Capri pants aren’t the easiest to style but can be fashionable when done right. Here are some ways to wear cropped trousers and capris in style this summer.

Capri pants, the favoured signature look of that symbol of refinement and style, Audrey Hepburn, have an easy way of connoting Amalfi Coast-style la dolce vita – at least when worn in the right way.

First designed by Sonja Lennart in 1948, they were popularised by the English couturier, Bunny Roger – and little wonder: they brought a slice of that idyllic Italian isle after which they are named to a post-war rather less sun-drenched Britain, as well, of course, to the rest of world. Grace Kelly, too, was a fan, as were swathes of other gamine beauties, all of whom exuded 1950s riviera chic as they modelled their trademark cropped trousers.

And yet, despite what those stars of the silver screen might have us believe, throwing on a pair of cropped pants with oversized sunnies and pretty ballet flats is not always the easiest look to pull off.

First of all, pedal pushers, as they are also sometimes known, stop below the knee but before the ankle, which can sometimes have the effect of shortening the legs. And secondly, for those with more solid or muscular calves, they can end just at the most thickset point of the leg, thus not always doing the best job of flattering the wearer.

Styling this type of look can, then, be challenging. Still, we have a wealth of ideas on how to make them work for you – taking into consideration what tops will give you the right proportions and which shoes to wear with a pedal pusher – whether relaxing on a summer’s day or working hard at the office. Despite being notoriously tricky to wear, cropped jeans or capri pants for women remain enduringly popular, perhaps because when they look good, they do look really good. Here we round up a few ideas as to how to wear ladies pedal pushers this summer.

Blazer and Long-sleeve Shirt for a Classic Look

Ever wondered how to wear capris to work? This outfit answers that sartorial quandary with some elegance. Classic to its core – and exuding a certain Parisian refinement – the slender, tailored fit of this style of capri pants work beautifully with a smart white dress shirt and a simple black blazer. The turned-up cuffs lend both a sharpness and a fashion-led flourish, while the flash of ankle makes the whole outfit fresher than a traditional suit. Pair it with black suede pumps or – if you want to be able to walk further than just around the office (who doesn’t?) – plain black ballet flats would also be a smart option.

Athletic Shoes And A Denim JacketWith Black Shirt And Capris

Something we especially like about capri pants is how very versatile they can be. A black pair might be perfect for the office when styled one way and then look just as at home as part of a much more relaxed ensemble when styled another. To pull off this look as pictured, opt for outsize black sunglasses (never a mistake, sartorially speaking) and a good denim jacket, with a black shirt or camisole and some neat but athletic shoes. The continuation of the black theme – both thanks to the sunnies and the sneakers – draws the eye up and down, therefore elongating the look, while the blue denim breaks up the whole and lightens the entire affair.

Cargo Capris With Heels

Remember the days of All Saints bouncing about the Top of the Pops’ stage while teenagers everywhere paid avid attention to their utilitarian chic look? Well this look is a total throwback to that time, although the addition of heels gives it something of a grown-up twist (the All Saints were mostly wedded to their trainers). We are big fans of anything with pockets, and thus the cargo incarnation of the pedal pusher is a clear winner. Given its detailing, we advise keeping the top as simple as shown in this image – a plain black T-shirt is ideal – and the shoes similarly so. For anyone worried about capri pants having a leg-shortening effect, a good pair of heels with elongate perfectly – if you are prepared to forego comfort for fashion, that is.

Style Capri Jeans With Low-Heeled Loafers

Not all wearers of the Capri pant are in the market for channelling the Audrey Hepburn de nos jours aesthetic. Others prefer a more utilitarian approach – shown here, albeit with a pretty twist. We love a good cropped jean, and this slim-fit example, which is constructed with a hint of stretch, features a sweet raw cuff, which softens the look perfectly. As shown in this image, we love the absolute simplicity of pairing them with a black top and some heavy loafers. While Audrey may not have worn this ensemble back in the 1950s or 60s, we feel sure that her 21st-century incarnation might well do. Jeans available through Net-A-Porter. Shop them here.

Black Leather Shirt And Black Capris For A Business Look

Leather tops do not, traditionally, have a place in our arsenal of looks, but hear us out on this one. Teamed with a very simple pair of black pedal pushers, it really can work, especially when you’re going for a smart business professional with an edge look (when are we not?!) The wide turned up short sleeves make the look cooler in a slightly no-nonsense manner, while the whole is boxy in the best of ways, thus balancing the slim-fit trousers. Wear with heels if you wish; loafers would do the job nicely too.

