We independently research, test, review, and recommend the best products—learn more about our process. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.
For those under 5-foot-4, the search for the best spring and summer dresses is on. Warmer days are ahead and vacation plans are in sight for all, though the best petite finds for those who require them often demand assiduous research. That’s because petite sizing is all about proportions: shorter hems and sleeve lengths, as well as narrower shoulders. Essentially, petite dresses allow small frames to wear that maxi dress silhouette they long for.
Since the labels that specialize in petite sizing are few and far between, Byrdie has curated an edit of petite dresses to suit your every need. Whether you’re shopping for a formal event, beach vacation, or long-awaited return to the office, these dresses do not disappoint. We also tapped Whitney Keeffe 999, a stylist at Stitch Fix, for advice on how to procure the best pieces on your next shopping spree.
Ahead, shop the best petite dresses to suit your plans.
Meet the Expert
Whitney Keeffeis a stylist and project manager at Stitch Fix.
Best Overall: LOFT Puff Sleeve Tiered Midi Dress
A seasonless day dress can be worn for almost any occasion. This flowy cotton frock from LOFT is as appropriate for a picnic in the park as it is for the office. Wear it with sneakers and sunnies for the former or ballet flats and sleek accessories for the latter. For under $100, it offers a great value.
Material: 100% cotton | Size Range: XSP-SP
Best Budget: Old Navy Crinkled Maxi Cami Shift Dress
Old Navy is the perfect destination for petites looking to shop at low price points, as the retailer thrives on the principle that basics need not break the bank. For under $40, this relaxed maxi dress is the perfect pick when you’re looking to go sleeveless for a casual lunch al fresco.
Material: 53% cotton, 47% viscose rayon | Size Range: XSP-XXLP
Best for Work: Ralph Lauren Stretch Cotton Shirtdress
All-American fashion designer Ralph Lauren makes many of his effortlessly elegant ready-to-wear designs in petite sizes, in a collection called “Lauren Petite.” This stretch cotton shirt dress, designed with shirring and a sash to cinch the waist, will lend you the utmost polish for important meetings at work. (For a more relaxed look, opt for the linen version.)
Material: 65% cotton, 29% nylon, and 6% elastane | Size Range: 0P-14P
Most Versatile: Petite Studio Gabriella Dress
New York-based Petite Studio considers itself an expert in petite clothing, as it only carries petite sizing. The brand offers a mix of trendy and timeless pieces, like this vintage-inspired midi dress. Tone it down with chunky flat sandals for an afternoon about town or make it more formal with strappy sandals and a pochette bag.
Material: 100% viscose | Size Range: XXSP-LP
Best Formal: Reformation Twilight Dress
Cult brand Reformation makes the ultimate wedding guest dresses in regular and petite sizes. This style is fitted in the bodice with a relaxed-fitting skirt, so you get structure and comfort all in one. The petite sizing accounts for a shorter waist and smaller bust but does not mention length in the size guide. As a bonus, this dress also comes in plus sizes.
Material: 100% viscose | Size Range: 0P-12P
Best LBD: Petite Studio Hepburn Dress
Go old Hollywood in this classic LBD style from Petite Studio. It’s cut for a slim fit from a stretchy fabric, so it molds to the body without feeling too restricting. For the best idea of how this piece will fit your frame, refer to the measurements on the product page, which detail length, shoulder width, bust, waist, hip, and sleeve length. (You can do this for any piece that provides so many measurements.)
Material: 48% cotton, 31% polyester, 21% nylon | Size Range: XXSP-LP
Best for Date Night: Reformation Sigmund Dress
On your next date night, show some leg in this slim-fitting, high slit style from Reformation. With its subtle A-line silhouette, the dress offers structure without feeling stuffy.
Material: 53% viscose, 47% rayon | Size Range: 0P-12P
Best Mini: Boden Scoop Neck Embroidered Dress
For balmy days, choose a minidress that will show off your legs, like this cotton embroidered style from Boden. While it skews cottagecore (an aesthetic that’s typically characterized by long lengths and fitted bodices), it’s easy to style with tall espadrilles or strappy sandals for a sweet-sexy look.
Material: 100% cotton; polyester embroidery | Size Range: 2P-12P
Best Midi: Gap Smocked Midi Tank Dress
Gap knows that great basics are the cornerstones of all of the best outfits. The retailer has made shopping for these pieces easy by offering simple silhouettes, like this smocked midi dress, in regular, tall, and petite sizes.
Material: 100% cotton | Size Range: XSP-LP
Best Maxi: 41 Hawthorn Beatriz Maxi Dress
Go full floral in this maxi from 41 Hawthorn, a top recommendation from Keeffe. The sleeveless dress style can be worn with everything from chunky sandals and easygoing accessories to low-profile sneakers and a mini backpack.
Material: 97% rayon, 3% spandex | Size Range: XSP-LP
Best Shirt: Banana Republic Ramie Popover Shirt Dress
Designed with warm days in mind, this breezy style isn’t your average shirt dress. It features billowy statement sleeves, wide cuffs, and a tie belt to define the waist. It’s also semi-sheer, so you may perhaps relegate this style to cover-up status for beach days.
Material: 100% ramie shell; 100% cotton lining | Size Range: XXSP-LP
Best Wrap: Banana Republic Tiered Mini Wrap Dress
With seals of approval from A-listers like Meghan Markle and Olivia Palermo, this ready-to-wear brand is a reliable source for timeless pieces with an effortlessly chic appeal. Shop this classic style for your weekend wardrobe, which will make you look put together in a snap.
Material: 100% cotton| Size Range: XXSP-LP
What to Look For When Shopping for Petite Dresses
Range of sizes and large selection
The best petite brands have an extensive size range and a wide selection of clothing, not one that only hits the basics or comes in straight sizing alone. For the widest variety of dresses at any given retailer, shop online, as the selection is often bigger than what you’d find in-store. For online shopping, though, be sure to check the garment’s measurements to confirm the length. This will help to ensure the perfect fit for your frame.
Reviews from those with a similar body type
For extra guidance on finding the perfect-fitting pieces, look for brutally honest reviewers who give plenty of details on their experience with a given garment. Some websites make tracking these stats easy by providing a filter for height, weight, and build, so be sure to look for the feature to obtain the most accurate advice.
What is petite sizing in clothes?
Petite refers to height, not weight, which means that everything from sleeves to inseams (of pants) will be shorter in length. Other important adjustments—like higher armholes and waistlines, more narrow shoulders, and the placement of details—are also made to ensure a proportionate fit.
What is the length range for petite maxi dresses?
“The length of petite maxi dresses will differ from brand to brand and style to style,” Keeffe says. “Just as with all apparel categories, it can take some trial and error to find the right brands and style for you and your unique body.”
Why Trust Byrdie
Hayley Prokos is a Los Angeles-based writer and editor focused on fashion and lifestyle. She contributes regularly to Byrdie’s commerce section and has a passion for sourcing chic and practical pieces with long-term wearability. For criteria, she evaluated customer reviews, size inclusivity, price point, and style.