The 20 Best Jeans for Short Women, According to the Petite People Who Wear Them
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As anyone who's petite (which we'll define here as under 5'3") knows, it’s not easy finding a pair of jeans that fit your proportions. Whether it's skinny jeans that leave you with a pool of fabric at the ankles or distressed details that hit at the wrong spot, there are plenty of woes that arise when slipping on denim that wasn’t designed for your frame. That’s why we’ve tapped the expertise of PureWow's editors (and fellow shorties, at that!), as well as top denim designers, to help us find the best jeans for short women.
Meet the Experts
Our experts and editors agree: Focus on the inseam first, which is the actual length of the jean's leg itself. For those of us who are on the shorter side, an inseam of 26 inches or less is the most ideal. However, if you like to wear your denim with heels, you can go for a slightly longer inseam. "At Joe's Jeans, we consider full-length petite to be a 31-inch inseam, which can be worn with heels without dragging on the ground," says senior women's denim designer, Lisa Aragon. She says the brand also makes "ankle-length petite sizes at a 25-inch inseam, which will hit right around the ankle bone for most."
Are Any Jean Styles Not Great for Petite Figures?
After checking out the inseam, opt for a size denoted "P" or "Petite" whenever possible, so you can snag denim with the right proportions and scale for your body. According to Pierson, shorter inseams are just the beginning. "We analyze the sizing of a petite frame and adjust points of measurement and proportion to ensure the fit intent is specific," she says. "This includes everything from knee placement to length. Whether that's taking in the leg opening or adjusting the rises, our end goal is to always make the fit proportional while also nailing that leg shape our customer is seeking." Thanks to increased body inclusivity at companies including Madewell, now petites can wear just about any (yes, any) style of jeans.
"There should be no reason to shy away from or feel limited in fit assortment on account of being petite," says Aragon, who uses the wide-leg jeans trend as an example. "The way most wide-leg jeans are cut in the market make it a tricky fit for those who would require hemming. Alterations can be costly and modify the fit when the wide leg opening is cut off at the bottom." She says the brand's Mia Petite ($198) is "the perfect solution, since we engineered our high-rise wide leg fit specifically for a petite size. The cinched waist and wide leg provide the illusion of length that is incredibly flattering with no alterations needed."
What to Look For In Petite Jeans
- An inseam of 26 inches or less
- A mid- or high-rise waist that helps to create the illusion of more height
- Shop for brands that carry "short" or "petite" sizes
- Avoid any styles with a wider cuff, which can make your legs appear shorter
What's the Difference Between "Short" and "Petite" sizes?
Typically, "petite" sizes don't just apply to the length of the jean, but to the rest of denim's features as well. (Think: the cut, pocket sizes, cuff lengths and trim styles.) Normally, you'll see these labeled with a "P" and, in short (pun intended), they're made to be proportional to your smaller frame. This means that the leg length will be the right fit, in addition to where the waistband hits on your torso (aka the rise). The size and shape of the pockets and the placement of the pockets are also taken into consideration.
According to Petite Dressing, "petite jeans are made with the assumption of petites having a shorter rise as well as shorter legs" but in some cases, "petites may have longer rises than average petites, so what they really need is just jeans with [a] shorter inseam." In those instances, look for "short" sizes that have abbreviated leg length, while the rest of the jean's proportions will be the same as the brand's standard sizes.
The Top 20 Jeans for Short Women
- Why We Love Them: 25.5-inch inseam, multiple washes
- Size Range: 23 to 33 (petites, regular and tall versions)
- Petite Reviewer: Rachel Gulmi, 5'0"
"I normally stay away from high-waisted jeans because I don't find them comfortable, but these hit at just the right spot, making them super flattering from the front and backside," says PureWow operations director of branded content Rachel Gulmi. "To be honest, the petite length could be even shorter in order for these to hit above my ankle how I like, but I roll them a couple of times to get the job done quickly. Safe to say, I'd get a pair in every wash offered!"
- Why We Love It: 90/8/2 cotton/poly/elastane fabric has lots of recovery, standard inseam fits petites
- Size Range: 00 to 40
- Petite Reviewer: Chelsea Candelario, 5'
"I hate wearing jeans, but this pair from Universal Standards has changed my tune," says our associate editor Chelsea Candelario. "I'm 5'0" and the slim leg cut falls right by the ankles without any fabric bunching up (the worst for petite gals). They're also high-waisted and fit comfortably all day long. Oh, and it has deep pockets!"
- Why We Love It: 12 1/8-inch rise (size 27), 84/15 cotton/organically grown cotton plus 1 percent elastane
- Size Range: 23 to 33, 14 M to 24 L
- Petite Reviewer: Katherine Gillen, 5'2"
"I have the Levi's ribcage straight ankle and the 27-inch inseam is the perfect just-above-the-ankle-bone length for me (I'm 5'2")," says our food editor Katherine Gillen. "They come in a plethora of washes and are very waist-defining which is ideal for someone with no waist like me."
