with Susan Wagner
The Working Closet is your source for the best of what's hip and fresh in fashion and beauty. Susan Wagner keeps you up-to-date on trends and offers tips and tricks for making everything in your closet truly work for you.
You can also catch Susan over at Working Closet.
Last week, Tonya asked about capri pants.
Just wondering, what are your general guidelines on capri pants? I think they’re ok where jeans are acceptable — how about when the office is mostly in khaki pants? And what should I wear with the capris if I want to stay away from open-toed shoes?
Capri pants come in a variety of lengths, everything from just below the knee to just above the ankle bone. As a general rule, a shorter hemline is more casual (because, let’s face it, capris that hit close to the knee are essentially shorts). A longer hemline–something that falls below the widest part of your calf–is both the most versatile and the most flattering.
Think about proportion when you’re choosing capri pants. If you have wider hips or womanly thighs or a little junk in your trunk (did I really just say that?), look for capris with a wider leg, one that falls straight to the hem from the widest part of your hips or thighs. If you have slim legs, you can look for something with a slimmer leg, but steer clear of tapered capris; no matter how wee and tiny you are, tapered pants will make you look like an ice cream cone. Trust me.
Pockets are also something to think about when you’re looking for work-appropriate capri pants. A flat front–something with no pockets–is the most flattering and professional. Slash pockets can make your hips look wider, and porkchop pockets are too casual. Even in a basic cotton twill, a flat front is a cleaner, more streamlined look. And you shouldn’t be putting your cell phone in your pants pockets anyway.
Capris also come in every imaginable fabric, from basic cotton twill to silk and wool blends. Machine washable fabrics are the most casual, but you can find great cotton blend capris (either with a little stretch or in a cotton/linen or cotton/silk mix) that can go in the laundry AND go to the office. I like a cotton/spandex blend for everyday; machine wash inside out, hang to dry, and iron. Yes, IRON. It won’t kill you. (Or spray with wrinkle release and hang to dry, or hang to dry and then toss in the dryer on the “fluff” cycle. But seriously, HANG TO DRY–the dryer is responsible for nearly all of the wear and tear your clothes will encounter.)
Tonya asked when and where capris were acceptable; the answer is pretty much anywhere. It depends more on the actual pants than on the office dress code, although you want to chose capris that fit the environment you work in. For a casual office, you can opt for cotton blend capris; pair them with a fitted tee and a jacket, or a twin set, or a tailored cotton blouse. For a more conservative office, choose capris in a silk or wool blend, and wear them with a dressier blouse or sweater, or a jacket.
If your office or profession is essentially casual, think about a suit with cropped or capri pants, instead of the traditional suit with trousers. A suit with cropped pants can be either very casual (wear with a tank or tee, without the jacket or with the jacket unbuttoned) or very dressy (with a cashmere turtleneck or silk blouse, or with the jacket buttoned up). Ann Taylor has some great suiting options for cropped pants.
I love these suits; the first is a Cross-dyed pique, which is a more casual fabric in a more tailored cut. The suit on the right is a cotton silk blend, which is a slightly more sophisticated fabric, but the cut and styling are more casual. Either suit could be dressed up or down, and the pants could easily be worn without the jacket.
In an office where jeans and khakis are the norm, a nice pair of capris is a simple way to look professional and not overdressed. And they move easily from work to weekend! An added plus.
Coming Friday: appropriate shoes for capri pants. (NOT FLIP FLOPS, and yes I know that’s what the woman in the photo is wearing. Shame on Ann Taylor.)
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