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How to Wear Capri and Cropped Pants Over 50

I know some of you are still knee-deep, literally, in nasty cold weather, but for many of us, it’s warm and sunny. As the weather warms up, thoughts of shorter pants come to many women’s minds so I am rewriting this post from last year with some fresh links and ideas on how to wear capri and cropped pants over 50.

These are a great option for women whose knees are no longer what they once were and those with varicose veins but they can be a challenge to style in a flattering way. 

What’s the difference between capri and cropped pants?

Capri Pants

A Capri pant is any length between the knee and the ankle but they tend to stop mid-calf which is a very unflattering length. Capri’s are more of a challenge for petite women because she’s already vertically challenged and they make her look even shorter.

Cropped Pants

Cropped pants are more versatile than a capri and can be dressed up or down. The cropped pant length is anywhere from right below your knee to several inches above your ankle. The beauty of these pants is you can fold them up and down to find the most flattering length for your leg.

The best proportion with Capri and cropped pants

  1. Unless you’re tall, avoid cuffs of any kind because they visually shorten the leg even more.
  2. Look for high rise versions that make the garment look longer so you look taller.
  3. No matter the length of your capris, pants, or shorts, they’re most flattering when hemmed at a spot where your leg narrows.
  4. If your legs are very short, you might reconsider wearing capris. Petite women may find crop and capri pants in the regular sizing are full length on them.

Color

Wearing a neutral color that is close to your skin tone will make you look tallest. Head to toe in one color lengthens your look even more.

Best footwear for capri and cropped pants

  • A wedge or heel looks great with both capris and crops.
  • Sandals of all types look great with both crops and capri pants, either flat or with a small heel.
  • Avoid ankle straps that visually chop the leg.
  • A pale or nude shoe elongates the look of your legs and looks great with both.
  • Shoes with a lower vamp expose more of the top of your foot which extends the look of your leg.
  • Booties and boots can bridge the gap with a crop pant which creates a long lean line.

Best tops to wear with Capri and cropped pants

Wide leg crop pants look best with a closer fitting top that stops at the waist or high hip. Wearing a shorter top with either will ensure your legs look their longest. Capris can also look great with a looser tunic-length top or cardigan.

No matter what a brand labels a short pant, choose based on shape, ability to alter and level of casual you are looking for.

Are crop or capri pants a staple in your warm-weather wardrobe?

how to style capri and cropped pants

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Thanks for reading and remember to wear what makes you feel confident.

 

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42 Comments

  1. Crops are my “go-to” choice from March/April through October here in sunny Florida. My favorites for the past 2 years are Chico’s Brigitte crops which offer a flattering fit and neutral colors that can be dressed up or down. Since I carry my weight (too much) from my midriff to upper thighs, I always wear long tops or lightweight toppers with them. I also like to wear Brigitte shorts in 13″ length. At 5’7″ the shorts go to the top of my knee. They are my preference to wear for golf. During this shutdown, I am wearing them also for walking the neighborhood (exercise) and hanging out in the house.

  2. I like capris and cropped pant on other people. The draw back for me is that I have skinny legs and the pants just look wrong.

  3. Shirley (GA) says:

    Down here in the sunny South, I live in Capri pants for 7 out of 12 months…. sandals, flats, wedges… I love them all! EXCEPT….I absolutely cannot abide chunky white tennis shoes with capri/crop pants like the ones on the Banana Republic picture in the slideshow! For me – at 5’10 – I really think that is the most unflattering look there is….and of course, everyone is different and everyone looks great in different things! I know that, of course…..I’m just talking my personal preference! It reminds me of high school and what we used to call “high waters” – or pants that have shrunk or are too short to be the correct length! Again, ladies – talking personal preference here! Bring on the capri/crops!!!

  4. Everyone has an issue…. My legs are long in proportion to my body. For years and years I could never wear woman’s slacks because they were short (crop length) I still feel like I’m wearing high waters when I wear cropped pants. For summer I wear shorts. I don’t have to look at my knees…(haha)

  5. LOVE the capris and crops here in Alabama!

  6. I don’t wear cropped or capris. Where I live they would only be practical 3 months of the year and they seem too casual for office wear. I own one pair of ankle pants and I can’t get used to that length either. They make me feel short.

  7. Remember when they were “pedal pushers”?

      1. F Tonia Romano says:

        I remember pedal pushers too!

    1. Also called clam diggers

  8. Never wore capri pants because I am so short. But, I buy regular size capri pants and they are the PERFECT ankle length for me. I always thought capris would cut me off and make me look shorter. The best part is some of the capris I buy to wear as regular pants have nice detail at the hem…and I DON’T HAVE TO HEM THEM !!!

  9. I never was a fan of any pant that hits mid leg, as I have large athletic calves. I think they should make a skort, that actually looks like a skirt, rather than a straight tube, and around knee length.

  10. I hate capris! Maybe because I am only 5’4″, but I really don’t think they are attractive on anyone. I will stick to my 7″ shorts for casual wear and dresses or ankle length pants when I need to look my age (64!).

  11. I don’t match cropped pants to my skin, but I do match my top to my cropped pants for a longer silhouette. Too many color breaks aren’t a good look with cropped pants for me. Cropped pants are a good alternative to shorts, which I never wear.

