Being a woman who is 5 feet tall with a 26” inseam, I know a thing or two about tailoring and fit. For years I tried to make full length yoga pants work while I ignored the four inches of extra fabric gathered around my ankles, or the fact that I could pull the pants up to my ribs.
I am petite, which means I am under the average female height of 5’4”, but guess what? According to my research, a majority of women in the United States are 5’4” and under. Like 50%. So why am I dealing with all this extra fabric when a mere 3% of the female population is 5’9” (an average height for a fit model)? Why are companies using this rare statistic as a blueprint for my clothes? I have no idea. But I am going to tell you how I’ve worked around this discrepancy in the workout world. Luckily yoga pants have come a long way in the last 20 years and I’m no longer limited to what The Gap and Target have to offer.
In case you weren’t aware, here are a few things petite women have to consider when making clothing purchases: rise (the length from your crotch to your waist), and inseam which is the measurement of the inside of your leg, from crotch to ankle. If you’re a petite and curvy woman, that includes an additional set of important measurements, but for the purpose of today’s post, I’ll keep to the subject of yoga pants.
I’m listing my favorite brands, why I love them, and my tricks to get around the extra fabric.
I found this exact pair of pants on sale at Sweat Yoga in Santa Monica. I was too sweaty to try them on (have you ever tried to pull on tight clothing immediately after a hot yoga class? It’s like Ross with the leather pants), so I took a chance and grabbed the XS. These are my FAVORITE workout leggings. They are the MIDI length (also known as 7/8) which is important because they’re not capri/cropped and they’re not full length. They hit right above my ankles, which is perfect for me because for some reason I don’t like any of my pants – jeans, sweats, leggings to touch my ankles. The rise on these pants is just a smidge too high for me – I like it to hit right at, or just below my belly button, but it’s not bad. I also love this brand because their prices are reasonable; $62-$80 on average for a pair of leggings and they offer %15 off when you sign up. The only thing I don’t like about these particular leggings is that the foot opening is SO SMALL my foot almost doesn’t fit through, and y’all I have a size 5 foot. I’m always careful when putting them on, that I don’t rip the opening. Maybe that’s why they were on sale?
I kind of feel like I talk about this company all the time because they cater to SO MANY DIFFERENT BODY TYPES; what’s more, Aerie stopped photoshopping their models years ago. In a city full of thigh gaps, it’s nice to see someone’s legs touching. I know it looks like Aerie is for tweens and college kids but their workout clothes are no joke. I’ve taken HIIT classes in these pants, where I’m aggressively moving though all the exercises, some involving a lot of contact with the black rubber floor. That floor has ruined several pairs of leggings but these have taken a beating and still look great. They also don’t change colors when you sweat, which is an unexpected bonus. I don’t really care if everyone can see that my pants are soaked because I’m working out super hard but it’s just an extra perk, ya know? These are also very budget friendly, the website says $49.95 but they’re ALWAYS on sale.
Also Aerie has length options on several of their bottoms. The irony is that the short lengths are almost always sold out.
The thing I love about OV is that there were already 9,000 yoga lines out there and she did it anyway. AND she found a place in the market. When I stopped into their shop on Melrose back in 2017, they didn’t have a lot of options as far as shorter inseams. It looks like they’ve added some shorter lengths, but they’ve yet to offer it in the compression leggings. Y’all I want those compression leggings and I do not want to pay an extra $20 to get them tailored.
Ok so my favorite thing about Outdoor Voices is their OV Kits. With workout wear costing $200 just to get out the door, Outdoor Voices offers a sports bra and a legging for $95. My one qualm is that it’s a little difficult to get the sizing right. I wear an XS in the Tech Sweat pants, but I would wear a S in the Compression Leggings, however they are too long for me.
- UPDATE for Outdoor Voices, the inseams on their pants are great, however the RISE is almost ridiculously high. They claim to be 7.5 inches on the website, but in actuality they are more around 11 inches. I thought I had worn my out (see above pic) so I got another pair, but they are just too high for me.
Balance is a new brand based out of Colorado. I found out about them because a girl at my gym was wearing the emerald green set, it’s called Pine on the website. I’ve never seen a color that rich and they looked amazing on her – so I followed her around the gym trying to figure out what brand they were. Picture me hiding behind weight machines, staring at this girl’s butt because I can’t figure out what the insignia is. No dice. Well then I saw her AGAIN but this time she was wearing a deep red version of the same outfit and I decided to get over my insecurities and just ask her. Well first of all she was SO nice, so that was great, but then she also told me all about the company! I went out and bought a pair in the Pine color (green is my favorite color).
