history of petite fashion

In creating our brand due to current petite fashion shortcomings, specifically within the category of petite workwear, we became curious about the history of petite fashion, specifically, when, and by whom, it originated.

What exactly is the “petite” size?

Before we dive in to the story of petite fashion it would be useful to establish what exactly we mean when we use the word “petite“.

Being “petite” refers to height and proportion rather than body shape or weight. In particular, petite clothing is designed to provide a more flattering and well-fitting look for individuals who are generally under 5’3″.

Current petite clothing is typically created with specific proportions that cater to shorter women (ie. shorter torsos, narrower shoulders, shorter hems, etc.).

How Did Petite Fashion Start?

The history of petite fashion begins in the 1940’s, with the very concept of petite sizing being invented by US fashion designer Hannah Troy. Hannah described her fashions as “elegant, somewhat classic, timeless, the kind a woman can add to from year to year.” She primarily designed suits, blouses, dresses, and gowns, and sourced beautiful, luxurious textiles.

During the peak of her career in the 1940’s, Hannah noticed that a significantly large group of women were finding it difficult to find great-fitting clothing amongst regular sized clothes. The more she noticed this difficulty, she eventually realised something may be wrong with current clothing and sizing options, and how they fit on shorter women.

After conducting some research, specifically by studying the measurements of military women volunteering during WWII, she discovered that the typical woman was “short in the waist”.

Upon this discovery, Hannah took to developing her very own range of clothing for short-waisted women, using carefully adjusted “petite” proportions. This range was named “Troyfigure”, and was received with immense positivity, becoming wildly successful (and even became more popular than her regular range).

And so, the concept of petite sizing was first recognised, and the fashion industry took its first step towards height inclusivity, ever. 

Petite Fashion After Hannah Troy

While Hannah Troy to our knowledge was the first fashion designer to recognize the petite size, her influence towards the ongoing evolution of petite fashion to what it is today, is limited.

To be clear, Hannah Troy’s work was instrumental in popularizing the idea of catering to the fashion needs of shorter women. Troyfigure was a significant development in the fashion industry as it addressed the specific needs and challenges faced by petite women in finding clothing that fit properly.

However, even though Hannah Troy was the first to recognize the petite size, petite fashion has continued to evolve over time in isolation and without reference to Troy. Various designers and brands have themselves begun recognizing the importance of offering clothing for individuals of different body types and sizes, and have created more petite-inclusive ranges accordingly.

Essentially, Hannah Troy’s petite fashion efforts were the first of their kind before the broader trend of petite inclusivity in the fashion industry started to really take off.

Recent Developments in Petite Fashion

Currently, while there is an increasing number of larger fashion brands mirroring Hannah’s efforts by offering petite collections, the fact remains that petite fashion still has a long way to go before it properly caters to petite women.

In recent times, a number of exclusively petite fashion brands have emerged from all over the globe, all of which were created from the frustrations of what current petite fashion still lacks to offer. Amongst these exclusively petite brands is ours.

Mona Juliet is an Australian fashion label specialising in premium workwear attire specifically for petite women (i.e. 4’10” – 5’3”). Our focus lies in designing ranges which represent timelessness and elegance, designed with the confident, sophisticated woman in mind.

With our debut collection having just launched, we are humbled to have the opportunity to be an active participant in shaping the future of the petite fashion industry, and closing the gap in this market which has been left untouched for far too long.  

If you’re a petite woman (i.e. under 165cm/5’4″) and are in need of some high-quality, timeless pieces for your wardrobe, we invite you to have a browse of our recently launched Classics Collection.

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