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Are Capri Pants Still In Style This Year?

Let’s chat about one of my least favorite garments when summer clothes hit the shelves. Are capri pants still in style this year? The answer depends on who you ask. Many brands still make and market them to midlife women and some women are snapping them up.

So what’s the problem with capri pants? In a word, their length. They are notoriously unflattering and hard to wear stylishly. So let’s dig into this and see how women can wear them in a flattering way.

What Are Capri Pants?

Capri pants are casual, lightweight pants that typically fall between the knee and ankle, most often ending mid-calf. They usually have slim legs and often have useless drawstrings or buttons at the bottom. Capris have gotten such a bad reputation of late that brands now call them everything from skimmers to pedal pushers to crops. Crops differ from capris with a wider leg and are usually almost to the ankle.

IF GRACE WERE STANDING, THESE CAPRIS WOULD BE BELOW HER CALF, NOT AT THE WIDEST PART

Capris exploded on the fashion scene in the late ’50s and early ’60s. Who doesn’t remember them worn by Mary Tyler Moore, Grace Kelly, and Audrey Hepburn?

AUDREY’S CAPRI PANTS END FAR BELOW THE CENTER OF HER CALF, LIKELY WHERE HER LEG INDENTS

Do Capri Pants Make You Look Older?

They’re certainly not as popular as they once were and will never be a modern way of dressing. If you wear them in the wrong length and in a dated print, they will make you look out of touch and older. You won’t find brands marketing capri pants to women in their 30s and 40s, so by wearing them, you instantly date yourself. Jean capris tend to look most modern. Just beware of their length.

THESE NYDJ CAPRIS COULD BE EASILY FOLDED OR UNFOLDED TO A FLATTERING LENGTH

What’s The Best Length For Capris?

TALBOTS CALL THESE SKIMMERS, BUT THEY FALL CLEARLY IN THE CAPRI CATEGORY, DEPENDING ON HOW LONG YOUR LEGS ARE.

Capri pants look most flattering when they stop just below or above the widest part of your calf where your leg indents. Ones that end mid-calf make your legs look shorter and thicker. An inch, one way or the other, can make all the difference in how flattering capri pants can be. For women who need additional leg coverage for varicose veins, opt for longer ones that fall below the calf.

What Shoes Look Best With Capris

Avoid clunky sneakers or heavy shoes with capri pants. They look best with a sandal, low heels, and a lower vamp shoe. Flats can make you feel dumpy, so look for a shoe or sandal with some height, whether it be a flatform, platform, wedge, or low heel. Nude shoes are a great option because they elongate the look of your leg by blending with your skin. Ankle straps should be avoided because they further chop up the look of your leg.

CAPRI JEANSBLOUSEWEDGE SANDALS STRAW BAGSUNGLASSESEARRINGS

How to wear capri pants

If you adore capri pants and they’re an important part of your summer wardrobe, choose ones that don’t chop your leg at the widest part. The best length for capri pants is below the calf, where your leg begins to narrow to the ankle, or above the calf, where it narrows below the knee. Wear them with lightweight tops and blouses that you can half-tuck or end at upper hip length. Keep jewelry simple and in a smaller scale so it doesn’t overpower the casual vibe.

BRIGITTE CAPRI PANTSKNOT FRONT TEETOTE BAGSLIDE SANDALSSUNGLASSES EARRINGS

Who Should Avoid Wearing Capri Pants

Since they shorten the look of your leg, women with long torsos and short legs should avoid them. Petite women will need an even shorter top with capris to avoid cutting their bodies in half. Since they shorten the look of your leg, they’re often best avoided by shorter women. Women with heavy legs should tread carefully with capris because they make them look heavier.

Are you a fan of capri pants, and how do you wear yours?

68 Comments

  1. Capris came in at a time when I no longer felt comfortable in shorts. I embraced them, but being only 5’3″, 28 inch inseam, I always felt the longer ones suited me better. I have mostly internal varicose veins that cause leg swelling. If I don’t have time to sit with my legs up regularily during the day, they really swell. I am opting to replace my capris with ankle pants over time-a pair here and a pair there. I should be wearing compression stockings but I hate them so much and only wear them if I am on my feet all day. And, of course I’d never wear them with anything but full length pants. Would love to hear suggestions about what I can do about them, if anything. They ruin the look of a summer dress and I can’t wear sandals with them. So upsetting at times, but at 71 I know I must forgetaboutit and just be grateful I am still here and able to be active and enjoy my life.

