Simple Ways to Improve an Outfit, Part 2

style and alteration tips for petite women

I was glad to see that several of you enjoyed my recent outfit Before & After! For today’s edition, which you can see in motion in my IG Reel, I wanted to demonstrate how a few adjustments can take a look from sloppy to polished – without even having to get actual alterations. Oversized and looser pieces have been the trend for a while now, but can be challenging for petites to pull off, so I like to keep these elements in mind:

1. Sleeve fit

With coats, jackets, and blazers, the proper sleeve length is key for avoiding a sloppy look. If there’s one aspect I’m going to adjust on an oversized coat like this, it’s to make sure the sleeves don’t drown out my hands and cause the arms to look bulkier.

Here I just folded the sleeves under 2-3 inches (you can secure it with a few hand stitches if needed) and they instantly hang a little more smoothly. The coat now looks more intentionally oversized, rather than like a little girl trying on mom’s clothes. You can also try the hair elastic trick to push up the sleeves for a casual chic vibe.

2. Pant fit

Similar to too-long sleeves making the arms look bulky, too-long pants can bunch up or bag out at the ankles where it hits the top of the shoes. Sometimes I don’t want to actually hem or cut my jeans in order to wear them with different types of shoes, so I’ve been loving the temporary fix of just folding them under and ironing the hems flat (pictured above). You can also try my hack for shortening straight jeans without sewing!

For this particular outfit, I folded my jeans under to hit at the narrowest part of my ankles, though another inch longer would’ve worked as well. By making the jeans a little shorter, they no longer hit the top of my boot and cause bunching throughout the lower leg.

3. Style of Boots

Regular ankle booties (the ones pictured in the “before” photo) usually work best for pairing with skinny or slim denim, or skirts and dresses. For pairing with straight or wider leg bottoms, I’m a big fan of “sock” style booties with a stretchy shaft that can fully tuck inside pant leg openings for a clean look.

4. Defining the Waist

This point is going to appear on nearly all of these Before and After lists, and can be executed in a few different ways.

A. When wearing looser coats open in the front, I make sure to tie the belt in the back, behind my waist. This pulls the sides of the coat back a little and adds a little waist definition. Please see a photo at the bottom of this post for the true fit of this Uniqlo wool coat!

B. In the before, the longer sweater length creates a stark visual line across my hips, the widest part of my body. By simply tucking in the top or switching to a shorter sweater, it draws the eye upward to a narrower part of the body and elongates the leg line.

Also, while this coat has a roomy fit, the waist buttons and and the bottom of the lapel actually hits at my natural waist. This is ideal, and works together with the tucked-in top to create a very flattering waistline.

uniqlo camel wool long coat xxs petite review try on

A quick note on this Uniqlo coat – while this one fit me better and the fabric felt better than similar styles I’ve tried (in particular, this Gap coat in petite XS and this popular Mango coat in xxs regular), I want to emphasize that it’s an oversized style and the sleeves are long on a petite frame.

I was specifically looking for something mid calf length and would only recommend this particular coat to someone expecting a looser and longer fit. The above left photo shows the unadjusted fit on me of XXS, and based on the reviews you’d need to be around 5’3″ and up for it to fit like on the model. 

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Leave a Comment


  1. larissa wrote:

    Thanks for the folding up the sleeve tip, I never really consider doing that & boy does it make a big difference! Love that it’s free, easy & risk free!

    Posted 10.27.22 Reply
  2. Hope wrote:

    Hi Jean!
    Have you ever had an oversized jacket professionally altered? I have a Max Mara jacket that I love—but I’m positively swimming in it. I’m wondering if tailoring might be the solution.

    Posted 10.5.22 Reply
    • Jean | Extra Petite wrote:

      I’m sorry, I have not! Coat alterations can be a little risky and very costly

      Posted 10.6.22 Reply
  3. kathleen mccaffrey wrote:

    love your website good practical advice and I am 82 years old

    Posted 10.3.22 Reply
    • Jean | Extra Petite wrote:

      Thank you! I’m so glad that you find my tips helpful!

      Posted 10.6.22 Reply
  4. Marissa wrote:

    Hey Jean,

    Love the blog! Been a faithful reader since 2016…. Anyways, now that the weather is getting super chilly (at least here in Portland, Maine!), I was wondering if you could do a post about how to style tights/pantyhose? I need to wear them for work and I’m running out of ideas… Thanks a ton!


    Posted 10.2.22 Reply
    • Jean | Extra Petite wrote:

      Thank you Marissa! For tights and pantyhose the easiest way for me is always to match them with my shoes. Black tights with black booties or shoes, navy blue and brown tights with similar colored shoes. Hope this helps xx

      Posted 10.3.22 Reply

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