Light Colours And Wide Legged Capris

Depending on your body shape, wide-legged capri pants are either much easier or much harder to pull off. For apple types, this look is, perhaps, not the greatest of looks since it would swamp slimmer legs while not flattering a wider waist. However, for the willowy, or perhaps for pear shapes who are blessed with smaller waists but wish to wear trousers that are more forgiving on the leg, this could be a good option. Soft, feminine and floaty, it’s a look that will see you nicely through summer, especially when worn with some pretty yet comfortable and neat little plimsolls.

Wear Capri Pants With A Short Top

There is an undeniable chicness to committing to the cropped look and then doubling down: if you feel confident enough to do it, why not team your short trousers with a boxy, very slightly cropped top too? On the one hand, it seems to go against the rule of sartorial balance; and yet on the other, somehow, it works. This example shows wide Capri pants with a correspondingly loose top. If you prefer a more slim-fit trouser, the same matchy-matchy principle applies: in that case, go streamlined and thus create a sleek silhouette.

Tank Top And Slippers For A Casual Look

As with most styles of trousers, there is no one fixed style or orthodoxy when it comes to capri pants. Sure, you can dress them up – but why not instead, occasionally decide to dress them down? We can think of few comfier summer looks than some baggy rolled up examples, paired with an ultra-simple tank top and a pair of flip flops. Do note, though, that this look doesn’t necessarily come cheap; the reason it looks so good is that every element of this ultra-casual and comfy ensemble is made using natural, high quality and breathable fabrics – as we should all strive for. Cool as a cucumber.

Shirt Tucked In Capri Jeans

There is something wonderfully nostalgic about a pair of Capri pants worn with a neatly tucked-in shirt in preppy fashion; it calls to mind American diner scenes from Grease, usually involving ultra-cool teenagers lolling against jukebox machines. Fresh, neat and pretty, simply throw on a pair of white plimsoles and go. We like this example, available from Nordstrom.

Spruce Up Your Outfit With Boots

It may seem counterintuitive to wear ankle-bearing trousers with ankle covering boots, but it can be a strong look when styled right. Swerving the issue of whether cropped trousers have a leg-shortening effect, it means that Capri pants can also be worn on winter days, too – and all while adding just a subtle note of interest to an otherwise classic silhouette. Do make sure that the boots you choose are understated and ideally the same colour as your pedal pushers. And do also note, this is a look best attempted with slim-fit trousers, rather than the more billowing variety. This vintage Junya Watanabe Comme Des Garcons pair originally hails from the 2000s and is available through FarFetch. Shop them here.

Tapered Pants For Easier Styling

Want to know how to wear capri pants? Sometimes simple and classic is inarguably the way to go. We love the unfussy line of this pair of tapered white cropped trousers, which are extremely easy to dress up or down. Worn with a sweet pair of flat shoes, a slightly dressier top, and a pair of shades as per this example, they are ideal for al fresco lunches on chi-chi terraces under the sunshine. Equally, we’d love them paired with a black and white Breton top, some black sunglasses and a Bensimon shoe. After all, why mess with an Audrey signature look?

Capri Track Trousers And Sneakers

Alexander McQueen famously knew how to shake up a look. There is nothing formal about this pair of trackie Capris, and, worn with a boxy cropped white T-shirt, they look about as comfy as you can get. On the flip side, there is nothing sportswear-ish about them either. While, yes, you could theoretically wear them for a jog, we think that would be spectacularly missing the point of these blush-hued beauties. Wear them with simple white trainers and a cotton knit jumper thrown around your shoulders for the ultimate off-duty yet still incredibly stylish look. Buy them at Net-A-Porter, which you can shop here.

Not Comfortable with Classic Capris? Wear Cropped Trousers

If you live in jeans all day, every day, and want to keep it that way, all while flirting with the idea of wearing something more summery and ankle-grazing, perhaps the question is not how to wear capri pants, but instead, how to wear cropped trousers. And the answer to that is simple: shorn off jeans in your preferred style can be worn just as you would a longer pair – only they’re more conducive to being worn with flipflops. These Nina distressed acid-wash high-rise straight-leg jeans are by Rag & Bone and are available to buy through Net-A-Porter. Shop them here.

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Nancy Alsop


Nancy is a magpie for the best in design and culture.