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Our favorite picks for the 5’4” and under club.
If you, like many of us, have had to transition back from remote work to the office in the past year or two, you’ve probably had a wake-up call switching your wardrobe from sweats back to professional attire. Or maybe you never left — but we can all agree dressing for the office can be difficult. There’s a fine line between looking polished and frumpy, and finding work clothes is infinitely harder when you’re petite. (Hello, no one wants to spend extra time and money getting every item hemmed!)
Whether your office is casual or more buttoned-up, a good work pant can take your wardrobe far. We love the versatility of a pant that can be worn as part of a power suit for a big pitch, transitioned to the bar for happy hour, or dressed down with a t-shirt for casual Friday.
We’ve researched the best petite work pants out there so you don’t have to. To make our selections, we consulted some of our favorite petite fashion experts as well as tried several pairs (the author stands just 5 feet tall, so we’ve got plenty of experience buying petite pants of our own!). We looked for styles that match our petite portions, elongate our frames, don’t wrinkle, and you guessed it, don’t have to be hemmed. Read for our favorite petite work pants to add to your wardrobe.
Best Overall: Aritzia Wilfred Effortless Pant
What We Love: These pants look polished and have a high-quality feel.
What We Don’t Love: They do run a little small.
These pants are the essential everyday pant — and they really do feel effortless. Dressing them up or down is a breeze, and the short length fits petite frames well. Digital creator Kas Kay loves this silhouette, adding, “it's definitely an investment, but I love the quality and material.” We’d give an honorable mention to the cropped length, which comes in fewer colors but shows off flat shoes.
The pants are high-waisted and have a wide-leg that isn’t too flared, giving you a streamlined silhouette that elongates your legs. In our experience, these pants run on the small side (the author has a curvy/athletic body type and had to return her usual size for one size up). However, we found these to be incredibly comfy. The crepe fabric is smooth, soft, and silky, which is great for all-day wear. We think out of all of the pants on this list, the Effortless Pant strikes the perfect balance among quality, fit, feel, and price — not to mention, the silhouette is incredibly on-trend yet classic enough not to go out of style.
Price at the time of publish: $148
Size: 00-16 | Material: Polyester | Inseam: 28 inches | Colors: 13
Best Budget: Quince Ultra-Stretch Ponte Straight Leg Pant
What We Love: These pants offer incredible quality for the price.
What We Don’t Love: The size range leaves a lot to be desired.
Quince is a direct-to-consumer retailer that might not be a household name yet, but their pants sure have made an impression. The brand is able to offer high-quality essentials for less by white-labeling products and cutting out the middleman. We’ve shopped all kinds of products from Quince and found that across the board, the quality holds up to their claims.
Made from wrinkle-resistant materials, these pants have a comparable feel to some of our higher-end picks, but they’re under $40, so you don’t have to break the bank when you’re on the clock. The straight leg silhouette offers a classic look that works for a variety of office dress codes. This pair features a pull-on elastic waistband and four-way stretch that’s as comfortable as your workout leggings, yet the subtle pocket details and belt loops signify that these pants mean business. While the pants come in three different inseams, the sizing only goes up to XL, which leaves a huge gap where we’d like to see more inclusivity.
Price at the time of publish: $40
Size: XS-XL | Material: Rayon, nylon, spandex | Inseam: 28 inches | Colors: 7
Best Splurge: J. Crew Petite Wide-Leg Essential Pant in Italian City Wool Blend
What We Love: These pants are polished and structured but insanely comfortable.
What We Don’t Love: We wish these came in more sizes.
J. Crew is an InStyle go-to for polished pieces, like these gorgeous pants. They feature crisp pleats, cuffed ankles, and a slightly wide leg — a recipe for a sharp look. While we love the combination of pleats and a slightly looser leg, the silhouette adds volume to your bottom half, so if you are looking for a slimming pair of pants, consider styles like Spanx The Perfect Pant, Hi-Rise Flare.
