Summer Reviews: Striped Peplum Tops + Petite Maxi Dresses

joa striped peplum bow top review

JOA top sz xs (here in blue stripes, here in solid blue) – runs small, KJP bracelet xs,
Topshop jeans sz 25 x 30 (similar in the same cut), Ann Taylor pumps sz 5

I’ve seen this peplum top sold on several websites, usually with rather low ratings due to it “running small” (aka “jackpot” for some petite ladies). I finally tried it on, and it’s an adorable, shapely piece that can dress up a simple pair of jeans. It indeed fits small in the torso and runs narrow across the ribs & waist, with a little extra room on me across the top of the bust. I just realized the sleeve can also be worn *on* the shoulder as shown here, which could help with securing everything up.

off shoulder top jeans going out outfit
The opening across the top is slightly elasticized, and is lined with thin rubber trim for traction. Measurements of an xs (fits more like xxs): 12.5″ across the waist, which can be tightened with the sash, 15″ across the top opening, 17″ long in the front. Side zipper entry.

After my random lucky find at Bebe, my interest in the retailer was piqued for the first time since…well, maybe never. Browsing through their website, there’s reminders of the Bebe that most of us know and don’t care for (no offense to anyone who loves lace-up, sheer leggings)! But there are also some cute finds, along with intriguing ones that toe the line of tasteful vs. scandalous…

little black dress cocktail party outfit ideas petite style

Take this little black dress, for example. It makes you look twice (husband’s eyeballs nearly popped out of their sockets), but dare I say there’s something about it that feels elegant? The black satin fabric has good weight to it, there’s a built-in tulle underskirt for shape, convenient pockets (!), and a delicate, higher-neck mesh insert across the front to keep the “girls” in place. I also love the backside, which is in a deep V cut that goes down to the waist. The waist fits me like a glove, but the bust (shaped by curved panels) has some room on me. The material is thick enough that you may not need a bra, but if the bust isn’t fitted on you, there is some risk of side peek-a-boobs through the mesh. Since a few of you asked about undergarments here, I had on my trusty Bristols 6 nippies.

Measurements of 00 regular: 11.75″ across waist with a little stretch, 30″ long. Bust is approx. 15 to 15.5” across (difficult to measure exactly since the back is fairly open).

bebe striped bow peplum shirt topshop jamie jeans petite

peplum top sz 00 regular, Topshop jeans sz 25 x 30 (similar in the same cut)

This is similar to the JOA peplum top, and is so so cute. It’s good quality and lined, but the upper bust opening along the very top was loose on me (a little more so than the JOA), despite the rest of the bodice being very fitted at my ribs. It would help if the bow were an adjustable tie, but it’s purely decorative. You could add a dart on each side along the top edge to help taper it in.

pink black lace maxi dress for petite women wedding guest outfit

I wasn’t quite sold on this blush chiffon with black lace combo, but wanted to share a picture since the fit was pretty good! It’s not too long or too short on me, like some maxi dresses can be in petite sizing. Measurements of 00P: 12.5″ across waist, 15″ across armpits, 52″ length. There’s a back zipper, and a slip dress attached that ends above the knees.

floral lace maxi dress petite women fashion blog

This is another one of those pieces on the borderline scandalous side, but very pretty and interesting from all angles. The black lace trim is unlined, so I could definitely use more coverage at the bust where the lace is! This can be addressed though by wearing either a skin-toned or lacy black bralette underneath. Material is a lightweight, floaty chiffon and the dress is partially lined to above the knees. Measurements of 00p: 12″ across the waist (stretchy, unlined lace trim), 52” length. Bust is hard to measure accurately, since the back is partially open from the deep V.

olive green lace dress summer wedding guest wear ideas

I also tried on this dress in a regular xs. Due to the elasticized shoulders and blouson waist, it fit decently and you can also fold over some excess material at the waist to bring up the length. The outer fabric is a nylon lace, and the dress is fully lined in a stretchy knit material (dress is hand-washable). Measurements of xs: 16″ across the shoulders (stretches), 12″ across the waist (also stretches), 27″ length.

off shoulder lace fit flare summer dress

Are there any brands or stores that you’ve “re-discovered” after a long hiatus?