My leggings got here SUPER quick – two days or something. And not only that but the packaging was really cute and the leggings smelled good!! Weird, I know! As far as fit goes, these leggings fit perfectly to my inseam however the fabric came up a bit short in my opinion (pun). There was something “weak” about the fabric, I was hoping it would hold me together a bit more…maybe I should work out a bit more and then I won’t need the holding? The rise was also a bit too high for me, but not unbearable. I think these leggings are better suited for lean gals, as opposed to thicker bodies like mine. Price points are really reasonable with this line, $70-$75 for bottoms.
ALO stands for Air Land Ocean. Their stores are beautiful – not just a place to grab your leggings and go, but like chill, have a kombucha from the kombucha bar, sit down, flip through their gorgeous book. They also have events and yoga classes here in Los Angeles at their Beverly Hills and Santa Monica locations. Yes, you can take yoga in the yoga store and it is gorgeous. Here are some tips when ordering from this site if you’re looking for a petite fit.
- The 7/8 length has a 24 inch inseam which is PERFECT for petite women HOWEVER if only comes in high rise which is not ideal for a petite woman so be warned of that detail.
- All pants have inseam information under Fit & Fabrication.
- If a pant does NOT say “High Rise” in the description it will typically be a rise that will work for petite women.
- I personally ordered the Airbrush Legging Solid in a size XS. The inseam on this is 28 inches (about 3 inches too long), but that is better than their regular 31 inch inseam.
These ship from England, via UPS so you can’t be in a rush when ordering (UPS doesn’t deliver to me on Saturdays). Honestly, when I first saw the girls at the gym wearing this brand, I wasn’t into it. First of all, I don’t like big brand names splashed across my clothes, but it also seemed a little flashy or showy – like the girls who GET READY to go the gym with the makeup and the hair and the things; that’s me being judgmental and I know that. But then all these girls looked so cute in their matchy outfits that I just had to check it out.
I got my set in the mail yesterday (which is why I’m posting this morning) and…I give up. I’m going to be one of those girls. And I’m just going to make fun of myself and that’s that. Their stuff is so cute and SO REASONABLY PRICED ($50 for quality leggings, can’t be beat). Since we’re focusing on petites, I’ll include links to some of my faves:
I personally purchased the Vital Seamless Legging which was risky because it appears to be a full-length pant. I chose these because as I said before, I’m not crazy about brands labels or logos my clothes. I am 5’0”, I weight 116 and I got the XS. One.More.Pound. and they would not have fit. I also got the matching long sleeve crop top because if I’m going to do this, THEN I’M GOING TO DO THIS. Gymshark’s prices and quality are amazing, but I wish they would put measurements on their items; at the very least their bottoms.
Lastly, all of their cropped versions are going to fit us. I’ll probably get these next time.
It’s not so much that Nike makes petite sizes, but if you purchase a pair of their leggings from a Nike store – NOT an athletic store that sells Nike, but an official Nike store – they will hem them for free. Or at least they do in LA, maybe give your store a call first to make sure. And the hem job is pretty darn good.
Lulu does the same, but good golly their stuff is pricey.
Do’s and Don’t’s for your athletic wear. This biggest and best lesson I ever learned was to air dry my leggings. Affiliate links are used in this post. DO NOT put your leggings in the dryer. Just buy this very rack and you’ll have your leggings for many more wears, less tears.
Don’t do crazy color block or knee designs. Designs that separate your leg cause it to look stumpy or chopped. Also, leggings that have a design at the knee, such as a ripped knee or knee squares, should be avoided because they rarely hit in the right spot for us.
Avoid getting the capri length unless you know the foot opening will NOT be loose, you want it to be snug around your ankle for a sleek fit. Otherwise it looks like you’re wearing tiny bell bottom yoga pants.
I realize I didn’t cover every brand that offers a petite option, and therefore I’ll be updating this post sporadically to add to my research, leave a comment if you think I’ve left anything out! I’ve been eyeing Athleta (owned by Gap, who knew!?), Fabletics – the Kate Hudson stuff, and Lorna Jane, an Australian brand who just so happens to have a warehouse here in LA (taps fingers together mischievously).
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