There is a lot of debate in the fashion community about the differences between cropped pants and capri pants. Some sources state that cropped is an ankle length pant, while others open it up to a bit more interpretation. Most authorities agree, however, that a capri is a pant with a hemline halfway between the knee and ankle, or about mid-calf. In any case, what we are talking about with crops and capris—or pedal pushers, clam diggers, or three-quarter pants—is pants that are cut shorter than your average pant.
Capri pants are named for the island off the coast of Italy, where the style became famous among jet setters and movie stars like Grace Kelly and Audrey Hepburn, who wore them while vacationing there. Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, the cropped look grew in popularity across the United States, at first causing a stir because they were shorter and tighter fashion, in a country that had just gotten used to women wearing pants. Today, the crop is ubiquitous as a legging or workout pant, though tailored versions are popular as part of suiting or office wear.
Chances are you already have a pair of cropped or capri leggings that you wear to yoga or the gym. This particular style is typically manufactured from a stretchy, performance fabric, with a wide waistband and slim fit. Other casual styles of the crop may be slouchy or drop crotch, with a drawstring waist and pockets. Trouser style capris are much more tailored, and often made from cotton or wool blends. This style may be straight legged, wide-leg, fitted through the thigh with a “kick” at the hem, or tapered. Casual crops and capris run the gamut from fitted to slouchy, in a variety of fabrics, including denim.
Another fashion debate—who can wear crops and how should they be styled? As far as cropped leggings or yoga pants go, we say wear what you like, however you like to wear them, if it motivates you to get moving. When it comes to cropped for other occasions, there are a few things to keep in mind. Shorter hemlines can subtract length from the leg, so it’s important to pair your crops with heels or booties, in a neutral or complementary color. Shorter tops can help balance out your proportions as well. Finally, consider the silhouette. Tapered pants present less of a challenge than wide-leg crops (although the right blouse can offset the extra material).