Petite VS. Regular Pants Sizing Guide For Women: Differences You Should Know

pants sizing guide woman wearing cream long pants 01

As a petite, I usually dread buying pants. I am 5′ tall, 5′ 1/2″, and have been doing a lot of pilates/yoga and ensuring my posture is on point. Walking into a store, trying on pants, and then walking out of the store wearing them is a dream. A dream that does not come true very often. So the question is do I buy petite-size pants or regular pants? A pants sizing guide can be tricky since not all key measurements are on there. Does this sound familiar?

I figure I am not alone in this issue. So I hope to help break this down and help other petite women like myself with their pants shopping. Before we start talking about how to find the best pants for your petite body and what you need to look for in a pants sizing guide I have written about a few other topics that relate to petites you may want to check out.

Petite Vs. Regular Pants Sizing Guide: Let’s Look at Some Things We Need To Know Before Shopping

First of all, petite sizing is going to vary from brand to brand. Just like regular sizing. Have you ever bought the same exact pant in diffferent colors and they don’t fit the same? Me too.

Several things can be part of that issue. The pants could be made with different types of fabrics, they could be made in different factories, for some reason the cutting was off. Who knows. I have learned over the years in working in women’s clothing the best rule of thumb is to try everything on.

If you are like me, the first thing you do when shopping online is to look at the sizing chart. The key is knowing your measurements. Taking them every six months or so is a good rule of thumb and saving them. I keep mine stored on my computer and in my notes section on my phone.

pants sizing guide woman wearing cream petite size pants 01
Wearing J.Crew Kate pants in petite sizing. No hemming needed.

U.S. Petite Sizing Chart

The chart below is a general petite sizing chart that many companies use. Ok, the chart gives us the basic numbers for the waist and hips. What it doesn’t include are the rise and inseam. Most of the time you will be able to find that in the description or details tab for the pants on a website. In all of my years of buying pants, the rise and inseam are so important for great fitting pants.

U.S. Womens Size Chart

Ok, so here’s a regular women’s sizing chart. When you compare the two they are almost identical in waist and hip measurements. So, which makes more sense to purchase? Petite-sized pants or regular-sized pants.

What is the difference between petite and regular pants?

Now that we have looked at two charts that look almost identical, what are the true differences? Brands that are making petite sized pants usually make them with the following adjustments in mind.


Petite pants, jeans, and shorts usually have shorter inseams. Up to 2″ shorter than regular sized pants.


Again, for pants, jeans, and shorts the rise is usually a little shorter. If you don’t know what rise best fits your body, here’s a guide for measuring that. Having a rise altered can be quite expensive and tricky so try not to go there when you purchase pants.


The waist on pants, jeans, and shorts are slightly smaller.


Knee placement is usually higher on petite-sized pants and jeans to account for shorter legs. Think about the placement of distressed knee jeans. Ever try regular-sized jeans that had this feature and the knee opening was down on your shin?

pants sizing guide petite woman wearing regular sized red pants and leopard blouse 03
Here I’m wearing a regular sized pant. All that I had to have altered was the pant length.

Pants Sizing Guide “hemmed up”

Every brand is going to make their petite sized pants a little differently. It is going to depend upon how your petite body is built as to what brand fits your body the best. I have also learned that you have to try different styles by each brand. The goal is to always find pants that look good and feel good on with the fewest alterations. Also, in some brands regular sized pants may be more flattering on your body with the same amount of alterations needed.

Do petite sizes run smaller than regular sizes?

While petite sizes are made to fit a smaller frame, you don’t usually need to adjust the size you buy. If you are unsure after looking at a brand’s size chart, then order two sizes. Another good thing to do is read reviews on a website before ordering. I find this to be so helpful.

Can a petite person wear regular sized pants?

Yes, it all depends upon how a petite person is built. For example, regular sized pants may fit better because where a person is short is from the shoulders to the waist.

I would say that my closet is split between petite-sized pants and regular-sized pants. If regular pant is a mid- rise, then it usually fits me like a high rise pant which I like. A high rise pant will give the illusion of a longer leg.


Thanks so much for stopping by my blog. I hope that this post helps you the next time you buy a pair of pants. Luckily, more brands and now making petite-sized pants at all different price points and styles. You can also find me on Pinterest and Instagram. I truly appreciate every read, share, follow and pin.

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  1. This is such good information.
    Sizing will never be standard, I think, so it all comes down to trying things on, eh?

    1. I know. It makes it so hard to know what to order. The double and triple ordering gets old, but sometimes it’s the only way to know. Also, my size is rarely instore so that’s not a viable option.

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