- Why We Love It: 25-and-a-half-inch inseam, 94 percent organic cotton, 5 percent recycled cotton, 1 percent elastane
- Size range: 24 to 32 in petite, regular and tall sizes
- Petite Reviewer: Jillian Quint, 5'1"
"As a 5'1" lady with no hips to speak of, I'm always looking for that elusive casual-high-waist classic jean fit. I love that these offer just a teensy bit of stretch, but are a thick enough denim to a) create the illusion of hips and b) not sag in the knees (which, ps: actually hit at my knees)."
- Why We Love It: 26-and-a-half-inch inseam, stretchy cotton fabric includes 18 percent polyester and 1 percent elastane
- Size Range: 23 to 34
- Petite Reviewer: Nicole Briese, 5'1"
"I'm 5'1 and Joe's Jeans are my faves. Ironically, I do not like buying petite or short jeans, as I feel like this sometimes puts the rest of the measurements off. My secret? Buy the full-length ones, but cropped," says PureWow affiliate sales director Nicole Briese. "These ankle jeans from the brand are basically regular length on me and also fit my waist like a glove."
- Why We Love It: 88/10/2 percent cotton/poly/elastane, waist hugs without bulging
- Sizes: 00P to 18P, also regular, tall and plus sizes
- Petite Reviewer: Dana Dickey, 5'3"
"I appreciate how these jeans hug my curvy booty without being too tight, or showing VPL," says senior editor Dana Dickey. "They are that perfect crisp white—the brand calls it optic white—that really signals summer. And they stay crisp—even after I've endlessly washed out all the little stains that white jeans require tending to."
- Why We Love It: sustainable sourced cotton + 4/1.5 percent poly/elastane fabric, available in multiple washes
- Size Range: 23 to 32, petite, regular and tall sizes
- Petite Reviewer: Rachel Bowie, 5'2"
PureWow editor Rachel Bowie has committed to buying and re-buying these J.Crew toothpick jeans...for five years and counting. “I feel like they have just the right amount of stretch, but also come in a wash that's super slimming,” she explains. Offered in sizes 23 to 32 and with a 25” inseam in petites, these toothpick jeans will work their magic for almost all body types.
- Why We Love It: button fly, all-cotton with 1 percent elastane
- Size Range: 23W to 37W, extra-short, short, regular and long inseams
- Petite Reviewer: Laura from Honolulu, 5'3"
"These are exactly the style I wanted (dad jeans) without being so baggy that they engulf my 5'3" frame," Laura says. "The butt is semi-fitted while the thighs and hips are relaxed (not sure how they did that) so it's flattering and not frumpy!" Another plus for Abercrombie & Fitch jeans is that they come in extra-short and short lengths, made for shoppers who are under 5' and between 5' and 5'3" respectively.
- Why We Love It: front and back patch pockets, 27.5-inch petite inseam
- Size Range: 23 to 34, petite, standard, tall and plus sizes
- Petite Reviewer: Jordyn, Brooklyn, 5'2"
Anthropologie really gets the plight of the vertically-challenged. For example, their in-house denim brand Pilcro offers so many petite sizing options. Want a wide-leg pair that won't drag on the floor? Here they are. What about flattering cargo jeans? You got it. "I’m 5’2” about 135 lbs with a long torso and short legs and have soooo much trouble finding flattering jeans, especially the looser fit that’s now in style. [I] wear these constantly now and get so many compliments. They are extremely comfy and I actually have lounged around the house in them."
- Why We Love It: no-button pull-on design, high-rise tummy shaping panel
- Size Range: XS to 3X, petite, regular and tall
- Petite Reviewer: Belvia J., 5'2"
"I pull them on. They fit proportionately and are easy to move in—WINNING!" writes 5’2” and 185 pound Spanx wearer Belvia J., who takes them in a 1X petite. Like many commenters, she sizes up in Spanx, citing the brand's snug, body-shaping fit. For reference, Spanx's petite sizes come in a 27-inch inseam.
- Why We Love It: comes in dark and light washes, 91/6/3 cotton/poly/spandex blend stretches and retains shape
- Size Range: 24 to 35, short and regular sizes
- Petite Reviewer: Mara Lee, 5'2"
"My new favorite jeans!" writes Mara Lee, a petite reviewer based in California. "It's so hard to find straight leg denim that fits well and looks good on a curvier shape. These are flattering, comfy, a perfect length and the stone wash is so cute!"
