in , ,

Love Thy Tailor? Dress and Jacket Tailoring Tips for the Petite Plus Size

When I first started as a contributor for The Curvy Fashionista, I featured some simple tailoring options for the petite plus size – hemming pants and blouses are probably some of the simplest alterations you can make.  But what happens when the alterations you need are a little more complicated?  How do you know what can be altered and what can’t?  When is the cost of alterations worth it and when should you choose another garment? We are here to share a few tailoring tips for the petite plus size!

Listen, at a whopping 4’9″, I know a thing or two about tailoring items to fit my frame! On top of that, I am all about wearing and trying out trends and looks that you may think will NOT work for the petite plus size girl! That is why I am here, to show and share with you how it CAN be done!

Tailoring Dresses and Jackets Tips for the Petite Plus Size

Today’s post is about alterations that are a bit more complicated or involved than a simple shortening of the hem.  I’m talking about slimming sleeves, shortening sleeves with wrist details, taking up shoulders, and more!  But first, let’s talk about how to decide what can and cannot be altered when it comes to jackets and dresses.

You might be surprised at how many aspects of a garment can be altered, even pieces with trims on the hems.  But alterations cost money, and the more complicated an alteration is to make and the longer it takes a tailor to do the job, the more they will need to charge.  Whether it’s worth thinning your pocketbook to alter a garment is a personal decision that is based on several factors like:

  • how much you love a particular garment
  • your wardrobe needs
  • and of course, your finances!

That said, I’m here to offer some input on alterations on a few style, namely dresses and jackets, that may help you decide whether to purchase a garment and/or to pay for tailoring.


Did you know that most jackets can be shortened?  A lining in a blazer or jacket will make the job a little more complicated which will also increase the cost.  Petite plus women can rock many lengths of jackets, but sometimes, a hem can make a dramatic difference!

That Jacket a bit too long?
Tailoring Dresses and Jackets Tips for the Petite Plus Size

Shortening jacket sleeves is probably the most common alterations need for petite plus women.  Again, depending on the details on the jacket, shortening sleeves can be more or less complicated.  A simple sleeve that is not lined and that has no cuffs, buttons, zippers, or other wrist details will be the simplest (and cheapest) option.  That said, you don’t have to sacrifice on style details just because you have short arms!

Sleeves Too Long?
Tailoring Dresses and Jackets Tips for the Petite Plus Size

Moto jackets usually have zipper details at the wrist.  If you’re petite, shortening the sleeve could mean losing part or all of this detail, but there is another solution.  Simply have a tailor move the zipper up, taking fabric out of the mid-section of the sleeve rather than the end.  This creates a second seam that if done well looks completely intentional.

Tailoring Dresses and Jackets Tips for the Petite Plus Size

Playing with Proportions? How I worked it!

Tailoring Dresses and Jackets Tips for the Petite Plus Size

Proportion is also a big factor when you’re petite.  This Eloquii blazer had two stripes at the cuff.  The cuff could have been moved up to maintain the style.  The double stripes, while cute, were a bit overwhelming for short arms.  A tailor hemmed the sleeves, removing one of the stripes.


Overwhelmed by a Dress?

Similarly, this layered-look dress was overwhelming on a petite plus frame.

Tailoring Dresses and Jackets Tips for the Petite Plus Size

Removing the white portions from the bottom of the dress and sleeves not only made the hem and sleeve lengths perfect but created a more proportional look.  Don’t be afraid to change the design of a piece to suit your needs!  One thing I love about alterations is that you get to be in the driver’s seat, creating a garment customized to your body and your personal aesthetic!!

Necklines and Volume!Tailoring Dresses and Jackets Tips for the Petite Plus Size

Sometimes a dress will seem like a total dud straight off the bat.

Here, the dress is way too long and the neckline much too low-cut for the design.  In the past, I would have returned or never purchased a dress that fit like this.  Sometimes, I still will make a return if the alterations investment isn’t worth it to me, but now, I am able to look at a dress that fits like this and see the potential. 

Taking the dress up at the shoulders moved the dress up to my natural waistline and moved the neckline up where it belonged.  The sleeves were narrowed a bit to remove a little extra volume and the dress was hemmed. 

The overall changes were quite drastic and much simpler and less costly than they might have initially appeared.

Feeling a bit Exposed?
Tailoring Dresses and Jackets Tips for the Petite Plus Size

Where to buy items from this post:

  • Tuxedo Dress:  Eloquii (Available here)
  • White moto jacket:  Rebel Wilson for Torrid (Available here)
  • White Dress:  ASOS (straight size) (Available here)
  • White Dress with black trim:  Eloquii (Available here)
  • Military Blazer:  Eloquii (Available here)
  • Black Bodycon Dress:  Forever 21+ (Available in tomato here)
  • Black Trench: (Available here)

Pulling a dress up at the shoulders also moves the armholes to their proper place.  Before the shoulders were taken up in the dress above, my bra was visible under my arms.  Afterwards, my bra is concealed under my dress where it belongs!

These are just a few of the many ways jackets and dresses can be altered to work for your petite plus frame!  Off-the-rack clothes are made to fit only a very narrow percentage of body types.  For the rest of us, alterations can be an important tool in creating the fit and overall look that we want. 

While alterations can be an investment, they are so important! Especially for petite plus size women who may find it difficult to find anything that fits even remotely well off the rack.

Any alterations questions or hacks that you use? 

Are there any types of garments you simply don’t buy because you don’t think they will work for your body?

As The Curvy Fashionista editors, we write about stuff we love and we think you'll like too. The Curvy Fashionista often has affiliate partnerships, so we may get a share of the revenue from your purchase.

Written by Team TCF

What do you think?


Leave a Reply

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *





    Perfectly Polished Plus Size Spring Pastels

    13+ Perfectly Polished Pastel Looks For Spring!

    Gwynnie Bee Shape Report

    Making Shopping a Bit Easier with Gwynnie Bee’s The Shape Report