shirt that were 2 of my most worn basics back at my corporate job. I guess a couple of years and two kids will bring about some changes (in both my tastes and figure), as I put the “old favorites” on and was just a bit horrified by the resulting look on the left!

I know many of you initially discovered this blog through my “before and afters” like the infamous How to Look Older or Building Confidence in the Workplace posts, so I thought it would be fun to start doing these again! Today’s post is on small, subtle changes that do make a difference. The pieces in both the Before and After looks are very old, so this also reinforces the types of pieces that survive the test of time.

Turn on your JavaScript to view content
Fabric Drape

This one is super important! I love a good crisp cotton shirt for other types of outfits, but a stiffer fabric can sometimes look boxy or overwhelm a petite frame. Look for more fluid fabrics (but not clingy) that will drape over your figure and move with your body.

Some of the pieces that have lasted the longest time in my closet are actually polyester, machine washable blouses like this one from Ann Taylor, that I still find flattering nearly a decade later and are still in great condition. This old one actually has a neck tie that I tucked in for a simpler look. Here is a classic, current option that has tons of great reviews and comes in both petite & regular!

Turn on your JavaScript to view content
Rise & Length

A low-rise plus cropped length pant can be truncating. Even a slightly higher rise and longer length in the “After” elongates the look. Instead of a super low or super high rise based on trends, find the most flattering rise for you depending on your proportions.

My pants are Theory crepe pull-on crops from many years ago, but they still have a very similar option and J.Crew Factory has a budget-friendly lookalike with great reviews. All Theory is regular sizing, but I find their crops can sometimes work as full length pants on petites. And back to point # 1 – the fabric drape matters. I love how the crepe material on these glide against my legs rather than cling to them, and the elastic back waist is forgiving through weight fluctuations.


The first pants were just a little tight. Sizing up or going for a more figure-skimming fit (instead of figure-hugging) can result in less bulges and a more seamless silhouette. After 2 kids my body has definitely evolved, and I’ve been forcing myself to realize that buying some of my favorite pieces again in 1 size up is worth it!

Shoe Choice

Skin toned shoes are always a good idea, but with darker pants I sometimes prefer a shoe in a similar color tone to visually continue the leg line. Pointy toe instead of rounded or square can be more elongating as well.

Add a Belt

When in doubt, I love adding a belt to accentuate the waistline and to also break up an outfit comprised of solid colored pieces. p.s. our Edited Pieces belt is restocking soon!

ann taylor petite blouse theory pull on pants
Ann Taylor blouse (similar – on sale), Theory pull-on pants 00 (current version; similar for less), Sarah Flint pumps 5.5, Edited Pieces belt xxs
Why do I stain my underwear?. xoxo.
Back to blog

Leave a comment