41 thoughts on “Summer Reviews: Striped Peplum Tops + Petite Maxi Dresses

  • Reply The Pink Pineapple June 1, 2017 at 10:55 pm

    Beautiful post
    The pink pineapple
    New post:

  • Reply Corki Delosreyes June 1, 2017 at 10:58 pm

    Wow do I love that floral maxi and chiffon lace dress! You always look so great….that first pic shirt looks amazing on you also….such good choices!

  • Reply Charmaine Ng | Architecture and Lifestyle Blog June 2, 2017 at 12:03 am

    I love the detail on the peplum top – the bow across the chest is a nice design!

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog

  • Reply Sincerely Ophelia June 2, 2017 at 1:07 am

    The stripe peplum top looks amazing on you! <3 I love it sooo much!

    XOXO //
    SINCERELY OPHELIA | NYC Petite Fashion Blogger

  • Reply Kimberly June 2, 2017 at 1:13 am

    I LOOOVE JOA!! One of my favorite brands for sure. A brand that I re-discovered is Express. It didn't used to fit me properly but now, as long as I don't buy the dress shirts, everything fits me nicely! (since I love JOA so much I actually did a recent blog post about one of the dresses!)

  • Reply The Blushing Diaries June 2, 2017 at 1:33 am

    I love how that little black dress and that peplum top looks on you… amazing.

  • Reply Anonymous June 2, 2017 at 2:00 am

    Love this post. Great for the summer. I was wondering if there were more bohemian or flowy petite maxi dresses which you came across? Still on the search for the perfect maxi dress!

  • Reply mybeautrip June 2, 2017 at 2:16 am

    Black mini dress is just amazing! Love it!

  • Reply Michael @ Mile in My Glasses June 2, 2017 at 3:40 am

    Absolutely beautiful outfits! They all look wonderful!

    I hope you're having a lovely week,

  • Reply Sophie Spiegelberger June 2, 2017 at 4:30 am

    The peplum tops are gorgeous!

  • Reply Carla Krae June 2, 2017 at 6:16 am

    Wouldn't be too hard to sew a strip of lining behind the lace on the maxi neckline for more modesty.

  • Reply Estha June 2, 2017 at 6:53 am

    In loove with the tops and the black dress. So so cute!

  • Reply August Harvest June 2, 2017 at 8:41 am

    Love this striped top <3

    'Share' by August Harvest

  • Reply Anonymous June 2, 2017 at 9:24 am

    Hi Jean, I just recently purchased a black jumpsuit from Bebe. Sexy and supremely elegant! I was surprised too! Abercrombie was recently re-vamped with a petite line (among other updates). I have to say, though many items are still trendy, I've been very surprised by their dress and blouse designs. Their move towards a more classic/casual vibe has brought back some of the 30+ crowd who haven't stepped foot in a store since nearly-naked models ruled their shopping bags! Gwen K.

  • Reply Ewa Macherowska June 2, 2017 at 10:09 am

    Love your style! 😉

  • Reply Ronda Porta June 2, 2017 at 10:44 am

    Suggestions instead of strapless bra for larger women?

  • Reply Anonymous June 2, 2017 at 11:22 am

    The blue stripe bow tie bebe peplum top look so good on you! When I clicked on the link to the bebe website, it looks like it was a totally different blue than yours? You make it look so cute and sexy, makes me wanna wear it. But how does this top even works on a person with small boobs (as I'm a small chested person) is what I'm wondering.

  • Reply Anonymous June 2, 2017 at 3:33 pm

    Threadjack here – but have you looked at Banana Republic Factory? I am 5'2", 112lbs and I find that their clothes fit a lot smaller than regular Banana styles. In skirts/dresses I find that regular sizes tend to be just right on me while petite styles are too short, which may be perfect for an extra petite gal.

  • Reply Melody June 2, 2017 at 3:47 pm

    Jean you just helped me re-discover Bebe 🙂 a brand I re-discovered is Express. Felt like they went thru a phase where sizes were running large but now sizing is more petite-friendly and styles on point!

  • Reply Jean June 2, 2017 at 5:18 pm

    Hi! Have you checked out Free People? I found some of their dresses to be more "midi" in design, which end up as a maxi length on petites. I also like Eliza J maxi dresses (sold at nordstrom) – I think I saw a boho lace/crochet style one from them recently.

