As much as we love jeans—and we mean love, since they’re a must-have for any everyday outfit—shopping for them sometimes feels like an impossible pursuit. When a pair of jeans fit well, all is right with the world. When, more likely, they don’t, godspeed to our confidence for the day. If you’re petite (considered to be anyone 5-foot-4 and under), you probably know this struggle well.
I feel your pain, fellow petite people. At 5-foot-2, I’ve drowned in too-long jeans much of my life. Wouldn’t it be nice—for once!—to purchase a pair of jeans without needing to get them hemmed, cuffing them, or hacking off a few inches with a pair of scissors?
- Liv Schreiber, Liv Schreiber is a stylist and founder of Brand Caffeine, an advertising and marketing agency that helps brands and creators grow their digital audiences.
The best petite jeans, at a glance
- Best skinny jean: Levi’s Wedgie Fit Ankle Women’s Jeans, $98
- Best relaxed fit: Good American Good Girlfriend Petite, $149
- Best black jeans: J.Crew Petite High-Rise '90s Classic Straight Jean in Charcoal Wash, $138
- Best high-end dupe: Abercrombie & Fitch Ultra High Rise '90s Straight Jean, $62
- Best flared: Mother The Hustler Ankle Fray, $238
- Best curvy: Everlane Curvy ‘90s Cheeky Jean, $77
- Best white jeans: Madewell The Perfect Vintage Wide-Leg Crop Jean in Tile White, $128
- Best maternity: Gap Maternity Inset Panel Girlfriend Jeans with Washwell, $80
- Best straight leg: Topshop Raw Hem Crop Straight Leg Jeans, $74
- Best vintage wash: Madewell The Petite Perfect Vintage Jean in Ainsworth Wash, $128
- Best splurge: Anthropologie Denimist Patchwork High-Rise Boyfriend Jeans, $395
Stylist Liv Schreiber agrees. “I’m 5-foot-4—actually, 5-foot-3, but my confidence makes me taller,” she says. She’s done her fair share of rolling and fringing hems. Ultimately, she says, the inseam is everything. “It does not matter what style of jeans a petite woman chooses to wear; it’s all about the length of the pants and the proper fit,” says Schreiber.
The good news: There are plenty of petite-size jeans that’ll become your new go-tos, no tailoring necessary. We scoured the market and narrowed down the best of the best petite jeans, no matter your shape or height, or preferred style or wash. Read on for our top picks.
What to look for when buying petite jeans
The inseam is the magic number. (That’s the seam on the inside of the leg.) Eyeballing a model’s height, guessing how much longer the jeans will be on you, is fruitless. Measure the inseam of your favorite pair of jeans, then shop with that number in mind. This number can vary, not only based on your height, but on the cut of the jeans and the type of shoes you’ll wear, too.
For skinny jeans, you’ll want the hem to hit around your ankle, so opt for a shorter inseam, somewhere between 24 and 27 inches. Straight leg styles give you a little more wiggle room lengthwise. Between 25 to 28 inches is ideal for those. Then there are wide-leg jeans, which you’ll likely wear with heels or platforms, so you can afford to go slightly longer, perhaps up to 30 inches.
From bootcut to skinny to wide-leg to you-name-it, there’s no wrong style of jeans for a petite person. “My biggest pet peeve is when women think that they cannot pull off a certain style, whether it’s due to their attachment to another style, or people who have told them they cannot wear something just because they are a certain shape or size,” says Schreiber. “Wrong! There's nothing you can't wear. It's just about how you style it and create a shape.”
To emphasize length, Schreiber recommends petite women highlighting a contrast. Think baggy jeans with a crop top, or flared jeans with a blouse.
The rise, measured from the crotch to the top of the waistband, is key to elongating your waistline and tricking the eye into adding height. A proper rise also provides balance to your outfit. There’s no right or wrong rise for a petite person, but as you’re shopping for jeans know what you’re most comfortable in and the type of look each style produces.
Low-rise jeans—you remember those from the early 2000s—typically sit a few inches below the navel, and can emphasize the width of hips and the lack-of length in your legs. While we’d never say never, low-rise is the least friendly rise for petite people. Mid-rise, which sits around your belly button, is a classic and a must-have, the sweet spot in terms of rise. High-rise jeans, meanwhile, sit above your navel, and can give the illusion of longer legs. Of course, you do you—always.
The best petite jeans
Best petite skinny jean
No matter your size, style, or height, every person needs a pair of Levi’s Wedgie Fit Jeans. (How can you deny them with a name like that?) If you’re on the petite side, select this ankle-cut version, which comes in nine washes, from ultra light to black. With an inseam of 28 inches, they’ll feel full-length to anyone under five-foot-four, and can easily be rolled to show off your ankles or cool socks. The tapered leg is flattering for all, especially come fall and winter, when a skinny jean can balance out a top-heavy look featuring a sweater or jacket.
Material: 99% cotton, 1% elastane | Inseam: 28 inches | Size Range: 23-33
Best petite relaxed fit
“A lot of petite jeans can be frustratingly tight,” says Schreiber, “but Khloé Kardashian knows how to do it right.” With baggier, low-rise mom jeans making their way back into our closets, you’ll want to add a pair of Good American’s loose, laid-back straight leg jeans to your online shopping cart. They’re made to flatter any and all curves, no matter your height or size.
“These Good American jeans are the It Girl of the moment, encapsulating a trendy low-rise waist, and they’re baggy enough to make you feel cool, whether wearing them around the house or for a girls’ night out,” says Schreiber.
