Capris and cropped pants are notoriously hard to wear and they can be unflattering on many women. Yet they are still incredibly popular and wonen (including me) love them. They are comfortable, fashionable and fun!

So how can you wear capris and cropped pants in a way that’s stylish and flattering. Discover that today in this article on how to wear capris and cropped pants.

How to wear capris: Why can capri pants be unflattering?

Why can capris and cropped pants be hard to wear?

  • First and foremost, cropped pants can be unflattering as they can give the effect of shortening your legs. Especially for women whose legs are proportionally short this can present a challenge. If you want to check your vertical proportions, be sure to read our article on vertical body types.
  • They can highlight chunky calves if your pants end at the ‘wrong’ part of your leg. The eye will be drawn to where the hem on your capris ends.
  • They can divide your body in half which can often be unflattering (more on this later).

So why do women still love cropped pants so much?

Here are just 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.

How to wear capris and cropped pants?

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 in flattering ways:

1. capris that are tapered are easier to wear

white pants and a blue top outfit | 40plusstyle.com

similar blouse, pants, flats, bag and sunglasses

Capris and cropped pants that 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 when you wear wider pants is to wear higher heels. Wide cropped pants especially look better with heels.

3. apply the rule of thirds

An Unexpected Brand Crush: Diane Von Furstenberg (DVF) | 40plusstyle.com

similar top, jeans, sandals, bag and sunglasses

When you are wearing your cropped pants the wrong way, you may visually divide your body in half. That can be very unflattering and it’s much better to aim for a golden ratio silhouette, where you divide your body in thirds.

Your top part is usually 1/3 and your bottom part 2/3 when putting together an outfit which follows this flattering golden ratio 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.

applying the rule of thirds to wearing capris | 40plusstyle.com

Tucking your top into your pants is an easy way to achieve a 1/3 – 2/3 silhouette.

If you want to know more about creating a flattering silhouette and the golden ratio, we go in great detail about this topic in a special bonus course that you get when you enroll in our style course. More details about that here.

If you prefer not to tuck your top in and prefer to hide your belly, you can also wear a wider shorter top that skims over half of the belly.

Or you can deceive the eye by wearing a layered top.Below is an example where I wear wide cropped pants, which are even more challenging to wear. Although my top is too long, part of it is in the same color as the pants. Since the darker part ends at my waist, it still created a 1/3-2/3 balance.

Below is an example where I wear 2/3 on top and 1/3 at the bottom. This can be a very flattering look for many women and is a great option for tighter cropped pants and leggings.

how to wear capris with a short dress | 40plusstyle.com

similar dress, capri jeans, shoes

The cropped pants below are challenging to wear. They are both wide and end at a traditionally unflattering (wider) part of the leg. To make it work I applied two strategies:

  • I wore a short top that ends at my waist
  • I wore heels to balance the shortening effect of these pants
  • If you wanted to make this look more flattering, you can opt for heels in the same color as the pants.
Fit for fashion in a gray and white outfit | 40plusstyle.com

similar top, pants, sandals, tote and sunglasses

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.

Wearing cropped pants with booties

similar dress, pants and booties

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.

wearing cropped jeans with silver shoes | 40plusstyle.com

similar cropped flare jeans

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 proportions into account and make adjustments accordingly to create the silhouette that flatters you.

The length of your capri trousers is important

Cropped pants and capris come in all sorts of lengths and widths. Just a few inches can make a big difference to how flattering your capris look on you.

Where should your cropped pants end?

For the most flattering effect, 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 know how to wear cropped pants and capris, it’s time to find the perfect pair. Below you will find some of our favorite capris to choose from this season.

JEAN capris

A pair of slim jeans, like the ones from NYDJ (below) which end just a few inches above your ankle will be flattering for most women.

NYDJ Chloe Hollywood Frayed Capri Jeans | 40plusstyle.com | 40plusstyle.com

NYDJ Chloe Hollywood Frayed Capri Jeans

Or, you could try the raw hem cropped jeans from Wit & Wisdom (below).

Wit & Wisdom 'Ab'Solution Raw Hem Ankle Skinny Jeans | 40plusstyle.com

Wit & Wisdom ‘Ab’Solution Raw Hem Ankle Skinny Jeans

crop jeans

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.

