Capris, Crops and Cargo Pants Are Comin’ Around the Bend!

So let’s review, chickens, shall we? (I’m going to be calling you all chickens until I can get Jessica Lange as Big Edie in “Grey Gardens” out of my head — did you see it? Wasn’t it marvelous? I loved the original documentary, which I saw billions of years ago, and then I took MotherBang and SisterBang to see the amazing Broadway production a few years ago, so I’m a “GG” fan).

Very nice. Good proportions, good for a day at the office, perfectly fine for a summer day in ministry. I mean, I would wear a belt and a sweater or scarf with this.

Also fine (except I don’t see any of us wearing strappy sandals during our normal day). This pant is cropped. It is not just short by accident. There’s a difference, and you should know the difference. The difference is that a pant that is just short on you is probably also going to be too tight or ill-fitting in other ways. A cropped pant should fit comfortably everywhere else and end just above the ankle.

These are capris (or tight-fitting Bermuda shorts). Either way, they are simply awful. They’re too fitted, they’re inappropriate for ministry (if you’re doing a mission trip to Africa, by all means wear capris but NOT this snug!). Notice how the stylist does further insult to the female body by CHOPPING OFF HER LEG AT THE ANKLE with a perfectly lovely pair of gladiator sandals. Awful! So unflattering!

I think these are cute pants if they were in a darker color and didn’t have the twee little bow on the front. They should be worn with a lighter shoe, though. Again, notice how the line of the leg gets CUT OFF by the heavy black sandal. Not good. Although it’s very hip right now to pair heavier shoes with lighter weight tops (think combat boots with frilly sundresses), this is not the way to do it. Those are simple summer pants. The shoes are just too heavy in proportion and material to suit them.

This works much better for two reasons. The first is that the line of the pants goes far enough down the leg to create a nice, lean line for the eye to follow; it doesn’t stop abruptly mid-calf. The second is that the shoe has a heel, which is always lengthening. The third (for free!) is that I love those shoes and I am therefore unable to stop staring at them and wanting them.

Because cargo and capri pants are so in right now even in serious fashion, I am re-thinking my earlier opinion that they are VERBOTEN for ministers. I am thinking about bringing a cute pair of cargos to our annual conference, where I would wear them with flat sandals and something cute and creative on top, like a sweater set with a big, fringy scarf or layers of necklaces or a cotton wrap in my hair. The point being that if you wear cargos and capris, don’t just slap on a T-shirt and think you’re done. You want to use them as an “interesting” piece, not a “sporty” piece, which means creating an outfit around them that tells some story other than “Hi, here I am in my Tevas and cargos! Need any garden work done?”

I don’t like the shoes, but they’re far more appropriate than your Birks, right?

16 Replies to “Capris, Crops and Cargo Pants Are Comin’ Around the Bend!”

  1. IMHO the fabric makes a big difference. Some capris and cargos have a tailored look that, as you say, dear PB, needs only the right pair of shoes as an accent. I spent much of this weekend watching “The Proposal” and was very impressed with Sandra Bullock’s pairing of nice capri/cargos with some really cute little ballet-slipper-type flats. The shorter hem really announced the shoes.

    But beware! Other shorter pants come in fabrics carefully designed to look as if you just spent a very vigorous afternoon bicycling or boating or gardening or cleaning house — even if you were just watching a dvd or reading email.

    I do think figure-types matter, though. My own ankles are incredibly skinny and bony, so the wider legs just emphasize that flaw.

  2. BTW, I didn’t notice this before, but are you saying it’s okay to wear a good denim cargo/crop whatever for summer office work? Summer pastoral care? What…? [Oh, are those denim? I didn’t notice. I think they’re fine for summer office wear if everything else is together. No scraggly toes, no T-shirts …. a nice blouse or a linen blazer, a pair of cute flats, yea. – PB]

  3. Two other things that, IMHO, make the ones you gave “thumbs up” look good (esp. the last two) is that the leg is wider all the way down and does not taper to the ankle. Additionally, these are all worn with a fitted and tucked in top, which looks best. A too long or very voluminous top is not the look you want with pants like these.

