Ankle-Length Pants | To Wear or Not To Wear

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This topic just came to me because I’ve been wearing ankle-length pants a lot recently, and I really like them! I feel like capris are looking dated, but the ankle-length is fresh and fun. It says SPRING to me!

I actually started to write a post about “How to Wear Ankle Length Pants.” Then I started googling.

WOW. There are a LOT of opinions on the ankle-length pant!!!

The question of the hour is, are they flattering or not?? Don’t they shorten the leg?


This is what I’ve determined:

  1. Ankle length pants are a no-no for those who have short legs for their frame.
  2. Ankle length pants should only be worn in a skinny cut.
  3. Heels help compensate for the leg-shortening effect of the ankle-length pant.

Some say they are the hottest trend and dare to share how to wear them.

Some swear they are universally unflattering and everyone should just stay the heck away.

NOTE: Interestingly, in the second article, I find the second outfit (the black ankle-length pants and black heels) MUCH more flattering than the last photo of all the capris.

Usually I’m in full agreement with these ladies and their fashion advice, so maybe I’m fooling myself, but I’ve been wearing them and I thought they looked good, lol!! Granted, the ARE the skinny style, and I DO have abnormally long legs for my frame, so I’m following some of the rules. But I do NOT wear them with heels.

I think as our eye adjusts, we will see this style becoming more popular. We used to think capris cut off the leg too, remember?? Then everyone was wearing them. The ankle pant works when they fit well (fit is ALWAYS key to great style!) and when they are worn with heels or ballet flats. Maybe even a Converse sneaker for an ultra-casual look.

These work. Love these!!

DL1961 ark wash skinny jeanyellow skinny jeannavy stretch wool side zip ankle length pantswhite ankle length skinny jean

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that I actually like them BEST with flats. I KNOW that goes against what all the fashion moguls are saying, but aren’t the yellow ones above so cute with the summery sandals?? I prefer to wear ankle length pants as a casual look. If I’m going out at night in heels, I like them with a longer leg.

I also think the ones on the left with the nude heel look better than the ones with black heels — I feel like the skin-toned shoes are much more lengthening.

Fun With Polyvore

what to wear with ankle length jeans

Update!

It’s been a year since I wrote this post and now I am quite comfortable wearing my ankle-length jeans with heels.

I also learned through the comments below that the jeans I’m wearing are not exactly ankle-length jeans, but rather regular skinnies that are not scrunched at the hems. Ankle length would actually be a few inches shorter. Go figure!

Your Turn!

What are your thoughts on the ankle length pants? Yay or nay?

Comments

  1. jcjc says

    Love your blog! Just a comment/question:You have mentioned Converse sneakers a few times. I love them. I think they are adorable. BUT my teenage daughter and her friends wear them. Tweens wear them. I don’t know…do you think maybe they are more for girls and not so much for women?

    • says

      It depends on your personal style aesthetic, I think. I’ve been wanting to try a pair and see how I feel in them. I don’t know what the alternative is, tho. I went into Puma the other day to see if I could find a cute, stylish sneaker to wear with some casual outfits and nothing struck me. I have a hard time with sneakers. I prefer ballet flats or a crossover, like Privos.

      • says

        I’m 36, mom of four, and I just bought my first pair of Converse a few weeks ago! I LOVE THEM. Mine are basic black, but I went out and bought funky socks to go with them (not that anyone sees them…I have short legs and I don’t wear capris or skinny jeans… I’m still sporting my boot leg jeans).

        I figure if our old preacher could wear them, and Doctor Who could wear them then why not me?

  2. says

    Elle MacPherson carries them off well. Other Models too, but the ‘average’ woman who is 5’6″ or under who is more likely to have shorter legs, tends to look like either: their pants have shrunk or their pants should have been capris but their legs are short so they’re sitting at the ankle.

    It’s all in our own opinion and there is no such thing as right or wrong. If you love them, wear them.

    • says

      I agree that this is a look not every body type can pull off. I was looking at mine (I went back and posted a picture) and mine are pretty long for ankle-length (probably b/c I’m only 5’5″) and that may be why I feel comfortable in them. They aren’t as short as some “ankle length” pants are. I also like that the ones I have aren’t super skinny. They bottoms don’t hug my ankles. LIke with anything, it really depends on the style and fit of each piece. Thanks for your comment!

