Lindas Fashion Files: Pant Lengths and Shoe Rules

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I picked up my favorite fashion magazine not long ago and as I got to the fashion advice column, I was stopped by the first question.  It seems that this fashion dilemma is one of the most asked – over and over again by countless women.

What length is the correct length for pants?  And, what shoes are the best with each length?
These days I find it harder and harder to figure out because pant lengths are all over the place – and I guess I’m not alone in my confusion. For years we’ve watched pant legs get tighter and narrower.  But this spring has brought in every imaginable length and also wider legs from nostalgic bell-bottoms to wide-legged palazzo pants.  So, the good news is that options run wild but the right look is even more confusing - how to wear pants at any length to look our best.  So, here’s my best shot at what I learned as I surfed the web for fashion advice and hit the stores for the latest finds:

Straight Leg
This style is a tricky one and looks best when it hits at the anklebone or slightly above. If they’re too long, trust me, you’ll have trouble figuring out a shoe that looks right.  You want these to look sleek all the way down.  If their too long, you can cuff for a modern look. 
Pumps or flats work well with this length – depending how casual you want the look to be.

This is the silhouette that has dominated for a couple of years now.  And, the reason is that they really are versatile to figure out.  And, even though the fashionistas swear that any body type can wear this close to the body look – they have to fit right.  If they bunch at the thighs but squeeze you at your calves the look is lost.  So try them on to guarantee a fit that flatters.

As to length these are easy.  They look right all way down to your ankle or you can hem or cuff them above the ankle to show a little skin.  Leaving them long will make your legs look longer, but the latter skin-baring ankle is fun and cute also.

I loved this advice; “Skinny pants are like two long arrows pointing down to your feet, so wear some fantastic shoes.”
Most any type of shoe works with this pant.  Flats, heels, and those popular gladiator strappy heels or even ankle boots.  The jury is out on tucking them in to short boots, but long boots over a skinny was huge this winter.

Crops and Capris

These are the pants that my mom called pedal pushers.  Capris are pants that fall anywhere from one to several inches below the knee.  They’re a more conservative alternative to shorts.  But be careful here. You have to try them on and I really suggest taking a girlfriend along here.  This length pant can seriously cut your legs in half and make you appear shorter or, sorry, stumpy!  Think about where they hit you on your leg and look at your silhouette as a whole when pulling this look together.

Technically, capris are a type of crop pant, but crops are usually on the longer side.  They end anywhere from below the knee to above the ankle.  These tend to be a little easier to wear because they represent a happy medium between capris and full-length pants.  Just make sure they’re short enough to avoid giving the impression that your wearing full-length pants that are too short.  A flare at the end of these are tricky and can look like you outgrew or shrunk your full-length pants!

Shoes with Capris and Crops depend totally on how dressy you want your look to be.  Heels and strappy shoes all look great and dress up this casual-leaning look.  Flats work also especially the ever-popular ballet flat for a more casual feel.

But with these lengths, one caution is to avoid clunky, bulky shoes such as running shoes or heavy shoes or boots. The short length of the pant makes your shoes highly visible and a bulky end to your leg will even emphasize that “cutting your leg in half” feel.

The wide leg pant has returned!  Spring and fall runways showed a lot of palazzos, flares and even bell bottoms.  The rule here is simple – the wider the leg, the longer the pant needs to be.  High-end designer shows in New York just weeks ago showed pants dragging the floor (which of course is not practical!)  But all it takes is a look at a wide leg pant that is a couple of inches too short and you’ll see how they just don’t look right.  Trust me, at 6-feet-tall, I’m the poster child for just slightly too-short pants!

Heels and platforms are the best choice here.  If you can pull it off, you can wear a flat, but your hem needs to come to the floor to pull this look off.

This look needs to be hemmed or cuffed above the anklebone and worn with a tough feminine shoe.  The pros say that you have to show some ankle with this look or it just looks to sloppy and enormous.

Make sense?
What I learned is that the length of the pant and the type of shoe you pair them with, really can make a difference in pulling a look together.  And remember – not every length is right for every body so try them out and wear what feels right.  That’s the beauty of this time in fashion, where all different lengths are popular.  And the wide leg returns!

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