Crafted with a blend of Italian wool, these trousers are well worth the splurge. You might think of wool as stiff and scratchy, but these pants are made of a luxe wool blend that’s comfortable even after hours at a desk. Plus, wool doesn’t wrinkle easily. The trousers are also the perfect length for petites, no hemming required. Petite sizing only goes up to 12 for these pants, which isn’t as inclusive as we’d like. We’ll note that the classic length goes up to size 24, so you can still buy these in plus-sizes, but they may require alterations. Still, we think these are a staple that’s well worth the investment.
Price at the time of publish: $248
Size: 00-12 | Material: Polyester, wool, elastane | Inseam: 27 inches | Colors: 3
Best Plus-Size: ELOQUII The Ultimate Stretch Suit Pintuck Pant
What We Love: These pants are size-inclusive and look so professional.
What We Don’t Love: Some reviewers feel the fabric is too thick.
This suit pant has a classic, beautifully tailored look and feel. They’re made of a stretch ponte fabric that’s comfortable but looks deceivingly high-end — especially when worn with the matching blazer. Hitting at the ankles, these pants show off your shoes, whether that’s flats, sneakers, or heels. A subtle center pleat outlines your legs without adding bulk in the front. The slanted pockets on the sides as well as the welt pockets in the back also keep everything smooth and streamlined while still being functional. These pants perfectly show off your figure in a polished, work-appropriate way.
While the brand claims the mid-weight fabric suits all seasons, some reviewers find the fabric too thick for warmer months. If you want a more breathable style, consider a linen blend pant, like Maeve's Cropped Pants.
Price at the time of publish: $80
Size: 14-28 | Material: Rayon, nylon, spandex | Inseam: 25 inches | Colors: 7
Best Curvy: Abercrombie & Fitch Curve Love Sloane Tailored Pant
What We Love: The pants achieve the rare feat of fitting petite yet curvy proportions.
What We Don’t Love: The fabric doesn’t feel as high quality as we’d like.
Abercrombie’s Sloane pant is hands-down the author’s favorite pant because the brand’s short inseam is the perfect length (especially if you’re all torso and no legs!). Yet the brand takes it even further by offering a curve fit. Anyone who is curvy knows the struggle of finding bottoms that fit both their waist and their hips. Abercrombie aims to solve that problem by adding 2 extra inches through the hip and thigh area, so you don’t have to size up to fit your curves.
The entire internet was obsessing over these trousers and even our own fashion writers are fans. Kay also loves these pants because they don’t need alterations and completely transformed her work outfits. Stylist Kim Johnson agrees, noting, “this Curve Love version will give you that perfectly fitting waist while also getting that loose and effortless fit in the leg.” Because of the relaxed-but-polished fit, these pants are versatile enough to dress up for the office or to rock a Scandinavian influencer off-duty look.
At less than $100, we don’t expect these pants to offer the most luxurious materials, and we have to admit the polyester blend feels thicker and slightly scratchy. Yet after owning several pairs, we can confirm the fabric is quite durable despite being low maintenance. We can throw them into the washer and dry them on low without shrinking the pants or ruining their shape. This is a trade off we don’t mind making.
Price at the time of publish: $77
Size: 23-37 | Material: Polyester, viscose, elastane | Inseam: 28 inches | Colors: 18
Best Black: Spanx The Perfect Pant, Hi-Rise Flare, Black
What We Love: These pants have a comfortable pull-on design, so they’re practically like leggings.
What We Don’t Love: The petite length is designed for 5’4” and under, so shorties may still need these hemmed.
These are another one of Johnson top picks for work pants. “I have the Hi-Rise Flare and the fit is unmatched,” she says. “The soft material is super comfortable and of course, because it’s Spanx, we know these will be super flattering.” True to the brand’s core ethos, the pants offer smoothing and sculpting around your waist as well as lift your booty. Not to mention that the high-rise and flared leg optically elongate your figure. Add in the fact that the design features no bulky buttons, zippers, or pockets, and these pants create one long, lean look. We also love how the style comes in two different shades of black to best go with the rest of your work attire. And did we mention they are machine washable?
Per the brand, these pants are designed to be worn with heels, so they may run a bit long if you’re on the shorter side, or if sneakers are your work shoe of choice. Despite being stretchy and comfortable, the fabric is also a bit too heavy for hot summers (unless your commute is short and your office is heavily air-conditioned). But that aside, these are one of the most flattering options out there and are sure to become your go-to work pants.
