Easy Ways to Wear Cropped Pants



7 ways to wear cropped pants

Cropped pants, according to the Fairchild Dictionary of Fashion are “Pants cut at varying lengths between ankle and knee.”  So really, anything that ends just below the knee to the ankles.

They can have a leg shortening effect so here are some tips on what kinds of shoes to wear them with (as well as other outfit ideas) for styling your cropped pants.

How to Wear Just Under the Knee Cropped Pants

which shoes to wear with long shorts

These I’ve always thought of as long shorts, but really they are a cropped pant (since a short is above the knee!).  They are like a bermuda short that goes past the  knee, but not completely fitted.  They are basically the same length as a just below the knee length skirt, so I wear either with a nude wedge like the ones pictured, or a low vamp sandal.

A slightly looser fit such as the ones above is easier to wear if you have wider hips and thighs, than a tight or fitted through shape.  Wide fitting cropped pants (are basically a culotte) and do tend to make you look wider overall.

how to style clamdiggers

These fitted denim clamdigger length cropped pants need a shorter or more cropped top if you want to wear them with flats or high vamp shoes or sandals.

Wearing a shorter top (notice I have a longer top and a shorter top) helps to draw the eye up the body and create two distinct uneven proportions, one longer than the other (rather than a 1:1 ration which tends to be less flattering).

how to style cropped pants

You can see that again I have a shorter cardigan to make the top proportion shorter than the lower proportion, and wear a wedge shoe which further elongates my legs.

When choosing the length for your cropped pants remember the rule of horizontals – never put a horizontal line on a wide point unless you want it to look wider.

Notice how the hem ends above the widest point of my calves, not right on the widest point.

How to Wear a Low Calf Cropped Pant

what to wear with clamdiggers

Here with these longer – lower calf (below the widest point of my calf) cropped pants which are slim cut and have great vertical detail (remember verticals elongate – see how even the pockets are vertical), I wear them with low vamp shoes.  Notice how I’ve used visual grouping with the red accessories to relate the pop of colour together.

how to style cropped pants

I am lucky that I have longer leg proportionally so I can get away with these high vamp wedges, but would advise that if your legs are shorter proportionally to only wear this length pant with a low vamp shoe or a nude coloured high vamp shoe (as you don’t notice the vamp when the colour doesn’t stand out against your skin).

How to Style Seven Eights Length Pants or Capri Pants

how to style cropped pants

Here is a slightly longer cropped pant which fits into the “seven-eighths” category – ending just below the calf. These could almost be classed as a capri pant which officially has a slit up the side.  Mine have a split but it’s shut by a zipper.
I think this is an easier length to wear than an ankle length pant, but would advise to look for a ones with a slim leg opening in a colour that’s more related to your skin.  My white skin doesn’t stand out obviously from my white pants.  Stone, beige or camel colours are all good choices for this length trouser.

Because the length of the pants is longer I can wear a slightly longer top, but notice how it doesn’t have a horizontal hem, instead it has a curved hem which helps to elongate my legs.

How to Style Ankle Length Pants

what to wear with cropped pants

These are my longest cropped pant and the ones I feel that I have to wear heels with, otherwise I feel my legs look stumpy and out of proportion.  This is because of the darker colour which makes their length more obvious as you really see where the pant hem ends (in comparison with the white ones above).  I find these open front boots work well, alternatively I wear them with a pair of heeled pumps to compensate for their lack of length.

Notice too how they are a fairly fitted opening, rather than a wide opening (the wider the hem, the shorter your legs look).



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  • Please do give us some details on your dynamite frilled booties…I love the open look, the frill, and what looks like a low heel…Where can I find them?

  • I’ve avoided these altogether because I don’t like to wear heels and have shorter and skinny legs (not much calf). Should the rule of horizontals be invoked in my case, or would it be flattering for me to choose a length that cuts across the widest part of my calf in order to look wider, more shapely? (I guess that has to assume I’d wear heels with them, I suppose!) Thanks.

  • Hi Imogen,
    I notice in the pic with your gorgeous dog that you’re treating silver sandals as nude, thus low vamp? Is that right? I’m very white and have been looking for nude sandals; adding silver as a nude neutral would help me.

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