  3. Susan says

    Oh gosh…I don’t know. I am 5″10 and feel I have devoted my life to AVOIDING the “flood” look so I’m not sure I could go deliberately in search of the perfecting fitting “too short” pant ! I don’t like the look. Skinny jeans, yes, but those seem a tad longer and cover the ankle.

    • DonnaS says

      I’m 5’10” as well and I would feel like I was just wearing flood pants. I have many “inadvertent” pairs of ankle length pants right now-maybe I should bring them out and rock the look–ha!

    • Autumn says

      I’m the same way! I’m 5′ 10″ and have always done everything I could to avoid short pants (because it’s just so darn hard to find jeans with a long enough inseam! 31″ is fine and 32″ is a little on the long side for me).

      But! I really like the ankle jean trend (I never go shorter than a 30″ inseam), but it looks great IMO.

      I wear them mostly with flats, but think they look super sophisticated and chic with heels.

  4. lindsey says

    I love ankle length pants — partly because I don’t have to worry about that unsightly ankle wrinkling and bunching that skinnies typically do and partly because they just seem more casual and easily worn than regular skinnies, but aren’t as dated as the capri pant. I have several pairs — black, grey, army green (with sleek cargo pockets) and a pair of jeans. I usually wear them with wedges, though I will go with a higher heel if I’m going out. I’ll admit, I’m not really short, so maybe that is why I like the style on my body.

  5. says

    I like them. I don’t think they are the best style for me, because my legs/hips are the biggest part of me, but I love them on other women. I actually bought a pair of straight dark jeans that are fairly narrow at the ankle, but not skinny. I needed the extra room. I rolled them at the bottom and thought I would hate it, but I think it looked good. Somehow the rolled cuff balanced my legs a little more than just wearing this more narrow jean down. I did pair them with heels. I think it all depends on what looks good on you. We are all so different. I’m not a true fan of capris, but I have them and I wear them.

    • says

      My hips are actually kind of wide for my frame too. I like the ones I have b/c the bottom hem doesn’t hug the ankle. They are tight, but then right at the bottom they don’t get TOO narrow. They are not as elongating as full length pants with a pair of heels, but I think they’re cute and easy to wear around during the daytime.

  6. Lisa says

    I think they are great, if you have them hemmed to the right length for your leg. Off the rack, mine hit just at the bottom of my ankle and looked like short pants (not good). $12 later they hit just at the top of my ankle (which I guess is the skinniest part of the leg and why the look can be so cute) and I love them.

    They better look good, I got three black pairs to get me through spring/summer.

  7. says

    LOVE them. LOVE. In fact, I’ll even roll them up a time or 2 to add some more interest. I love them with flats, wedges, or sandals. And i think that if the shorter-leg ladies out there want to give them a try – they should definitely go with the wedge/heel route. it’ll help prevent them looking “stumpy”

  8. says

    I was going to say nude shoes but you got to it at the end of the post! I even think the yellow pants with the nude sandals look more elongated (more monochromatic) than the black pants with nude heels. I’m not sure I’m going to be a fan of the ankle length. But I find I always have to compensate or modify what I see when wearing “trends.” If you are shorter limbed (like I am,) I’d put more emphasis on the face/neck area with makeup, jewelry and/or scarves. Make sure your shirt elongates you – like a v- or deep-u neck, and make sure it’s not too long.

  9. Jenn says

    I have short legs and a long torso so these probably aren’t the look for me. But I bought a pair from gap that are a grey/blue and I really like them. (I haven’t tried them on since I bought them so maybe I’ll change my mind.) It’s also my first concession to the colored pants trend. Although, since I do have short legs they aren’t really ankle length on me so maybe that helps.

    What I’d really like help with is a basic, go with everything, shoe wardrobe. I have a pair of black walking sandals, a pair of black ballet flats (suede, not very summery), a pair of black high heeled sandals, and a great pair of brown fabric wedges. What should I look for to fill in the gaps?

    • says

      Hm, shoe wardrobe… such a great post idea!!! You definitely need a metallic – sandal or ballet flat. They go with EVERYTHING and tend to look more modern than black or brown or white. I am wearing my silver ballet flats with everything right now. And I will soon switch to my silver sandals.

