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The right shoes for every hem length

Categories: basics

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Finding the right hem length, for skirts and pants, can make you look ten pounds slimmer overnight. But that’s only half the battle; once you’ve figured out where your pants and skirts should hit, you need to know what shoes to pair them with. Here’s a quick guide to skirt and pants lengths and the best shoes for each.

Alexa Chung for Madewell MaudeSkirt

Mini skirt: A “mini” skirt is anything that hits mid-thigh or shorter. Longer mini skirts can be worn with flats or heels, or with an ankle bootie; anything that hits higher than mid-thigh needs a flat, though, especially if you’re over 40. Trust me on this. Knee-high boots are great with mini skirts; choose tights that match either the skirt or the boot, for a long leg line.

Knee-length skirt: A skirt that hits at the knee — either just above or just below, depending on your comfort level — is the most universally flattering. This skirt works well with flats and heels; it’s the most versatile length you can wear, no matter what the shape of the skirt or the shape of your body. If you want to pair your knee-length skirt with an ankle boot, add some tights the same color as the boot, to create an uninterrupted leg line. No black booties with bare legs, I’m begging you.

Midi skirt: A midi skirt hits mid-calf; ideally, your midi will hit either below the knee (2-3 inches) or at the slimmest part of your ankle. This is a tricky length to wear; it can easily look frumpy. Midis work with heels and flats; choose a shoe that elongates your leg as much as possible. Think twice about wearing a knee-high boot with the midi skirt; I know that look is in for fall, but it’s a little too Molly Ringwald in “The Breakfast Club” for me. (Am I showing my age? Why yes I am.)

Maxi skirt: Maxi skirts are long; they work best with flats. Wear your maxi with cool sandals for warm weather and with ballet flats or ankle boots in colder weather. Cowboy boots are also fun under a floaty maxi.

Cropped pants: The perfect cropped pants hit just above the slimmest part of your ankle. Pair them with flats for a cool Audrey Hepburn look, or with a pretty heel for dressier options. I am not a fan of the ankle boot with cropped pants, though; it cuts your legs off at the ankle and makes them look stumpy.

Full-length pants: A full length trouser can be worn with flats or heels. Be sure that your pants are hemmed to the right length, though: if you’re wearing a flat, your trouser should break slightly across the top of your foot; if you’re wearing a heel, your hem should fall about a quarter of an inch from the floor. A ballet flat works well with a slim leg, while a loafer (or something with a higher vamp) is better with a wide leg. Keep in mind that slingbacks can be tough to wear with pants — your hem can easily get caught in the strap, which is neither chic nor safe. Opt for a basic pump or bootie instead.

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One comment so far...

  • Well, so much for wearing my almost knee high boots with my new midi-skirt….


    Heather B.  |  September 26th, 2011 at 12:05 pm