Intern Post: A Capri Conundrum


CJ’s first post on CHS is a doozy.  I’m dedicated to letting the interns write about any topic they choose, at least that’s what I kept telling myself as I read her post.  Especially since my own thoughts on Capri pants tilt toward unreasonable, fiery hatred.

I’m in and out of the District over the next few weeks, so if we don’t hit our three post per day minimum, I apologize in advance.  



I’ve always been firmly against capris. I could never imagine how anyone’s ankles could be sweating enough to merit the post-clam dig look. When a trend starts with pre-teens and their function-first moms, I tend to be skeptical. And after much ado citing that only the superest of super models could pull off the leg-shortening look, I swore off capris until I grew 6 inches.

This summer has been exceptionally hot (you might have heard), so I try to be understanding of any and all methods of staying cool. But the annual capri resurgence this year is different- it’s more mainstream. Retailers everywhere are offering simple cropped options- classic cotton without drawstrings, zippers, or cargo pockets. A quick glance at J.Crew’s website has nearly half of their pants showing a little ankle. And more and more of my typically fashionable colleagues have been walking the marble halls in three-quarter trousers. 

City-fit Super 120s cropped trouser
Cropped trousers, J. Crew, $118


I can’t decide. Even if I could find a pair that didn’t make me look stumpy- I’m not sure I could rock them at work. What do you think, readers? Have capris made the crossover into the professional wardrobe? Or is the heat making me soft?

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  1. heather says:

    i appreciate that cj brought this up! like belle, i’ve always been violently anti-capri, but have been wondering lately if cropped pants are ok. so THANKS! love you!

    November 30, -0001/Reply
  2. heather says:

    i appreciate that cj brought this up! like belle, i’ve always been violently anti-capri, but have been wondering lately if cropped pants are ok. so THANKS! love you!

    November 30, -0001/Reply
  3. CC says:

    No capris in a professional setting. Ever.

    August 10, 2010/Reply
  4. R says:

    Capris are definitely not appropriate for an in-session day, or any formal workplace. However, I do think capris have their place, especially with the right cut (i.e. a hem at the ankle, not mid-calf!)

    August 10, 2010/Reply
  5. Katherine says:

    I decided to embrace the capri a few months ago and I’ve been feeling good about it. I never thought I’d do it but the one pair I got actually feels professional. They’re black, made out of nice material, fit my legs properly, and look cute with heels. I think material and a properly tailored fit make a huge difference. I wouldn’t wear the kind of capris at work that look good with sandals and a t-shirt.

    August 10, 2010/Reply
  6. Michelle says:

    It depends entirely on the length of the pants – I like the look of skinny ankle pants with flats.

    August 10, 2010/Reply
  7. Lindsay says:

    Personally, I make the distinction between ankle pants and capris. Capris hit mid-calf and are very casual. I think they are VERY unflattering. However, I love just barely cropped SKINNY ankle-length pants. I live in them at work during the fall and spring, but my second-graders are hardly the fashion police.

    August 10, 2010/Reply
  8. JC says:

    I think Lindsay makes an important point — there is a definite difference between casual capris, which hit at the widest part of your calf and are generally the most unflattering pant option known to man, and cropped pants, which hit at the ankle or a little bit above.

    Depending on the fabric and cut (i.e. not drawstring, narrow leg, slim fit) I think cropped pants can absolutely be office appropriate, especially on days when you’re not wearing a suit, whether with flats or with heels.

    But yes, drawstring cargo khaki capris are never, ever, ever work appropriate.

    August 10, 2010/Reply
  9. TA says:

    I don’t like capris for work and I never liked them in the first place. I’m tall and capris make me look like I outgrew my pants!

    August 10, 2010/Reply
  10. O says:

    I love those ankle pants! If I didn’t have an ass the size of Texas I would definitely buy a pair…but there’s no way I could pull them off with my curves!

    August 10, 2010/Reply
  11. M says:

    I swear by the cafe capri from j.crew. It make me feel long and lean, even though I’m 5’7″ and have a booty. It’s something about the close to the body fit and where they hit on the lower ankle. And my office is business-casual, so they fly. I recommend them!

    August 10, 2010/Reply
  12. Emily says:

    Just because Jcrew is selling an item does not make it fashionable. As a style blogger now, you should expect some more of yourself.
    As for the matter at hand, capris may have their places (namely on extremely tall models and Gweneth Paltrow, who fits in the aforementioned category), but they are certainly not acceptable in a professional office. If you are hot, and the goal is to expose more skin in order to cool off, wear a skirt. If you are desperate for cropped pants, go for an ankle length cigarette pant.

    August 10, 2010/Reply
  13. Dr. Jean Grey says:

    Capris are for tourists. I do not know what makes every woman between the ages of oh, say 28 and 68, pack capris to wear on their tour of the nation’s Capitol, but we all know it’s true. Look around. Just say N-O.