  • Reply Jean June 2, 2017 at 5:21 pm

    Hi Gwen! Hope your birthday went well! Yes…totally agree on Abercrombie and their new petites collections. Making big strides since those topless model shopping bag days!

  • Reply Jean June 2, 2017 at 5:26 pm

    H! I want to make sure we're looking at the same thing, is it titled the "striped off shoulder top" on their website? The blues actually in my photo and theirs actually look pretty similar to me! For someone small chested, darts would have to be added to the top opening to make it fit smaller and so it doesn't slide down.

  • Reply Jean June 2, 2017 at 5:27 pm

    Oh interesting! I haven't tried them this season, but I have a few pieces from them in the past and thought they fit pretty consistently with BR regular. Unfortunately I found factory quality to be on the decline over the years, but might have to give it a another try.

  • Reply Jean June 2, 2017 at 5:27 pm

    Same here with Express! I had a long hiatus from shopping there until discovering some of their denim shorts and jeans in "short" inseams : )

  • Reply Jean June 2, 2017 at 5:28 pm


  • Reply Khanh Nguyen June 2, 2017 at 5:40 pm

    I love both of the stripe tops, so cute! Great blog as always <3

  • Reply The Coastal Confidence June 2, 2017 at 9:59 pm

    I love both of the tops, your outfits are always perfect!

  • Reply Anonymous June 2, 2017 at 10:42 pm

    JOA peplum tops are my favorite! I love the cut and style of the tops 🙂

  • Reply Chichi June 3, 2017 at 3:09 am

    i so love the lace ones they are perfect for a holiday too!

  • Reply Mizeats June 3, 2017 at 3:55 pm

    I agree with the comment above about loving the cut and style of the JOA off-the-shoulder tops! The Bebe dress is also a head turner! Amazing! You look gorgeous in all looks, Jean!

  • Reply Julia Mazzucato June 3, 2017 at 5:46 pm

    Those off the shoulder tops and the Bebe dress are GORGEOUS!
    Julia・Little Miss Haute Couture

  • Reply darlene June 4, 2017 at 4:18 am

    the "bebe dress" reminded me of boom sason (filipino desiger) teacup dress

  • Reply Valeri June 4, 2017 at 1:37 pm

    Wow. You look awesome in these clothes. Classic, chic, edgy. Quite simply stunning.

  • Reply La Belle Demimondaine June 5, 2017 at 9:40 am

    I love the striped top, the black v-neck dress, and that green lace dress!

    I want to love those long dresses, but I can't. I feel like I'm looking at a re-run of "The Lawrence Welk Show". Like their ultimate accessory would be a man in a powder-blue tuxedo, holding a giant microphone with a cord. You make those dresses look much better than they actually are.

    Sorry to be the person who points out that the Emperor isn't wearing any clothes. I do think that striped top is divine, though!

  • Reply Kaitlin Schubert June 5, 2017 at 9:48 am

    That striped top is SO cute!

    xo, Katie
    Willow and White

  • Reply Anonymous June 5, 2017 at 3:26 pm

    I may skew a little older for your readership at 39 but is there any way you can focus on more work appropriate looks? I used to find those posts super helpful (I am about a size or two bigger than you in petites).

  • Reply Janinafran June 5, 2017 at 4:09 pm

    Wow that bebe black dress is stunning on you! <3

  • Reply Sarah Lilly June 6, 2017 at 2:43 am

    That JOA peplum top is stunning, it looks like it was made for you! The little bow tie on the front is a super sweet touch. I really wish we had a Nordstrom here in New Zealand!

    The Lilly Mint Blog

  • Reply Washington area June 6, 2017 at 3:18 pm

    Joa tops are gorgeous! You always find beautiful pieces. Thank you for sharing them. Would you also recommend lighter blue distressed jeans please? Thank you

  • Reply Lynna June 8, 2017 at 11:31 am

    Love your outfit<3
    It looks super fashionable! xx

  • Reply Anonymous June 10, 2017 at 7:27 am

    BR factory is my go to for work clothes. One of the few brands that fits me with no alterations!!!i think quality is good compared to other factory stores. By the way, you look great in every single outfit 🙂

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