AD Shopping As A Petite Woman: In Store Or Online?

This post was created in collaboration with intu Merry Hill, who kindly gifted me a voucher towards my purchases. All opinions, as always, remain honest and my own. 

From issues with the length of jeans, to getting tops to fit a small chest, being petite and slim might appear to be the ideal shape for fashion but in reality it can be a real challenge. Shopping in store vs online can make the world of difference to my shopping experience as a petite woman, with one being a lot less stressful than the other…

Finding petite clothes

One of the biggest struggles I find shopping for petite fashion is finding shops that specifically cater for smaller sizes, whether this is leg length or chest size or height in general. Typically, I’m a UK 6 or 8 in majority of shops, but I have been smaller before and it was really challenging to find clothes both online and on the high street that would fit.

What really struck me about intu Merry Hill in the West Midlands was the amount of shops that either offered a petite range in store, or those that widely catered for the smaller range of UK sizes all with the latest spring and summer trends in stock. As examples, I saw dedicated petite sections in Topshop and New Look that had a variety of items, some of which I had spotted in the normal ranges too! I also managed to find smaller sized items in Primark, H&M and River Island. Surprisingly, most of the women’s fashion shops I went into had a good range of smaller sizes with some even catering for size 4 which is very rare.

In comparison to online shopping, I found the experience of shopping at intu Merry Hill much less stressful. At the information desk, they can give you a map of the centre which includes a list of shops and the clothing sizes they cater for, which was super helpful! There’s also a variety of coffee shops, cafes and restaurants for you to choose from which really adds to the overall shopping experience and makes a trip to intu Merry Hill a real day out.

I find online shopping can be quite difficult as I might see that the store offers size 6 (for example) but I have no idea if it will be an accurate size or whether the cut or fit will be right for me. A major benefit of actually going out shopping is that you can see the clothes, check the sizes and try items on super easily – which I’ll chat about more later.

One thing I will point out is the lack of range of options in designer shops. I am not a huge designer fashion shopper, so the experience of shopping in high end stores was a bit alien to me. What I will say is that shopping in these high end stores definitely felt like more of an occasion. We were frequently greeted at the door, asked if there was anything specific we were looking for, and even had my items taken to the fitting room for me whilst I continued to browse. This definitely made for a more relaxed and positive experience, but did it affect my purchases?

Whilst designer stores such as Tessuti, Twenty9 and Diffusion did offer XS sizing, when I tried on the items I found that generally they were far too big, especially across my waist and hips. Maybe I have the wrong impression of designer clothing but I was under the impression that normally the sizing goes very small, so I was quite surprised when items such as dresses and skirts didn’t fit me. Which brings me onto my next point…

Does it fit?

So you’ve found a store with a petite section (winning!) and now you get to possibly my favourite part of any shopping trip; trying on.

As a petite shopper, I cannot express how important it is for me to try on clothes. Regardless or not of whether I’ve been to the store once or 10,000 times, I will always try on anything I see as the cut and style of the item can make such a difference to how it looks and fits me.

What I love about going into store and trying things on is it cuts out so much faff and time wasting that you get with online shopping. Within 10 minutes I will have tried on a top or skirt or whatever, judged whether I like it or not, seen how well (or not) it fits me and put it back on a rail. Whereas if I had ordered that item online, I would have to wait a few days for delivery, try it on at home and then potentially hate it and have to go through the faff of repackaging it and finding time to go to the post office to return it. You can also judge the quality of the material instantly in store; if something feels thin or I don’t like the feel of the material, I just won’t pick that item up, whereas there is no way of telling this with online shopping.

By shopping in store, it feels more on an instant experience. There’s an immediate decision making process laid out in front of you that is so easy and I just love that feeling of falling in love with a new item of clothing in the fitting room knowing you’re going to be wearing it solidly for the next month or so.

Whilst I do understand that trying on items in your bedroom is generally a lot comfier than in a store, I did find that majority of the fitting rooms at stores in intu Merry Hill were lovely and clean, with bright lighting and enough space to hang all of your items and change comfortably. I was also surprised at how quiet the fitting rooms were on the day I visited – I didn’t have to queue at all which definitely made my experience that little bit more seamless and less stressful.

One image of a girl in three different outfits. First imaege on the left is in a white top with flowers on and a spotty black and white skirt, image in the middle is in a cream top and black and white checkered trousers and image on the right is in a white top with a rainbow band and blue ripped jeans

The “I love it” moment

I guess this sort of ties in with the above point, but nothing beats the moment of falling in love with an item of clothing and being able to purchase it right away. Again, I understand you can have a similar experience online but I still always get the worry that when the item arrives it may not be as great as in the pictures, or may not fit my smaller frame. With shopping in store, you cut most of that anxiety out as you are free to fall in love, try on and purchase within a matter of minutes!