    August 10, 2010/Reply
  14. A. says:

    I am wearing the J. Crew scout chino today in “fatigue” and I think it fits right in with Hill recess attire (cork wedge sandals add a little more height). Would I wear these while not in recess? No. Not even with nice heels. The cropped pant offers a little more femininity than pants on a hot day. Although I own other capi pants, I admit they are a few years old and do not have a straight, cropped leg, and therefore make me look like a mom on a field trip. I save those for around the house or relaxing at the lake.

    August 10, 2010/Reply
  15. VA Gal says:

    I love ankle pants and I’ll even wear Bermuda shorts on occasion when I’m not at work. However, capris really do not flatter anyone. They just make most of us look frumpy.

    August 10, 2010/Reply
  16. Stephanie says:

    Capris? Absolutely not. Cropped pants (to the ankle, or just above)? Yes (though not necessarily for a conservative office setting).

    Also, I find posts with a definite point of view compelling. Posts that just ask the readers what they think about something, because the author cannot make up their own mind? Significantly less compelling.

    August 10, 2010/Reply
  17. Allison says:

    Uh can I regulate? Emily be nice! Let’s be supportive constructive women, not the catty stereotype. Obvioulsy we won’t all agree, but there is no reason to cut down CJ personally for mentioning that perhaps maybe capris might be OK.

    August 10, 2010/Reply
  18. Dr. Jean Grey says:

    Oh, c’mon. Emily’s comment wasn’t mean. I don’t think Alison was making the point J.Crew=fashion, but anyone who shops online at J.Crew knows they are fully capable of selling some ugly schizz. And selling it out of stock! They are not to be trusted! lol Case in point:

    August 10, 2010/Reply
  19. MLW says:

    I have been wearing J.Crew’s Cropped City pants for several years…. and year round too. with flats, and heels. in khaki, black, navy and white. i love them!!!

    August 10, 2010/Reply
  20. Ms. utellme says:

    Also, I have to say that unless you have average to small feet DON’T WASTE YOUR MONEY ON THEM AND DON’T WEAR THEM TO THE OFFICE. Even in four inch heels they can make size 8 and above feet look like destroyers.

    August 10, 2010/Reply
  21. ec says:

    Capris or anything that hits between the knee and mid-calf are ugly and frumpy. Slim, cropped pants that hit just above the ankle are perfectly fine and can look really good. I have several pairs of well-tailored, skinny pants (even from, gasp!, J Crew) in dark colors. I wear them to work at a fairly conservative consulting firm with heels and jackets, and I do not look at all out of place. I’ve also worn them with flats on casual days, and they do not make me look short or stocky at all.

    August 10, 2010/Reply
  22. heather says:

    i appreciate that cj brought this up! like belle, i’ve always been violently anti-capri, but have been wondering lately if cropped pants are ok. so THANKS! love you!

    August 11, 2010/Reply
  23. Hillybilly says:

    Cigarette pants = ok.

    Two words: statement shoes. (Make that statement heels)

    August 11, 2010/Reply
  24. Suburban Sweetheart says:

    Was hating capris a requirement for scoring this internship?

    I seriously think that, as with anything, if they’re the right cut & fit, they’re fine. I don’t know what the big deal is.

    August 10, 2010/Reply
  25. Melissa says:

    Work? No.
    Out and about? Maybe

    I agree with the others here who stated that there is a distinct difference between capris and cropped pants. Capris, even if they fit well, will look frumpy and unflattering. Cropped pants, if they fit well, can look sophisticated and fashionable.

    August 11, 2010/Reply
  26. J Bird says:

    Negativity around this post is so unproductive – the question to capri or not to capri has sparked a discussion that has obviously underscored a GREAT point:

    Cigarette+ankle is elongating, flattering, chic, even professional

    Wider-legged, calf length, thick-chino, in khaki/robins egg/pink/etc does little for anyone’s silhouette

    Thank you for bringing a fine line into better focus, CJ!

    August 11, 2010/Reply
  27. Kristen says:

    Agree with those above who make the distinction between ankle pants and capris. Ankle-length pants can be acceptable for the office when paired with the right shoe (as long as said office isn’t ultra, ULTRA conservative), but if they show more than an inch of skin above the ankle, they’re a no.

    My personal favorite “capri tourist” look has got to be short capris paired with socks and sneakers! Add a visor and a map for the full effect.

    August 11, 2010/Reply
  28. Rebecca says:

    I love capris/ankle pants/cropped trousers and wear them as long as my ankles dont turn blue….and when the weather turns, ever the resourceful clothes junkie— I tuck my skinny minnies (jcrew addicts know this name) in to my riding boots.

    For work, in the spring, summer, and fall, I love the cropped, cuffed trouser pants with my sky-high heels, a cute top, and lots of bangles.

    Often times, I think my capri’s are dressier than the dresses I wear.

    August 11, 2010/Reply