Capris and cropped pants are notoriously hard to wear and they can be unflattering on many women. Yet shops are currently full of these cropped pants and the trend is continuing into summer 2020 with wider cropped pants getting increasingly popular. Should you wear them anyway? And if yes, how can you wear capris?
How to wear capris: Why can capri pants be unflattering?
Capris are cropped pants that stop above the ankle but usually well below the knee. They are different from cropped pants like bermudas which stop above the calf and are less challenging to wear.
- First and foremost the give the effect of shortening your legs! For almost all women a silhouette with a longer leg line is more flattering.
- They can highlight chunky calves as they are likely to end at this part of your leg. The eye will be drawn to where the hem on your capris ends.
So why are cropped pants so on trend right now?
Figure flattery is usually not on top of the list of designer’s priorities so here are some of the reasons:
- The overall look of capris tends to be quite trendy
- They are playful and geeky
- They can be sexy too with the revealing of the ankle bone
- They look fabulous with booties, which are still very much on trend this year.
- They are more associated with fun and style
- They keep you cooler in summer
You can see (above) how designers are interpreting the capris trend for spring and summer 2020. Paco Rabanne opted for a 70s feel, while other designers, including Chloé and Gucci chose a wider leg style.
How to wear capris?
If you like the trendy and playful vibe of capris and decide to wear them, how can you do so while maintaining a flattering silhouette?
Here are some guidelines for wearing capri pants for women that will help.
1. Make sure your capris are tapered.
If they follow the natural leg line they will look much better. If you like the look of wide trousers (I do) then go for a full leg, but for cropped pants and capris I stay to a very tight leg line.
2. Wear higher heels.
One way to overcome the leg shortening effect is to wear higher heels. Wide cropped pants especially look better with heels.
3. Try to create a rule of thirds with your dressing.
Your top part is usually 1/3 and your bottom part 2/3 when putting together an outfit which follows this flattering guideline.
But you can also create a 2/3 top 1/3 bottom silhouette.
You achieve the 1/3-2/3 look by tucking in your top of the cropped pants. I also like to wear my capris with a long tunic or dress which creates the 2/3-1/3 silhouette.
4. Think carefully about your shoe choice
If there is not too much contrast between your shoes and your legs, your legs will appear longer. Shoes without straps are more leg lengthening as well.
I don’t always follow this “rule” so much myself as I prefer my high heel shoes with straps. I feel this still works when I wear heels, but if your legs are very short you may want to avoid straps at your ankle.
5. Higher booties are very effective with cropped pants.
This is a good way to prevent the shortening effect of cropped pants, especially if you choose them in the same color as your pants.
Deborah (above) shows the leg lengthening effect of heeled booties in the same color as her cropped pants.
6. Wear a shorter top.
When wearing cropped pants that are flared or wider, be sure to wear a shorter top. High waisted cropped pants look fabulous with tops that end at the waist.
Wearing a shorter top will ensure that your legs look longer.
For more tips read this article on how to wear wide cropped jeans.
Who should not wear capris or cropped pants?
Of course everyone can wear them, but if you like to have a flattering silhouette I would advise on not wearing capris when:
- You have very short legs.
- Your legs are proportionally short to the rest of your body and you’re not wearing heels or a very short top.
For more information on this type of body shape, look at this piece on vertical body types.
In principle though, almost everyone can wear capris or cropped pants so long as you take your body into account and make adjustments accordingly to create the silhouette that flatters your body and proportions.
The length of your capri trousers is important
There’s no one size fits all when it comes to dressing for you. And, this is important to take into account when looking for a pair of capris. Just a few inches can make a big difference to how flattering your capris look on you.
Karen (above) chooses a pair of cropped pants which end at a lovely slim part of her legs.
Where should your cropped pants end?
You need to find a pair which stop at the slimmest part of your leg, as this will be what is highlighted with your capri pants. Effectively, capris draw a line across the leg and draw the eye there.
For you, it may be just below, or just above, the widest part of your calf. You may decide on a pair of capris or a pair of slightly longer cropped pants, depending on what the best length is for you.
The best women’s cropped pants and capris
Now that you are thinking about what will be the most flattering option for you, below you will find some of my favorite capris to choose from this season.
1. Black capris
If you love the look of a pair of black capris as much as I do, you might like this pair from one of my favorite jeans brands, Eileen Fisher.
2. Jean capris
Skinny jeans have been on trend for many seasons, and they are still a stylish option, but bootcuts and flares are also making a style comeback this year.
A pair of cropped flare jeans is a flattering option, particularly if you wear with heels.
3. Women’s cargo capris
A pair of cargo capris could be a good addition to your vacation closet. You could wear with walking shoes for sightseeing, or heeled sandals for evening. Or, of course, with sneakers and a t-shirt for a casual look.
4. White capris
Do you like the look of white capris? They can be a great style staple for your summer closet.
5. Colorful women’s ankle length pants
A pair of colorful cropped pants in a bright shade such as red can be a lovely way to update your neutrals during cooler weather, and into spring and summer.
6. Wide leg capris
Despite their leg-shortening characteristics, I have embraced wide cropped pants for a few of my own looks. Wearing them is even more challenging than normal cropped pants but what all my looks have in common is that I keep my top short in the front or tucked in.
7. Linen capris
As many of you will soon (hopefully) be heading into warmer weather, a pair of linen capris can be the start of a great outfit, either for casual days at home or on vacation.
8. Denim capris
Just like black and white capri pants, denim capris can be a very versatile option that you can wear with anything from sneakers to sandals.
9. Patterned women’s capris
Of course, you don’t have to stick to plain, block colors. A pair of patterned pants can add interest to your outfit. You could always print mix or choose a plain color top.
