May 15, 2010

Sitting Pretty: Office Chairs for the Working Girl

Photo Credit: Rex Features

Are you a petite professional?  If so, then you understand the challenge we sometimes face to be taken seriously in the workplace.  One little fashion faux pas and most of us will easily be mistaken for the college intern or the boss's daughter.  This is why it's so important for petite women to show the world that we "mean business."  Every day we have to look the part of a polished professional from head to toe!  But this doesn't just mean that you have to work overtime to build a professional petites wardrobe (which seems more attainable than ever, by the way, thanks to daily inspirations from fashionistas like Really Petite, Extra Petite, Alterations Needed, Shorty Stories, and 9to5chicOkay, okay, this last blogger isn't petite at all, but her style is just so darn cute that I had to mention her!)  But no matter how much effort you put into your wardrobe, nothing can ruin your look faster than . . . sitting at your desk!  After all, it's hard to look like a professional when (gasp!) -- your feet don't even touch the floor!  But that's exactly what happens when we sit in office chairs that were not designed with our shorter bodies in mind.

It means that our feet dangle.  It means that we can swing our legs while we sit. (Ugh, how "second grade!")  It means that we can even sit cross-legged in our chairs.  Most of all, it means that our posture and alignment are out of whack while we work.

Sitting in a wrong-sized chair isn't just an aesthetics problem; it's actually a health problem.  Think about it.  Some of you are spending 8+ hours a day, week after week, year after year in a chair that (a) prevents your feet from resting flat on the ground, (b) has armrests that are too high, (c) has a lumbar support and/or headrest that is not in the right position, and (d) has a seat that is too deep.  Perhaps you've also experienced the pain or strain that comes along with such a chair.  But did you know that it doesn't have to be this way?  There are specially designed chairs for women who are too short for the average office chair.  Some chairs are custom-built to your own specific measurements, while others are mass market offerings for any woman 5'4" and under.  Not only do these chairs help you look and feel like a real professional, but they can also reduce your risk of headaches, fatigue, and neck, back, or repetitive stress injury.  So take a look at these petites-friendly office chairs  if you want to look "nothing short of amazing" while you work...

The Good News: As Chelsea Alves of explains, "Petite chairs come fully equipped with a seat depth up to 18", a smaller back size, and have a good amount of ergonomic adjustments to ensure proper comfort, no matter your stature. Petite users will be able to sit ergonomically correct and have adjustments tailored to smaller users . . . ."
The Bad News: These petites chairs are not available at your local furniture store chain.  So you'll have to turn to online retailers like the ones below to find the office or drafting chair that was designed with you in mind!  (Don't worry though.  Most of the places below have a money-back guarantee to ensure your complete satisfaction.)

$0-$200 CHAIRS

Staples Casdin Luxura Armless Task Chair

Ofm Lite-use Petite Drafting Task Stool With Arms

  • Great for smaller people
  • Contoured seat and back, 17" seat, lumbar support, pneumatic height adjustment, and five-star base with dual casters
  • See this chair and other regular office chairs at

$200-$500 CHAIRS 

Allseating Presto - Petite Small Ergonomic Office Task Chair

  • Eco-friendly, fully customizable ergonomic seating
  • Choose your own control, arms, color, etc.
  • This chair and many others available at


  • A smaller scaled chair with proportionate seat and back
  • Lifetime warranty on all parts
  • This chair and many others available at

$500+ CHAIRS

Neutral Posture XSM Series Petite Ergonomic Chair
  • Built to fit an exceptionally petite body (3 feet - 5 feet tall) without compromising support and comfort 
  • Available as a drafting chair with option to add a Nextep
  • This chair and many others available at

Bodybilt Petite Small Back Chair
  • Chair is customproportioned according to your body’s measurements
  • Can be adjusted a thousand different ways with unique 10-point posture control system
  • Designed specifically for desktop intensive job performers
  • This chair and many other Bodybilt products available at

Also, check out this helpful video from the makers of the QT3 Ortheopaedic Petite Posture Chair for an explanation of how these petite office chairs generally work:

    Speak out, ladies! 
    • Is your office chair a comfortable fit for you?
    • If not, would you consider purchasing an office chair designed for petite women?
    • How much would you be willing to pay at most for such a chair?


    1. once i get a job, i'd pay maybe $250 for a chair like that, or a chair i can adjust to my short frame.

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    3. Hi...Your post really got me thinking man..... an intelligent piece, I must say.

    4. Hi... that was great stuff.. I really like reading on this subject Could you tell me more on that... I love to explore

    5. This comment has been removed by the author.

    6. I find that the big problem at work is not so much the chair (although mine's terrible and about to be replaced), but that the desk is too high. In order to be able to touch type with my arms at the proper right angle, we've had to put a couple of spacers under the seat to get the right height. Then I have to have a foot rest because my feet won't touch the floor.

    7. I’m not sure where you are getting your info, but great topic. I needs to spend some time learning more or understanding more. Thanks for excellent info I was looking for this info for my mission.
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    8. Great topic! Thanks for keeping it real. One piece of advice from someone who's been looking for chairs that really fit for quite a while now: Always, always, always look for the specs on ~seat~ ~height~!! Many say they are for petites, but when you look at the seat height, it only goes as low as 18" or 19" -- not petite at all. Sometimes the "seat height" spec is in regards to the height of the seat ~back~ (ie. how much support there is for your head and neck).

      The seat height is usually adjustable, so you should see a range listed, such as "18"-24.5". It's the minimum height that concerns us here. Best way to know is to stand up straight and have someone measure from the floor to the crook of your knee joint (i.e. the back of your leg). That's exactly how high your seat should be so that you can sit with your feet flat on the floor. For me, it's 15" (or 16" with shoes). For seat depth, you can add a lumbar pillow without looking childish, but for seat height, if it won't go low enough, there's not much you can do except use a footstool of some kind (which makes me feel silly in the office).

    9. I agree with Purupuss. These petite chairs are nice ideas in theory, but I have no control over the height of my desk since I work in a cubicle with standard desk heights across the office. I'm 5'1", and a petite chair that allowed my feet to touch the ground properly would put me too low to work at my desk. I use a regular chair and a footrest, and it's bad for my posture and gives me backaches, but it's the best I can do.

    10. I agreed A chairs are not cheap but I think such chairs worth your investment. Sitting comfort is an important fact that improve working productivity and Aeron chair properly provides comfortable for it's sitters. Thanks.

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    11. It's true that we can't control the height of our desks, ladies. Though pneumatic keyboard trays do help, we still need to be concerned that our monitors are at eye level to avoid posterior cranial tilt and headaches. I'm 4'11" with a long torso and short limbs, so although no chair will allow me to put my feet on the ground, a petite chair will give me proper ergonomic support. I've been using a foot rest for years and it works just fine. Thank you for posting this article! I'm still on the search for the right chair (WITH arms) and you've provided some good leads. I work from home and although I have complete say over my office furniture, it also comes out of my own pocket ;-)

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    13. There are specially designed chairs for women who are too short for the average office chair. Some chairs are custom-built to your own specific ...

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    16. Hi,

      I am 4"11 & my office desk at work is too big for me. I've had physical therapists mad at my desk. I sit all day very uncomfortable. I need at least a chair that fits. Thanks!

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