- Why We Love It: zip fly, 100 percent cotton
- Size Range: 23 to 34 waist, 26 to 28 inseam
- Petite Call Out: As0s design gives you three inseam options to mix-and-match with lengths
The petite section from ASOS is legendary. It offers practically every style of trendy jean with shorter inseams—and most of them cost less than $50. This pair of mom jeans is particularly praiseworthy, because they're just so damn flattering and comfortable. Made to be rolled up, this model is 5'3" and is wearing her slouchy pair low on her waist and wide-cuffed to perfection.
- Why We Love It: high elastane fabric creates ultra stretch
- Size Range: 00 to 30 Plus
- Petite Call Out: Kathy D., 5'2"
"I am so glad that GA offers petite sizes. The rise is just right, and they have the perfect amount of stretch with very soft fabric," writes Kathy D. "They are so comfy. I can wear these out AND lounge around the house in them. Buy these. You won't regret it!" And they're responsibly made with recycled cotton and in eco-kind washes, and have a reduced energy footprint using significantly less water usage and solar powered factories.
- Why We Love It: curvy fit has extra hip room, 26-inch inseam
- Size Range: 2P to 16P
- Petite Call Out: designed to fit and flatter 5'4" and under
These jeans have a secret weapon: a stretch support tummy control panel behind the pockets, which you don't even realize is there when you're zipping and buttoning these babies up. Add to that the fact that it's all made of lightweight cotton/polyester/viscose/spandex denim, and come in a curvy cut that diminishes waist bands gaps, and these will quickly become your go-to jeans.
- Why We Love It: pull-on style with faux fly, medium-skinny styling down the leg
- Size Range: 0 to 20, short, regular and long
- Petite Reviewer: Sally, 5'2"
"I'm 21 weeks pregnant, 5'2'' and 115 pounds before pregnancy," writes Sally in her review. "Now I'm 126 pounds. I ordered a size 2 regular, and they fit just right. A bit longer I'll say, but I can cuff them. The fabric is soft and the color is dark, just as I wanted. The belly support makes me feel secure and isn't too tight." The front waist panel is all-stretch (93 percent nylon, 7 percent spandex), so that's the part that's going to really be your best, stretchy friend as pregnancy thickens your waist.
- Why We Love It: rigid cotton denim, 26.5 inseam
- Size Range: 23 to 33
- Petite Reviewer: Hannah Zee, 4'11"
"I'm curvy and quite short and I feel like these jeans were made for me," says 4'11" reviewer Hannah Zee. "While they fit quite snug, they loosen up a bit with wear since they're a stiff cotton jean. They feel exceptionally well made, and I will never look back!" Specifically cut for wearers with an hourglass shape, this pair of jeans is cut narrower through the waist with extra fabric in the hips. Translation: No more waist gaps, huzzah!
- Why We Love It: comfy contoured waist, stretchy fabric, 26.5-inch inseam
- Size Range: 23 to 34
- Petite Reviewer: Amik, 5'1"
"I’ve been wanting a pair of flare jeans for a while. These are perfect!!!" writes reviewer Amik. "Obviously not cropped on a shorter gal—I am 5’1” and [have] a curvier 130 pound build, but the length is a perfect regular length. [They're] my new favorite jeans! They do have a lot of stretch [to them] so keep that in mind when ordering your size."
- Why We Love It: frayed hem, super stretchy premium denim
- Size Range: 23 to 34
- Petite Reviewer: Trendy Trinh, 4'11"
"Great stretch, perfect size for [a] petite athletic frame," says one 4'11'' inch reviewer. "I am 4’ll'', 103 pounds, and these jeans fit perfectly. They hug every curve very well." Here, the cropped length functions like a full-length pair of jeans on petites.
- Why We Love It: petite and petite short sizing, available in four dark washes and white
- Size Range: 2P to 14P, PS sizes aslo
- Petite Reviewer: Sharon, 5'2"
"I got both the light denim and black, and they are both beyond perfect," says reviewer Sharon. "They’re a really flattering straight leg. At 5’2” and 130, I got the size 6 and they are the perfect fit and the perfect length for low heels." These jeans have an innovative fit option whereby you can opt for petite, which has a 29-inch inseam, or petite short, which has a 27-inch inseam. And note that the dark washes are dyed with true indigo, a natural process which may rub off onto fabrics, leather, and upholstery before multiple washings.
- Why We Love Them: Italian-milled denim, free shipping and exchanges over $100
- Size Range: 24 to 33, regular and ankle-length
- Petite Recommendation: Nat V., 5'2"
One special feature with this brand is the Revtown Digital Tailor, a short series of questions that recommends the exact size and style to fit each wearer. "I really love these jeans! The fit is amazing as well as the length," says reviewer Nat V., 5'2" and 125 pounds. "My only issue with them is they are really high waisted on me. I know they are listed as high rise but these are really high rise. Regardless, I would still buy another pair—they just won't be my jeans if I'm going to dinner."