Michelle Welling

A Guide to Sportswear for Petites

petite activewear guide

For many petite women, shopping for clothes almost inevitably becomes a difficult task. While a trusted tailor can work wonders on your favourite pair of jeans that are just a bit too long, things can become a little more complicated when working with the technical fabrics of activewear. Not to mention there’s always an added cost of time and money involved with alterations. So it’s best to find the correct fit from the offset. Simple, right? I wish...

I’m 5’2 (on a good day), and I have struggled with finding sportswear that fits me properly for as long as I can remember. Over the years I’ve had to roll up leggings that fit my taller friends well, which not only is cumbersome during activities because they’d need constant adjusting, but it ultimately changes the look, fit, and performance of the legging too. 

Tops and sports bras can have their tricky moments too. There’s a fine line between a cool-casual oversized fit, and something that is just too big and does nothing for you. 

Petite ladies of the world, I know I’m not the only one who struggles with these things when looking for activewear. Activewear that fits petite frames is out there, it just takes looking out for. So I’ve put together this guide in the hopes of finding the perfect activewear for petite girls a little bit easier. 

WHY FIT IS IMPORTANT

Supportive fit

The correct amount of support is pretty much the single most important factor to consider when making sure you’ve found the right fit. Don’t compromise on a piece of kit that doesn’t quite fit your measurements – this is a red flag you’ll just be pulling and tucking the garment during any activity to keep it from excess movement. Similarly you shouldn’t try to squeeze into anything too compressive just because it’s the closest thing to your correct size. If it doesn’t give you the right amount of support (whether that’s too much or not enough), move on. There is plenty more lycra out there.

The right amount of support is subjective. This may vary depending on the activity you do, i.e. compression plays nicely with HIIT and cardio, whereas yoga and Pilates often works well with a kit that allows for ease of movement. That being said, opting for styles that are slightly more on the compressive side may spare you from worrying about products loosening and sliding during exercise. 

Comfort 

Having sportswear that you are comfortable moving around in is key. While you’re putting in the gym time, you want your kit to be working hard with you – not slowing you down. When you don’t have to think twice about fixing your top or your leggings, you can focus on the task at hand.

Confidence

When you feel confident in your kit during a workout, you’re sure to feel better after too for having given it your all. That’s why it’s so important to find activewear that you feel great in. I often feel as though finding kit that makes me feel great is really the first step toward a workout. It all starts with feeling confident, and sometimes all it takes is a great outfit to help get you there.

leggings and shorts for petites

LEGGINGS AND SHORTS FOR PETITES

  • 7/8  leggings and capri leggings: these options are more likely to fit petite sizes without the need to roll up excess fabric at the bottom. Opt for midi or high waisted styles for a more flattering fit.

  • Shorts: while shorts don’t pose the same risk of extra length that leggings do for petites, there are styles to consider to best flatter your frame. Look for high waistbands to elongate your legs. When looking for bike shorts, pick styles which come up a good 2 inches above your knee so as to not give the illusion of shortening you.  

knot t shirt styles for petite activewear

PETITE BRAS AND TOPS

  • Sports bras: depending on your bust size, racerback bras can be a good option for providing medium to high support. They offer a flattering lift, and the central strap means you won’t have to worry about straps sliding down your arms during a workout. You can also find some great adjustable options out there to tailor your fit.

  • Tops: crop tops and knot t-shirts are cute options to accentuate your waist without drawing you in fabric. 

girlfriend collective guide to petites

BEST BRANDS FOR PETITE GIRLS

Girlfriend Collective

There are so many reasons to love Girlfriend Collective. Not only are they a sustainable brand and poster child for representative, their range includes 7/8 legging options in almost all their colourways. The fit is generally a comfortable level of compression. This, paired with a high waisted, silhouette elongates the legs and accentuates the narrowest part of the frame for a flattering look. Not to mention, the Girlfriend Collective bras, crops, and bike shorts have been a smash hit of many sporty girl summer wardrobes. What’s not to love.

lilybod compressive leggings for petites

Lilybod

Lilybod is a great go-to for the cardio queens. The technical fabric is quite compressive, which means it won’t slide around, and the dotted designs create super flattering silhouettes for any body shape. This is another brand trusted to have a stylish selection of 7/8 leggings and cropped tops and bras that can withstand any workout. 

alo yoga leggings that fit petite frames

Alo Yoga

Alo yoga is perhaps a bit of a wildcard to recommend in a petites activewear guide. The brand notoriously fits best when sizing down, and the leggings tend to run a bit long. But this shouldn’t stop a petite girl from enjoying a yoga flow in Alo. While the full length leggings may be treacherous territory, Alo Yoga has a wide range of capri leggings, 7/8 leggings and shorts. All ideal options petite yogis out there. Not to mention their selection of bras and tanks will have you feeling cute and ready to nail any posture.

TOP STYLING TIPS FOR PETITE GIRLS

  • When looking for leggings or shorts, make sure to look for a midi or high waistband to elongate your legs. A 7/8 leggings or capri leggings are trusted fits for petites so you won’t have to tuck away excess fabric. Be conscious of patterns on printed leggings, as vertical lines will give the illusion of length and a slimmer look. 

  • Look for bike shorts that hit 2-3 inches above the knee. Shorts that are too long will draw the eye down, ultimately making your legs appear shorter. Girlfriend Collective and Koral make great options for bike shorts.

  • Crop tops are key. Pairing a cute crop top or bra with a high waisted legging or short is a match made in heaven. This co-ord brings the eye up to the narrowest part of the body while also elongating your legs.

  • Err on the side of caution when it comes to an oversized fit. The effortlessness of a cool intentionally oversized piece of clothing can all too often overwhelm a petite frame. Choose these pieces selectively. If you feel great in it, go for it. But balance out the look with something that balances your shape.

CONCLUSION

Petites can sometimes get the short end of the stick when shopping for activewear. These fabrics are a pain to have altered, and it can be even more difficult to find the right size at all. But ultimately, if you know a few key elements to look out for, the search can become a whole lot easier. At the end of the day, the kit that looks best on you is the activewear that you feel best in. So get out there and start trying on new pieces!