Overall, I think it’s quite obvious that I’m a sucker for a shopping trip. As a petite woman, I simply find it so much easier to go into stores and browse, try things on and buy, rather than faffing about shopping online and waiting 3-5 days for delivery only for the item to be too big or not fit correctly. I can see the perks of online shopping, and obviously I do buy online from time to time, but generally I would much rather go to a physical store or even a shopping centre such as intu Merry Hill. With such a large selection of shops and sizes available, I was really impressed by intu Merry Hill and I’ll definitely be going back for another shopping trip soon!

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  1. Anne says

    Ahhh I relate so much! I’m a size six and only 5’2 so I’m so grateful for all the stores offering petite sizes nowadays! I genuinely used to buy like age 13 or 14 sized teen clothes to fit for ages bahah and roll up every pair of trousers ever! That being said I’m a really lazy shopper and tend to order things online and then if they don’t fit send them back but I do like shopping in store on quiet days and trying a bunch of things on – it is fun 😀 I think asos and places have got better at giving information on the height of the model etc and that helps me decide if it will fit too x


    • whatabigailsays says

      Yeah I used to do the same, still do sometimes! There’s definitely advantages to shopping online but I just find it way easier to go into stores and shopping centres, far less stressful for me personally! X

  2. Ellyn says

    Whilst I am not petite, I’m 5”10 but I still have trouble finding clothes that fit! Imagine being able to just walk into a shop, grab your size in anything and walk out and have it fit perfectly!

    Ellyn x | Life Of A Beauty Nerd

  3. Maya says

    I’m a UK size 4 and 5’2″ so clothes shopping is a nightmare – online and in store! It’s mostly a guessing game and the constant happy and then disappointed feelings haha. Hopefully brands will start catering for petite women as much as they do for plus size women!

  4. Chloe Osborn says

    I’m petite too and shopping online is such a struggle! I actually hate trying on clothes in store haha but it’s a necessity when I may like something but it just doesn’t look right on me, so at the end of the day it’s better than online shopping. I much prefer being able to see the item and physically looking through the shop to see what’s on offer.

  5. Jenny says

    I never shop in stores any more (partly due to my anxiety!) but I have such a ridiculous body shape, it’s impossible to find anything that fits. I have a fairly small upper body but big hips, big bum, big thighs but really small calves. Some shops, I’m a 12, others I’m an 18. It’s an actual joke haha.


  6. Karalee Shotola says

    I feel you! Even though I don’t like trying on clothes in stores, it is a necessity because even though the item is the right size, the fit could be horrible and if I bought it online, there is no way of telling until I get it in the mail!
    I do like shopping online though because of the convenience but I have had experiences with ill-fitting clothes. Last week I ordered a pajama set online and I went up 1 size because I wanted it to be comfy but I’m practically swimming in it…so bad idea. But I ordered a maxi dress at the same time and it fits perfectly! So there’s pros and cons of shopping online vs in stores.

    Tales of Belle

  7. Chloe Chats says

    I have this struggle too! I find that going out shopping is a lot better for me because I usually have to try on clothes that I want to buy, I can’t usually just buy one particular size and know it’ll fit. It annoys me with jeans because I buy like size 8 jeans but then the legs are too long so usually works better if I find them in the petite sections! I do like doing online shopping, but I hardly do it – I actually can’t remember the last time I did an online clothes shop! But I do live in a city centre, so it’s not so bad for me to go out shopping! Great post

    Chloe xx

  8. Deborah Wyatt says

    I’m lucky that I’m pretty average in height and size, but I mainly shop online as mobility is an issue for me. What i usually do is order 2 or 3 various sizes to work out which is for me

  9. chloe says

    I have been really struggling to find clothes that look right on my petite frame in the last 6 months as everything that is fashionable is really baggy and non fitting. I really struggle with online shopping as I feel I need to see it in the flesh to know if it looks good or not.

  10. Cynthia says

    I personally hate shopping for clothes online, but at the same time I cant seem to find things I like in stores! I guess it’s that instant gratification of finding something that really fits and that you really love that keeps me going back to shops!

  11. Kriti says

    I feel this issue so much. I struggle to find jeans that will fit me and I just tend to stick to Primark super skinny jeans even then the bottom is still scrunched up. I’m liking that shops are starting to do petite sections now too.


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