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.
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!