  10. DeAnn says

    I love the way they look on other people. I just can’t seem to get over the fact that they look like tapered-leg jeans/pants on me–even if they are skinny jeans with no taper! Maybe I’m seeing them with 80’s glasses. I am also feeling like cropped pants are dated now which makes me sad. (Even though they were a no-no with Stacy and Clinton) At 5’4″ petite pants are too short and regular pants are too long so cropped were a nice happy place where I didn’t have to worry too much about length. I’m not a big shorts person so I’m feeling a little lost with what to wear on my bottom half. :(

  11. says

    Thanks for linking to my post, and these are meaningful thoughts! Love a good discussion! We recently had a cropped pants debate that you might find interesting:

    http://youlookfab.com/2012/02/21/the-cropped-pants-debate/

    My eyes are not poisoned to the cropped pants look, but I do think that they are hard to pull off with sass and style. I put together some guidelines last year, if anyone is interested :)

    http://youlookfab.com/2011/06/15/how-to-create-a-long-leg-line-with-cropped-pants/

    Have a great day! Angie

    • says

      Hey Angie. What an honor to have you comment! I’m a huge fan, which is why I was sad to see your commentary on the ankle-length pant, lol. I was wondering if I was doing it wrong.

      Your article is bang on. (I linked over from my FB page.) And this is why I think they work for me with flats:

      “Some long-limbed ladies can pull off the tricky length with flats” – I definitely have the long limbed thing going on.

      The other tips are great. I think the color contrast is a huge component of having them look right. Which is why I liked the nude shoes with them, I guess. Have a great weekend!

    • says

      I really do like the cropped/ankle-length ones better! Although I agree with some commenters that the bootcut would still work with a bit of a heel. And that shirt does NOT make you look big. It’s adorable.

  12. says

    I am enjoying reading these comments! I dont’ know if I will wear ankle length, only because that means I have to spend money to buy some LOL!! (me = cheapo)

  13. says

    I wear them RIGHT on the ankle because I’m 5ft and anything that is more cropped makes me look even shorter. Your colored jeans look great and you are right they are a bit too short to wear with heels

  14. says

    It’s 11:30 p.m. so I’m not going to read 30 comments. I do like ankle length pants, but never with heels. I’m just going to go ahead and say that I think the skinny jeans/heels or ankle length pants/heels combos usually look cheap to me. Like someone trying too hard. Almost always.

    I’ve got a pair of skinny fit (but not really skinny to be honest) jeans that I like cuffed that hit right at my ankle. I wear them with Converse or sandals mostly, only because I only have one pair of flats and it is already warm enough here for sandals anyway. Fit is definitely essential to making them look good. I think on shorter people with rounder bottom halves that skinny fit pants that go to the ankle will just make the person look stumpy. But maybe I am just judgmental and rude. Remember, it is 11:30 p.m. ;)

  15. says

    Thanks for your kind words, Jo-Lynne. Glad that my guidelines made sense :)

    These are GREAT visuals and you look smashing. You are in fact not wearing cropped pants – but regular skinnies that are *not scrunched at the hems* if that makes sense. If you shortened the hems by 3 or 4 inches, they would be cropped pants. (I have a pair of skinnies this length too). You wear regular skinnies beautifully.

  16. says

    Agreed…I like ankle length best worn casual as mom on the go…and with flats!
    Those yellow ones are FABULOUS and I love the outfits you are rocking girl:)
    Happy weekend.
    C

  17. Julie says

    I prefer heels because i need the height BUT I’m finding myself wearing with flats lately. Give me 2 weeks and I’ll wear ankles with flip-flops everyday

  18. Monterey says

    Just bought some ankle-length pants today that I love! Thanks for the input on this style. I think the look is good with heels, but I just can’t bring myself to go there. I do like it with round-toed flats.

  19. says

    Ah, cropped pants–always a topic for discussion! I started off loving them (of varying short lengths), then read some of the advice that seemed to rule them out, and have now returned to wearing them again. I finally decided that my leg proportions were such that they work for me. And that I like them enough that I just want to wear them anyway :)

    Anyhoo, here’s my contribution to the debate: http://www.franticbutfabulous.com/2013/06/11/the-nearly-definitive-guide-to-cropped-pants/

    Cheers!

  20. wlb says

    This article was amusing as I am 4’11” and all I purchase are petite length ankle pants because they are “regular” length for me!

  21. Kspring79 says

    I say wear what makes you happy. As far as sneakers, Keds in any color are cute with just about anything and not as clunky as Converse, though I do love me my Converse! Sperry boat shoes work well too.

  22. says

    I’ve never worn ankle length pants, but I’m about to take the plunge. I’m 5’10” with long legs, so I’ve never really had to worry about pants shortening my legs…but I still have to get the inseam and cut just right, obviously, or they’ll still look weird! I like how they look with flats best.

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