    1. Can you wear white footless tights over your compression stockings? That’s a cute look with summer dresses.

  2. My husband refers to capris as ‘waders’ – fishing pants, I guess. He’s generally uncritical, so it he pans something, that’s enough for me to not wear it. I don’t wear them anyway, though, as they remind me of pedal pushers. I do love culottes, however.
    Jennifer, it would be nice to know what you think about sleeve lengths — cap sleeves and short sleeves especially. The anchor on the news this am had the most unattractive short sleeved dress on.

    1. Sleeve lengths are a challenge with so many unflattering options. I think a blog post is in order. Thanks for the idea Maeve.

  3. I find this topic fascinating. With one reconstructed knee, I have scars and veins I don’t like to see myself, let alone inflict on others. So I turned to capris as a miracle solution. After I read your first post on capris, I pulled out the full length mirror and took a look — your analysis of my beloved capris hit the bullseye, Jennifer!
    I still like the freedom from a long pant, and although selective about where and when to wear capris, I secretly long for a pair of red and white checked cotton pedal pushers I remember from my childhood, lol. So I am unsure what I will wear this summer. On the other hand, I do pay attention to how young women are dressed and can’t say their preferred styles appeal to me. At 71, petite height, athletic all my life but losing the battle of muscle tone as the years proceed, I do wish there was clothing appropriately designed for my particular age and circumstances. Do you know of any brands that design for the mature woman? I wear a size four for everywhere else except my waist which remains a stubborn apple shape!

    1. I’m always on the hunt for brands designing for mature women too. I’ll let you know if I find new ones.

  4. This insight on capris was appreciated. As someone with horrible varicose veins, shorts are not an option. And in the heat of summer, a dress or skirt is not always practical for everyday. I wear capris out of necessity, and want them to look as good as possible. Thanks for the styling tips.

    1. My pleasure. I’m glad they were helpful.

  5. The last time I wore capri’s was in the 1960’s when they were called pedal pushers. Since I am only 5’0, they are extremely unflattering & as I am in my 60’s now, they look matronly.
    I can however, wear a capri, depending on the style, which ends up being a “skimmer” or ankle pant for me.

  6. Great article. In theory I like capri’s and have worn them. In real life, to put it kindly my legs are my worst feature, so I don’t wear capri’s or that style anymore…i think well styled they can be very cute and flattering. It’s like jeans you try on many many labels to find the right fit….I do wear jeans cuffed and that look works for me in the summer…..I go for cute tops to take away attention to my legs…..also the summer bags you featured are so cute……

  7. Charlotte says:

    Being 5′ 1″ with a longer torso and shorter legs, capris will never have space in my closet! I purposefully buy a regular length, not a petite size, in ankle pants to do everything to elongate the look of my legs.

  8. I’ve never worn capris as they aren’t flattering on me. But I have purchased many pairs and then cut them off to be Bermuda shorts. I like the slimmer thigh, which is hard to find in long shorts, which tend to get wide and unflattering. Capris make perfect shorts, when cut to the right length. And with raw hems being fashionable now, it’s extra simple to do this.

  9. They make you look short and dumpy. I’ll either wear Bermuda shorts that hit just above the knee, or ankle pants. Actually in a hot climate in the summer a dress is the coolest thing you can wear. I’m 73 and live in a retirement community so I see a lot of capri pants. It’s kind of a uniform. No thank you.

  10. I am 5’2″ and wear crops or ankle pants. I fold or cut my jeans to get the right length at times. I have bought capris in regular length, and they are crop length on me which is perfect. I think shorter tops look good with crops when you are not tall.
    Thank you Jennifer for pointing out how capris can look on our legs. You brought this up before, and I changed to crop and ankle length then, and it has made a difference . I look taller and slimmer, and shoes look better with them.

    1. Ankle pants are a great option too. Just a few inches makes all the difference.

  11. I’m slowly getting rid of capris but need something to replace them in the hot weather. I’m short and chubby, 65 yrs. I’m hoping to find some new ideas besides long dresses.