You could choose an on-trend color, or a traditional pair of blue or black jeans.

FRAME Le Jane Crop Flare Leg Jeans | 40plusstyle.com

FRAME Le Jane Crop Flare Leg Jeans

DL1961 Lara Instasculpt Cropped Flare Jean | 40plusstyle.com

DL1961 Lara Instasculpt Cropped Flare Jean

How to wear capris and cropped pants - an extensive guide | 40plusstyle.com

Jona @the50plusgirl above chooses a pair of gray raw hem jeans with her silver shoes.

Steal her look with this similar blouse (another option here), jeans, slingback pumps, bag and sunglasses.

crop flares

You can wear the crop flare pants (below) in so many different ways, for work, weekend, parties or dinners.

Nordstrom Signature Crop Kick Flare Knit Pants | 40plusstyle.com

Nordstrom Signature Crop Kick Flare Knit Pants

Or, you could choose the smart cropped pants from Boden (below).

Boden Bi-Stretch Crop Flare Trousers | 40plusstyle.com

Boden Bi-Stretch Crop Flare Trousers

capri leggings

A pair of leggings is always a good option for any season. Especially leggings that end just below the knee are a very flattering option to wear for many women. You could wear them with a longer tunic top, the the ones below are also thick enough to wear on their own.

Stella Carakasi leggings are a 40+style favorite, and the capri length leggings (below) look great worn with tunics for summer.

Stella Carakasi Second Nature Capris | 40plusstyle.com | 40plusstyle.com

Stella Carakasi Second Nature Capris

Wide leg capris

Despite their leg-shortening characteristics, I have embraced wide cropped pants for a few of my own looks. Just remember to keep your tops short or cropped or tuck them in to get the best proportions.

Vince Camuto Drawstring Rumpled Culottes | 40plusstyle.com

Vince Camuto Drawstring Rumpled Culottes

Splendid Taylor Cotton Eyelet Crop Wide Leg Pants | 40plusstyle.com

Splendid Taylor Cotton Eyelet Crop Wide Leg Pants

crop joggers

For a casual option, if you are working out, working from home or just running a few errands, a pair of crop joggers could be a comfy choice.

Hatley Ally Bonded Cotton Gauze Crop Joggers | 40plusstyle.com

Hatley Ally Bonded Cotton Gauze Crop Joggers

Black capris

If you love the look of a pair of black capris as much as I do, you might like this pair from Stella Carakasi which would go with plenty of tops in your closet.

Stella Carakasi Just Right Cropped Pants | 40plusstyle.com

Stella Carakasi Just Right Cropped Pants

The Theory crop pants are another smart and easy-to-wear option as they will go with all of the tops in your closet.

Theory Pull-On Crop Pants | 40plusstyle.com

Theory Pull-On Crop Pants

Dayle wears a pair of ankle length pants and a white top | 40plusstyle.com

Dayle @artfulcitystyle above (read her style interview here) chooses a pair of crop pants that end just above her ankles.

Recreate her outfit with this similar top (another option here), wide pants, shoes, necklace, bangles and earrings.

white cropped pants

Do you like the look of white capris? They can be a great style staple for your summer closet.

You’ll find more white jeans inspiration here and white pants in this article.

Eileen Fisher Straight Leg Crop Pants | 40plusstyle.com

Eileen Fisher Straight Leg Crop Pants

red crop pants

Red will always add impact to your outfit, and is also a totally timeless option so you can wear your red crop pants year after year.

Rekucci Ease into Comfort Capri with Button Detail | 40plusstyle.com

Rekucci Ease into Comfort Capri with Button Detail

Anne Klein Pull-On Wide Leg Ankle Pants | 40plusstyle.com

Anne Klein Pull-On Wide Leg Ankle Pants

wide COTTON pants

Wide pants are particularly on trend right now and the silk pants (below) could be perfect for summer or your vacation wardrobe.

