Fashion & Style

What length works: shorts, capris or cropped pants

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Loose fitting mid-thigh length shorts work for almost every woman
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Find out how to decide what length works for shorts and capris

What length for shorts? That's a question many women have asked while trying on a host of clothes in the dressing room. There are so many choices today, including regular shorts, Bermuda shorts, capris, and cropped pants. Different people offer so many tidbits of advice, and often they contradict each other. And you're still left wondering what length works: shorts, capris, or cropped pants.




People define these bottoms differently, but length usually dictates classification, regardless of whether you fall under misses, petites, or women's sizes:


  • Shorts: Hem falls at or above knee
  • Capris: Hem falls between ankle and knee
  • Cropped Pants: Hem falls around ankle (These pants are sometimes also called "high-waters.")


Length not only determines what to call these garments; it can also determine what looks best on your body.


What Length Works: Shorts, Capris, or Cropped Pants?


Dressing for your body type requires you to evaluate the points you want to emphasize or de-emphasize. So what length for shorts ultimately depends on your feelings about your body. For instance, if you want to emphasize long legs, you'll choose clothing to do so. If you think your long legs make you look too lanky, you'll choose clothes that de-emphasize the length of your legs.


But if you want to follow the advice of fashion gurus instead of just going on your impressions when you look in the mirror, you'll need to understand body shapes.


The Archetype of Female Body Shapes


Fashion designers have often considered the hourglass shape to be the archetype of female body shapes. Thus fashion consultants often advise women with other body types how to create the illusion of a more hourglass-type figure. A box-shaped woman gets tips how to create the illusion of a waste, and a triangle-shaped woman is told how to create the illusion of bulkier shoulders to balance out her bottom half and create a greater sense of symmetry.


Symmetry, in fact, is the key thing you may want to think about achieving when you shop for women's clothing. That is, shoulders and hips should look the same width (with definition at the waist), and torso, neck, and head should look the same length as legs. When you're deciding what length for shorts, you'll be concerned with the length of your upper half matching your legs.


Deciding What Length for Shorts


The general consensus is that longer shorts or shorter capris look good on most women. Longer capris and cropped pants can make your legs look shorter, so you'd want to avoid those unless you have long legs.


Other Considerations


Length and width both play a role in selecting your clothes. Remember symmetry. What length for shorts may not be the only factor you need to consider. You may also need to consider the hem shape, rise of the waist, and pocket detailing.


The Final Say


Advice can help you decide what length works: shorts, capris, or cropped pants. But the ultimate decision has to rest with how you feel when you look in the mirror. If you follow someone's fashion advice, but you still don't feel good in a particular outfit, don't buy it. Your level of comfort and confidence, not just your clothing, will affect how others perceive you and how you interact with others.

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