    1. They are a great alternative. Many women just can not wear shorts

  12. Paulette Levy says:

    I like capri pants a lot if they truly end just below the knee, the way the classic capris were meant to be. The cropped pant is not that flattering to my leg or most of my friends’ legs. I’m not sure what proportion, height/weight looks good in cropped pants. I do own a pair in lime green (ask me WHY?) that I rarely wear……but real capris are great!

  13. The term Capris is so dated, cropped sounds better but that is probably because when I think of capris I am reminded of the exact point where they hit on a woman’s leg, the largest part of the calf. Capris are the worst and do not, I repeat do not look good on women. Cropped pants look so much better, hitting above the ankle, and still elongate the leg. That looks and sounds much better:)

  14. I gave up capris years ago when I finally admitted the length is not for me. I wear cropped, straight legs that can be rolled up a bit and Bermuda shorts that hit the top of my knees.

  15. You are so right. At my height, the crops become full length. However the capris just don’t seem to work at all for me. I gave up on shorts long ago, so it’s white crops for me in the summer.

  16. Cropped pants are a year round staple where we live. As are sandals. You are so right.. proportion is everything. The phrase for short/petites ..” vertically challenged “ makes me chuckle. Dressing to look taller is a challenge but I agree with your tips.
    I had a great pair of pale yellow overalls in the ‘70’s that I wore to threads. I rolled the cuffs to just above the ankle and those overalls were surprisingly flattering because they created a long line of one color and ended at a good place on my leg. Great for this vertically challenged female.

    1. I love this. Although I have never owned a pair of overalls (never found a pair to fit) it sounds just like something I would love. Since retiring I am what I like to call a casualty….I love casual. No more heavy jewelry, no suits, no stilettos. A pair of earrings, a chunky watch, a little bangle bracelet and I am good to go. I have two dresses (funeral and wedding) and only one pair of dress pants. I do change these items out occasionally to try an stay fashionable. At 5’ 1”, like others, I buy regular capris that become ankle length on me. At 68, my skin isn’t what it used to be, so I like midi and long casual dresses which I find difficult to find because of the length and fitted waist which ends up on my hips. But, life is good.

  17. I am not a fan of capris or crops; no matter how endlessly ubiquitous they are, I find them unflattering in the extreme. For hot weather, I prefer maxi skirts & dresses, or full-length, loose pants in linen or cotton gauze. If I HAD to wear short pants, I would hem them just below the knee, as that is a flattering skirt length on me.

    1. I love maxi skirts too. I have a few on order for the hottest days here

  18. I love both cropped and capri pants, and wear them with fitted tops about hip length. I usually wear them with sandals or low cut fashion sneakers. I’m 5’ 8” and have slender ankles which is a plus when wearing this length. I keep my capris in a neutral colour – black, white, navy and denim. I feel they look more fashion forward. I think ones with many pockets, drawstring waists and/or bottoms can look frumpy.

  19. Nancy Walden says:

    I’m 5’5″ put proportionally I have short legs. I love the Brigitt ankle pant from Chico’s. They are longer on me than in the picture but they still hit just above my ankle. I can wear regular length tops with them which is a plus. I also have 7/8 or capri length leggings by Hue. They also hit just above my ankle. I have some older capris that are shorter but I really don’t like where the hit on my leg! I wear a low-cut shoe or a sandal with my ankle pants. I like how they make my legs look longer!

  20. Why doesn’t anyone make pants that end just below the knee? It would be much more flattering to most of us… show a little more leg so we don’t look chopped, but still cover the not so good looking knees. Sometimes I get my capris shortened to this length, but that is expensive.

  21. Never was a fan of capris because my calf is wide. But I just tried a pair of capri jeggings from Walmart that fall just below my calf. Salmon color, light denim fabric, only $7, comfortable and flattering. Heading back for a second pair ASAP!

    It’s hard to try new clothes and styles when you can’t try things on and even with free shipping, postal returns are a pain. But Walmart and Target are open and accept returns. It felt good to go clothes shopping!

  22. Connie Haines says:

    Thanks for the tips! Yes, I love wearing capris from late spring to about September and refresh my wardrobe with several new pairs each year. I also wear them on vacation. My favorite look is to wear a nice crisp navy blue capri with a white sleeveless button down shirt and lightweight colorful sweater. With some earrings, a cute handbag and flats, I’m ready for just about any summer outing.

  23. I live in capris/cropped pants when it’s warm out. They’re so much more forgiving than shorts!

  24. I love capri pants! I wear them all the time since I live in Florida. Wearing full length pants can only be done here in January and February. In the summer I wear white capris with a linen top. I love that look.

  25. Great post with useful tips. One additional “don’t” I might add from a tall woman (I know this isn’t your problem, and most of the time, it’s not a problem for me). My legs go for miles, but I avoid capris because I have thick ankles (apparently, the taller the structure, the wider the foundation in my case). Capris don’t show off my long legs — they highlight a weak feature. So it’s not just short women who need to be careful in wearing capris and cropped pants.

    1. Excellent point. Cropped, short pants do draw attention to your ankles.

  26. Gaye Higgins says:

    Love all all but especially ankle pants. Wear them all year

  27. I’ve given up most of my capris because I’m so short. I did have a pair of straight leg jeans that were a weird length so I cut them off just above the ankle & left the hem ragged. They are my favorite spring pants.

    1. I just did that to a pair of wide-leg jeans I have. It worked perfectly