Restyling A Mannequin- Maxi’s For Petite Women?

Happy Wednesday, ladies. I wasn’t intending to restyle a mannequin this week, but I could not pass this one by.  I thought she was wearing a dress, until I frisked her, and discovered it was a smocked peasant top and matching smocked waist skirt.


I initially thought this outfit was a styling decision made by the local staff. But when I looked it up online, I discovered that it’s a look the brand is showing on their website and promoting. Let me just start by saying it’s certainly not for me, and it could be limiting for many women.

Because you asked…here I am wearing the mannequin’s outfit, without the belt. The outfit is more flattering on her because she’s at least 4″ taller than me and has even narrower hips than I do.


First, I tried to save the skirt. I have narrow straight hips, yet this skirt makes me look, hippy. The smocking is nice for the waistline but then it flares below like a dirndl skirt. The horizontal lines in the pattern make it appear to have tiers, but it’s a solid piece of fabric.

I tried it with a  simple tank and cardigan so they could smush down some of the gathers from the skirt. I think this looks bulky and rather matronly on me so I tried tucking the tank into the waistband. The improvement is minimal, perhaps because this makes me look shorter than I am.

The subject of maxi skirts came up in the comments yesterday so I wanted to talk about wearing them for petite women. Skirts with gathered ruffles, horizontal lines, and patterns, draw the eye side to side which tends to make you look shorter and wider. Petite women are more flattered by midi and maxi skirts that lay closer to the body in a solid color that matches your top.


Here’s another doubtful outfit. The deep cuffs on the cropped jeans shorten the look of my legs so the peasant top looks even wider than it is. This top would have better balance with medium wash slim jeans or pants that are full length. This style top can add visual weight to well-endowed and broad-shouldered ladies. Peasant tops are never a flattering choice for me and this top is no different.

Here are a few other things that caught my eye at J. Jill

What say you? Would you put these pieces together?

How would you style the skirt?

Thanks for reading and remember to wear what makes you feel confident.


  1. I thought the peasant top and white jeans looked pretty and summery on you. I usually like shoes to match pants, but your navy sandals looked great!

    1. I would have worn a lighter shoe but this is what I wore in to the store,



  3. Paulette Levy says:

    I love the top here as you’ve styled it with white crop jeans(?). Or white pants. You look great and the top alone is a more appealing piece I think.
    The skirt doesn’t work for me at all- personally. I don’t like the dirndl look on anyone- thin person or fuller in the hips.
    Unlike a slip skirt it can’t be styled to just brush the hips to create a smooth line. Unlike an A line which if styled correctly can also hide a multitude of body flaws.
    Who really could wear this? Is there something I’m not seeing?

  4. I have a similar jjill skirt from a few years ago. Loved it in the store, but as a 5′ apple, never quite managed to make it work. Still trying!

  5. Elaine @ Following Augustine says:

    I’m not at all certain that I would wear either piece, but together? Absolutely not! The top is a doubtful maybe and the skirt a distinct no.

  6. Remember Gunne Sax dresses? That’s what this outfit reminds me of. It’s best left back in the 70’s.

  7. I concur with your assessment

  8. Thanks for taking one for the team and trying these items on! At 5’2″ and pear shaped, neither piece would be flattering. I don’t think the belt is very flattering for the dress, either. But I do LOVE the shirt the model is wearing with the belt and white jeans. Couldn’t find it on J Jill, hope it’s something they have coming.

    1. You’re right, that is a great shirt!! I’ll be keeping an eye out for it.

  9. I’m still laughing at the image of you frisking the mannequin!
    I’m 5’5″-ish (in my shrinking state) but as a “triangle” the dirndl skirt is a NO for me. Someone recommended that I try a matching skirt and top (for the versatility) for an outdoor wedding, but tucking a top into a skirt just adds volume around the middle, never mind the struggle of keeping it tucked in. I’m enamored of the idea of “flowy” but not the reality. Give me “fit and flare” any day!

  10. beth byrd says:

    The print is very pretty but it is overwhelming on the skirt and way too much with both the skirt and top.
    If there were a scarf with this print, I think it would be lovely. But as is, not a winner.

  11. Full-length pants are my preferred choice always, because they elongate my legs. I am not petite. Horizontal lines do me no favors, either.

  12. Not my style either. This style would overwhelm my body. I like the sheath dress,
    Always enjoy reading your blogs 😊

  13. This outfit is not for me, it’s just way too much pattern and material for a short person. Actually I can’t think of too many women who could pull this off! Just seems to be the trend right now.

  14. This style is not for me.
    I best I could do is a pair of skinny pants and a maybe, smaller top.
    Hope you are feeling much better after your ER experience.

  15. Sharon Reesor says:

    Tks for your honesty! I agree!

