The Ten PCA Commandments

Being a curvy petite lady isn’t the easiest of orders. Pants are hard to fit on an average-sized woman, and when you’ve got DDs or above, you’re going to find challenges with tops, too. Add in issues fitting boots and winter coats, and your outfit ends up being a full-time job.

To make things a little easier, I’ve compiled some of the lessons I’ve learned along the way: the Ten PCA Commandments.

  1. Thou shalt find stores that work, and return to them. I’m partial to Ann Taylor, Banana Republic, Loft, and the petites section at Nordstrom. I also love a store that appreciates my business and interacts with me as an individual. Lately, these have included Melinda Maria, Vuela Boutique, and Aoko-Su.
  2. Thou shalt know thy measurements well. I know my measurements so intimately that I could take this show on the road. On the same note,
  3. Thou shalt make friends with a good tailor. For DC-area PCA ladies, I recommend Ginger Root Design. Alteration is tedious and thankless work, and the staff at Ginger Root can work some magic with a sewing machine.
  4. When shopping online, thou shalt read all the reviews. Just because it got 2 out of 5 stars doesn’t mean it won’t work for you; after reading the reviews and seeing that nobody (of average height/build) liked the coat because it was too short, had too high a waist, and too much room in the hips, you might realize it’s built perfectly for you.
  5. Thou shalt always be at peace with the store’s return policy. Most of what I buy online must have a free returns policy, whether back to the warehouse or to the brick & mortar store. Only if it’s an incredible deal and I feel very, very certain of the fit will I buy something final sale or that has to be shipped back on my dollar.
  6. Thou shalt check the materials. After purchase, tailoring, and the like, you’re going to be spending more money than your average-sized peers on clothes, so you should really invest in quality pieces that are going to last.
  7. Thou shalt pay attention to lines. Where do those pants hit? Do those boots cut off in a flattering place? Do you really want that seam across your girls? Because everything is more compact, everything is subsequently more obvious.
  8. When buying non-petite items, thou shalt consider proportion. Yes, you can have those pants taken up to have the correct inseam, but where will the knee break hit on your legs? Yes, you can get ankle-length jeans and wear them as full-length, but if there’s whiskering, will it land where it was intended?
  9. Thou shalt accessorize. Honestly, there’s always going to be less in the petites section than there is in the average-sized section, and within petites there’s going to be a limited range of what flatters your body. You’ll end up buying a lot of pieces deemed “classic,” and to avoid having them all look alike, you’ll want scarves, jewelry, hats, shoes, belts, and other accent items to differentiate the same outfit from day to day.
  10. Thou shalt know thyself. Only you know if you’re comfortable in something, and if you’re not comfortable, that’s going to be the first thing people see. If you feel like you’re going to be sucking in your tummy all day, perhaps that top isn’t ideal for an important meeting. If you feel like you’re going to look wildly underdressed, perhaps you should wear a dress instead of jeans to that party. Above all, you need to like what you’re walking around in.

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