With so many pant style options in stores and your closet these days, it is very easy to get lost when selecting the correct length.

In this two part post we take away the mystery of just how long and short the length of your pants should be.

We will show you the best shoe-pant combinations in an upcoming article. From ankle pants to wide leg jeans, let’s explore the most flattering hems.

Ankle pants

ankle pants cut length hem | 40plusstyle.com

When wearing ankle pants, the hem of your pants should be positioned immediately above or right on your ankle bone.

At this length, you want to go with a slimmer ankle that is not too wide, as this will shorten your entire length. As you can see in the images above, the pant legs are slimmer and hit immediately above or right at the ankle bone.

I have a lot more tips on how to wear capris and cropped pants here.

Bootcut pants

bootcut pants jeans length hem | 40plusstyle.com

When selecting the right bootcut jeans, the right length is very dependent on what shoes will be worn with your jeans. I find that bootcut jeans look the nicest with pointy shoes with heels. That makes your legs look a mile long.

what length should bootcut jeans be? | 40plusstyle.com

No matter what shoes you wear though, your jeans should skim the ground.

You may also like: how to wear jeans over 40

Boyfriend style pants

boyfriend style jeans cuff length | 40plusstyle.com

Boyfriend style pants offer a more comfortable fit with a small to large size cuff that is a bit more relaxed.

They can be dressed up or down, but the fit is really quite dependent on your body shape. Most body shapes will do well with a minimal to non-existent baggy style fit.

Tall and slim profiles tend to be able to wear a very baggy style well, however, it is recommended that you select a minimally loose fit to give off the chic and casual vibe.

When selecting the right length, you want to opt for a pair with cuffs that end below mid calf and well above your ankle bone. The more tapered and slim the leg, the more you can get away with a length closer to your ankle bone.

Cropped flared pants

cropped flared pants jeans length | 40plusstyle.com

Cropped pants with a bootcut or slightly flared leg can be a challenge to select and wear stylishly. However, they are on trend right now and can look super hip.

When selecting the right pair that is most flattering, we recommend ensuring that the hem hits anywhere from mid-calf to right above your ankle. Any longer and you look like you are wearing ill-fitting high waters (not too flattering). Any shorter and you look like you’ve severely outgrown your pants.

Cropped wide leg pants

cropped wide leg pants length | 40plusstyle.com

You absolutely do not have to feel nervous about attempting the cropped wide leg pant look.

It can be flattering, as long as you pay close attention to fit and precise tailoring and combining them with the right tops.

The general fashion insider perspective for the right length is generally 1 inch above the ankle. As you can see in the pictures above, the best looks from jeans to dark trousers are kept that distance above the ankle.

What is the right length for wide cropped pants? | 40plusstyle.com

For more tips on how to wear wide cropped pants check out this article.

Highwaist pants

highwaist rise pants jeans length hem | 40plusstyle.com

We included highwaist pants in this post, as they can be found in a vast number of styles, cuts, and looks.

So, while you have quite a bit of freedom when it comes to length, it is important to keep fit in mind. There are two waists that exist: your true waist and the false waist (which is much lower) that has become the new norm.

High waist pants are built to highlight your true waist (which is higher). So, when selecting high waist styles make sure you are staying to your true waist and selecting a well-tailored pair.

Skinny leg pants

skinny pants jeans length hem | 40plusstyle.com

For a pant style that has dominated looks for the last decade, it can still be a hassle figuring out what the right length for a well fitting pair of skinny leg style pants should be.

Commit the following to memory, the goal of skinny pant legs is for a clean, ankle bone length look. Any longer and they bunch (which is hard to recover from) and too much shorter and you don’t get the flattering clean and streamlined look.

Straight leg pants

straight leg pants jeans hem length | 40plusstyle.com

Too often women attempt to turn straight leg pants into a skinny leg style. These are two very different styles for a reason and straight leg pants look the most flattering when they are worn below the ankle bone.

You want to cover the top of your feet. However, you also do not want to veer into the territory of a wide leg cut. Bunched straight leg pants are not flattering and can create an unfinished look.

Wide leg and trouser pants

wide leg pants jeans length | 40plusstyle.com

When wearing wide leg styles, you want to go for a longer look. The goal is to have as much of your shoe hidden by your pant leg as possible, without dragging on the floor (which can both shorten your entire length and the life of your investment).

When trying them on without shoes, the hem of your pants should rest comfortably on the floor. This will give you a good indication of how long they will be when you put your shoes on. Of course it would be best to try these pants with the shoes that you plan to wear them with.

Higher shoes are nicest.

Fabulous and favorite brands featured in this article include:

What style of pants tend to give you the most styling trouble? On the other hand, what is your go to style of pant?


Sylvia is 40+style’s editor-in-chief and has been helping women find their unique style since 2011. An alumni of the School of Color and Design, 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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