An update to my popular article on cropped pants and capris as they are still very much on trend!
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 2019 with wider cropped pants getting increasingly popular. Should you wear them anyway? And if yes, how can you 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.
Why can capris be unflattering:
- First and foremost they shorten 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.
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
As Anita shows (below), they can be a great option for summer. Here her wide cropped pants are styled to perfection with the color of the summer, coral, as well as metallic shoes and accessories.
There are more ideas here on how to wear coral, the color of the year for 2019
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.
Petra (below) keeps her cropped pants close to her leg line for a slimming effect. She also chooses shoes which are similar in color to her pants, which helps to make her legs look longer.
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.
Here Leya wears her cropped, wide-legged pants with a pair of kitten heels, which add extra height.
3. Try to create a rule of thirds with your dressing.
Your top part is usually 1/3 and your bottom part 2/3. 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.
Kim (below) shows she understands the rule of two thirds here by tucking her top into her pants to make her legs look longer.
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.
You will see that I don’t follow that 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 apply this tip as well.
Estel (below) also prefers the look of straps with her platform sandals. But you will see you could need to be careful if you have shorter legs because you effectively draw one line across your legs with the hem of your pants, and then another line with the ankle strap on your shoes.
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.
Jona (below) shows you don’t have to avoid wearing booties with your cropped pants. She chooses a pair of booties in a similar color pathway to her striped trousers.
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.
Or you can opt to style your pants like Dorota and tuck your top in. This creates a leg-lengthening effect, as does choosing a pair of shoes in a skintone or transparent shade.
For more tips read this article on how to wear wide cropped pants.
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 cropped 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.
Judith wears her white capris with animal print here.
Cropped trousers womens – where they need to stop
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.
What to wear with your capris?
To give you some ideas on how you can wear capris and cropped pants I will show you some of mine. To make it extra fun I will show you both the capri / cropped pants version of an outfit and a version in which I wear normal length pants.
In both photos I’m wearing the same shoes, so you can see the exact difference. You be the judge on what looks best or which look you prefer! These images are older, but I thought I would still include them here as they illustrate the difference between full length pants and cropped pants so clearly.
Combine ladies capri pants with a tunic or short dress
This 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.
Black capri pants
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, NYDJ.
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.
white capri pants
Do you like the look of white capris like mine above? They can be a great style staple for your summer closet.
Another pair of white capris I like
How to wear capris and ladies cropped trousers – more ideas!
Cropped flare pants
These are my favorite cropped pants right now. They are my cropped flare jeans by Paige. I wear these with longer tops and sorter 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.
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.
These denim capris are similar to my favorite pair.
Another capri jeans option – wide cropped jeans
Despite its leg shortening characteristics I have embraced wide cropped pants for a few of my looks. Wearing them is even more challenging than normal cropped pants but what all my looks have in common is that the top is short in the front or tucked in.
I feel that is essential with wider cropped pants like these ones 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 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
Womens cargo capris
My pants (above) have a slight cargo, or utility feel to them, which is on trend for this summer.
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.
“When you are in your 50s and your waistline is not what it used to be, it can be a challenge to buy capris. I have ordered another pair. Wish there were more color choices.” – Nani G
Womens cotton capris
Just as white, or cargo capris are a great option for summer, you will want to pay attention to the material your capris are made from. A pair of cotton capris can be a good choice for warmer months.
These capris are made with 78% cotton but they also have some spandex to make sure they don’t lose their shape.
“I’m 66 and I have 3 pairs. They are very comfortable and I think I look good in them.” – hartcookie.
Capris combined with jackets
3 quarter pants or clamdiggers
These look best with a wider and long top and can be very flattering. They are perfect for warmer weather.
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 2019 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 if the outfit with capris looks good on you. Some of you may even be able to rock your capris outfits without following any of them.
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?
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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