Petite Polish

How to dress when you’re student-sized, but don’t want to look like one.

It’s so easy to get stuck in a rut. To feel like not only is fashion not working for you, but that it’s also actively working against you. Or to feel out of touch with the conversation. But the truth is, most of us just need a little reboot from an objective eye once in a while. Take Amy Powers-Johnson, 40, a counselor at Simley High School in Inver Grove Heights. She spends her days tackling tough topics with teenagers, which means she’s used to listening and giving, and maybe not so much speaking up about her own needs. So we really heard her when she told us that she needed clothes that fit her petite frame without looking like her students. We’d say that after this transformation, Amy goes straight to the head of the class.




Before TransformationAfter Transformation

The Challenge: Amy is petite enough to shop in the juniors’ section, but can’t show up to  work in the same outfit as her students. It’s time to learn the ropes of grown-up polished casual that won’t overwhelm her tiny frame.

Natalie’s Take: “There are a lot of great trends right now for petite women, especially leggings and skinny ankle pants or straight-leg pants—no fuss with those alterations! I kept in mind that she’d like things she could wear to work and out on the town with her husband. I especially loved the skinny knit legging—you can wear that under a dress, pair it with a riding boot or casual flat. Petites just have to be conscious of fit and proportion.”

Hair Apparent: We decided to turn Amy’s thick, curly locks over to Charlie and Faye at Haus Salon in south Minneapolis for an evaluation. She emerged with a small tweak to her color that made a huge impact. A round-brush blowout  gave her a fun, new look for the shoot, but easily reverts back to  her naturally curly ’do. (Lucky girl.)


1.   Love the lace detail on this army/moto–inspired jacket.
2.  The ribbon detail is a waist-whittler and creates a va-va-voom hourglass sihouette. 
3.    A hemline that hits above the knee is perfect for petite ladies—it adds length to legs. And when you have great gams, show ‘em off.
4.  Ankle boots are hot for fall, and yes, even shorter women can pull them off.


Shoes Belt and Jacket

Above to the Right: Free People jacket, $148; dress, $98; Larissa Loden necklace, $60, all @ Roe Wolfe, 113 Washington Ave. N., Mpls., 612-294-6583, Fiorentini + Baker boots, $490 @ Pumpz & Co., Galleria, Edina, 952-926-2252, Main Photo: Heather by Bordeaux open cardigan, $210; Dolan T-shirt basic tank, $65, both at N’etc., 5005 France Ave. S., Edina, 612-922-9321, Dannijo necklace, $656 @ Pumpz & Co. Helmut Lang knit leggings, $265 @ Arafina, Galleria, Edina, 952-925-1565, at Right: Anna Baiguera plaid flat, $160 @ Pumpz & Co. Brave belt, $120 @ N’etc. Free People cream sweater, $128 @ Roe Wolfe. Jack by BB Dakota Devon jacket, $65 @ Lily and Violet, 3413 W. 44th St., Mpls., 612-746-4160, Below: Minnie Rose zebra sweater, $195
@ Arafina. Brave tote, $320 @ N’etc. Henry & Belle super skinny ankle jean, $170
@ Roe Wolfe. Stuart Weitzman City Slicker studded boot, $550 @ Pumpz & Co.



All rock, no shock.

1.  A twist on traditional zebra print feels exciting without being too risqué.
2.  Ease into printed and colored denim with deep aubergine.
3.  This leather tote can carry it all; the perforated skull is subtle.
4.  The studs on these boots add edge and additional texture.