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Capris and cropped-length pants are still in style

During a recent weekend of glorious spring weather, I slipped into a pair of beloved capris that had been on hiatus during our extended cold spell. • I've long counted capris among my go-to pieces. • Until now. • Looking at my reflection in a full-length mirror, a strong disliking for my once sure-bet cropped pants washed over me. The proportion seemed all wrong. I swapped my flats for heels, thinking that would add some needed lower leg definition. Nope. I still felt dumpy. • I needed expert advice to sort out this hot mess. Gregg Andrews, a fashion director at Nordstrom, came to the rescue. Read on for his tips — and his interesting take on knees.

Colleen Jenkins, Deal Diva

First things first: Are capri pants in or out?

There is definitely a cropped-length pant that's very in style. Capri pants, per se, are classic, and they never really go out of style.

I think the bigger story here is about different pant lengths. And really for spring, we're seeing everything from short shorts to Bermudas to cropped length pants that hit anywhere from ankle length to the middle of the calf.

Yeah, but can everyone wear Bermudas (shorts that hit the top of the knee)?

I know a lot of women are sensitive about their knees. Here's what I say about knees: Have you ever really seen a woman with a great pair of knees? Have you ever been on the beach or the golf course and walking on a sidewalk, and said oh my god, look at the knees on her.

It's one of those weird things that women are self-conscious about. It seems irrational. Knees are knees. We all have them, they all pretty much look the same.

If women are really concerned about their knees, I think it's about drawing attention up toward their face with a piece of jewelry or some embellishment on the neckline of a top.

Fair enough. Some women, though, feel more comfortable in capris than shorts. What can they do to look fashionable, not frumpy?

Add some height with a shoe. Think about doing a wedge. The great thing about the wedge is it gives you height, but it still gives you stability and it supports your foot. So they're still comfortable, they're still casual, but they just make them look a bit more updated.

Also, add a jacket. We're seeing people making casual short suits. Taking maybe a short-sleeve jacket or a jacket with a three-quarter length sleeve and putting that or a cardigan with it, too. Because that's really what the trend is. It's about taking casual items that we know and tweaking them, dressing them up.

Are particular lengths or styles of capris more flattering than others?

It's going to depend on the shape of your leg. If you have a fairly heavy calf, you're probably going to want something that hits either a little bit longer, like to the bottom of your calf, top of the ankle. Or avoid your calf altogether and go with a Bermuda length. What you want to avoid doing is having the hem of that pant hit you at the widest part of your calf.

For a younger woman, you see them kind of a little bit leaner, a little bit lower rise. For a more mature woman, we see a little bit fuller cut and a little bit more rising to the natural waist.

Do certain fabrics work best?

We're really talking a lot about cotton. Denim still works. Think about a silk capri or a silk cargo pant.

Bonus tip!

Women who love their capris might consider a legging with a tunic-length top. So they still get that coverage they like, and a tunic-length top is a great way to disguise any figure flaws. But it gives them a more updated look. And it's still comfortable, it's still casual. It's still easy to wear.

But can somebody who doesn't have twigs for legs wear leggings?

Sure. And that's where that tunic-length top comes in.

I can hear people scoffing at me if I suggest that look.

I know exactly what you're saying. But again, I think it's about trying different things. Nothing is going to make anybody look more dated or older than being stuck with a style, whether it's a hairdo or a pant.

It definitely ages you.

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Readers react

The Great Capri Debate originally played out on the Deal Divas blog at Here is a sampling:

There are no ways to make Capris flattering to any woman who actually cares about her appearance. I guess if your closet is full of mom jeans and fanny packs, maybe they do fit into your wardrobe. No woman under 50 should be caught dead in a pair of these.

Regular Guy

Some wear them well, some don't. Bottom line: Wear what you want, and let your freak flag fly.


The whole highwaters thing went out with the nerds in 10th grade who also had pocket protectors.


The way to make capris look flattering, especially if you are short, is to have them tapered tight to your legs, and shortened to right under the knees.

That is the correct proportion for capris.

As an example:

Look at Bette Midler & Dolly Parton who wear them all the time.


The rule I remember from the 50's is: 120/20. Wear them if you're under 120 bs and less than 20 years old.


Capris and cropped-length pants are still in style 05/15/10 [Last modified: Friday, May 14, 2010 6:08pm]
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