Price at the time of publish: $168
Size: XS-3X | Material: Rayon, nylon, elastane | Inseam: 30 inches | Colors: 3
Best with Pockets: Everlane Tencel Way-High Taper Pant
What We Love: These pants have roomy pockets and the perfect ankle length.
What We Don’t Love: The waistband doesn’t have a lot of stretch.
We’re obsessed with the relaxed-but-tailored fit on these pants. While they aren’t specifically made for petites, these pants have a cropped length and at 27 inches long, they will perfectly fit most people within the 5’1”-5’4” range. NY-based stylist Allie McKenna recommends Everlane’s options because they have a fairly inclusive size range and carry great pieces for a business casual dress code.
We love that these have a “borrowed from the boys” look and can be dressed up or down. The ankle length makes these the perfect pant to have fun with your shoes, whether that’s a bright sneaker, classic loafer, or a little heel. And of course, we can’t forget the pockets, which come in handy when you’re running out to grab lunch or need to stash extra items for a meeting. The waistband is very structured and doesn’t allow for a ton of stretch, so you may want to size up for greater comfort.
Price at the time of publish: $128
Size: 00-16 | Material: Lyocell, cotton | Inseam: 27 inches | Colors: 6
Best Skinny: LOFT Petite Sutton Skinny Pants
What We Love: These pants have the perfect cropped skinny fit.
What We Don’t Love: These pants run small, so you may have to order a few different sizes to find the right fit.
Wide-leg pants are a dime a dozen these days, but it’s harder to find a good skinny pant. If you prefer to wear pants that are more fitted through the leg, these ones are a great option. The body-skimming skinny fit is classic, and we love that these pants have an extra-cropped length that’s actually ankle-length on petites. Similar to the style from Spanx, these pants feature sculpting pockets which keep you secure even when drinks turn into dinner. Made from cotton and elastane, these bottoms are both breathable and stretchy. Score.
We especially love that these pants are available in a curvy fit that has a little extra room through the hips and thighs. Bonus points because the size range for these pants is fairly inclusive, but they do run small which should be considered when picking a size.
Price at the time of publish: $63
Size: 00-20/22 | Material: Cotton, polyester, elastane | Inseam: 25.5 inches | Colors: 3
Best Wide-Leg: Reformation Petites Mason Pant
What We Love: These pants look effortlessly polished and are flattering on a range of body types.
What We Don’t Love: These pants may still need to be hemmed, despite the shorter inseam.
There’s nothing like a perfect wide-leg pant — and these ones from Reformation fit the bill. McKenna highly recommends this pair because aside from being a quality pant, it comes in a variety of colors to allow for some fun styling options. These pants have a fitted waist and relaxed leg that’s not too wide and has just the right amount of drape. The fabric is lightweight enough to be worn in summer but tough enough to stand up to fall and winter office days. Did we mention that the fabric is lyocell, which wrinkles less than other options, so you’ll never have to worry about ironing when you really need to get out the door for work?
Another plus is that Reformation is a certified carbon neutral brand and is aiming to remove more emissions than they produce by 2025, which is a mission we can get behind. The downside of these pants is that the inseam is nearly 30 inches — far too long for some extra-petite women. Fortunately, Reformation offers free alterations either in-store or online, so you can ensure the right fit without any additional costs.
Price at the time of publish: $178
Size: 0-12 | Material: Lyocell | Inseam: 29.75 inches | Colors: 11
Best Tapered: Madewell Petite Pleated Tapered-Leg Pants in Easygoing Crepe
What We Love: These pants are relaxed and super comfortable.
What We Don’t Love: This pair runs large.
Madewell is one of McKenna’s favorite size-inclusive brands — and these pants are a perfect example of a style that comes in extended sizing and lengths. We love this silhouette, which gives off "cool girl in charge" vibes. The wrinkle-free fabric ensures you stay put-together whether you’re commuting to the office or traveling for work.
This cut runs large, but sizing down will help you achieve a more tailored look. That being said, these are a fun option for casual offices and can easily take you from day to night. We also appreciate that these pants have extra room for your booty.