Eileen Fisher Brushstroke Print Straight Leg Silk & Organic Cotton Ankle Pants | 40plusstyle.com

Eileen Fisher Brushstroke Print Straight Leg Silk & Organic Cotton Ankle Pants

pleated pants

For a classic, straight-leg pair of cropped pants, you could choose the Masai Copenhagen pants (below). Tuck your top in for a leg-lengthening effect.

Masai Copenhagen Piana Pintuck Pleat Pull-On Pants | 40plusstyle.com

Masai Copenhagen Piana Pintuck Pleat Pull-On Pants

printed pants

A pair of print pants are perfect for dressing down with sandals and a t-shirt for a vacation, or you could create a more formal look with heels, a blazer and silk top.

Boden Straight Leg Printed Crop Pants | 40plusstyle.com

Boden Straight Leg Printed Crop Pants

stripe pants

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.

DKNY Stripe Linen & Cotton Crop Pants | 40plusstyle.com

DKNY Stripe Linen & Cotton Crop Pants

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.

Cropped pants outfits: Tops to wear with capris

Now let’s put together some full outfits based on the crop pants you’ve seen above.

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.

Tops to wear with capris | 40plusstyle.com

Max Mara Leisure Cinched Shoulder Linen TopBoden New Silk ShirtLoveappella Cross Drape Sleeveless TopBP. Organic Cotton Pointelle Rib Wrap Top

Emms wears a floral shirt and cropped jeans | 40plusstyle.com

Emms @beautifuleveryday_uk above tucks her floral shirt into her cropped pants.

Recreate her outfit with this similar floral shirt, jeans and sneakers.

Green top and cream pants outfit | 40plusstyle.com

Loveappella Cross Drape Sleeveless TopMasai Copenhagen Piana Pintuck Pleat Pull-On PantsJ. Reneé Shayanne Slingback Pointed Toe PumpNina Crystal ClutchMonica Vinader Siren Bezel Set Drop Earrings

Jackets and cardigans 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.

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 and cardigans to wear with your capri pants | 40plusstyle.com

Theory Shrunken Seersucker BlazerCOS Cropped Milano-Knit JacketBoden Cropped Denim JacketBoden Textured Button Jacket

Nikki wears a moto jacket and crop jeans | 40plusstyle.com

Nikki @40notfrumpy wears her moto jacket with her ankle length jeans.

Get her look with this similar top, moto jacket, jeans and platform loafers.

Stripe jacket and black pants outfit | 40plusstyle.com

Boden Textured Button JacketMax Mara Leisure Cinched Shoulder Linen TopNordstrom Signature Crop Kick Flare Knit PantsPaul Green Hadley Platform SneakerCOACH Jamie Camera BagMonica Vinader Siren Bezel Set Drop Earrings

shoes 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.

Shoes to wear with capris | 40plusstyle.com

BEAUTIISOLES Fia Pointed Toe FlatJ. Reneé Shayanne Slingback Pointed Toe PumpMunro Wallis Peep-Toe SandalPaul Green Hadley Platform Sneaker

Shan wears a blazer and floral pants | 40plusstyle.com

Shan @teachingonthegc above wears a blazer with her floral crop pants.

Check out this similar tee, blazer, pants (another option here), sandals, necklace and earrings.

Floral shirt and green jeans outfit | 40plusstyle.com

COS Cropped Milano-Knit JacketBoden New Silk ShirtFRAME Le Jane Crop Flare Leg JeansBEAUTIISOLES Fia Pointed Toe FlatOver Earth Genuine Leather Hobo Shoulder BagJenny Bird Ola Hoop Earrings

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.

Accessories to wear with capris | 40plusstyle.com

Over Earth Genuine Leather Hobo Shoulder BagCOACH Jamie Camera BagNina Crystal ClutchSHYMI Half Link Tennis Choker NecklaceGas Bijoux Tresse Station NecklaceEttika Four the Money Crystal Drop EarringsMonica Vinader Siren Bezel Set Drop EarringsJenny Bird Ola Hoop Earrings

Carmen wears a cropped suit | 40plusstyle.com

Carmen @carmen_gimeno above shows how you could add a pair of sneakers to a cropped suit look.

Steal her look with this similar belted blazer, pants, sneakers, handbag and sunglasses.

