What is the correct hem length for pants?

by Sylvia

What is the correct hem length for pants? | 40plusstyle.com

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?


{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Andrea@WellnessNotes

Great guide! I love all the examples, and your own outfits are fabulous!

I’m considering getting some cropped flare pants (or maybe cropped wide legged pants), but I want to make sure I get it right!


2 Sylvia

Yes, they are not the easiest to wear but they are definitely the hippest right now


3 J

I am not one to worry about the fall of the hem of my pants. However, that being said, when I put on an outfit and it feels off a bit, I try to adjust it and if I don’t love the feel and look, out it goes! Great info, love your blog!


4 Sylvia

Well, these days you can get away with just about anything but for some styles I think it’s really important to get it right. Great to read you love the blog!


5 Sabina @Oceanblue Style at Manderley

I love all of them and love wearing all of them. But the cropped flared is my all time favorite and that is why I am going to check out your picks here! Sabina


6 Sylvia

I got your note that you bought one. I look forward to seeing it!


7 Elaine

Excellent article. I will come back to it often before shopping or having something altered. Thank you!


8 Sylvia

You are very welcome 🙂


9 Eileen

Very helpful. The fact that so many pant styles are in vogue, makes getting them right extremely confusing. Thank you.


10 Sylvia

Glad I could help 🙂


11 Kirsten Murtagh

Super helpful – thank you! Especially love the tips on (and how you pull off) the flare crop!


12 Sylvia

Great I could be of help Kirsten!


13 Greetje

I am afraid you are going to see a bunched pair of skinnies on my blog today Sylvia. Fortunately they are skinnies and not straight legged (at least I think so).
When I see you in your cropped wide trousers I think “oh that looks good”, but I find them extremely difficult to style. And the cropped flared trousers are in my “definitely no-no corner”. No way. Fortunately there are enough styles left. Thanks for this tutorial. Very helpful.


14 Sylvia

You don’t have to wear every pant style Greetje. Sometimes it’s good to stick to what you love and you know works best! They ARE difficult to style.


15 jan

I love your blog about all the different trouser shapes.
I will try the shorter wide leg trousers but in my opinion you need to have a fitted top or tuck your top in giving you a waist.


16 Sylvia

I agree. The top I’m wearing is quite short too and tailored even though it’s not so apparent on the images.
Thanks for the kind words on my blog!


17 Rabab

Very helpful to learn about trousers length specially the ankle pants which I bought recently. The only problem with those is that I cannot wear a pointed shoes with them and wide round shoes do not look right


18 Sylvia

I actually think that flat ballerinas can look good too. Just make sure that they are quite open.


19 Joyce

Thank you for the informative instructions. I come to your web site every time I have a question on fashion. I hope that you will address blazers soon. I love the look you wear with the bootcut jeans. However, I was wondering if someone with wide shoulders should wear a jacket as they all seem to have padded shoulders?


20 Sylvia

Yes good idea. Will do. Just make sure that the padding is minimal and that it fits well over your shoulders. You should be ok then.


21 Natalie

Terrific article Sylvia. Perfect timing too as I am going through my seasonal closet switch and there is much consider.


22 Sylvia

Have fun styling!


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