    1. Crops are even cooler than capris in the right fabric. The legs are wider and they’re just slightly longer.

  12. I’m 72, 5’4”, in Arizona. I wear crops or ankle length pants/ jeans all the time—no shorts. I’ve found that there’s a big difference between capris and crops. Capris are shorter—more like pedal pushers. Always check the length when ordering.

  13. I live in south Louisiana. The summers are brutal. Lots of women wear capris here. It’s the alternative to shorts . I recently went shopping and they were in the stores and all online stores have them. I’m all for comfort so I’ll probably wear them casually for a while .

  14. Melinda Beckett says:

    Great discussion topic. Jennifer is right. It is all about proportion. If they don’t hit you right on the leg, it is all wrong, regardless of the shoe. Dress for yourself, not your age.

  15. I moved from a area that was too cold to wear any shorts, to a warmer retirement area, I found the uniform of loose tees , capris, Merrel sandals, painted nails, matching jewelry,
    and done hair surprising. I will probably wear a cotton dress, or long linen pants, a long linen button up , and espadrilles. If I wear shorts, they will be above the knee slightly. I like costal chic, and euro chic looks.

  16. Diane Koch says:

    Ladies, please stop bashing a style that doesn’t work for you. I have always had thin legs and due to running for years, my calves are still shapely. Capris work for me because of where they fall on my legs, making them look a little fuller. Crops fall below any shape and with the fuller leg makes it look like I have toothpicks sticking out at the bottom. You should wear what makes you feel confident and comfortable wearing. FYI – I’m just shy of 70 and told I don’t look my age, wear a size 8, very active, still wear shorts…and crops look ridiculous on me!

    1. No to capris. 2 challenges, I am petite and my calves are heavy. I want to dress casual but not frumpy. Thanks for the post today.

    2. I so agree with you! Capris work for me since I live in HOT FLORIDA.
      Wearing a long pair of pants here in summer is just not possible! I honestly don’t care what other people think! I just want to be cool! In fact, at my age of over 70, I still wear shorts 99% of the time here in Florida for 8 months of the year. I only wear capris when we go out for lunch or dinner!

    3. Proportion is so important, and as you point out, personal. I’m glad they work for you.I agree, we have to wear what makes us feel happy and confident. Hopefully these tips will help ladies dial this in.

    4. Thank you for this perspective. I’m 5’5″ with long, skinny legs and ankle pants can look ridiculous on me, although a few that have worked, depending on the shape/cut of the pant. As you recommend – women should wear what works for them.

    5. I am 4’9”, 108# and live in Arizona where it’s hot! I have been struggling with being petite my whole life. I wear capris to cover my knees which aren’t my greatest feature. They are so hard to find so I’ve been buying a lot of frayed hems so I can cut them off as needed. I’m also 71 and can decide on my own what I feel comfortable wearing and what I can find. Be happy with what you feel looks good! Not a lot of options for petite women out there.

  17. Great article, thanks so much for sharing this. This was not on my radar but now it is. 🙂

  18. I loved the Audrey Hepburn look but I always called those cigarette pants. I still wear them. I don’t wear the capris just below the knee ever. Well I guess I do have some tighter workout capri length that I wear around the house and yard. Nowadays I just roll up my skinny jeans and that’s kind of it for the summer. I never wear shorts but will wear skorts to golf in. It’s all about the length that works for you!☀️

    1. I call hers cigarette pants too and love them when they’re below her calf.

  19. Helpful analysis! I do own two pairs of capri leggings for exercise, and I think I will keep them in rotation because they are a more viable alternative to shorts. But now I will definitely look to see the ages of the women wearing them with me at the gym! I am one of those women with a long torso and short legs so I have never felt quite right in capris. I looked in my closet and I do seem to have quite a few pairs of jeans and pants labeled “cropped”, but I bought them because they are full length on me and I didn’t need to have them hemmed!

    1. Cropped is much preferable to capris and capri leggings are different again. They don’t pose the challenge capri pants can.