    I’m wondering from what website you pulled the photo of the capris with the gladiator sandals – that is just awful – the stylist should be fired!

  4. I think I got them all off the Nordstrom site. And I have now decided that I officially Do Not Like the white pants. I don’t like the binding that cuts the leg at the lower thigh.

  5. I just refrain from all “high water” pants. I am
    three inches taller than my mom was and ALL of the additional height is leg length. I have to buy Wrangler jeans and other pants that that come in inseam lengths. The fear is that it will look like
    I’ve outgrown my clothes.

  6. I am working hard to get my mind wrapped around the idea that it’s ok to wear these for work. . . Skirts are just so much more comfortable than any of these options for me.

  7. One caveat of course is know your body type! I wore cargo/capri pants in the summer until I took a hard look at myself in the mirror one day. Aacck! My legs are way too short, my top way too heavy to wear pants like these. Without some serious heels, my legs look even shorter and my top half even heavier.It is _not_ a flattering look no matter how tailored the rest of me is.

  8. I’m with the no cropped/capri pants vote; I think at 60+ and approaching traditionally built, they look silly. I do wear a lot of pants wide enough at ankles to balance the hips without being bell-bottoms.
    but then, I love my Birks and my Danskos. Day job as a physician in a hospital, comfortable safe feet are a necessity. Though I do have a cartoon: man in robe facing burning bush, who is saying “don’t tell me those are Birkenstocks”.
    Judith, aging Episcopal deacon in IA

  9. I gotta say, I got rid of my capris etc. last year and am glad. They certainly didn’t flatter me. Maybe age has something to do with it, but I just think they are pretty awful on pretty much everyone. (Except I do like them on really old, skinny women. Maybe I’ll get some more when I hit eighty and lose 20 lbs.)

  10. I’m not tremendously fond of cropped trousers, either. And I’m wearing (full-length) cargos because (gasp) I’m not a tremendously big fan of jeans for myself. The effort to find the ‘perfect’ pair has never paid off, even when I’ve found something that looks good. They just never seem to become my go-to thing. The cargos do.

  11. I’ll second the last four comments; capri/cropped pants have run the fashion course too many times already. They’re unflattering to just about everyone!

  12. I’m 5’11’ and I wear a 35″ inseam. I’ve spent my life looking for pants that cover my ankles. The search continues. It may not make much sense, but capris, cropped pants, etc. that are not cut for tall women look horrible. Unless I come across a pair that just happens to be long, I avoid them.

    I think they look great on other people though.

  13. PB- Just have to chime in on the “mission in Africa” part. Yes, it’s tempting to leave more body exposed because of the heat but in many parts of Africa it’s inappropriate! (Not to mention increasing discomfort due to sun, insects or worse i.e. snakes, scorpion, monkey bites and yes I have been bitten by monkeys several times in the last few months, not kidding.) Here in Sudan a man in shorts is basically considered half-naked and I don’t even want to think about perceptions of women this way. Please go as conservative as you can, at least at first! Cover ankles and elbows! [Hi Michaela! Thanks for the real-life reminder! Blessings – PB]

  14. I personally don’t like capris either. If I can wear capris, I can go the extra few inches and wear pants. Then again, I tend to get cold in air-conditioned environments, and I’m young and slim-ish and think they’re a bit twee, even if they’re tailored and well-constructed. I’d just rather wear pants.

    Some people may be able to pull them off, especially if you’re a bit older and have a well-developed presence.

    But more often than not they look schlumphy, especially if you have any meetings with men. If they can wear pants, I as a leader feel like I should wear either a skirt or full pants, not half-pants. [Actually, I think they look lousy on older women in general. – PB]

  15. Well, I like them. I’m 60 (look a little younger), about a size 10-sometimes-12, and I like them with lightweight sweater sets or even blazers. That’s what I wear to the office all summer, the classic Talbots ones in gabardine. I have them in black and navy and I wouldn’t mind finding a gray pinstripe pair. I like a bit of a heel so I wear them with wedge peeptoe shoes.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *