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 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?

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, 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.
  • 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.

So why do we 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?

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 |

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) |

similar top, jeans, sandals, bag and sunglasses

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 |

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

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 the belly.

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 |

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 |

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 |

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 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?

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 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

Nikki in crop jeans, silk shirt and sandals |

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

Nikki @40notfrumpy above wears her cropped jeans with a tie-waist shirt. Note that by knotting her shirt rather than leaving it to hang down, her legs look longer.

Recreate her outfit with this similar shirt, jeans and sandals.

MANGO Slim Fit Crop Jeans |

MANGO Slim Fit Crop Jeans

crop flare jeans

Capri jeans outfit idea |

Karen Millen Leather Buckle Detail Moto JacketAmy Lynn Ruched Square Neck SweaterPAIGE Colette Crop Flare Jeans27 Edit Florence Square Toe PumpMali + Lili Jojo Vegan Leather Crossbody BagVince Camuto Tapered Hoop Earrings

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.

PAIGE Colette Crop Flare Jeans |

PAIGE Colette Crop Flare Jeans

capri leggings

A pair of leggings is always a good option for any season. You could wear them with a longer tunic top.

Lyssé Jasmyne Crop Leggings |

Lyssé Jasmyne Crop Leggings

Wide leg capris

Wide leg capris outfit |

Mavi Jeans Denim Trucker JacketLoveappella Faux Wrap TopClub Monaco Belted Stripe Culotte PantsSyktkmx Slouchy Open Toe SandalTory Burch Kira Small Chevron Camera BagVince Camuto Tapered Hoop Earrings

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.

Club Monaco Belted Stripe Culotte Pants |

Club Monaco Belted Stripe Culotte 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.

vuori Daily Jogger Pants |

vuori Daily Jogger Pants

Black capris

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

Halogen Elastic Back Crop Pants |

Halogen Elastic Back Crop Pants

white cropped pants

White cropped jeans | outfits

VICI Collection Woven Moto Crop JacketKaren Millen Viscose Blend Jersey Short Sleeve Wrap TopAG Alexxis High Waist Crop JeansSyktkmx Slouchy Open Toe SandalChicastic Envelope ClutchMonica Vinader x Doina Woven Huggie Hoop Earrings

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

AG Alexxis High Waist Crop Jeans |

AG Alexxis High Waist Crop Jeans

wide COTTON pants

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

COS Wide Leg Culottes |

COS Wide Leg Culottes

pleated pants

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

Vince Panama Crop Wide Leg Pants |

Vince Panama Crop Wide Leg 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.

MANGO Culotte Striped Trousers |

MANGO Culotte Striped Trousers

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.

MANGO Linen Suit Trousers |

MANGO Linen Suit Trousers

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 outfit: Tops to wear with capris

Melissa in crop floral top, cropped pants, sandals and clutch |

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.

Melissa @melissabultburns above shows how a wrap top that ends at your waist can be flattering with your crop pants.

Steal her look with this similar blouse (another option here), pants, sandals and clutch.

Tops to wear with capris |

Karen Millen Viscose Blend Jersey Short Sleeve Wrap TopAmy Lynn Ruched Square Neck SweaterLoveappella Faux Wrap TopCinq á Sept Mckenna Knot Waist Shirt

Jackets and cardigans to wear with capris

Carmen in crop jacket, shirt, jeans and sneakers |

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.

Carmen @carmen_gimeno above opts for a mixed media short jacket that ends on her waist.

Check out this similar shirt, jacket (another option here), jeans, sneakers, handbag and sunglasses.

Jackets and cardigans to wear with your capri pants |

Mavi Jeans Denim Trucker JacketKaren Millen Leather Buckle Detail Moto JacketVICI Collection Woven Moto Crop JacketKaren Millen Cable Knit Military Cardigan

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.

Kim @kimair above (read her style interview here) wears classic sneakers with her crop pants.

Get her look with this similar top, pants, sneakers, clutch and necklace.

Shoes to wear with capris |

Naturalizer Ivy Ankle Strap SandalSyktkmx Slouchy Open Toe Sandal27 Edit Florence Square Toe Pumpadidas Originals Nizza Platform Sneaker

Accessories to wear with capris

Abi in jacket, cropped jeans, sneakers and crossbody bag |

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.

Abi @stealmystyle40 above opts for a crossbody bag with her pants. Note that she has rolled up her pants to create the look of a crop style.

Steal her look with this similar top, jacket, pants, sneakers, crossbody bag and sunglasses.

Accessories to wear with capris |

Tory Burch Kira Small Chevron Camera BagMali + Lili Jojo Vegan Leather Crossbody BagChicastic Envelope ClutchVince Camuto Tapered Hoop EarringsMonica Vinader x Doina Woven Huggie Hoop EarringsLizzie Fortunato Altra Pearl Beaded 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 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 |

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

shop some of the items above here:

What to wear with your capris? More inspiration

There’s more inspiration for you below. Below 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 |

Capri outfits for fall

Capris pants capsule wardrobe |

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. 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.

Yellow cropped wide pants

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

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.

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.

Winter wide cropped pants

These designer pants are very unique and heavy weight. They look great with tucked in tops or cropped tops like this short winter jumper.

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.

Wear women’s capris with a short or tucked in top

Wearing white capris |

similar top, cropped shirt, pants, 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.

Cropped flare pants

Cropped flare pants with long tunic |

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.

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 |

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

With longer tops

wearing capri pants with a longer top |

With a simple top

summeroutfits - cropped pants with a short top |

Capris combined with jackets

Combining capris with jackets |

White capris

wearing white capris |

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 |

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 2022, 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

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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How to wear capris and cropped pants |

Feature image by Kim @kimair

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