How to Style Cropped Trousers

Written by: Jodie Lindop

Cropped trousers, otherwise known as ankle trousers or capris, make a lot of sense when the outside temperature is between hot and cold—as is so often the case during our notoriously brief summers. And capris have long been portrayed on the big screen and in fashion magazines as part of an appealing and chic, relaxed summer look. However, many will agree they’re a tricky wardrobe item to style well in practice. The mere mention of capris elicits some key styling questions: Who should wear them—short or tall women? What length looks best? What kind of accompanying shoes and tops should you choose? Can you wear them to work or for other dressy occasions? Read on for answers to these questions and more.

Capri Trousers: Length, Fit, and Fabric
In general, capris look best when they end at the slimmer part of the leg, somewhere just below the calf and above the ankle—ideally, right at the spot where your calf starts to taper off. They’ll look unflattering if they fall below the knee at the widest part of the calf unless you’re tall and thin (see below). If they reach just above your ankles, they’re too long. Slimmer or straight-leg styles work better than flared for most women. For the best look, choose a size that’s not too tight.

In addition to the cut of a cropped trouser, the fabric is an important element that reflects your sense of style. For an unstructured look, linen hangs nicely and is eminently practical on hot and humid summer days. For a sleek look, trousers constructed with stretchy fabric can be dressed up or down for a variety of situations.

Cropped Trouser Outfits for Short and Tall Women
It is a common misconception that capris don’t work for women who are, say, under 5’4”. The key is choosing a style that’s proportionate to your height, in a flattering colour, and pairing it with an appropriate top. Shorter women should choose a simple design that doesn’t add bulk such as bulging pockets and large cuffs. Neutral colours work better than large-print patterns. Mid- to high-waisted styles paired with a short top make your legs look longer.

Tall women have more flexibility in choosing and styling capris. For starters, go for a slightly shorter length, so it doesn’t look like you’re wearing ill-fitting trousers rather than cute capris. You can pull off a wider leg opening too, especially if you’re slim, but not if you’re planning to pair your trousers with a roomy tunic top: that demands a slim leg opening .

Best Shoes to Wear with Capris
Shoes are the key to success in pulling off an appealing cropped trouser look, but the question is which shoes? For a dressier or more elegant look, capris call for some sort of heel, whether stacked, kitten, or—for the young and daring—stiletto. Heels make your legs look longer, as do wedges. For warm-weather comfort and casual wear, low-heeled sandals are just the ticket.

Cropped Trousers: the Bottom Line
Cropped trousers are a comfortable, practical wardrobe staple that represent the best of all worlds, allowing you to stay warm when it’s cool outside and cool when it’s warm. That also makes them a versatile addition to your suitcase when travelling in changeable climates. They do require a bit more effort to select and style to look your best, but a little investment can yield a big pay-off: the right capris promise to be a wardrobe favourite for years to come.


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