White top and silk pants outfit | 40plusstyle.com

BP. Organic Cotton Pointelle Rib Wrap TopEileen Fisher Brushstroke Print Straight Leg Silk & Organic Cotton Ankle PantsMunro Wallis Peep-Toe SandalOver Earth Genuine Leather Hobo Shoulder BagGas Bijoux Tresse Station NecklaceJenny Bird Ola Hoop Earrings

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 summer.

There are 9 outfit suggestions for you, but you can mix and match these items to create countless other options.

Below you can see the clothes, shoes and accessories used above together in one capsule.

Capris pants capsule wardrobe | 40plusstyle.com

You may also like to take a look at how to create a capsule wardrobe.

shop the featured capris and cropped pants below:

What to wear with your capris? More cropped pants outfit ideas below

There’s more inspiration for you below. These are some previous capsules we created. Although these items are no longer available online, they will still give you inspiration on what sort of outfits you can create.

Capri outfits for summer

Capris pants capsule wardrobe | 40plusstyle.com

Capri outfits for fall

Capris pants capsule wardrobe | 40plusstyle.com
Capris pants capsule wardrobe | 40plusstyle.com

How to wear capris and ladies cropped trousers – more ideas!

To give you some more ideas on how you can wear capris and cropped pants I will show you some of mine.

Some of 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.

Wide pants cropped jumpsuit

I’m loving this jumpsuit from COS (another option here). It naturally creates the 1/3-2/3 silhouette with the belt. On colder days I combine this with a short jacket so the waist stays emphasized.

Sylvia wears a wide leg jumpsuit | 40plusstyle.com

Yellow cropped wide pants

Not so clear to see on this image but the pants below (similar option here) are also cropped and wider. I wear these pants with short or tucked in tops and either with or without the yellow kimono jacket (similar option here)

Sylvia wears a yellow suit | 40plusstyle.com

Flower culottes

These culottes look like a skirt from the front but they are comfy cropped pants. Again these look best with tucked in (pink) tops or this cropped top in the same pattern.

Sylvia wears a matching floral top and culottes set | 40plusstyle.com

Fly London sandals and similar crop set here

Cropped jean leggings

I like to wear these cropped jean leggings on holidays. Perfect to combine with longer tops. For more tips check our article on how to wear leggings.

Sylvia wears a zebra print tunic and capri jeans | 40plusstyle.com

similar dress, jeans and shoes

how to wear capris with a short or tucked in top

Wearing white capris | 40plusstyle.com

similar top, cropped shirt, jeans, sandals, handbag and sunglasses

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.

For more of my favorite jeans brands check out my article on how to wear jeans over 40.

Skinny cropped pants

Below are a few more examples of how I have worn capris and cropped pants in the past.

a vacation outfit of white capris and a relaxed fit top | 40plusstyle.com

similar top, jeans, shoes, necklace, hoop earrings and sunglasses

how to wear capris With a simple top

summeroutfits - cropped pants with a short top | 40plusstyle.com

White capris

wearing white capris | 40plusstyle.com

Cropped leggings

These look best with a wider and long top and can be very flattering. They are perfect for warmer weather.

These Second Nature capris 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.

You can pair these leggings with an asymmetrical top and a long camisole.

hidingyourbellywithleggings | 40plusstyle.com

For more tips on wearing leggings, check the article how to wear leggings after 40.

Some final thoughts about how to wear capris and cropped trousers

Right now you can wear pants in all sorts of styles and lengths.

Currently in 2023, 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?

Continue reading:

  1. How To Wear Jeans Over 40 – Guidelines And Lots Of Ideas
  2. How To Wear Leggings Over 40 – A Complete Guide With The Best Leggings And Tops And Shoes To Wear With Them
  3. The Ultimate Guide To Creating A Capsule Wardrobe That Works For You

Like this article on how to wear capris and cropped pants? Save it on Pinterest!

How to wear capris and cropped pants - an extensive guide | 40plusstyle.com

Feature image by Jona @the50plusgirl

Sylvia

Sylvia is 40+style’s editor-in-chief and has been helping women find their unique style since 2011. She is devoted to empowering women of any age to look and feel their best. Read more about Sylvia and 40+style on this page.

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