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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Or, you could try the raw hem cropped jeans from Wit & Wisdom (below).
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.
Jona @the50plusgirl above chooses a pair of gray raw hem jeans with her silver shoes.
You can wear the crop flare pants (below) in so many different ways, for work, weekend, parties or dinners.
Or, you could choose the smart cropped pants from Boden (below).
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Theory crop pants are another smart and easy-to-wear option as they will go with all of the tops in your closet.
white cropped pants
Do you like the look of white capris? They can be a great style staple for your summer closet.
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.
wide COTTON 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.
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.
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.
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.
Emms @beautifuleveryday_uk above tucks her floral shirt into her cropped pants.
Loveappella Cross Drape Sleeveless Top – Masai Copenhagen Piana Pintuck Pleat Pull-On Pants – J. Reneé Shayanne Slingback Pointed Toe Pump – Nina Crystal Clutch – Monica 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.
Nikki @40notfrumpy wears her moto jacket with her ankle length jeans.
Boden Textured Button Jacket – Max Mara Leisure Cinched Shoulder Linen Top – Nordstrom Signature Crop Kick Flare Knit Pants – Paul Green Hadley Platform Sneaker – COACH Jamie Camera Bag – Monica 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.
Shan @teachingonthegc above wears a blazer with her floral crop pants.
COS Cropped Milano-Knit Jacket – Boden New Silk Shirt – FRAME Le Jane Crop Flare Leg Jeans – BEAUTIISOLES Fia Pointed Toe Flat – Over Earth Genuine Leather Hobo Shoulder Bag – Jenny 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.
Over Earth Genuine Leather Hobo Shoulder Bag – COACH Jamie Camera Bag – Nina Crystal Clutch – SHYMI Half Link Tennis Choker Necklace – Gas Bijoux Tresse Station Necklace – Ettika Four the Money Crystal Drop Earrings – Monica Vinader Siren Bezel Set Drop Earrings – Jenny Bird Ola Hoop Earrings
Carmen @carmen_gimeno above shows how you could add a pair of sneakers to a cropped suit look.
BP. Organic Cotton Pointelle Rib Wrap Top – Eileen Fisher Brushstroke Print Straight Leg Silk & Organic Cotton Ankle Pants – Munro Wallis Peep-Toe Sandal – Over Earth Genuine Leather Hobo Shoulder Bag – Gas Bijoux Tresse Station Necklace – Jenny 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.
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
Capri outfits for fall
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
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)
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.
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.
how to wear 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.
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.
how to wear capris With a simple top
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.
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?
- 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
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Feature image by Jona @the50plusgirl
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