Material: 99% cotton, 1% elastane | Inseam: 25.5 inches | Size Range: 00-26
Best petite black jeans
These black jeans from J.Crew have a “oh, this old thing?” feeling to them, as if they’ve been in your closet forever. They marry fresh and new with lived-in and long-loved. They’re super flattering, super high (an 11-inch rise), and have a super straight leg with a classic ‘90s vibe. The charcoal wash gives the tiniest hint of age to them, as if they’ve been through the wash a few times—just how you want your favorite jeans to look. Opt for the petite sizing with the 25-inch inseam. For our vertically blessed friends, this pair is also available in classic and tall versions.
Material: 98.5% cotton, 1.5% elastane | Inseam: 25 inches (petite) | Size Range: 23-32
Best petite high-end dupe
“You heard it here first: Abercrombie is back,” says Schreiber. She particularly loves this A&F pair with a criss-cross waistband, a feature that’s been popular on pricey designer jeans. “The waistband dresses up any outfit without needing an extra accessory, or frilly top,” she says. “I’m obsessed! These jeans are the moment.”
The ultra high rise sits at your natural waist, which gives you the illusion of length, thanks to an elongated waist. This pair comes in many different washes and nearly as many lengths too, including extra short and short. Show off the waistline of these jeans by pairing them with a bodysuit for date night or a tucked button-down for daytime.
Material: 99% cotton, 1% elastane | Inseam: 26.5 inches (extra short) or 28.5 inches (short) | Size Range: 23-37
Best petite flared
Whatever you’ve heard about a flared fit not being flattering on a petite person, forget it. That’s the stuff of myth, and we’re here to debunk it. Take these Mother jeans, with an oh-so-slight flare, for instance. They’re decided not ‘70s-like, and instead feel like a fresh take on jeans—perhaps a style you haven’t worn since middle school. These slightly stretchy jeans are a bestseller for Mother, with a petite-friendly inseam of 27.5 inches. If they’re still too long, the raw hem makes them easy to trim.
If it’s been a while since you’ve worn flared jeans, know that they are begging to be worn with some height, whether that’s a chunky boot, clog, or heel.
Material: 94% cotton, 5% polyester, 1% elastane | Inseam: 27.5 inches | Size Range: 23-34
Best petite curvy jeans
Everlane is on a mission—one we stand behind—of creating a petite jean that curvy gals feel comfortable in. You know the dilemma: If the jeans fit your hips, they gape at the waist, and if they fit at the waist, well…you wouldn’t know, because you can’t get them past your thighs. The hip to waist ratio is of the utmost importance when you’re rocking curves, and Everlane’s Curvy ‘90s Cheeky Jean ensures there’s no annoying waist gap. They’re especially petite friendly too, with two inseam choices, either 26.5 inches or 28.5 inches.
Material: 100% organic cotton | Inseam: 26.5 or 28.5 inches | Size Range: 23-33
Best petite white jeans
That old “no white after Labor Day” decree is dated. Trust us, you can wear white jeans all year round. We especially love this pair from Madewell, which is available in petite, standard, and tall lengths. While vintage-esque in cut, a small amount of elastane in the denim gives them a touch of stretch that jeans from decades past do not. What’s not to like? They have a high waist, slouchy wide legs, and a cropped length perfect for petites. Pair them with sneakers or sandals, dress them up for a dinner out or down for a backyard bbq. No matter how you wear these white jeans, know that you can wear them any month of the year, old adages be damned.
Material: 98% cotton, 2% elastane low-stretch denim | Inseam: 25 inches (petite) | Size Range: 23-33
Best petite maternity jeans
Mommas-to-be deserve not-too-long maternity jeans too. Gap makes these girlfriend jeans with a relaxed fit throughout the legs and an inset panel that’ll stretch with your growing belly. Since they’re made with 85 percent cotton, they feel less like jeggings (looking at you, most maternity jeans) and more like the pairs you’d wear when you weren’t busy growing a precious little babe. While the short version’s 30-inch inseam is on the longer side for petite jeans, the rolled cuff makes them easy to roll up again if needed.
Material: 85% cotton, 13% polyester, 2% elastane | Inseam: 30 inches (short) | Size Range: 25-34
Best petite straight leg
Straight leg jeans can be a tricky purchase for a petite person. If they’re too long, you risk looking like a kindergartener trying to grow into your new back-to-school clothes. That won’t be an issue with these Topshop jeans, which are entirely too cool for school. Their petite version boasts just a 23-inch inseam, the shortest on this list and short enough to show off your ankles and a hot pair of heels. They’ll only look better over time too, as they break in and the raw cropped cuffs fray. Note that these run small, and Topshop recommends sizing up.
Material: 99% cotton, 1% elastane | Inseam: 23 inches (petite) | Size Range: 24-32
Best petite vintage wash jeans
It’s easy to see why these jeans are a bestseller for Madewell. They’re dare we say…perfect. How could we possibly choose a favorite feature? The high-rise waist creates extra length, the tapered legs are ultra flattering, the raw hem gives off a laid-back vibe, and the petite length clocks in at a comfortable 25.5 inches. If this is what the kids are calling “mom jeans” these days, then bring it on.
Material: 99% cotton, 1% spandex denim | Inseam: 25.5 inches | Size Range: 23-33
Best splurge petite jeans
Hop on the hot, hot, hot patchwork bandwagon with these relaxed boyfriend jeans. They’re an investment, that’s for sure, but they’re also so special you’ll keep them for decades to come. (Even if the patchwork trend cools in the coming years, it always comes back in style.) The colorful patches feel one-of-a-kind, and so does the distressed detailing vintage-inspired wash. With their 27-inch inseam, you won’t feel the need to get them hemmed either. To properly show off these crazy cool jeans, opt to pair them with a simple white tee or button up and a pair of heels that highlights one of the many colors featured in the patches.
Material: 100% cotton | Inseam: 27 inches | Size Range: 24-32
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