  16. I love that you frisked the model! It must have been funny to find two pieces. Your info ‘proved’ to me what I could tell by looking in the mirror: I’m too short and thin for outfits like this — which is fine as they aren’t something I’d normally wear. I do like longer dresses or skirts for a summer drinks and appetizers though. Some of the other J Jill outfits were nice, but that first gorgeous-blue dress has WAY too much material. JJ seems to like these huge looks, although their jeans are still great.

    1. Voluminous is popular with them this spring/summer but I need it strategically placed on my short self.

  17. This outfit reminded me of granny on the show Beverly Hillbillies. Peasant tops have never been my friend either. I am short like you, with a very similar figure, only my arms are short too. I haven’t owned a dress for years, mainly because I don’t have nice legs, and the styles have been dreadful. Thanks for giving me my chuckle for the day.

    1. Have a great day, Pam!

  18. Solid colors and midi length work best for 5’2″ me. If I want length in a dress up outfit, I wear fluid wide length pants. Have some in black and small print from Loft which I’ve worn often. Recently looked for occassion dresses for weddings and did try on this style, but it did not work at all. Finding high waisted a-line can be flattering on me.
    Thanks for demonstrating how women’s fashion trends are sometimes off the mark

    1. I find A-line so much more flattering than dirndl. Same with wide leg pants…they need to be slim through the hips, then flare out.

  19. I have found I am not loving JJill as much as I did in the past. You used the. Word matronly and I am finding that a lot of their pieces look that way on me. Too much fabric, lots of unflattering prints. None of these outfits would work for me.

  20. I love your shoes! Where can I buy them? I feel that maxi’s have too much material for a petite body…I’m 5 ft. Tall.

  21. Jennifer, great effort! Unfortunately, this is one of those looks that scream fashion victim. I love shopping at JJill for pants and some v-neck tops, but many of their items are baggy and shapeless. This outfit is neither, but the cut, pattern, and proportions are way off. Also, I know that if an outfit is unflattering on you (who can wear practically anything), it will look awful on me. Sometimes negative lessons are as good as positive ones. Thank you.

    1. JJill has many home runs but this isn’t a combo that works for most of us. I love the fit of their pants too 🙂

  22. I would not wear either piece. the print is just a little bit “sweet” for me. and the skirt would make me a larger woman, look really awful. Anything with fullness is a no no for me.

  23. No to this top and skirt. I know that horizontal stripes and borders make one look wider. I find that full skirts , big prints and certain styles of maxi’s aren’t flattering. I also know, that just because someone is presenting a new trend does not mean we should wear it or make it work for us. There are way too many lovely clothes and styles out there to admire and embrace. I am not a fan of taking certain pieces of clothing and making them work for me so I can wear them. Most of the clothes out there are the same clothes from years past, and did not stick around long. Designers seem to put whatever out there, with no thought of the woman’s figure, (sigh). Some clothes just don’t flatter no matter what we do with them. lol

  24. At 4’12”, I choose long skirts and dresses very carefully. I like peasants skirt but in solids or barely there prints. I do the same thing in dresses. And they have to have mor of an A-line cut ( looks like the ine you’re wearing is a straight cut)and no gathering below the waist. AND be very fluid fabrics like silk or rayon. I agree no horizontal stripes, or even horizontal patterning. Always with a narrower top in a very math hing color.
    With all my criteria, I don’t buy a lot even though I feel wonderful in them.

  25. Tanya Roub says:

    I thought you looked really pretty in the dress, but understand it’s what makes us feel authentically ourselves that we should wear. Love your newsletter.

  26. Mary Divine says:

    Thank you for trying on the maxi because I did like but you showed me it that it would not look good on me. I have always like those peasant tops but I have a very full bust and they always look awful.

    1. I love their look too but have learned they’re not my best.

  27. Liked the items’ name “Corfu,” but these are definitely not destined for me. This was a very good visual representation of your suggestions on how to wear maxis.

    1. This outfit appears to me to be unattractive and unflattering, at least it would be so on me. I do kind of like the color mix, but I can’t imagine the skirt would look good on anyone but a tall slender woman, maybe.

  28. The mannequin looks like she just walked off the set of Wagon Train! Too much fabric and not a flattering look. I am taller at 5’6, but it would not work for me.

  29. Definitely not my style. Too much material and gathers for me.

  30. I had to giggle at the thought of you “frisking” a mannequin! The whole outfit is a bit much for me, and I’m very tall. But I know women who could carry it off beautifully!

    1. As my niece has said about some outfits….”That’s just wrong!”
      I agree! Lots of credit for trying that look!
      I felt I needed a dress for a derby party recently. I never wear dresses and the only one I have is a nice black one. Seemed like I needed something flowery to go with the hat I was going to wear. Well, I ordered some dresses similar to what you modeled and Yikes! I looked like I belonged on the prairie and dowdy at best. Ended up wearing fitted white pants,tomato red tailored tunic and my lovely straw hat with silk flowers placed on it and some wedged sandals! Felt good and looked great!

      1. Your derby outfit sounds wonderful!

    2. I’ve seen gals who can carry this off too. Just not me 😉

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