Price at the time of publish: $88
Size: 00-16 | Material: Polyester | Inseam: 25.5 inches | Colors: 3
Best Cropped: Maeve The Colette Cropped Wide-Leg Pants
What We Love: These pants come in a variety of bold colors that let you express your personal style.
What We Don’t Love: The fabric wrinkles easily and may be too informal for some work settings.
Depending on where you work, your office attire doesn’t have to be confined to the same old neutrals. If you have the freedom to play around with your work wardrobe, this is the pant for you. The cropped length is playful, and we’re obsessed with all of the bold colors these pants come in. This fabric is lightweight and ultra-stretchy for all-day comfort, thanks to a blend of linen and cotton. The flattering high-waist prevents gapping in the back on curvier frames, and the silhouette elongates you despite the cropped length.
These pants do feel more casual and may not work for formal offices, thanks to the fabric blend and details like oversized pockets. They also wrinkle easily due to the linen makeup, which is less-than-ideal when you’re trying to look polished. We also think the sizing options could be better. However, we love this pair in the summer for a bright and breathable style.
Price at the time of publish: $120
Size: 23-34 | Material: Viscose, linen, cotton, elastane | Inseam: 24 inches | Colors: 13
What to Keep in Mind
Frustratingly, there’s no universal standard for petite inseams — when shopping, you’ll typically find anything between 25.5 and 30 inches. Some brands define petite as 5’4” or less, while some brands consider it 5’2” or less, so if you’re even shorter you’ll likely need to look for the shortest inseams possible. The inseam you should select will depend on your own height, as well as your desired length (for example, cropped versus full length).
When deciding on the silhouette of a work pant, think about what types of pants you feel best in and which are best suited for your workplace. “Universally speaking, I would recommend a straight leg cut, preferably if it hits at the ankle,” says McKenna. A straight leg, like Quince Ultra-Stretch Ponte Straight Leg Pant, looks amazing on all figures and goes with different types of shoes. You also want to consider what typically goes at your office — are wide legs considered too relaxed? Is a skinny pant too form-fitting for your workplace? All of these factors can influence what type of fit you go for.
We’re quite partial to a crepey, no-wrinkle fabric like the one used in Wilfred’s Effortless Pant or Reformation’s Mason Pant (the lower maintenance, the better!). But for more fitted styles, a ponte knit pant, like Eloquii Pintuck Pant, is also incredibly comfortable and offers tons of stretch. The important thing is to look for a fabric that’s soft and comfortable, especially if you spend long periods of time sitting at a desk.
Your Questions, Answered
What style of work pants is most flattering on petite women?
All of our style experts agree that a wide-leg pant flatters petite frames. “My favorite style are high-rise wide leg pants, because the high-rise will make your legs look longer,” says Johnson. Her one caveat: “If you have a very short torso you may want to opt for a mid-rise pair so it will hit you at your waist.”
However, there’s a difference between wide leg versus baggy or slouchy. “I stay away from wide leg pants that are too flared or baggy, as I find that those make me look shorter,” says Kay. That’s why we like Spanx The Perfect Pant, Hi-Rise Flare because they stay tailored throughout the leg, defining your legs and backside. Ultimately, the most flattering pants are those that fit you and your proportions well.
How do you style work pants?
“Styling work pants is actually really fun,” says McKenna, noting that depending on your work culture you can accessorize with “ballet flats and delicate jewelry… or a chunky pair of loafers.”
Kay recommends having an outfit blueprint for work that you can repeat in different color combinations. For her, that looks like wearing a button down tucked in with half cuffed sleeves and a belt, or a cropped blazer to create longer lines.
At the end of the day, there’s a lot you can do with work pants, no matter whether you have to adhere to a corporate uniform or have some wiggle room to express your style. Dressing for a petite body adds an extra challenge, but with the right pieces, you can dress like the boss that you are.
Why Shop With Us
Kirby Kelly is a Denver-based copywriter with over eight years of experience writing for outlets like Nylon, crafting blog content for lifestyle brands, and developing winning advertising and web copy for global corporations. She’s also incredibly petite, so to write this piece, she looked in her own closet as well as consulted the following experts: stylist Kim Johnson, digital fashion creator Kas Kay, and NY-based personal stylist Allie McKenna.
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Read the original article on InStyle.