Cropped pants, pedal pushers, capris, clamdiggers, shorts…. They may be known by many names but these short pants have become known and loved by women of all ages, shapes and sizes, and with good reason. Cropped pants offer a cool alternative to full-length trousers or jeans, and are perfect for summer weather. Capri pants became popular in the 1960’s with the Mary Tyler Moore show, and caused a bit of a stir. Today, Capris and cropped pants of all lengths have gone mainstream and are right on trend.

Years ago, before I became a style coach and know what I know today, I had a pair of cropped pants that made me feel frumpy. The rise was too low, giving me a muffin top. The hemline stopped at the widest point of my calves and made my legs look much heavier than they were. And the whole look was just not right. Yet somehow I convinced myself to buy these horrible pants and wear them because I felt that I ‘should’ be able to pull off cropped pants, and that if I just lost a few pounds they’d be perfect.


When wearing them on vacation, I remember feeling awful in them. But I was determined to wear what I had spent my hard-earned money on. Once home, I took a long look at a picture of myself in the pants and recoiled in horror. While I had no idea why they didn’t work (I thought it was because I was too fat), I got rid of the pants then and there. Years later, I found out why they weren’t right for me – and what I could have done differently – and now I want to save you from making the same mistake.


While cropped pants may be popular, there is no one style that is right for everyone. There are several important factors that should be taken into consideration to ensure that you’re getting the best look for you. Finding the best style for your body isn’t just a matter of luck, or being born with legs for days. What matters is proportion. Once you crop your pants, the ratio of pant to leg becomes an important factor. When done right, your cropped pants can make you look inches taller and pounds thinner. Follow these guidelines and you’ll nail it every time:


1/ The Hemline is Key

Where the hemline of your pants hits your leg is the number one consideration when determining what’s right for you. Make sure the hemline ends at the narrowest part of your leg. If it stops at the widest part of your calf, your legs will appear larger and shorter. Do not leave this to chance, for this can make your legs look much shorter/heavier than they are if it stops at the widest point.


To determine where your pants should fall, find the widest point of your calf – this is where your pants should NOT stop. You want the hem of your pants to hit you above or below this line. Typically, just under the kneecap is more narrow and makes a good stopping point. If your calves are on the heavy side, then opt for ankle-grazing pants. With so many lengths of cropped pants available, don’t settle for one that isn’t right. Find one that is or have the longer pair tailored to suit you.


2/ Tapered or Flared

When your cropped pants are tapered, or slim-fitting, they create a harmonious silhouette against your leg. In short, the eye is drawn vertically and they have a slimming effect. A slight flare at the hemline can work for you as well, but avoid a full-on flare as it can create a horizontal visual, cutting your leg off and shortening you. Plus, you run the risk of looking like you’re wearing high-waters. A skinny or straight leg is your best bet.


I’ve been putting many of my clients with a little extra around the middle in our skinny crops paired with a longer tunic and the effect is astounding! While the tunic has to be the right cut – a longer top that covers your bottom – it can visually take off pounds!


3/ Off the cuff

Cuffs on cropped pants and shorts can make your legs look heavier, and therefore are best on those with long, nimble legs. If your legs are shorter or heavier, staying away from a cuff is your best bet. If you do choose a cuff, select a cuff with a width that is proportionate to you. If you’re tall, you can wear a deeper cuff. If you’re of average height, a more narrow cuff will look better for you.


4/ Low Contrast

Take into consideration the contrast between your pants, shoes and skintone when wearing cropped pants. When you keep your pants and shoes in a tone not too far from your own skin, you create a lengthening effect. Dark pants create a stark contrast against pale skin, and vice versa. To counter the effect, keep your footwear in a color closer to your skintone than to your cropped pants. Many of my clients want to wear black cropped pants, but they don’t realize that the contrast with their pale skin is very harsh, especially when worn with black shoes. It is anything but slimming, and just not flattering. A white, midtone or bright would be a much better choice, paired with sandals in a nude or metallic tone. Teal and turquoise can also be a great choice for shoe colors, as these are ‘skin intensifiers’ and look gorgeous against your skin.


5/ Shoe In

The shoes you sport with your cropped pants can have a big impact on your overall look. To create an elongated leg-line pair your cropped pants with heels or some of the season’s hottest wedges. Flat shoes can give this look a dowdy appearance. Opt for a sandal, pump, wedge or flat-form to give you a little height while making you look sleek and chic.

So now your only real dilemma with wearing cropped pants should be choosing a color. Choose with care and you’ll rock your cropped pants all summer long, looking chic and keeping your cool too!