  20. Great discussion topic. The capri pants worn by Audrey Hepburn and Mary Tyler Moore were quite a slim cut for slender women. I believe they wore them with ballet flats. Back in the day I thought they looked quite chic. Some women with long slender legs can still pull off this look. Its not flattering on everyone. I’m petite so ankle pants are full length and crops are ankle length on me which is a problem if the cut is wrong. What falls in between these and shorts probably qualifies at capris. I do wear some denim ones around the house as they are useful in summer when I don’t want to wear shorts for gardening, walking the dog, or frigid grocery stores. I don’t consider them fashionable or even flattering. They are simply practical for every day country living. BTW, at 74 I am no longer influenced by what 20 & 30 year old women are wearing.

  21. No. Nope. Negative. Nothing makes you look old and out of style like capris. How much cooler does five fewer inches of fabric really make you? Go for cropped, not capri. And with all of the amazing flowy pants out there we have lots of choices to stay cool and comfy!

  22. Once upon a time, many years ago I did own a few pairs of capri’s. Haven’t purchased any in ages because everything you read about fashion says they are so unflattering. Frankly, I am surprised that they are still being sold by major brands. Wear what makes you feel good, but this gal is not wearing capri’s any time soon.

    1. Many brands no longer make them but there are a few left.

  23. What a timely, informative post! For me, a woman in her late 70’s, there were little options for summer pants just a few years ago. If I didn’t want to wear “shorts”, the capri came on the scene and filled that void. You are so correct saying that it’s all about the length and where it hits on your leg. I’ve held onto several pair of capris to only let them take up space. The crop pants are my basic summer go to. As I’ve said before, this life journey is a constant motion of change. Be willing to change is vital too.
    Thank you Jennifer for helping to keep me current!

    1. Wise words Jan. We have to roll with the changes or risk getting stuck in an uncomfortable rut.

  24. I like capris but I think mine hit my calf in the right spot. I don’t wear shorts, especially now after having my knee replaced 2 months ago so capris are my go to in hot weather. I certainly am not wearing capri/crop jeans when it’s 80+ degrees out. Also, I am not wearing capris with any kind of heel. I’ll wear them with sandals or a slip on. It’s about comfort for me. Hey, if it makes me look old, so be it LOL.

    1. I agree we have to be comfy and wear what makes us feel great.

  25. I’ve never been a fan. I think it’s fine if others want to wear them. I see lots here I. Florida. But I’ve never felt they were flattering on me

  26. I am vertically challenged at 5’2”and avoid capris in favor of ankle pants. I have one pair but won’t buy any more.

  27. I only have 2 pair of North Face rip stop fabric pants that I wear for walking and wading at the beach here in northeast Florida. I’m also so short that crops are full length on me.

    1. Crops are usually more flattering than capris. Walking on the beach sounds dreamy to me. I miss the ocean.

  28. I have stopped buying Capris, but have 2 pair remaining in my closet. I am tall, but even so, I don’t like the way they visually cut my legs.

  29. I am 74 and have yet to own a pair/wear a pair of capri pants. I just never did like the look (not the wrinkles). I opt for cropped jeans all the time. I feel it’s a timeless look, at least for me.

  30. This is a very useful article Jennifer.
    I won’t say that I’m a fan of capris, but I do own 2 pair – one for golf when I’m not ready to bare my legs in shorts and another pair that I bought specifically to wear with a long, loose linen shirt. I know it’s not smart purchasing to buy an item that can only be worn with one other item, so now I have the dilemma of whether to purchase another big shirt (I did see one in fuchsia that I’m considering) or leave well enough alone. Decisions, decisions…

    1. Lee Ann Desmarais says:

      Thank you so much, Jennifer, for being so honest with us. It is exactly why I follow your blog each day.

      I’m 76, love clothes and I certainly need your guidance in this crazy world of fashion.

    2. You may be talking about knit capris? The ones the are like tights don’t have the same dilemma as pants.

      1. No, they are a woven fabric (cotton/rayon?) and they end at the lower part of my calf. I first tried the shirt with a pair of slim, just above the ankle pants, but the proportion seemed off unless I wore them with a wedge heel and I wanted to wear flat sandals. The last few years I’ve been wearing wide leg full length and ankle pants, and wanted a change. I may take a photo and send to you for your opinion.

      2. I’d love to see them

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