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How to wear capris

Capris and cropped pants are still incredibly popular this summer. However, they can be trickier to wear and sometimes be unflattering.

Why can capris be unflattering?

Capris are cropped pants that stop above the ankle but usually well below the knee. They are different from cropped pants like bermudas which stop above the calf and are less challenging to wear.

Reasons capris can be unflattering:

  • First and foremost they shorten your legs!
  • They can highlight chunky calfs

So why are they so on trend right now?

Here are some of the reasons:

  • The overall look of capris tends to be quite trendy
  • They are playful and geeky
  • They can be sexy too with the revealing of the ankle bone
  • They look fabulous with booties, which are very much on trend
  • They highlight another shoe trend: shoes with straps and lace ups
  • They are more associated with fun
  • They keep you cooler in summer

How to wear capris?

If you like the trendy and playful vibe of capris and decide to wear them, how can you do so while maintaining a flattering silhouette?

Here are some guidelines that will help.

applying the rule of thirds to wearing capris |

  1. For the most flattering look make sure that your capris are tapered. If they follow the natural leg line they will look much better. If you like the look of wide trousers (I do) then go for a full leg, but for cropped pants and capris I stay to a very tight leg line.
  2. One way to overcome the leg shortening effect is to wear higher heels. Wide cropped pants especially look better with heels.
  3. Try to create a rule of thirds with your dressing. Your top part is usually 1/3 and your bottom part 2/3. But you can also create a 2/3 top 1/3 bottom silhouette. You achieve the 1/3-2/3 look by tucking in your top of the cropped pants. I also like to wear my capris with a long tunic or dress which creates the 2/3-1/3 silhouette.
  4. If there is not too much contrast between your shoes and your legs, your legs will appear longer. Shoes without straps are more leg lengthening as well. You will see that I don't follow that rule so much myself as I prefer my high heel shoes with straps. I feel this still works when I wear heels, but if your legs are very short you may want to apply this tip as well.
  5. Higher booties are very effective with cropped pants and stop the shortening effect of cropped pants, especially if you choose them in the same color as your pants.
  6. When wearing cropped pants that are flared or wider, be sure to wear a shorter top. High waisted cropped pants look fabulous with tops that end at the waist.

Who should not wear capris or cropped pants?

Of course everyone can wear them, but if you like to have a flattering silhouette I would advise on not wearing capris when:

  • You have very short legs.
  • Your legs are proportionally short to the rest of your body and you're not wearing heels or a very short top (for more info see also vertical body types).

What to wear with your capris?

To give you some ideas on how you can wear capris and cropped pants I will show you some of mine. To make it extra fun I will show you both the capri / cropped pants version of an outfit and a version in which I wear normal length pants. In both photos I'm wearing the same shoes, so you can see the exact difference. You be the judge on what looks best or which look you prefer!

Combine capris with a tunic or short dress

This is one of my favorite ways to wear capris. I like the 2/3 - 1/3 silhouette it creates and capris certainly make this a more trendy look.

How to wear cropped pants |

Calvin Klein short dress / tunic with Zara long pants and Zara capris

Wear with a short or tucked in top

Capris usually look good with a funky top tucked into your trousers. The bulkiness at the top of these particular white capris add a bit more fun to the look. Why not add a polkadot belt as well for even more fun! You can clearly see that the cropped pants here create a more trendy and quirky look as well if that is what you are after. Please note that my wide pants are too short for these high heels. My legs would look much longer if the pants almost reached the ground as they should do!

what to wear with capris |

Orange top from Alldressedup, paired with (left) wide legged Kookai pants and (right) Zara cropped white pants

Wear them in an elegant, classic way with a statement necklace

This look is more elegant and classic in my opinion, caused partly by the simple black and white combination and the woollen fabric of the capris. The necklace makes this outfit hipper.

What to wear with cropped pants |

Silk top and necklace from Alldressedup. Pants (left) from kookai and (right) Alledressedup

Give them a bit of a bohemian look

This tunic / short dress gives the capris a more boheminan feel, even more so when it is combined with long wider pants.

How to wear capris |

Dress bought in Seminyak, Bali, pants (left) unknown (right) Zara, necklace Alldressedup, shoes Zara

How about the wide cropped pants that are popular now?


Despite its leg shortening characteristics I have embraced wide cropped pants for a few of my looks. Wearing them is even more challenging than normal cropped pants but what all my looks have in common is that the top is short in the front or tucked in.

Fit for fashion in a gray and white outfit |

I feel that is essential with wider cropped pants like these ones in order to keep a streamlined and flattering silhouette. Cropped pants will always be more challenging to wear than full-length pants and wider cropped pants even more so.

culottes (3 of 6)

What you want to do, is to try and achieve the right balance within your outfit to come closer to the golden ratio in dressing and create a balance that comes close to 1/3 – 2/3. That way you can achieve an overall silhouette that is at least flattering enough and will allow you to wear outfits that are currently fashionable or just fun to wear.


Some more cropped pants and capris I have worn before

Below are a few more examples of how I have worn capris and cropped pants in the past.

With longer tops

With a simple top



white capris with red tops |

wearing laced capris with shades of yellow |

Capris worn with tunics or short dresses

how to wear capris with tunics |

Combined with jackets

Combining capris with jackets |

3 quarter pants or clamdiggers

wearing three quarter pants or clamdiggers |

White capris

wearing white capris |

Black capris

black capris |

Green capris

how to wear green printed capris |

Cropped leggings

These look best with a wider and long top and can be very flattering. They are perfect for warmer weather.

These Second Nature Capri leggings  from Stella Carakasi are super fab. Not too thin and very stretchy and comfortable. They are also great for tucking in your tummy. You can pair them with one of their asymmetrical tops and a long camisole. Enter the coupon code 40PLUS15 for an extra 15% off all orders and receive free shipping in the US! One use per customer.


how to wear croppped leggings |

how to wear tunics with cropped leggings |

Some final thoughts

While looking at the images my conclusion on wearing capris and cropped pants would be that they look a bit hipper and more fun, while my long trousers combinations are more elegant and provide the nice long leg silhouette.

Currently in 2017 they are still very much on trend and many of my pants are now cropped in some ways.

Please bear in mind ladies that all these are just guidelines. Always let your eyes be the judge if the outfit with capris looks good on you. Some of you may even be able to rock your capris outfits without following any of them. And if you are in a a funky mood or just want to have fun with your clothing and don't mind forfeiting the perfect silhouette, then that's fine too. These guidelines will just let you be aware of the challenges of wearing capris so that you can work with those and make it work!

While doing this exercize myself, I actually discovered some fun new combinations in my cupboard as well. Why don't you do the same and shop your closet to see if you can come up with some great capris outfits!

P.S. For a full comprehensive guide on how to wear all kinds of pants the right way and what shoes to wear with them, check this pdf guide.