10. Stripe capris
Stripes are always a timeless option when it comes to choosing a print. You could easily style a pair of striped capris in many different ways – with a tee and sneakers, a camisole and sandals, or a blouse and pumps.
Cropped pants outfit: Tops to wear with capris
Which of the capris (above) are your favorites and what should you wear with them?
Keep reading for inspiration on tops, shoes and accessories to wear with your capris and cropped pants.
Sally (above) opts for a classic, yet very modern look by tucking her shirt into her capris and accessorizing with snakeprint pumps.
When choosing tops to style with your capris, think about shirts you can tuck in, or tops which are fairly short and will make your legs look longer.
Sweaters and cardigans to wear with capris
You could opt for a number of sweater styles with your capris, but be careful about where your sweater ends. A sweater which ends at your hips will effectively cut your body in half, which isn’t usually flattering.
Instead try a cropped style – you could always wear it over a longer shirt – or choose a longer style of open cardigan to create slimming, long lines.
Jackets to wear with capris
Cropped or short jackets can be a flattering style with your capris as they can make your legs look longer in comparison with your torso.
Oxana (above) chooses a moto jacket and adds booties in a similar shade to her cropped wide pants.
Shoes and boots to wear with capris
There are many shoe and boot options you could choose. Leg lengthening options include heels or booties, while you could choose sneakers or sandals for a more casual look.
Accessories to wear with capris
What do you like to wear as the “finishing touches” to your capris outfit? Below are just a few ideas of accessories you could choose.
Bev (above) perfectly styles her capris for summer with a pair of wedges and a woven bag.
Nordstrom hobo bag – Tory Burch crossbody bag – Kate Spade New York crossbody bag – Argento Vivo small hoop earrings – Sterling Forever twisted drop earrings – Kate Spade New York chain necklace – Halogen twisted chain necklace
A capsule wardrobe featuring capris
Below you can see many of the capris, clothes and accessories used in this article put together into a capsule wardrobe that is perfect for transitioning into spring and summer.
There are 9 outfit suggestions for you, but you can see how you could mix and match to create countless other options.
You could, for example, also wear the white shirt with white pants and top with the moto jacket. Or, you could choose to wear the zebra print top with the red cropped pants.
You may also like to take a look at how to create a capsule wardrobe.
What to wear with your capris? More inspiration
To give you some more ideas on how you can wear capris and cropped pants I will show you some of mine.
These images are older, but I thought I would still include them here as they illustrate how timeless cropped pants looks can be. I still wear many of these outfits.
This outfit (below) is one of my favorite ways to wear capris. I like the 2/3 – 1/3 silhouette it creates and capris certainly make this a more trendy look.
Wear women’s capris with a short or tucked in top
Capris usually look good with a funky top tucked into your trousers.
You can simply tuck it or, if you need to hide a belly, can wear a longer top underneath in the color of your cropped pants. This will still give you a flattering silhouette.
How to wear capris and ladies cropped trousers – more ideas!
Cropped flare pants
These (below) are my favorite cropped pants right now. They are my cropped flare jeans by Paige. I wear these with longer tops and shorter ones, with jackets and without.
They look great with different types of shoes too.
For more of my favorite jeans brands check out my article on how to wear jeans over 40.
I feel that is essential with wider cropped pants like these ones (above and below) to opt for a shorter top in order to keep a streamlined and flattering silhouette. Cropped pants will always be more challenging to wear than full-length pants and wider cropped pants are even more so.
What you want to do, is to try and achieve the right balance within your outfit to come closer to the golden ratio in dressing and create a balance that comes close to 1/3 – 2/3 (a concept I explain in a lot more detail in my style course).
That way you can achieve an overall silhouette that is at least flattering enough and will allow you to wear outfits that are currently fashionable or just fun to wear.
Skinny cropped pants
Below are a few more examples of how I have worn capris and cropped pants recently and in the past.
My white Zara cropped pants are still going strong. Here worn with my new Rollie shoes which are super light weigh (highly recommended).
With longer tops
With a simple top
Capris combined with jackets
These look best with a wider and long top and can be very flattering. They are perfect for warmer weather.
These Second Nature Capri leggings from Stella Carakasi are super fab. Not too thin and very stretchy and comfortable. They are also great for tucking in your tummy. Take a look at how to hide your belly with the right clothes for more tips on this.
For more tips on wearing leggings, check the article how to wear leggings after 40.
Some final thoughts about capri trousers
Right now you can wear pants in all sorts of styles and lengths.
Currently in 2020, cropped pants are still very much on trend and many of my pants are now cropped in some ways.
Please bear in mind ladies that all these are just guidelines. Always let your eyes be the judge of whether the outfit with capris looks good on you. Some of you may even be able to rock your capris outfits without following any of these suggestions.
And if you are in a a funky mood or just want to have fun with your clothing and don’t mind forfeiting the perfect silhouette, then that’s fine too. These guidelines will just let you be aware of the challenges of wearing capris so that you can work with those and make it work!
While doing this exercise myself, I actually discovered some fun new combinations in my cupboard as well. Why don’t you do the same and shop your closet to see if you can come up with some great capris outfits!
Will you be wearing capris this season? What will you wear your cropped pants with?
- How To Wear Jeans Over 40 – Guidelines And Lots Of Ideas
- How To Wear Leggings Over 40 – A Complete Guide With The Best Leggings And Tops And Shoes To Wear With Them
- The Ultimate Guide To Creating A Capsule Wardrobe That Works For You
P.S. Want to get our full comprehensive guide on how to wear all kinds of pants the right way and what shoes to wear with them? Be sure to request our free style guide below!
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Feature image by Deborah
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